If you are wondering about how to become a dentist, then you must also be interested in learning how to find the best dental school extracurriculars. With thousands of applicants in the race to become dental school students, extracurricular activities are your chance to stand out among your competitors. In this blog, we have put together a list of the best dental school extracurriculars to help you select the ones that match your interests. Whether you are using the AADSAS dental school application process or not, having extracurriculars for dental school is a must. And don’t forget, these will also contribute to the experiences you may choose to include in your dental school personal statement, so read on to learn more!
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What Extracurricular Activities are Essential in a Dental School Application?
If you think that grades and stats are the only thing that will secure you a spot at your dream dental school, you are wrong. Statistics alone will not suffice because the dental school acceptance rates are highly competitive and most of your competition will have impressive academic backgrounds just like you. Dental schools select candidates with exceptional qualities, so it is absolutely necessary to build a good personal profile. One of the ways you can do this is by participating in extracurricular activities that give you a competitive edge over people with a similar academic profile.
How Do Dental School Extracurricular Activities Help Your Application Stand Out?
You must be aware that the dental school admissions committee tends to select candidates who show not only knowledge but also a strength of character and life experience. Your background and participation efforts in extracurriculars offer a perspective of who you are as a person. These experiences help the admissions committees in understanding you better. Some factors related to extracurricular activities that help you in differentiating yourself from other candidates are:
Best Dental School Extracurriculars and How to Find Them
Understanding the significance of extracurriculars for dental school is the first step. The next one is to identify the activities which will benefit you the most in your application, including any activities sections or dental school personal statement submissions you may be required to complete. These application components will give a fuller picture of your candidacy. After having a look at your academic history, including your GPA, transcripts, and DAT score, the admissions committee will want to learn more about your accomplishments, so choosing the right experiences to highlight in your written application components is crucial.
We strongly advise all applicants to start searching for extracurricular activities early on in their college careers. This gives you enough time to try out several activities and then zero down to the ones in which you develop maximum interest. But even if you have had a later start, remember that it’s never too late to dedicate your time to activities you find worthwhile, so don’t hesitate to join an activity even if your application is coming up soon. If you are unsure about what extracurriculars may be helpful for your future applications, take a look at these options:
Interested in a quick summary of what we'll cover below? Check out this infographic:
Participating in research outside your essential coursework shows that you have a curious and scientifically-driven mind. It illustrates your interest in learning new things, your attention to detail, and your ability to work in a team since most research projects require abundant team interaction. If the research work is dental-related, it is even better in the eyes of the admissions committee. You need a good knowledge of science, especially biology to become a dentist, and participating in research can help you.
Try looking for research opportunities on campus, especially by speaking with your instructors or TAs. They might be involved in a project that looks for assistants or junior team members. You can also speak to your peers or seniors in dentistry. Additionally, you can even research nearby dental schools or online discussion boards for opportunities. But remember, your research does not need to be dental-related because research skills are transferable. So do any science research you enjoy!
One thing you must not forget as a dental school aspirant is that you need to make the admissions committee believe in your commitment to dentistry. One of the best ways to do this is to demonstrate that you have taken the necessary steps to “test drive” the career of a dentist by shadowing them.
While shadowing is mostly a passive activity, it teaches you the everyday responsibilities of practicing dentists and shows you what you can expect from this profession. Shadowing will help you understand all the basics of dentistry, along with the risks and difficulties that come with the job. Additionally, you will be able to list this activity in your dental school application experiences, which is an added benefit. Shadowing is a very common practice, so try reaching out to your personal or family dentist to ask if they can take you on as a shadow for a couple of weeks.
Volunteering activities demonstrate that you are responsible, reliable, dedicated, and passionate. These activities reflect your involvement in society. As a dentist, you would have the responsibility for your patients and their well-being, so participating in community service as a volunteer demonstrates these skills to the admissions committee.
For getting a volunteering position, you often require applications, references, and so on. This means that you have to take these kinds of positions very seriously. Start searching for these positions on campus. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities in education and you may be just the right fit for a tutoring program or a peer support program. If you want to do something off campus, check out online ads for volunteer positions in your town or city. Remember to search for positions that truly interest you, whether its animal help groups, environmental groups, healthcare, and so on.
Participating in sports coveys that you understand teamwork, collaboration, strategy, and leadership. As a dentist, you will be working with other people, such as hygienists, assistants, surgeons, and so on. You might also be required to lead your own team. Thus, showing the admissions committee that you have teamwork and leadership experience gives you a competitive edge.
Pre-dental clubs and association
This shows your interest in the dental field and your commitment to it. You can join your university’s pre-dental club and organize workshops or events for dental hygiene awareness on campus. If dentistry is your primary interest and your college does not have a pre-dental club, you should form one yourself. Strengthen your network by organizing and attending workshops. Have a meetup of like-minded potential dental school candidates so that all of you can learn something from each other.
Joining a pre-dental club can give you the chance to work in activities such as organizing guest talks by dental graduates or by a dean of a dental school which can help you learn planning, management, and communication. You can learn leadership skills by holding a position of responsibility in your pre-dental club. The skills learned by joining a pre-dental club will help you directly in becoming a dentist by improving your knowledge in your field.
Need to prepare your dental school personal statement too? These two examples will help you get started:
Societies and organizations
Once you enter an undergrad program, you can explore various societies and organizations at your university. Play to your interests and strengths; if you are a great public speaker then maybe you can join the debate club? Are you interested in musical theatre? Then maybe joining the drama club is just the right fit for you. You can even join multiple societies at the beginning and then narrow them down to the ones you actually enjoy.
You can develop several skills depending on the society you join. For instance, if you choose the improv club then you are a step closer to building better decision-making skills, which you will need as a dentist while treating your patients.
You can take part in organizing and running events at your college, your former high school, or even in your neighborhood. These may include annual festivals, neighborhood competitions, theatrical performances, industry visits, workshops, and seminars. This will help you in building basic management skills which are necessary for every profession. Also, you might decide to host conferences or oral awareness events when you become a dentist. So, event management skills will help you plan and organize those.
Working on your hobbies in college shows that you have interests outside of dentistry. Taking up activities such as pottery, woodcarving or sewing can also help you with the dental school manual dexterity question. Hobbies are a great way to demonstrate your creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, which are good to have life-skills. As a dentist, you will also require manual dexterity to perform surgical tasks. Working on hobbies where fine motor skills are polished is a great way to begin!
Search in your area to find a hobby class of your interest. There you can do your activity of interest along with other enthusiasts. Most hobby classes have an instructor, so you will have someone to guide you along.
Part-time jobs outside medicine
If you wish to gain extra experience, you can opt for any job within your present qualification. Whether it’s working in a restaurant, as an office admin, or as a local tour guide, your job can teach you responsibility, independence, problem-solving, and more. You can search for employment opportunities online. Professionalism is a major skill for a dentist, so you should start learning that early on through any employment opportunity.
Along with these conventional activities, here are a few off-beat activities that you can take up as a dental school aspirant:
Remember, whatever activity you choose, you must truly enjoy it. If you are just trying to join an activity to impress the admissions committee, it will show in your application and dental school interview questions. Do what you actually like. Do not kill yourself joining a sports team if you do not like the sport. Firstly, you will not be happy; and secondly, you will not stay with the activity for long, which will show that you are not dedicated and that you were simply trying to add an experience to your application. Stay true to yourself and your interests. If you would rather do dancing, go for it!
If you are not sure about which of the activities you should pursue, it might be best to talk to dental school admissions consulting services or a dental school advisor. These professionals may help you narrow down your choices based on the schools you want to apply to, and help you decide which of the activities would be the best fit for you and your personality.
Another important aspect in choosing your activities is the rule of quality over quantity. You do not need a thousand activities to impress the admissions committee. In fact, it’s best if you stick to just a few by demonstrating that you value your time and your efforts. By showing the commitment of several months or years to just a few activities, you demonstrate true dedication and sincerity.
Looking for information on how the dental school application process works in general? This video is for you:
As a potential candidate for dental school, you are expected to have several skills and abilities that would demonstrate that you are a suitable and capable candidate for dental school. Extracurricular activities are a great way to demonstrate your abilities outside of academia. You can participate in different activities to learn new skills, make connections, and have fun while working on a major component for your dental school application. What’s more, these give you topics for discussion in your dental school interview questions. So, go ahead, find some activities of your choice and get going!
1. What are the best extracurricular activities for dental school?
Some of the best extracurricular activities for dental school include volunteering, pre-dental associations and clubs, college societies, scientific research, employment outside medicine, and hobbies of your interest.
2. How to find extracurricular activities for dental school?
The best ways to find extracurricular activities for dental school are by searching your campus for clubs and societies of your interest including dentistry, inquiring locally for volunteering opportunities, and through social media.
3. Should extracurricular activities be mentioned in dental school applications?
Yes, you should mention extracurricular activities in your dental school applications to give a glimpse of your personality and showcase your interests in dentistry or outside of it.
4. Where to talk about extracurricular activities in dental school applications?
You can talk about your extracurricular activities in your dental school personal statement or activities sections. If you are applying through the AADSAS portal, you can mention these details in the section for “supporting information” which has some specific categories of activities along with their descriptions.
5. What societies look good on dental school applications?
Pre-dental clubs and associations are a great way to show your early interest in the field of dentistry. Apart from these, you can choose subject-based clubs. Interest-based societies such as drama or dance demonstrate your skills and abilities outside of medicine. In a nutshell, choosing societies based on your areas of interest is best for dental school applications.
6. How to stand out in your dental school application?
You can stand out in your dental school applications by mentioning your extracurriculars because these can distinguish you from other applicants. Everyone who applies will have a good GPA and a qualifying exam score, but activities are a point of distinction among dental school applicants.
7. Do dental schools ask about extracurricular activities?
Dental schools might ask about your extracurriculars certain application components, such as activities sections, as well as in your dental school interview.
8. Why is it important to mention extracurricular activities?
While extracurricular activities are not an expression of your academic performance, these are necessary to show your capabilities in areas other than academia. Dental school admissions committees want to learn about you beyond grades and test scores, so extracurriculars are a great way to demonstrate what you do outside of class.
9. How many extracurricular activities are required for dental school?
You can take up as many activities as you want in college, but do not spread yourself too thin. Keep in mind that your academic success is also important. Try to get involved in 3 to 5 extracurriculars while in college. And remember about quality over quantity!
10. Should hobbies be mentioned in dental school applications?
Yes, you can mention hobbies in your dental school extracurricular activities section. You may talk about it in your personal statement and in your interviews if you have some specific accomplishments.
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