Feeling Overwhelmed about Dental School
- Feb 6, 2017
I wanted to quickly jump on here and share some of the feelings I've been having about the upcoming application process, if you are a junior or senior and will be applying to professional programs this semester. First of all, this is stressful! I never realized the anxiety and stress that this would provide me, but I keep telling myself that it'll be worth it in the end.
- How do I decide which schools to apply to? I first thought of all the states I would or would not want to live in and that's exactly where I started. I created an excel sheet with a list of about 20 schools, each with their average gpa, DAT score, location, pre-requisites, etc. I have had this list for a few months now, and periodically will look back at it. Some of the schools I had listed, I realized were way too far or thought to myself, "what the heck was I thinking with this one?!" Another big limiting factor was the fact that I obtained my dental shadowing hours through a paid dental assistant position. Some schools will not accept paid shadowing hours, so I went through and emailed the schools I was serious about attending to ask if they would accept these hours. Some said no, and thankfully my top few schools said yes! I would highly recommend purchasing the online version of the ADEA Official Gide to Dental Schools because all and any stats and information about every dental school is conveniently in one place. This is what I based my spreadsheet off of, since it includes average DAT scores, average GPA, anything and everything you need to know when considering a school! You can purchase the book here. Another thing that is very important to remember is to only apply to schools in which you would actually want to attend. If you think, even for a split second, that you would be upset if this was the only school you could attend, then I wouldn't apply there. For instance, I had a school in California on my list. Yeah California sounds great, but it was ranked near the bottom of my list. I just decided to skip out because if I only got an interview at that school, and accepted to that school, I would be upset. You cannot turn doen an acceptance at one school, and wait to reapply next cycle. Schools will see that you turned down a chance to go to dental school, and chances are that they will not invite you to theirs. There is no magic number of schools you should be applying to, for some that number is around 5, for some it is 10 and beyond.
- How do I ask for letters of recommendation? This was so nerve-wracking for me! I have established relationships with many of my professors throughout my time at Michigan State but for some reason, asking for their help with a letter was so tough for me. I think I made it out to be a lot worse in my head than what it really is, stupid anxiety. But anyway, you need to ask someone who can write a good letter for you, and that knows you besides just from attending class. For me, I made sure to pursue my professors during their office hours. There is nothing wrong with going into their office hours and asking if they can write you a letter, even if they haven't really gotten to know you yet. Over the course of the semester, you can establish a good realtionship with this professor, and chances are you'll do better in the class and understand the material more just from talking to them. I emailed a few of my letter writers that I don't have a class with this semester, and I also asked for one in person. What I'm trying to say here is that there are so many people on this campus who want to help you achieve your dreams and goals of professional school. I know we often tend to think of professors as being high and mighty, but the reality is that they are normal people too, and you will be surprised at how much you actually may have in common with some of them! There is an awesome guide for letters of recommendation/evaluation here, which will give you some questons to think about and a general guide as to what you should be giving to your letter writers.
- How do I sign up for the DAT? This is something I am currently in the process of! For me, it is a little different. I am asking for accomodations during my DAT since I have Crohn's Disease. This requires me to obtain a formal, written letter from my Gastroenterologist that needs to be approved before I can sign up to take the test. I am planning on taking it in June, and have already started to plan what resources I will use for studying.You can sign up to take the DAT here. I have heard great things about following Ari's schedule with DAT Bootcamp. He integrates many, many resources into his schedule including Chad's videos, DAT Destroyer, and so forth. If you are overwhelmed about where to even begin studying, I'd recommend giving this a shot! My advice would be to schedule yourself enough time to review and learn all necessary material. However, there is no minimum or maximum I can give you since it is all personal preference and you need to adjust it to what best suits your learning capabilities. I have heard of people studying anywhere from 4-12 weeks in advance. However, try not to be too stuck on the amount of time you alot yourself but whether or not you are learning the material in a way that is suited for you.
- How can I stop freaking out?! This is me right now! I go over and over and over in my head about shadiwng and volunteer hours, making sure that I will have everything I need when I go to apply, and so forth. I need to take a few deep breaths and tell myself to relax at least a few times per day. Now, I'm not sure if this is normal or not but it is for me. If you have done the work, volunteered, shadowed, and so forth, then you are ready. Try not to let your negativity get the best of you, or your anxiety tell you that you aren't ready.
I hope this helps, and I am in the same boat you guys are!