It’s hard to remember that you’re at school to get an education when you’re in the midst of hanging posters, making awkward conversation with your new roommate, and trying to determine the most aesthetically pleasing way to arrange your desk items.
Even though it may seem intimidating at first, freshman year is an amazing and unmatchable experience. Being on your own, placed in a completely new environment can be frightening. In addition, the notoriously daunting classes required for dental school admission and pre-dental students can be overwhelming.
You’ll have to figure out how to allocate your time between studying, partying, sleeping (don’t forget this one), and your extracurriculars. But there is no need to freak out. It can be done! And with this guide as a tool you’ll be a pre-dental whiz in no time!
1. What should I major in?
While the practice of dentistry is grounded in scientific principals, there are no specific majors you must choose in order to be admitted to a graduate program. In fact, most admissions committees will give candidates with well-rounded transcripts more consideration than those more narrowly focused on science.
2. What classes are prerequisites for dental school admissions?
Though you don’t have to major in anything specific, it is highly recommended that you obtain a solid foundation in the natural sciences.
All dental schools require the following courses:
- Biology with Lab
- Inorganic Chemistry with Lab
- Organic Chemistry with Lab
- Physics with Lab
- Most require that you take a semester of English (usually writing-based)
Some also require the courses below, while others simply suggest them as beneficial:
Most dental schools also note that the following courses can be advantageous:
- A Foreign Language
- Humanities or Social Science Courses
3. Who can help me plan my courses?
You should contact either your general advisor or a pre-dental/pre-health advisor to figure out when you should take the courses mentioned above. Most undergraduates take Biology and Inorganic Chemistry during their Freshman year, Organic Chemistry their Sophomore year, and Physics as Juniors. This order is the norm because Physics is not tested on the DAT, though it is required for dental school admission. Since the DAT is taken in the spring of junior year, it is not necessary to have finished physics at this point, but bio, inorganic, and organic chemistry must be completed.
Don’t forget about general requirement classes. Getting them out of the way early will allow you to take more focused electives down the road. You don’t want to be stuck in a Freshmen writing class the last semester of your Senior year when the rest of your pre-dental pals are boasting about their awesome “New Trends in Endodontics” class (ok, maybe not boasting, but they could like it a lot).
Other than this handy guide, you can find some great sources for help, advice, and information right on campus or in your home community. Before doing anything else, you should contact your school’s pre-dental or pre-health advisor. If you can’t find either of the two, just give up, drop out of school—you’re doomed. Just kidding! Simply go to your general academic advisor to discuss classes, future options, and so on. Perhaps he or she can put you in touch with a professor in the field that can act as an unofficial advisor.
Ask your advisor if he or she can provide the phone numbers or email addresses of some past graduates that have gone on to dental school or a career in the field. These contacts can serve as great resources to answer questions, give advice, or even help you to find internship or shadowing opportunities.
When you go home for your first break you will most likely have several appointments. After a haircut to trim the once spiffy, now mulleted coif, you might be scheduled for your dental checkup as well. Even if you don’t have an appointment, make a visit but be sure to call ahead. This is a great opportunity to speak with a trusted professional about the field and have some basic questions answered.