If you didn't get accepted this time around, don't fret. It just means that you have a little more work to do. But do know that you are not alone in this, especially with regards to dentistry. With so few dental schools in this country only offering a few spots, it's common to have to apply multiple times. As someone who has had the opportunity to be on both sides of the application process, I'd like share my advice on what to do if you didn't accepted...
Go to the Source
No one can tell you what to work on better than the admission offices themselves. So go ahead and get in contact with the admissions departments directly. You may be surprised by how open they are willing to be with you. Be candid and let them know that you want to improve and take any advice they give you with open ears and a graceful spirit.
Don't Rush to Re-Apply
In my opinion this is extremely important. Ideally, you can reapply during the next application cycle, but if you're not ready-please don't rush it. There is no point in going through the financial and emotional turmoil associated with the application process unless your application is as strong as it can be. Take the time to follow through on any advice the school admission offices offered you. Perhaps retake some courses or participate in a post-baccalaureate program. Increase your entrance exam scores and gain as much REAL LIFE experience as possible.
This is something that I want to stress because I feel that many of us may be tempted to simply emulate our ideals of the perfect candidate. In reality, there is no perfect candidate. There is no one type of person that appeals to admissions departments. Of course admitted students may have similar personality traits and educational backgrounds, but the schools also saw something unique in them. So be your own brand of unique.
I will share a few personal examples of how I too just did what I thought I was supposed to. As an undergraduate, I took on a full-time research position where I spent a year doing genetics research through the NIH. While I definitely enjoyed the experience, a big part of my motivation was that I thought doing research is what was expected of me. When my interviews began, I was all prepared to answer questions and explain my work, BUT no one asked about it. Why? Well maybe it was because so many of the other applicants had done the exact same thing. I did however get asked about the community orchestra that I was a member at every single interview. That was something that I did solely for me because I was passionate about it. It also turned out to be something that my interviewers loved.....they loved that I played the viola.
On the flip side of the coin, I cried at every single one of my interviews. I could't help it. I'm an emotional person so when I was asked personal questions, the waterworks started. I thought that I'd blown it-that crying during an interview would make me seem weak. But it didn't, rather it showed my personality as a caring person. Now I'm not suggesting that anyone start playing an obscure instrument OR that you blubber like a baby during your interviews, but I am suggesting that you be yourself. Don't just do what you think that you need in order to get accepted. Be your own person...
What to do NOW?
Implement your back-up Plan. Even while I was applying to dental school, I was also applying to summer programs. If I hadn't been accepted that would have been my next step, my back-up plan. Now it's time to take all of the advice you have received and make a plan for yourself.
And as always, feel free to comment or email me directly at email@example.com