Complete AADSAS Application Picture Guide

December 23rd, 2013 | Posted by Elias Almaz in AADSAS Application | Advice | Background Information | Dental School | Tips - (Comments Off on Complete AADSAS Application Picture Guide)

aadsas_logoA concern for many people anxious to apply for dental school is the AADSAS application. For most, it is the first time they are using the application and the lack of guidance makes it difficult to prepare for in advance. Right before the application opens, confusion and misinformation can be seen throughout club conversations and online communities such as studentdoctor.net due to the ambiguity by the ADEA. Because of this, I have been collecting each component of the AADSAS application as part of a project to create the most comprehensive picture guide of the AADSAS Application. I hope others will find this tool useful to becoming familiar with the application before the application opens and for others to see how future components of the application will appear during the cycle.

The AADSAS Picture Guide v1.0 includes screenshots from the following AADSAS Application processes:

AADSAS Account Creation, AADSAS Notifications/Messages, Application Home Page, Background + Family Information, Disadvantaged Status, High School Information, College + Coursework Information, Sample Matching Forms, DAT Score Reporting, Academic Enrichment Programs, Awards/Honors/Scholarships, Dentistry Experience, Extracurricular/Volunteer/Community Service Experience, Research Experience, Work Experience, Personal Statement, Evaluators (Letters of Recommendation), Release Statements, Dental School Designations, Submission Checklist, Final Submission, Payment, GPA Calculations, Individual Dental School Application Status Updates, Individual Dental School Decisions, Official DAT Scores, Background Check, and the Fee Assistance Program.

As you can see, this has been an ongoing project for the past 6 months as I have experienced the application process. I hope others find it useful in preparing for a future cycle. Future revisions of this document will include annotations and tips as well as other components of the application such as the mysterious and poorly explained AADSAS Holistic Cover Sheet that every new applicant finds confusing. Future revisions will be found on the Pre-Dental Ultimate Resource List.

After going through this lengthy process, I cannot stress enough how much preparing for the application in advance helps for those applying early. I highly encourage keeping track of your AADSAS GPA throughout your education using the calculator I posted earlier this year. The calculator mimics the calculations done by AADSAS by using the unique AADSAS GPA rules and will report every GPA that will appear on your final application. On occasion, the calculation done by AADSAS can contain errors and keeping track of your own AADSAS GPA makes spotting these errors easy. A friend of mine recently helped to update the AADSAS GPA Calculator specifically for quarter systems and now includes a complete course subject listing  to help classify each course on your transcript into an AADSAS Category. The original calculator designed primarily for semester systems can still be downloaded here.

More than ever, I highly encourage using the fillable application created earlier this year to save time when filling out the real application. This document will help you figure out how to perfect the content of your application by holding you to the same character limits of the real application, a challenge of its own.

Happy Holidays!

First Wave of Dental School Acceptances are Out!

December 2nd, 2013 | Posted by Elias Almaz in AADSAS Application | Advice | Dental School | Tips - (Comments Off on First Wave of Dental School Acceptances are Out!)

acceptanceThe day is finally here! December 2nd is the first Monday of December which means it is the day all dental schools begin sending out acceptances to applicants who interviewed. Congratulations to all who got into dental schools. Everything you have done over the past few years has been building up to this moment!

Those that have been extended acceptances have 30 days to reply to the school and place a deposit to reserve their spot. Most December deposits are $1,000 dollars and can be placed on multiple schools if unsure about which you want to attend. This allows you an extra few months to figure out the best school for you, both financially and educationally. Usually, the first deposit will hold your spot until March or April at which a secondary deposit will be required in order to maintain your status at the school.

If you have received an acceptance from a dental school but do not intend to go there it is important to let the school know ASAP. They have hundreds if not thousands of other applicants who would love to have that seat. Feel free to call or email the admissions office to let them know that you kindly would like to withdraw your application and thank them for considering you as a student at their school. This is VERY IMPORTANT. You DO NOT want to burn any bridges with any dental schools since the majority of them have specialty programs or faculty that may be friends! You never know what can happen! 

Time to relax! You are now a dental student and on your way to becoming a dentist! (Lucky for you!)

Here are a few reminders now that you are in:

  •  Maintain your grades! Don’t let senioritis kick in fully! Yes, you don’t have to get “A”‘s anymore, but they are still recommended if you want to keep that GPA up for graduation. You won’t be kicked out of dental school for receiving “B’s”. Some dental schools will accept C’s, others may reevaluate your acceptance if you receive a B- or lower. Spare yourself the heart ache and continue to succeed as you have managed for the past 4+ years.
  • Complete the classes you told the AADSAS application you were planning on taking. Your acceptance can be revoked if you do not complete those classes as your decision factored in your upcoming workload. At some schools your future coursework may not be a factor, but try not to change your schedule too dramatically. A few classes is completely acceptable and expected.

Meet your class mates! Visit The Student Doctor Network School Specific threads to chat with other students who have been accepted and join the facebook page for your class (ie. class of 2018). Many of the facebook pages have students or admissions personnel from the school that can help you with any specific questions such as housing tips.

Kick back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the year! You earned it! If you would like, let me know where you got in using Ask Elias!

acceptance wordle

If you have yet to hear from schools don’t worry! Most schools only fill half of their class by December 2nd. Keep working hard. Send an academic update through AADSAS if you have completed any recent courses. If you have one school that you interviewed at and would go to over all the rest, call the school and ask if they accept a letter of intent. Make sure you let the dental schools know you are still interested in their school and looking forward to an update on your status.

If you are preparing to reapply for the upcoming cycle, take a look at each component of your application and figure out how you can improve it. Take the time to improve every component of your application. Take advantage of resources as the blank AADSAS application document as you work to improve your application. If you would like me to take a look at your application and help you figure out what areas need attention feel free to submit your information on the Ask Elias page!

How to Write a Personal Statement for Dental School

November 1st, 2013 | Posted by Elias Almaz in AADSAS Application | Advice | Dental School | Portfolio | Tips - (Comments Off on How to Write a Personal Statement for Dental School)

The AADSAS Dental School application prompt seems fairly straightforward at first, but can be difficult to answer in less than 4,500 characters (including spaces), roughly a page. The prompt for the past few years has been:

Your Personal Statement should address why you desire to pursue a dental education and how a dental degree contributes to your personal and professional goals.”

Writing a personal statement for dental school can be one of the most challenging tasks in preparation for the application process. It is highly advised to start early and have many revisions over a long period of time. Strategy is also a big part of having a strong personal statement that compliments an application. Many schools will request the completion of a secondary application which often includes a few short essays. It is important to have a variety of experiences brainstormed in advance so you have a better idea on how all your writing accent one another and add on to to your application’s uniqueness. For this reason, I recommend using the following categories to plan out your personal statement and brainstorm your secondary application topics.

  • Leadership
  • Shadowing/Assisting
  • Community Service
  • Manual Dexterity
  • Personal Interest (e.g. technology, music)

Create separate documents for each category and start listing all of your key experiences related to each group. After doing so, select several experiences from each category to further develop as possible experiences to use in a personal statement. Begin plotting out a basic outline and structure for your message. The goal of the personal statement is to emphasize your strengths without giving everything away. You don’t want secondary applications to seem dry and do not advance you as an applicant and future dental student. Address 2 or 3 of the following groups:

  • Talents and leadership
  • Commitment to something you care about
  • Shadowing/Assisting
  • Hardship

Using these groups ensures that your personal statement samples a variety of your characteristics that you feel make you a strong candidate for dental school. The personal statement should show what is important to you, why you want to be a dentist, and why you are a valuable addition to a dental class. Throughout your personal statement, discuss how and why your experiences have affected your decision to pursue dentistry.

Writing your first draft of a personal statement can be challenging. One of your priorities should be to have a strong opening paragraph that catches the readers interest. Members on the admissions council have thousands of statements to read and are not required to read each one in its entirety. The first paragraph decides if they will continue to review or put your application off to the side.

Often I get asked where to find examples of dental school personal statements, and while I have found various resources, I highly advise against reading any other dental personal statements until later in your writing process. I say this because reading other statements tends to make an applicant want to follow a similar structure to the statements reviewed. This is a problem because many of the freely available examples are used as templates by many pre-dental students and as a result are the most common structures. This can annoy admissions very quickly as there is no creativity to the personal statement when reading through hundreds of these in a few days. For this reason, I will not be supplying examples to read, including my own. However, I will discuss the content of my personal statement to some degree.

One of my first articles on this website, Why Dentistry?, had a writing exercise with an example of my answer to the question “Why Dentistry?”. While none of this writing exercise was used in my personal statement, it helped me first put my answer into words that others could understand. In the article I say,

This write up does not need to be perfect. The exercise is designed to “outline” what is important to your story and to help you stay on focus when telling your story to others. It is not meant to be memorized and regurgitated. Here are some key points of my story that together show my interest in dentistry:

  • I mentioned my interest working with my hands.
  • I looked into career choices and saw what appealed to me in dentistry
  • Experienced dentistry by shadowing
  • Took the initiative and started working as a dental assistant
  • Memorable experience that explains the joy dentistry gives me”

Don O. over at Inquarta did an excellent job writing strategy guides for a dental personal statement. I recommend his article “How to Write a Winning Dental School Personal Statement” prior to starting to write a draft of your statement. You can check out the rest of his dental school personal statement posts here. I used his post to better understand what the personal statement means to dental schools and what to focus on in writing a well developed paper.

While working on your personal statement, be sure to have others read it. People with a background in dentistry tend to give the best advice since they could relate to the content of your personal statement.  Keep in mind to keep all large edits in your own words. With plenty of writing in your secondary applications, admissions will be able to easily tell if your personal statement is actually written by you. If they differ, this may affect your applications integrity and possibly hinder an admissions decision.

Check out the Pre-Dental Student Doctor Network forums for FREE Personal Statement critiquing. Using this service will give you a good idea of how different people will react to your personal statement and to learn of your essay’s strengths and weaknesses and what changes to make accordingly. I would like to remind you to be courteous to these individuals and ask if they would like to review your personal statement before providing a copy. The thread for the last cycle was titled “Personal Statement Reviewing Service (2013-2014 Cycle)“, but is largely inactive now since the application cycle is coming to a close. Future reviewing services will be similarly titled and likely stickied at the top of the pre-dental forums.

If you have any questions during the process or would like to me review your personal statement, feel free to use the Ask Elias page! Good luck writing!