Your Dental School Application Essay

Essay... Personal Statement... Statement of Purpose... Candidate's Admission Statement... These terms bring a shiver to the spine of many a potential dental student. You should think of the application essay, however, as an opportunity to show admissions officers what you're made of. They want to know why you want to attend their optometry program and this is your chance to tell them as clearly and compellingly as you can.

Two Basic Purposes

Your application essays can serve two basic purposes. First, they show whether or not you can write a clear, coherent essay that's logically and grammatically correct. These days, students' writing ability is often presumed deficient unless proven otherwise.

Second, they provide you with the opportunity to present the admissions committee with more of a "three-dimensional" portrait of yourself as a deserving candidate than GPA and DAT numbers possibly can. What you choose to write sends clear signals about what's important to you and what your values are. You can explain why you really want to pursue dentistry and the career path it will enable you to follow. Your essay also enables you to explain things like a bad grade or term in an otherwise creditable record.

The essay should provide a 3-dimensional picture of you.

Essays are the best way for admissions officers to determine who you are. So, don't hesitate to go beyond your current experience for essay topics. Feel free to discuss other events that help define who you are. If you have overcome significant obstacles, say so. If you were honored with an award, describe the award and what you did to achieve recognition.

It behooves you to do a good job here. So start early. Go over your goals and aspirations, write several drafts, talk to students and professors. Then give some thought to your goals. How will you accomplish them? What can you contribute to the dental school community? What can you contribute to this particular school or program? If you can answer these questions in a clear, concise manner, the statement will be a relative breeze.

A Few Final Tips...

  • Answer questions.
  • Follow directions.
  • Match yourself with the school.
  • Be your unique self.
  • Tell stories and make your essays interesting.
  • Start with a bang.
  • Ask other people to read your essay and give you their impression.