Timeline for Pre-Dental Students
*This timeline was developed for those students planning to apply for dental school admission immediately after graduation. It is also very common, however, for students to take a year or more off after graduation and then apply. If you are considering taking a gap year (or more) after graduation, some of the suggested activities can be postponed until later in college.
- Let your advisor know that you are interested in going to dental school.
- If you are interested and your SAT/ACT scores and high school GPA are high enough to qualify you for the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) Dental School affiliation program, you need to submit an application via the LECOM portal as soon as possible (ideally before starting your freshman year). The LECOM affiliated program portal can be found at https://portal.lecom.edu/ics/Affiliated_Undergrad_College_Inquiry.jnz?secure=true.
- Complete first year pre-dental coursework (usually English Composition, Math through Calculus, Introductory Biology, and General Chemistry courses).
- Visit the following web-sites: American Dental Association (ADA) at http://www.ada.org/en and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) at http://www.adea.org/GoDental/. These sites provide information about dentistry as a career and how best to go about applying to dental school. Since the requirements for health professions education often change over time, it is a good idea to visit these sites regularly so that you always have the most recent information.
- Begin to look over practice DAT exams. Although you will not be ready to take this exam for a while, looking over practice questions frequently will help you identify concepts in your coursework that often appear on the DAT. It will also help you get a feel for the level of conceptual detail and critical analysis you will need to eventually reach in order to get a good score on this exam.
- In the summer between your freshman and sophomore years (as well as your other college summers), consider doing volunteer work in a dental care setting.
- Explore campus extracurricular activities. Remember that quality is more important than quantity - choose activities that you are passionate about and that you could possibly eventually take a leadership role in.
- Keep in mind that getting into dental school is very competitive. Even students that have very good grades may not necessarily get in. Thus, everyone should have a "Plan B" in mind that they can also work towards at the same time, in the event that acceptance to dental school does not occur immediately after graduation. Be sure to discuss your "Plan B" with your advisor so that he/she can recommend any additional coursework that might help you out with your backup plan.
- Complete second year pre-dental coursework (usually includes Genetics, Organic Chemistry, and other major/GE courses).
- Continue to participate in extracurricular activities. If you notice that you are having trouble keeping your grades up though, you will want to pare back on this somewhat.
- Continue to look over DAT practice exams. Begin to develop a DAT study plan for your junior year.
- Sophomore year is a time period when students who had initially performed well in science courses may sometimes start to struggle, as the level of the material becomes more rigorous. Be sure to get help from your professors and the tutoring center early and often.
- Start exploring research and internship possibilities for your upcoming junior year.
- Complete third year pre-dental coursework (usually includes Physics, upper-level Biology electives, and additional GE/major coursework).
- Junior year is often a good time for directed research projects and study abroad experiences.
- You should also plan on shadowing a dentist this year (either during the school year or the summer before and/or after your junior year). This can be done for academic credit - if you want this credit, please see your advisor for information on how to register.
- This is the year that you will focus very intensely on preparing for the DAT exam. It should be taken as soon as possible after you have completed all of your DAT pre-requisite courses (Introductory Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry). Please note that these pre-requisite courses should be considered a minimal level of preparation for the DAT exam. Additional advanced courses are also recommended, such as Genetics, Animal Physiology, etc...). At a minimum, you will want to obtain and use several DAT prep books/software packages. While more expensive, you may also wish to consider taking a formal DAT prep course (offered in many larger metropolitan areas and/or online). Please note that the DAT has a section on perceptual ability which is not usually directly covered in your prerequisite courses. Hence be sure to look at as many practice questions as you can from this section of the DAT to get a feel for how to approach these types of questions.
- Once you feel that you have prepared as much as you can - take the DAT exam! Usually this is done after the completion of your junior year classwork. More information on signing up for the DAT can be found at: http://www.ada.org/en/education-careers/dental-admission-test
- Begin to work on your online application (via AADSAS) during the summer between your junior and senior year. The homepage for this application portal is https://portal.aadsasweb.org/.
- Begin to work on your personal statement. Be sure to have several of your professors review this statement before you submit it. You want this statement to do a good job of promoting your candidacy based on your personal experiences and attributes and to also be very well written (i.e. free of grammar, style, and spelling issues).
- Set up a time for your interview with the Pitt-Bradford Pre-Health Professions Committee. The interview can be done either at the end of your junior year or beginning of your senior year, but preferably AFTER you have received your DAT scores and finished your personal statement.
- Finish and submit your online application if you haven't already done so.
- Participate in your pre-health professions committee interview if you haven't already done so.
- Complete any secondary applications that are required.
- Prepare for dental school interviews. Having an interview with the pre-health professions committee will help with this.
- Travel to dental school interviews. Be sure to save up your pennies in advance for travel expenses.
- Keep your fingers crossed! You may find yourself wait-listed at one or more dental schools. This is not necessarily bad. Sometimes students are selected from the wait list as late as mid-summer after graduation.
- If you are not accepted, first have a pint of ice cream or your other favorite comfort food, and then begin to work on your "Plan B". For some students, this may involve considering other career options. Your advisor and the Career Services center can help with this. For other students, it may involve doing post-graduation activities that will improve your candidacy for dental school, such as enrolling and completing a dental health related graduate program.
- If you are accepted, be sure to start working on the financial aid paperwork as soon as possible. Dental school is expensive! You may want to consider options that will help cover the costs such as military service or certain programs that pay back some of your expenses for later service in underserved areas of the country.