faqs

*Disclaimer: Please note that the following information is provided by the District 4 Predental Committee. This information comes from current dental students actively involved in ASDA at the local and district level. If you need further help or a definitive answer, please contact the admissions office of your prospective dental college*

 

*Updated as of December 28, 2018*

what is asdA?

The American Student Dental Association is a national student-run organization that protects and advances the rights, interests and welfare of dental students. It introduces students to lifelong involvement in organized dentistry and provides services, information, education, representation and advocacy.

ASDA has more than 24,000 dental student members, located at 66 dental schools in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Another 3,000 members are predentals, aspiring to be accepted to dental school. These 66 chapters are grouped into 11 districts, each represented by a trustee. Our district is District 4 and our current trustee is Anna Hill-Moses, D4 at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, College of Dentistry.

 

ASDA predental chapters help predentals further develop their skills and give predentals a home in the ASDA community. They also make you part of a nationally recognized organization at your school. ASDA chapters offer an opportunity to have a much larger platform for networking, development and support.

what should I major in?

Any major is perfectly acceptable for any dental school! Choosing a major should come down to things that you are passionate about and all options should be considered to better your own future. That being said, dental schools require or recommend that you take certain basic science classes (which are also great for prepping for the DAT) in order to enroll, such as anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, and genetics to name a few.

what classes should i take?

Each dental school will require or highly recommend that each student take certain classes to enroll. Some colleges require anatomy or biochemistry for example while others will recommend it. Generally speaking however, there are some classes most dental schools require, such as general biology, chemistry and organic chemistry; certain majors such as biology, chemistry, and biochemistry have tracks that cover all the basic sciences as well as some of the upper level requirements. Each dental school may have different requirements so it if you are unsure, it may be best to ask admissions.

what gpa is required to get into dental school?

Each dental school may have a different GPA requirement but generally, anything above a 3.3 GPA can put you at a reasonable competitive level. The average overall GPA for schools in District 4 is 3.52. It is very important to remember that these are only averages; some students have higher or lower GPAs than this and each college will look at all aspects of every individual’s applications. Students are not discouraged to apply with a “low” GPA but schools will look at overall trends and some may even inquire about certain grades.

When should i take the dat?

Generally speaking, students can take the DAT at any point in their undergraduate career. Essentially, the DAT covers general biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry, so once these classes are under your belt, you are theoretically ready to take the DAT. It is important to look at a study aid when preparing for the DAT as each college curriculum may vary and some topics may not be covered as heavily as others. We recommend that students should prepare at the minimum a month in advance prior to taking the DAT. Undergraduate students can take it as early as the summer after Freshman year and others as late as the summer prior to Senior year; it is important to note that your dental school application cannot process until the DAT is submitted so it would behoove you to take the test as early as you can.

Students retaking the DAT must wait 90 days before their retake. You are allowed to take the DAT up to three times without incident; applicants who have had three or more DAT attempts must apply for permission to test again. From that point forward, they may retest only once per 12-month period. Most dental schools accept DAT scores for up to three years from the time the most recent test was taken; a few schools may vary in this so it is best to contact your preferred school’s admissions office for more information. The 2018 DAT Guide provided by the ADA contains additional information regarding the DAT.

how do i sign up for the dat?

The DAT is offered exclusively at Prometric Testing Centers, so plan ahead to secure your desired testing date. Those who have taken the DAT suggest scheduling your test at least a month or more before you plan to take it in order to ensure you lock down your desired testing date. You will receive an e-mail that contains instructions for scheduling your test date after your application has been processed. Scheduling can be completed by contacting the Prometric Call Center at 800-688-5804 or online at www.prometric.com.The DAT fee is $460. Visit ADA.org/dat.aspx for more Information

what is a dentpin?

The DENTPIN® is a unique personal identifier for applicants and students involved with the U.S. dental education system and standardized testing programs. You must obtain or retrieve a DENTPIN® from ADA.org before proceeding with your DAT application. You must have a DENTPIN® to apply for admission to dental school. This same DENTPIN® will be used in dental school to take the National Board Dental Examination.

what subjects are on the dat?

The DAT is a 5 hour exam that covers a variety of basic science topics as well as other knowledge based topics. Subjects covered are Survey of Natural Sciences (biology, chemistry and organic chemistry), Perceptual Ability Test (PAT), Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. No tests are alike so within the natural sciences portion of the exam, some material may be more emphasized than others (more hormonal biology over evolutionary biology for example) so it is important to prepare well ahead in advance as well as understand that any topics in each subject is fair game. The PAT portion of the test covers angle ranking, hole punching and spatial recognition. Reading Comprehension basically covers a few passages with questions related to those passages. Finally, Quantitative Reasoning covers mathematical subjects such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry and word problems, all which can be solved with the basic four-function calculator provided.

what is a committee letter?

If your institution constructs committee letters/packet in lieu of individual letters of evaluation, then it has a prehealth advising committee, or the advising office has constructed a committee, to discuss individual students and then write a combined letter of evaluation.

A committee letter/packet counts as three letters of evaluation in the ADEA AADSAS application. Often, committees are comprised of five to 15 people.

If your institution does provide committee letters/packets, you will likely be interviewed by some or all of the committee members before they write your letter. Larger institutions often do committee letters so they can ensure every student gets the thorough evaluation process required of submitting successful letters of evaluation to dental schools. The prehealth advisor on the committee often takes comments from all of the evaluators and is actually the one to write the letter based on the comments from the group.

what topic should my personal statement be?

The personal statement explains why the applicant wants to pursue a dental career. The personal statement is a reflection of yourself, and most will incorporate life goals, desires, passions, and motivations for everything in your life. This is one of the only chances to present yourself to the admissions committee and it could play a vital role in your application process. Some interviewers may even ask questions from the personal statement so it is important that you take the personal statement seriously.

 

The statement itself should not exceed 4,500 characters (including spaces, carriages, numbers, letters, etc.). Applicants should not make the statement specific to each dental school, as ADEA AADSAS will provide the statement to all dental schools designated in the application. Our advice would be to make the statement clear and concise on major portions you want to cover and it may benefit you to ask others to review the personal statement several times before you reach your final draft. It is important to review the personal statement before submission because applicants will not be able to make revisions to this section of their application.

what makes a competitive applicant?

Every applicant has a different life story, from eager first time applications to older individuals who have taken time off after undergrad or maybe determined the 3-time applicant. The real questions should be “How bad do I want to be a dentist” or “What am I willing to do to reach my goal of becoming a dentist”. Prior to applying, you must fully examine everything you’ve done to that point and ask yourself “Is this really enough or can I improve anything”?

As important as grades and DAT scores are, that is only a portion of the applicant; the rest comes from the personal statement, shadowing and volunteering experiences, and other related dental experiences as well as life experiences. It is important to fully invest in the things you’ve decided to do for your application and seize any opportunity you can. Additionally, life experiences that have changed you, developed you and further driven your passion for dentistry are essential in explaining.

 

The most important time to make yourself stand out will be interview day. Anyone can learn basic sciences and pass the DAT (they really can!) but these days are a test of your character. Dental schools want to train dentists that truly care about the patients, passionate about dentistry and value patient education. They want to assess your communication skills, self-confidence and your ability to overcome challenges. To truly be a competitive applicant, you must dedicate yourself to everything you do as well as be confident in yourself in that you are just as great, if not better, than every other applicant.

what extracurricular activities should i be involved in?

Ultimately, extracurricular activities should come down to things that really interest you or things you’re really passionate about. You’re not limited to what you decide to do and there’s no right answer. Schools want to see your dedication to what you do and that you’re not doing something just for the sake of your application. Extracurricular activities can help you develop as a person or may even be a great way to escape the stresses of your life so anything from sports to special interest groups are absolutely fine. Again, do extracurricular activities based on your interests and not for the sake of an application.

FROM WHOM should i request letters of recommednation?

Letters of recommendation should come from individuals who know more about your character and personality as well as your academic progress. Anyone can “rewrite” your resume but individuals writing these letters should know more about you as a person as these letters carry a lot of weight in your application.

Usually, science professors are chosen to write letters but other professors (from accounting, business, art and english) can be asked as well. Great ways to set yourself apart in class would be to always attend classes, genuinely ask questions (in class or at office hours) regarding class topics and to do well in a class. Usually, letters come from professors who are passionate and go above and beyond so building these relationships is usually not difficult to do.

Letters should also come from dentists you have previously shadowed. These individuals will have spent countless hours with you, teaching and mentoring and they will have a great instinct to see the type of dentist you will one day become. These letters could potentially open several doors if you are applying to a shadowing dentist’s alma mater as well.

 

Anyone can learn basic sciences, and dentistry but the most important aspect will be of your character: how much you genuinely care and how much you’re willing to sacrifice to become the best that you can be.

how many shadowing hours should i have?

Each college may have different requirement for the amount of shadowing hours each student should have prior to applying. Within the colleges in District 4, shadowing hours range from no minimum to up to 300 hours of shadowing! It is important that you really research any potential college and determine a “safe” range of hours for you to have.

 

That being said, shadowing can really change your views on the field of dentistry and you will be surprised at how much you will truly learn. While most shadowing is recommended in a general dentist’s office, shadowing other specialties in the field will give you a good understanding of all the other great aspects of dentistry. You may choose to stay at once office for all your shadowing hours or you may decide it’s best to float around various offices and that is perfectly okay! Once dentistry becomes a passion of yours, you will no longer keep track of your hours and will end up shadowing to learn and see great dentistry.

how do i find a dentist to shadow?

There are several ways to find dentists to shadow in your area. A great way to start is to revisit your hometown dentist and ask if they will allow you to shadow. If you’re wanting to shadow during the academic year, you may want to ask your pre-health advisor for contact info from alumni in the field of dentistry that are local. Additionally, your predental chapter may have a list of local dentists in the area that are willing to let predental students shadow.

 

One of the best ways is to search for the local dentists in your area. You can call or email local offices and ask for shadowing opportunities. It’s important to understand that some of the dental offices closer to a university may have multiple students shadow or may not have enough time to dedicate for shadowing so always branch out when you can. While this method is a great way to find dentists, it can be a hit or miss depending on the offices’ policies and availability so be sure to ask around, follow up and take any opportunity you can.

how much does it cost to apply?

Please be aware that, unfortunately, it DOES cost to apply to dental school. The application fee for ADEA AADSAS depends on the number of dental schools an applicant applies to. The fee is $245 for the first dental school and $102 for each additional dental school designation. After submitting the application, additional dental schools can be selected and paid for at a later date. Payment for the ADEA AADSAS application is by credit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover) only.

 

Some dental schools request an additional fee (supplemental) after the completed ADEA AADSAS application. Do NOT send the supplemental fees to ADEA AADSAS. Supplemental fees should be sent directly to the dental school(s).

how many schools should i apply to?

It is easy to see that applying to dental school can be an expensive process, with regards to application fees. You do not have to apply to every single dental school to increase your chances of admissions. Applying to only 1 school shouldn’t be discouraged due to financial reasons. Therefore, it is important to narrow down potential schools that may be the best fit for you. Do your research and look into colleges that may best fit your needs; this includes learning about the school’s reputation, the city where its located, and travel expenses. Ultimately, when prepping to apply, keep finances in mind and do what is feasible for you.

should i do research?

Research while pursuing your undergraduate degree may seem like a daunting process but it is possible while managing other responsibilities. While this may seem great on an application, please understand that it may not be necessary to do. If you are passionate about a research subject and have the time and motivation to be a part of the research group, then go for it! However, do not burden yourself with more than you need to just for the sake of an application. Remember that there are lots of aspects to your application, it is important to focus on your strong points.

 

If you are interested in conducting research, certain universities and medical/dental schools have summer programs that allow 10 weeks of research with a professor or doctor. These are incredibly feasible since they are only a summer commitment and are a great way to see if research is something you want to do a long term goal.

what dental schools are included in district 4?

The current colleges in ASDA’s District 4 include:

Dental College of Georgia (GA)

Eastern Carolina University: School of Dental Medicine (NC)

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: School of Dentistry (NC)

Medical University of South Carolina, James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine (SC)

Meharry Medical College: School of Dentistry (TN)

University of Tennessee Health Science Center: College of Dentistry (TN)

Virginia Commonwealth University: School of Dentistry (VA)

what dental schools are included in district 4?

The current colleges in ASDA’s District 4 include:

Dental College of Georgia (GA)

Eastern Carolina University: School of Dental Medicine (NC)

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: School of Dentistry (NC)

Medical University of South Carolina, James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine (SC)

Meharry Medical College: School of Dentistry (TN)

University of Tennessee Health Science Center: College of Dentistry (TN)

Virginia Commonwealth University: School of Dentistry (VA)

if my school doesn't have a pre-dental chapter, how can i start one?

There are several ways to start a dental chapter at any college! Each college may have a different process of becoming a recognized organization as well as amount of students required to be an organization but generally speaking, having at least 10 students should be enough to get started. A great start would be with your college’s pre-health advisor, as this individual will meet with various students interested in the medical field, so they may know and contact other students who may want to start a club.

Another way would be to contact other healthcare-related organizations (such as AED’s, Honor’s Clubs, Public Health Clubs, etc.) and see if you can make an announcement at a general body meeting of your intentions to start a predental club. Emailing your college’s student organization broadcasting system may be a great way as each college may generally send out weekly reminders of various clubs and events going on throughout campus; this could be a great way to announce an interest meeting to the entire student body and hopefully leave no stone unturned.

There are several steps that include becoming an official ASDA Predental Chapter. These involve having 10 ASDA members, obtaining a set of bylaws and a constitution for your organization, signing the Affiliation Agreement, having an Advisor for approval, and filling out the application form along with the $50 fee. More information can be found here and on our website.

how can i pay for dental school?

There are several options to help pay for dental school and it is important to keep these in mind when applying to dental school. One of the more common ways is to take out a student loan for tuition and living expenses. Each college’s financial officer can go through this in detail with you but this is usually how most students pay for dental school. Other students seek out military scholarships whether it’s the HPSP or any other military commitment as designated by a recruiting officers. These are usually programs where the military pays for your tuition and living expense in exchange for you to serve in that specific branch for a certain number of years; this is also a wonderful way to serve your country! Another way is through loan forgiveness programs, as offered through some state dental associations. These programs require you to serve in rural or urban areas that need dentists and will repay your loans for the time you serve. Lastly, some colleges or organizations offer scholarships, from $1000 and up and while this may not seem like much, it is still better than nothing!

It is important to research all options when deciding to pay for dental school. Some options require a commitment and it is crucial to know if that is something you truly want to do. Always ask your college’s financial officer any questions that may affect your financial status, such as marriage or having children. Ask any dental students or dentists about how they’ve paid for dental school and their experience. Ultimately, remember that you are investing in your education, so any money spent or borrowed is truly worth the opportunity to become a dentist.

can i use my ap / community college credit to fulfill requirements?

Generally speaking, as long as A/P credit fulfills your graduation requirements, it will be sufficient to count towards dental school requirements. However, each college and each state may have varying opinions so it is important to ask an admissions counselor if you are unsure or unaware.

Similarly, most dental schools accept community college credit to fulfill requirements with the exception of a few. Again, if your university accepts these requirements as part of your undergraduate track, then that should be sufficient for application requirements. While some schools prefer to have all your requirements completed at one university, please do not feel discouraged if you must take a class at a community college or have taken classes at a community college; ultimately, schools want to see that you show improvement or have fulfilled the requirements to graduate with a degree. Again, each person and each situation is different, but when in doubt, be sure to call or ask an admissions counselor to double check yourself.

references
  • The American Dental Education Association

  • The American Student Dental Association