APPLYING FOR THE 2014 AADSAS APPLICATION?

Good morning!!! Today is the most important day for every pre-dental student planning on attending dental school for the 2013-2014 school year! The 2012 AADSAS application season has begun! By now, you should have most of the application completed so that as soon as the application opens, you can fill all the application sections including your letters of recommendation, personal statement, and all your extracurricular activities! If you have not compiled your application contents, don’t fret! There is still plenty of time to turn everything in. However, keep in mind that dental school admissions are based on a rolling admissions system, in which fewer people are admitted as time passes by. In essence, it is easier to get in to dental schools if you apply right away rather than a few months in.

Last week I had the privilege to attend a presentation by Stan Constantino, a Director of Admissions from the University of Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. Stan enlightened us on topics related to admissions. We also got the opportunity to get many of our questions answered regarding UoP and dental school admissions in general.  The following list was compiled based on answers given by Mr. Constantino which have been further expanded:

When is “early” when it comes to application season?

Generally, if you apply before the end of the month of June, you are considered an early applicant. Applications within the first month are immediately processed but not reviewed by dental schools for roughly another month. As a result, submitting on the first day does not have a significant advantage over submitting than the end of June. However, the rule of thumb is that if you have all the sections ready, then you should submit it as soon as the application is available.

When should I have my DAT done by?

It is highly recommended that the DAT test is completed as early as possible. To still be considered a moderately-early applicant, you should have your DAT done no later than July. You can take your exam later than that, but your application will lose its early advantage it had when you initially submitted it. Applications missing sections are put on hold until the section is delivered. I have heard of people taking the DAT as late as October or November of their application cycle!

What DAT score should I aim for?

You should aim for as high as possible, however a good “safe” zone is anything above 20. This applies to virtually all dental schools. Stan Constantino mentioned that UoP, in particular, is least concerned with the Quantitative Reasoning section of the DAT. His rule of thumb is that if you score 17 or under on any section, then you should retake the test. Anything that low is not considered a competitive score.

Can I take the DAT over?

You can take the DAT once every 90 days. Your last attempt is the score that is reviewed by dental schools. Please be aware that any regression in score will override any higher scores previously earned. Only take the test if you are ready to take it again, do not do it just because you can!

How long does it take for dental schools to receive my application?

Your application’s delivery time can vary significantly. Some schools fall under a 3-6 week window while other schools fall under a 6-8 week window. Since the delivery window can vary over a month, it is best to have the mindset that all of your desired dental schools will receive your application no later than 3 weeks after applications open June 4th. This way, you give yourself a specific goal that will prevent your applications completion from dragging on weeks or months longer than it should!

What if I submit my application immediately, but I am waiting for my letter of recommendation from person X?

Every requirement of the application must be ready as soon as application season opens. If any part of the application is missing, the whole application is put on hold until the required pieces are submitted. This most commonly happens due to a late letter recommendation. It is highly recommended that you request a letter of recommendation very early on in the process and give the writer a deadline a few weeks prior to the actual June 4th deadline. This gives you a little safety window in the case that the individual may have forgotten to write the recommendation letter.

The key message to this is that you should have EVERYTHING ready by June 4th, application day.

I have a few C’s. Will that prevent me from getting into dental school?

Mr. Constantino said that 1 or 2 C’s will not hinder your application much. Depending on the difficulty of the class, a C can be considered acceptable.

What factors make up the dental school admissions process?

Fulfilling all these categories will put you and your application in a very good standing. Being solid in all of these categories will make you an extremely strong applicant anywhere.

  • Coursework
    • Gives the admissions officers an idea about the difficulty of your classes, types of classes, and diversity of classes.
  • Course Load Sufficiency
    • Maintaining a dense course load throughout college is very important. This shows dental schools that you can perform strongly in very intense and demanding situations.
  • GPA
    • A numerical value calculated based on your performance in classes. Several versions of your GPA are evaluated. Mainly a science GPA and total GPA.
  • DAT
    • Standardized testing score helps balance the inconsistency in GPA’s across hundreds of schools.
  • Letter of Recommendation
    • 2 Science Curriculum letters of recommendation
    • 1 Other letter of recommendation
    • You can submit more, but some schools may only review 3 out of however many you have.
    • It is better to have 3 very strong ones rather than 5 moderately strong letters.
  • Personal Statement
    • A high quality personal statement can show a lot about you and your personality. This is a great place to show to admissions officers that you are passionate about becoming a dentist.
  • Extra-Curricular activities
    • Community service is a great way to show admissions that you are doing other things than just studying. Contributions to the community go a long way especially when they know you are busy doing everything else mentioned in this list.
  • Leadership
    • Having leadership positions in organizations shows your ability to manage others and lead a team. This is vital to becoming a dentist as dentists who own private practices are the boss and are the leaders of a dental team.
  • Dental Experience
    • It is important to have some shadowing hours. Mr. Constantino recommended 40+ hours to be a strong candidate. I would recommend doing as much as you can. Spending as much time in a dental environment as possible will really help you feel confident in your decision to pursue a career in dentistry.
    • My dental experience is the reason why I know dentistry is the career for me. An answer to the question “Why Dentistry” is much stronger when you have experiences that tell your story for you.
  • Dexterity
    • Proving you have fine motor skills is vital. Pick up a hobby that involves complicated and precise movements. Hobbies like painting, sculpting, or playing an instrument not only show fine motor skills, but they also show admissions officers that you have developed an artistic edge over other dental students.
    • My hobby has been soldering and repairing small electronics. To me, it is like performing surgeries. Very precise movements in very tight areas are needed to perform the repairs and built electronics. Research may open up opportunities to perform surgeries on animals for various reasons. Although this may be difficult to do at first, it is a great way to develop dexterity skills in a stressful environment.

Do you have any recommendations on curriculum that will improve my application and ease my load during dental school?

It is highly recommended that more than 1 science class is taken per quarter. Some important classes to take with their respective labs are:

  • Human anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Bio chemistry
  • Histology
  • Microbiology

Many of these classes will be taken again in your first two years of dental school, during which you will be taking 5+ intense and dense classes at once. Early exposure to these subjects should simplify the transition to dental school by making the workload less exhausting.

Does applying for a second cycle hurt my chances?

While most schools will see that you have applied previously, they will treat your application similarly to first timers. They may also use another factor to help their decision by looking into how you have bettered yourself since your previous application. If you are applying for a second cycle, be sure to emphasize on your improvements during your time off.

Does taking a year off between undergraduate and dental school hurt my chances of getting in?

Taking a year off is completely acceptable; in fact, you can take as many years off as you would like! The only catch is that you have to show that you have grown as an individual during that time period. As long as you did not spend the entire year sitting in front of the TV, there should be absolutely nothing to be concerned with when it comes to taking a break from school.

 

I would like to thank Stan Constantino for coming all the way down to UCI to give us this presentation. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to speak to an admissions representative. If you have any questions regarding the application process, fill out the Ask Elias form and I will contact Mr. Constantino to get an answer.

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Filling out the AADSAS is fairly straightforward. And if you need any help you can access their guide posted on the AADSAS website.

Please note: Since this school year is winding up, I will be taking a short break for the following two weeks so I can focus on finals! Good luck on applications! I will still be answering any email questions if you have any.

AnnouncementGood afternoon! I am excited to announce that for the 2012-2013 school year, I will be the External Vice President of ASDA @ UCI! I am glad to see that my hard work as the 2011-2012 treasurer has been recognized. My role as the External Vice President is:

1) To assist the President and preside at chapter meetings and events in the absence or incapacity of the President.

2) To contact different dental schools’ admissions personnel and invite them as guest speakers.

3) To contact different dental schools in order to schedule field trips.

4) To purchase gifts for guest speakers and take care of their parking tickets and arrangements.

5) Contact representatives such the military, etc.

I am looking forward to getting the ball rolling! A good friend of mine was chosen as the president of the club and we  have an excellent history of  working well together. We have a plan already in development that will require the whole board to step up and surpass their written responsibilities, but the pay off will be tremendous. Our club has the potential to grow to a new level just like the pre-dental club at UCLA has!

The current board members who will also be serving on the board next year have done excellent work in improving the club. This year we managed to become closely associated with Vinmar Solutions, Inc. which has lead to a lot of support from its owner, Mark Hunt. His pre-dental course for tooth waxing and denture  making, which were previously only offered at UCLA, are now at UCI at a fraction of the cost for taking the same course in UCLA. He has also come several times to meetings as a guest. One of these  events was a “Carve a Tooth” challenge in which the two individuals with the best sculpted teeth made out of clay received a free voucher to one of his courses. We have also had an excellent opportunity to visit a dental technician lab in orange county which is considered to be one of the best and most advanced labs in the nation. And last but not least we have built a relationship with local schools to offer oral health education for pre-school and kindergarten students. As you can see, we have accomplished a lot this year!

Next year we plan to continue doing all that we have done and plan to implement many new attributes. One of our focuses for next year is to develop a system that will allow general members to be more acquainted with one another. We want our members to grow a network of peers so that they can find support and help for any needs. We hope that creating “families” will result in more people participating  in social events and fundraisers throughout the year. We also plan to redesign our meetings so that they will be more connected and interesting by reducing the lecture environment experience and emphasizing more on  interaction. We found out this year that the majority of members find a lecture-like experience exhausting especially after a long day of attending courses. Last but not least, I aspire to begin a new focus on a cause that will help drive members to come out and participate at fundraisers.

I plan to start fundraising and support for Smile Train which is a foundation that goes to third word countries and corrects cleft lip and palate problems for free.  I have been interested in helping this organization since a research project I did in high school English about dentistry. The following is an excerpt from their website that shows why this issue is so important and has been motivation behind my dream to one day partake in this life changing experience.

Most cannot eat or speak properly, aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job. Being born with a cleft in a developing country is truly a curse. Every baby born in Uganda with a cleft is given the name Ajok which means literally, “cursed by God.” Some newborns are killed or abandoned right after birth. The good news is that every single child with a cleft can be helped with surgery that costs as little as $250. It’s a true modern-day medical miracle that gives a child back their life.

I am really excited to get the ball rolling in this. Changing these kids’ lives only requires $250 dollars and a surgeon. Supporting this organization has been a passion of mine and I am exited that a door has opened that will give me an opportunity to finally get involved.

Cleft Palate Excerpt from SmileTrain

As you can see, I am really excited to start on next years goals!

Congratulations to all the 2012-2013 board members, and I am looking forward to working with you all!

At my interview a few weeks ago for the research position, I brought several documents with me in a binder. Two copies of my resume, a business card, a letter of recommendation demonstrating a strong work ethic, and 2 awards I received demonstrating good team work skills. The key document in that binder was the resume which is a brief account of one’s professional or work experience and qualifications. Apart from the application, the resume is the first thing an interviewer will look at, and as a result, it’s perfection is key. A resume should be sculpted to perfection and geared towards EVERY specific position so that the interviewer will be amazed with the accomplishments you have achieved and can clearly apply your skill set to that needed to fill the open position. The personalization also helps impress the interviewer as it gives them an idea of how important getting the position is to you and how serious you are about it. For these reasons, I believe it is vital  for the first guide in the portfolio building series to be dedicated to creating and perfecting a resume.

When I wrote my first resume in 2008, I had no idea what I was doing. It was for a job search engine optimizing (SEO) a website that sold home made crafts through an online store. I was asked for a resume hours before the online interview and since I didn’t have one prepared, I quickly make one from scratch. I had no idea how to write a proper resume, let alone what to write in it. I had no confidence in my own accomplishments and was not able to display my achievements effectively. Here is the original copy I emailed to the business owner. Needless to say  I didn’t get the position.

The next resume was for an Intel Internship during the summer of 2009. This was a much more serious position and I had plenty of time to prepare and create the resume for the position. I researched the basic parts of a resume and modified my original design to be better structured and more informational. Unfortunately, I didn’t get this internship either; however, that same summer I found another internship at Prima Games, a company that publishes most of the video game guides sold for games like Call of Duty . The resume I sent them was a modified version of the one I gave to Intel.

The following school year I was required to make a new resume for my dental assisting courses from scratch. Using resources provided by the dental assisting school, I created a resume template that I am still satisfied with and still use as my primary template today. This template has gone through many revisions including: a job as a dental assistant, a position as the ASDA @ UCI treasurer for the 2011-2012 school year, and my recent research position. As you can see, they are all slight variants of each other with emphasis on qualities that are related to the position. I would recommend loading up all of the resumes listed above and compare them side by side to see how they differ and evolve over time.

Regardless of how far you are already in the resume making process I would undoubtedly recommend reading through the following guide, tips, and examples.

In my experiences mentoring other pre-dental students, I have noticed that many of my mentees do not have a resume yet. And when I ask them for their reasoning, their answer is that they do not feel like they have anything to write about. This seems to be the biggest hurdle for everyone. I felt exactly like that when I was writing my resumes for the home craft online store. However, by giving my resume time to evolve through several intermediate revisions, I turned my disaster of a first resume into a professional document representing me. For those just starting, my advice is to begin with a brainstorming phase. Just start writing down things you have done and skills you have gained from these experiences. Experiences as simple as being a club member are great to have and can be used to show what you are involved in. Give this brainstorming period a fair amount of time and energy and you’d be surprised at how much you have accomplished over the years. Taking this first step by writing things down in a list will help relieve the stress involved in drafting your first resume.

Start adding details to this list. Gather as much detail as possible. Experiences, like internships, or events, like fundraisers, should have names, dates, phone numbers, and descriptions. Group the skills into categories  and write a description of how that skill could benefit an employer in general. Going through this brainstorming phase will not only start building a foundation network to your resume, but it will also help you explain any part of your resume when asked about it in an interview.

Now open a new document and begin composing the resume. Writing a resume involves balancing several factors just enough to come off as professional to an interviewer. The key factors are design, which includes formatting and organization organization, detail level, and experience. Composing the resume involves balancing these factors to work in unison.

Design, is very important. A resume with a good design will catch the readers attention, and if well structured, can impress an interviewer even with less experience than the other guy. Look through templates online and search google for resume examples. Microsoft Word and Publisher have many templates to choose from which are accessible by navigating to File->New and searching for “Resume”. This process should take some time. Pick a template that fits you, demonstrates professionalism, and is easy to read.

 

Once you have found your template, begin filling in the basic fields and experiences and skills sections based on the brainstorming done earlier. I recommend referencing a guide sheet for resume writing, which helped me write my own. It explains the goal of each section in a basic resume.  Find and use “resume verb” lists like this one to help write your resume using professional and proper diction. Some of these words can completely change the emphasis on a specific experience or skill, and as a result this step is highly encouraged.

After you have filled out the resume template as best as possible, share it with some friends and have them evaluate several factors. The evaluation point is the resume’s first impression when you handed it to them, if it was professional, cluttered, too much white space, etc. Next have them evaluate the content for any cliche or odd areas. These areas will stand out like a sore thumb, and so it is important to not have anything that deters from the resumes primary focus. The final part of the evaluation is grammar usage. When it comes to resumes, one grammar mistake could easily leave your resume in the trashcan.

After receiving your evaluations modify the resume accordingly until it is approacing a final draft stage. At this point I would highly recommend going to a resume workshop and having your resume evaluated by somebody who has much experience doing so. You will get great tips and revision recommendations from these professional individuals.

My final piece of advice is, do not lie, do not lie, DO NOT LIE! It’s not worth it. Trust me! The lie may slip through the cracks and you may get the job, but eventually they will find out and when that day comes your integrity will disappear.  Earn the position the right way.

UPDATE 5/03: What perfect timing! Apparently Yahoo’s CEO, Scott Thompson, lied on his resumes to Yahoo and PayPal about his education history by claiming he had a computer science degree. Unfortunately for him, his lie was exposed today, and now his reputation in the technology industry is for sure tarnished.

If you would like me to review your resumes send them in using the Ask Elias page. NOTE: The only accepted file types are .doc, .docx, .pub, .pdf. If I am missing your file type, send me an email using the same form and I will add it.