Getting accepted into dental school can be competitive. But spending time crafting the best dental school application possible can help increase your chances of getting accepted. Don’t wait until dental school application deadlines are rolling around before getting started. Put some thought into the process long before it is time to apply. Dental school application timeline As soon as you are considering becoming a dentist, get some volunteer experience in a dental clinic or office. Not only will experience look good on your application, it will help you decide if being a dentist is what you want to pursue. Hopefully, by the end of your sophomore year you are looking for a place to gain clinical experience. Consider speaking with a student advisor who may be able to point you in the right direction. You can also ask your dentist if you may shadow him. In addition, consider calling local dental clinics or practices. By your junior year, you may be becoming more serious about applying to dental school. Buy a study guide and start preparing for the Dental School Admission Exam, which is required before you are accepted. In addition, identify people to write your letters of recommendation. If you have been volunteering at a dental office or clinic, consider asking someone who supervised you. Professors are also a good choice. If you plan to attend dental school right after graduating from college, you need to apply for admission in the summer before your senior year. During that summer, you also need to take the DAT. Senior year will be busy. Schools that are interested in you may request an interview. You will also likely be touring campuses and completing your last year of undergrad studies. The Associated American Dental School Application Service The Associated American Dental School Application Service is used by the majority of dental schools in the United States. The way the process works is you submit one completed application through the Associated American Dental School Application Service, which is sent to the dental schools you designate. This process eliminates the need to send individual applications. Imagine having to submit ten different applications to each school. Using the service streamlines the process making is easier for both schools and applicants. Although using the application service is easier than submitting multiple applications, you need to make sure you follow directions and submit on time. Since it is only one application, if you mess something up, you may miss deadlines at multiple dental schools. What is included in a dental school application? Your dental school application submitted to the Associated American Dental School Application Service will contain several different sections. Prepare to provide information on your academic history including all schools you attended. You also supply information on extracurricular activities you are involved in. Information about dental volunteer or shadowing experience should also be provided. Letters of evaluation or recommendation are also part of the application process. Letters may be submitted two ways. The evaluator may submit a letter through the Associated American Dental School Application Service evaluator portal. Once you submit your application and the names and email addresses of your evaluators, they will receive an email on how to access and submit a letter of recommendation through the portal. In addition to submitting letters online, which is the preferred method, letters can be submitted through the mail. The applicant provides a form to the evaluator who then submits it to the Associated American Dental School Application Service. In your dental school application, you also write a personal statement. Make sure to follow directions regarding how many words you can use. In your personal statement, you should address why you want to work in the dental field and what makes you a good candidate. Be sure to give some thought to your statement, and proofread it to check for grammar and spelling errors. Lastly, the release statement should be signed, which allows the Associated American Dental School Application Service to provide the information to the schools you designated. There is a fee for submitting your application. For the most up to date information on fees, visit the American Dental Education Association website. Tips for success Completing a dental school application can be a bit time-consuming, but by following some tips you are more likely to get through the process smoothly. Read directions carefully. Make sure you understand what is required in each section before you fill it out. Be aware of restrictions, such as the number of characters you are allowed to use. You want to avoid having your application returned because you failed to follow directions properly. Be aware of deadlines: Always check with the Associated American Dental School Application Service to confirm deadlines. The timeframe for accepting applications is usually from June through February each year. Be aware each dental school you are interested in may have a different application deadline, and you don’t want to miss it. For instance, if you wait until December to submit your application and one of the dental schools you are interested in has a November deadline, you are out of luck. Your best bet is to submit an application to the Associated American Dental School Application Service early. Avoid tailoring your application to one dental school. Remember when you are writing your personal statement, it will go to several different schools. In your statement don’t write about why you want to attend a specific school. Keep things general, so the statement will make sense at all the schools where it will be sent. Have a transcript on hand. One section of the application involves completing information about your academic history. Having a transcript readily available may make it easier to complete. Be honest about your qualifications. One of the worst things you can do on your dental school application is embellish your qualifications. While it is not the time to be too modest regarding your achievements, you also don’t want to be dishonest. For example, if you have had academic probations, explain the situation instead of hiding it. Honestly is your best bet. Eye-opening hospital work experience International hospital shadowing for school and university students Find out more You might also be interested in ... Timeline: Applying to Dental School in the US The Benefits of Finding a Dentistry Mentor Getting dentistry work experience… what are your options?