How to improve odds at dental school admission?
October 6, 2011 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Dental School Filter: After a few tries, a friend of mine finally received an invitation for an interview at one of the schools he applied to. What are his chances of getting accepted?

The interview is in early October, and he's heard that earlier interviews, like in October, is a good sign, as opposed to an interview in March. Is this true? How likely is it for him to get accepted in October interview? What percentage of interviewee get wait-listed? He didn't receive a single interview in his previous applications, so he's excited but we're trying to find out as much information to determine his odds. Not sure if the school is just entertaining him. The difference this time around is that he has a PhD.

In addition, what are some of the ways he can improve his chances at this interview? For example, you're supposed to dress up, but it's going to be an all day event, does this make a difference? Any advice will be appreciated. If you or someone you know have experience in this, even better!
posted by icollectpurses to Education (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A Fall interview is a really good sign, since almost all dental schools will essentially fill their class by December 1 (which is the earliest date that schools can legally send acceptances.)

Knowing if he will get in depends entirely on the school. For example, getting an interview at University of the Pacific basically means your accepted and they are just gauging your personality, etc. Other schools it means maybe ~50% chance of getting in or so.

Basic interviewing advice:
Dress in a suit and tie. Research the school. Have a few questions handy for current students and board pass rates, how many get accepted to specializations, do they teach business skills for running a practice, do they get enough clinical work, how hard is it to get patients for your exams & NBDE II, etc. Possibly bring some water, small snack, pen, and paper. Arrive 10-15 minutes EARLY. Go to the school the day before so you know how to get there. Sleep well and eat a decent breakfast. Practice, Practice, Practice. If he is currently at a university go to their pre-health career center and take an interview practice workshop or read their literature. Go to his schools pre-dental club and ask if alumni have gone to the school, or if current students have already interviewed there...and contact them for advice. Study and practice early on and then relax several days before so you don't pysch yourself out.

It is essential that you can explain Why Dentistry, and show your Passion for the field. For the most part they know from your application that you have the smarts to get through dental school, but they also want to know if you have the other skills and qualities of a dentist.

Some schools have closed applications, where the person interviewing you has not seen your application, so you have to "sell" yourself a bit and explain more. Whereas, other schools have an open application where they will have already read it.

Make sure the school is the right fit for him, assuming he gets in elsewhere. Also, be sure to have great questions for current students that you can ask on the side or whatever....they will have the inside scope, since most schools are trying to "sell" them self to you.

Oh, did I mention Practice with a variety of people and situations and such.

Dental Resources: (compare yourself to similar applicants, etc.) (read how his school will interview him, that is some schools do mini exercises and such) (most the pre-health interview advice also applies to dental school)
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 9:10 PM on October 6, 2011

Best answer: I did vet school interviews last year (hopefully I'll get in this year instead of just waitlisted-boo). All of that information is usually somewhere on the school's website. It will tell you how many applied, how many were accepted, test scores, etc. I found an example on IU's website here. It appears like it is very competitive (like vet school).

A good way to get info about this is at the Student Doctor Network Forums. Your friend can read posts without joining, but to post questions you need to create an account (which is free). Lots of good info from people applying and people who have been accepted. Word to the wise: make sure you search the forums before posting a question. The pre-vet students are fairly kind about it if you post a question that has been beaten to death, but it is well known on that forum that pre-allopathics are vicious and downright mean (and they will jump in on other forums for the opportunity to rip someone up). Not sure about pre-dental, but just be forewarned.

As far as interviews go, he would probably want to Google what kind of questions are asked, and then find lists of questions (yay Google!) and practice answering them. I was asked a lot of behavioral questions at interviews, with a few profession-related questions mixed in. With behavioral questions, I found it was very helpful to be prepared with examples so that I didn't hem & haw at the actual interview.

Another note (this applies more to women than men, but it still applies): when interviews are sent out, the school usually indicates that business attire is appropriate. I found out when I went to the interviews that there is a wide range of interpretations for 'business attire'. I went and bought a suit and new shoes at Nordstrom, and I was probably the best dressed woman there (not bragging, purely observation-I was very, very surprised). I saw guys wearing white shirts and khakis (which are appropriate business attire for working at Best Buy), and girls wearing outfits that would be perfect for clubbing or streetwalking. Moral of the story: invest in a good suit and nice shoes.

Your friend should also know that waitlisted isn't the end of the world. Some vet schools went through their out-of-state (OOS) waitlists completely (schools with really, really high OOS tuition) and actually called up people that they had previously rejected. So...yay (kinda) waitlists! Hope some of this helps your friend, & good luck to him!
posted by bolognius maximus at 9:14 PM on October 6, 2011

Best answer: Yep, an early interview is a good sign! For many (most?) dental schools, getting an interview, especially that early, means you're really, really likely to get in. The interview seems to be more of a "sanity check" -- is the applicant actually personable enough to put patients at ease? Is their heart in the right place/are they doing this for the right reasons? Have they really considered a career in dentistry thoroughly, and decided they are absolutely sure this is what they want to do? Dental school's incredibly tough, and they want to make sure you're not going to change your mind or give up.

I don't recall even being asked any "hard" questions at any of my dental school interviews- I felt like the interviewers were just trying to get to know me. I had friends who did get interrogated a little harder at their interviews, but I think the key thing they're looking for is that you stay calm under the pressure and that you're not too uptight. Dentistry attracts a lot of perfectionists, but it's ultimately the way you interact with your patients and not your technical brilliance that will make you a success or a failure.

Mr. Papagiorgio's advice above is excellent. I would reiterate bolognius's advice to dress conservatively - wear a suit, shave, etc. - dentistry is still dominated by old men who will judge you on your appearance.
posted by bootswiththefur at 10:18 PM on October 6, 2011

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