Elaine Simpson '17
University of Louisville
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1) I knew I wanted to stay in-state for school because it would be a lot cheaper than going out of state and luckily there were two great dental schools in Kentucky. However, I didn't limit myself to just applying in-state. If you have a dream school or city you want to go to then by all means apply. It just might be a bit more expensive.
2) Preparing for the DAT took a huge time commitment. There are study courses you can take and summer programs to help you prepare but I decided to do it on my own. I followed an online 10 week study guide to help me prepare. A lot of it is your motivation and determination to study. I studied all day for the whole summer because I knew I only wanted to take the test once, even though you can take it as many as three times. I wanted to get the score I wanted on the first try so I was motivated to study. I definitely took days off when I needed a break and I was still able to hang out with my friends. Just manage your time extremely well while preparing for the test. Take as much time or as little time as you think you'll need. Not everyone studies for 10 weeks.
3) I decided to take the DAT a year early so that I could focus on my application once the cycle opened. If you have taken general chemistry, organic chemistry, and general biology I highly recommend taking the test as soon as possible after completing these courses. The info will be fresh in your mind and you will have the DAT out of the way before your junior year. The admissions cycle will open in June and you can start filling out the application then. However, have your personal statement finished by the time the cycle opens. You want to apply as soon as possible because they will look at the applications in waves. The application doesn't require a lot of work but the personal statement should be flawless. I had several people read over mine and I probably worked on it for three months before it was finished. Unfortunately I was abroad when writing my statement, so I couldn't have the face to face help with a professor or my advisor. However, professors definitely will read over your personal statement as well as the career center in order to help you perfect it.
4) You do not have to submit a resume for the dental school application however there is a portion where you list your honors/awards/community service/leadership roles. They also ask for the time commitment of these, so be sure to keep a record of the approximate number of hours a week and a year you met for these. There is also a shadowing portion where you list the speciality and doctor you observed. Keep a record of the amount of hours for each and try to observe several different specialities. Every school is different; some require you to have a certain number of shadowing hours, some encourage it, and some don't care. It's safe to get around 50 shadowing hours, but check your schools to make sure. Also many times you will need a recommendation from a dentist you've shadowed so build a relationship with one don't just bounce around. I was fortunate enough to spend a summer shadowing a dental school grad from the college in my hometown and he ended up writing me a great letter of recommendation. Be involved in college. The interviewers and admissions counselors like to see you've done other things beside focusing on academics. Dentists also need to be personable and they want to see you've interacted in different settings while in college. Also have good relationships with your professors!! You will need at least three letters of recommendation for each school and these carry more weight than you think. Get to know them inside and outside of the classroom, go to their office hours, and maintain these relationships after you are done with their class. One of my interviewers said I had some of the best recommendation letters he's seen in the cycle and I just thought to myself "that's the beauty of Hanover."
5) Kind of already touched on this is number 3.
6) My parents are not helping me pay for grad school, as is the case for most students. I will be taking out a loan for tuition and for personal expenses through the college. Pay attention int he financial aid portion of your interview or do research on the school's website to see what your options are. I had to fill out FAFSA before receiving any loans from the college so make sure you do that. I was never worried about being able to pay for grad school and neither should you.
Other advice: A lot of the admissions process and preparing for your future in grad school is on you. Yes, Hanover is here to help you whenever you need it but you have to have the motivation and the organization to get all of your materials in on time, study for the test, maintain a good GPA, be involved on campus, etc. I did a lot on my own; I scheduled my test and applied for a DENTPIN, I decided to work ahead and get my personal statement finished, I made sure I was involved in several organization and ran for leadership positions. You have to be accountable for the steps it takes to get accepted. The Career Center and your advisor are here if you are stuck or have questions. This is your future, you have to want it. feeling you get after being accepted into something you've worked incredibly hard for is indescribable. Hanover has definitely provided me with what I needed to get accepted and I am so grateful for all it has given me these past hour years.