Saturday, March 24, 2012

Deciding where to apply for dental school

There are currently 61 dental schools in the U.S. That's every second in the minute plus one. Choosing where to apply (considering the pretty pennies they cost) is not easy.

Before I decided where to apply, I pulled up my handy Dental Notebook and brainstormed up Happy Points: characteristics my ideal school would have. I wrote them all down, no matter how wild they were. (Snow and beaches?)
For me, good public transportation and an active performing arts scene ranked high on the list. These will be different for everyone. This is why I don't think StudentDoctor is the smartest place to gather advice, because who knows what makes you happy better than you do?

Next step was to go through the ADEA Official Guide, school by school and evaluate each school objectively against my criteria to determine if I would enjoying being a student at the school.

Some simple guidelines about where to apply:

1. Apply to your state school.
Even if you would rather eat tablespoons of cinnamon than stay home, do it. It will be easier to get in & often times much much much cheaper. You don't know how you will feel in six months, especially after some scary financial aid sessions. You don't have to go if you don't want to. But if you don't apply, you won't even have this option.

2. Apply to safeties. Apply to reaches.
Compare your application to those from accepted students. Apply to a few safeties, but also apply to a few where your statistics fall on the lower end. Since the published statistics are from a previous year, the statistics for this application cycle may be different. Don't be surprised in a bad way. Cushion yourself on both sides.

3. Don't let one factor turn you off.
There was no one dental school that fit all of my Happy Points. Some schools fit most points except for a crucial point, such as having no direct flights to home or being in a must-have-car city. You may find that there are simple solutions to your un-Happy Points. (An hour's train away from a major global hub. An active car-sharing program for graduate students.) Keep an open mind and let your Happy Points serve as a guideline not TSA regulations.

4. Better safe than sorry.
This is what my parents told me for every school I was on the fence about. I applied to more than a dozen schools and shed many tears paying thousands in application fees. But here's a fact: you won't get into the schools you don't apply to.

How did you formulate your list of dental schools to apply to? 
What factors were important in your decision?


  1. I can personally highly recommend applying to a state school. There's usually very little reason to go to school out of state and it would just be silly to do so!

    1. State schools (especially with in-state tuition) are a great deal. I agree with you! I strongly advise students to apply to state schools, especially their own.

  2. Hi, I happened to find your blog when I was doing google search, and I love how you have organized everything so neatly. Plus, I'm korean too and I feel very proud to see that you've tried so hard to achieve your goal. I got a quick question to ask you. I'm applying from Canada. Would you have any recommendation on which school to apply?

    1. Hi Jake- :) Thank you! I know as a Canadian, you have an edge compared to other internationals. Some schools see you as practically U.S. citizens- you should get the ADEA guide book. They have the official policy listed for accepting internationals vs. citizens vs. in-state. OR if there's specific schools you want to know, you can call!