A dentist will attend about 8 years of school after high school! Preparation for dental school involves curricular and extracurricular experiences which demonstrate communication, leadership, community service, research, and familiarity with the dental profession.
To enter dental school, you will need:
- BA or BS in any major that you choose. Any major is appropriate. Choosing a major that you excel in and enjoy should lead to better grades and allow you to have a more pleasant undergraduate experience. Also, choose a major that can be your contingency plan if you don’t get into dental school or choose not to go!
- Specific courses required by the dental school
- Experience in a dental setting, such as shadowing a dentist. This should be one of your first experiences as a pre-dental student. Observing a dentist in action will help you gather the information you need to fully commit to the profession you have chosen and to learn about a variety of dental specialties.
- A competitive DAT score
- Letters of evaluation. Make sure you have contact information for supervisors and dentists you shadow or work with in case you need to ask for letters of evaluation. Try to keep a relationship with someone you will most likely ask for a letter of recommendation.
- Evidence of leadership and community involvement. Because you are preparing for a humanitarian profession, it is important to have volunteer learning experiences which demonstrate a commitment to service to others.
Remember this – it’s best to have long-term meaningful involvement in a couple of organizations rather than shallow involvement in many organizations.