Pre-Dental Advisement 

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Getting started...

 
 
 

The application process for dental schools is quite competitive, so you need to be thinking about the requirements of the particular program to which you will apply.  You also want to consider the whole application that you will want to submit.  This application will include grades and scores on the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) but you'll also need to develop the non-academic portions of your personality.  This might include experience with the dental profession (through a job or through an internship), a general interest in community service, and the dedication and perseverance in the face of difficulty.  Because dental schools can only accept a fraction of their applicants, they are always looking for ways to separate them.  Your job is to make sure that you are able to stand out from the crowd.  It won't be sufficient just to have good grades, you want to have positive traits in other areas as well.  In fact, a weakness in one area of your academic history can be strengthened by improvements in other areas.  This page is designed to help you guide yourself on the path to dental school.   

 

 
 
 

What do I need before I apply to dental school?

 
 
 

While the application requirements vary somewhat from one school to another, they are all going to require some things in common.  These include

  • Your application - this will vary from one school to another, but it will generally include a personal statement that includes your reasons for wanting to enroll in dental school.  A well-written application letter is very important - you should give yourself as long as possible to write this and it is a very good idea to have someone you trust review the quality of your letter.
    • Under NO circumstances should you submit a letter with spelling errors or grammatical flaws.  This is guaranteed to get your application rejected! 
  • A good GPA - this varies from one school to another, but often average 3.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).  This doesn't give you a lot of chances for low grades, so you should treat every course as important!
  • The DAT - this test is produced by the American Dental Association, and is offered in a computer-based format at many testing centers.  To take the DAT, there are several requirements/limitations.  You can find more about these things by visiting this website produced by the ADA.  The test has several sections related to academic disciplines (biology, chemistry, etc.) and one devoted to perceptual ability.  DAT scores range from 1 to 30 on each section, with national averages around 17.  The minimum scores you must achieve on the DAT vary from one school to another, but for the class of 2005-2006, they averaged approximately 19 on the academic section and 17 on the perceptual section.
    • You must have completed a minimum of one year of college-level education, which should include basic biology, introductory chemistry, and organic chemistry.  However, most students take at least two years of college before they take the DAT, so you should be aware that taking it very early might put you at a disadvantage compared to other students taking the test.
    • You also should consider the cost - the DAT currently costs $175 per attempt, so it isn't something you want to take lightly!
    • You must not have taken the DAT within the last 90 days.
    • You can only attempt the test a total of three (3) times.  If you have taken the test three times and want to take it again, you need to apply for permission to take the test again.  Taking any part of the test constitutes an "attempt" so it is important to only take the test when you will have time for a complete attempt.
  • Required coursework - see the section below for more information.
    • You must have completed at least two years of college-level education.  While some dental schools will accept students at this stage, the majority require at least three years.  Students who apply early are often at a disadvantage, however, so you should bear this in mind if you are applying early.  You will need to be an exceptional applicant if you are likely to be accepted at an early stage.  In fact, according to the ADA, 90% of the first-year dental class consisted of students with four years of college, and 82% of the class had earned a bachelor's degree. 
  • Letters of reference - like any professional school, dental school wants to know about applicants from people who know them best.  You will want to make sure you get reference letters from people who can speak about your academic qualifications, your interest in dentistry, and other personal qualifications that would make you a good dental student.
    • Getting good recommendation letters is VITAL!  To make sure that your recommenders can give you a good letter, you want to provide them with all the information that they will need.  This includes the personal statement you are providing in your application.
    • You also must give your reviewers TIME to write the recommendations.  You should get all the required information to your recommenders several weeks before the application deadline.  A letter that is written in haste is not likely to help your application stand out!
  • Interviews - as your application works its way through the admissions process you may get an invitation to visit the campus for the interview.  This will generally include a meeting with several members of the faculty at the school.  You should go to an interview looking your best as a first impression is very important.  You may want to think about working with the pre-dental advisor to practice your answers to the questions you may get asked.
 
 
 

What courses should I take at CSU?

 
 
 

What courses should I take at CSU?

Regardless of the degree you are earning, there are some courses that you will have to take before you can apply to dental school.  There are some differences between different schools, but most dental schools will require the following courses.

  • Two semesters of biology with lab (BIOL1107/L and 1108/L)
  • General inorganic chemistry with lab (CHEM1211/L and CHEM1212/L)
  • Organic chemistry with lab (CHEM2411/L and CHEM2412/L)
      • Georgia Health Sciences University will also accept one semester of organic chemistry with lab (CHEM2411/L) and one semester of biochemistry (CHEM4202).  Some schools will not allow this option, so it is probably better to take both semesters of organic with lab.
  • One semester of physics with lab (PHYS1111/L), some require the second semester as well (PHYS1112/L).
  • There might be requirements for additional courses in areas such as English composition.  Check with the specific schools for more details.
  • In addition, Dental schools are going to expect you to have spent time shadowing a practicing dentist. This process can occur in a variety of ways, but one way to do it is through CSU's BIOL3222 course. Biology majors can complete this course twice for credit. Finding a dentist who can mentor you can sometimes be difficult. You should check out this link for the Georgia Dental Diversity Group, which has a list of dentists who are willing to serve as mentors for pre-dental students.

If you are majoring in biology at Clayton State, you will cover the required courses and then some!  You can see the CSU biology curriculum at the links to the Biology division.

 
 
 

How can I improve my chances of admission to dental school?

 
 
 

Because dental schools are so competitive, it helps to make sure that you look different from other students who are applying.  Here are some things that can help you stand out when you are applying to dental school:

  • Earn A's in all your required science courses
  • Earn high scores on the DAT
  • Give serious thought to WHY you want to pursue a career in dentistry.  Applications to dental school will usually require a personal essay that includes your reason for applying.  This will also be a common question you are asked during your interviews
  • You should also do as much as you can to demonstrate your understanding of what dentistry really involves and the strength of your dedication to helping others
    • This can include working in dental offices (this could include an off-campus internship [BIOL3222] as part of your degree at CSU).  Also consider enrolling for multiple semesters of internship experience so that you can use the course as an elective. Shadowing done without course credit can also be worthwhile.
  • Good recommendations from a variety of sources, including faculty members, dental professionals, etc.
  • If you have had to work through adversity in your life, be sure you think about how this has affected your goals.
  • Performing research is another factor that some schools consider (e.g., BIOL3224 and 4222), it is probably much lower priority than the internships and shadowing.
 
 
 

Dental Schools in the Southeastern US

 
 
 

Note: schools in a particular state usually give preference to candidates from that state.  If you are serious about applying to a school outside of Georgia, you may want to consider establishing residency in that state.  Check the web pages for the particular school for information on residency requirements.  Also note that some of these schools are part of the AADSAS system, where you submit a single application that is supplied to the schools you specify.  At this time, the Medical College of Georgia does not use this system.  You should be sure to check with each school to verify their application requirements.

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Georgia Regents University (formerly Medical College of Georgia or Georgia Health Sciences University)

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University of Alabama at Birmingham

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Medical University of South Carolina

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Meharry Medical College

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Nova Southeastern University

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University of North Carolina

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University of Florida

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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