How to Craft a Winning Personal Statement for Dental School Application
Have you put some thought into how you will write your personal statement for application? How will you stand out among the hundreds of other applicants?
With over 11,000 potential candidates applying annually to US dental schools, competition has never been stronger. Above average DAT scores and GPAs aren’t good enough anymore to truly stand out.
That's why Helen Yang, DMD, a Harvard Dental School graduate and current endodontics resident at UIC, has written a new book to help applicants become more successful.
In her new book, Your Essential Guide to Dental School Admissions: 30 Successful Application Essays and Collective Wisdom from Young Dentists, Dr. Yang and collaborators offer a holistic strategy for a winning dental school application. The second half of the book focuses on the personal statement and consists of 30 essays written by dental students across the country.
With a background serving on Harvard Dental School’s admissions committee and working in admissions counseling, Yang offers an invaluable and highly beneficial perspective.
“I looked at what kind of books were already out there. They tended to be written by a single person, so just featuring one person’s experience. Also, they focused a lot on the statistics of getting into dental school, Yang explained, as her inspiration for writing this book.
About half of the book is devoted to crafting a compelling personal statement, because “the personal statement of all the things in the application plays such a big role in making the applicant seem like a real human being.”
“I wanted it to have a strong emphasis on the human aspect of getting into dental school. How can I present myself as a more interesting applicant, and what are the admissions officers looking for?
"The book really focuses on how to make yourself seem more interesting, more human and more like a valuable member of the community. I think that’s what really makes people stand out.”
Four Key Components of Getting Into Dental School
Each of the four chapters covers a different key aspect of getting accepted into dental school. These aspects of the admissions process are explored in detail in Yang’s practical and inspiring guide for dental school admissions.
1. Assemble an Outstanding Application.
Creating an application package that is so compelling that it can’t possibly be ignored. This means going beyond application prerequisites such as competitive GPA, required coursework, and dentist shadowing.
2. Write a Winning Personal Statement.
Retaining individuality and standing out from the deluge of applications with the personal statement. Structuring it for success and individuality.
3. Ace the Interviews.
Successfully preparing for and dominating the dental school interview.
4. Map Your Road to Dental School.
Deciding on worthwhile extracurriculars and hobbies. Making a seamless and successful transition to dental school.
RELATED: Roadmap to Dental School
Succeeding with the Personal Statement
The personal statement is crucial in terms of presenting your individuality as part of the dental school application. It helps admissions representatives understand who you are, your unique experiences and why you chose to become a dentist. Despite it's importance, there is often great uncertainty regarding how it should be structured, what it should focus on, and how to make the best use of it to stand out.
From ADEA Go Dental: What is the personal statement for?
Your personal statement is a one-page essay (not to exceed 4,500 characters, including spaces, carriages, numbers, letters, etc.) that gives dental schools a clear picture of who you are and, most importantly, why you want to pursue a career in dentistry.
Given how important the personal statement is to a successful application, Yang dedicated the entire second half of her book to it. In this section, 30 successful traditional and non-traditional dental students from diverse backgrounds share the personal statements they used to gain admission into a top school of choice.
These students crafted personal statements that genuinely impressed admissions committees and got them into dental school – the exception, not the norm.
“We got over 50 submissions [for personal statements]. They were all very good. I worked with a team of eight other young dentists to distribute them, had them blinded, and had each essay critiqued and ranked based on quality of writing, how substantial the essays were and how effective they were.”
This process ultimately resulted in 30 top selections. Yang never thought she would get the submissions needed to fulfill the project, but the interest of young dentists to share their statements and help others was clear.
The personal statements showcase helpful examples of what works, and more importantly, expert feedback on why they worked. They offer practical guidance on how to present a story and background to gain an edge in one of the most competitive admissions processes out there.
“When I talk to pre-dental students, most people don’t think of themselves as unique or interesting or impressive. They are like ‘my grades are average, my stats are average. How on earth do I stand out?”
It’s a very common problem, but Yang recognizes that every applicant has something genuinely worthwhile to share, “The first thing I do when I meet with any pre-dental student is I get them to talk about themselves. From that, you can tell that everyone has a unique story that no one else has.
So even though they may not feel special because they lived with that their whole life, you can say ‘Look, no one else has your story. If you can wisely tell that story, that would make you seem different and more outstanding than other applicants.’”
Dr. Yang holds little back in this thorough book. She provides an unadulterated and authentic account of what it takes to thrive in the admissions process, present a compelling story and individuality, and plan for the long-term commitment that a career in the field demands.
Dr. Yang exudes a genuine passion for helping pre-dental students accomplish their dreams. Her book is an invaluable resource that has culminated from her years of experience in dental admissions and her desire to offer a more holistic strategy than the formulaic types of admission tips that are often seen.
Available on Amazon Now
The book has received highly positive reviews since its recent release in 2018.
Your Essential Guide to Dental School Admissions is available in softcover for $14.99 and Kindle for $9.99 on Amazon.
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