The process of applying for dental school involves using the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) application. Although things like test scores and GPA are mostly set in stone, the personal statement is one of the last opportunities for an applicant to stand out during the admissions process.
AADSAS Personal Statement Length
The essay prompt from AADSAS reads:
Your Personal Statement should address why you desire to pursue a dental education and how a dental degree contributes to your personal and professional goals.
The AADSAS application allows only 4,500 characters (equivalent to one page) for the personal statement. Don’t waste it on trivial, boring, and irrelevant material. Keep it short and to the point. Because space is so limited, reduce the number of spaces after a period from two to one to get a few extra characters.
The AADSAS Personal Statement
Some of the questions admissions officers may implicitly ask while reading the essay include:
Who is the applicant?
What experiences did the applicant have during college and childhood that influenced his decision to apply?
Why does the applicant want to become a dentist?
What has the applicant accomplished that’s relevant to this field?
Did the applicant learn anything from working or observing a dental office?
Who were the applicant’s role models that influenced him to choose this field?
Does the applicant have any talents or skills that could be useful in dentistry?
Questions like the above should form the basis of an outline.
The goal is to answer some of these questions in a way that’s highly relevant to dentistry. One of the biggest mistakes applicants make is not making a clear connection between the experiences they’re writing about and the field. With only one page, most competitive applicants should have no problems filling it with relevant experiences.
For example, leadership skills gained while volunteering at a soup kitchen have no relevance to dentistry even though compassion and charity may be desirable traits in a dentist. On the other hand, leadership skills gained while working as a receptionist at a dental office are highly relevant.
Most life experiences don’t have anything to do with the career. So instead of writing about six or more experiences with superficial links to the field, expound on three of the most interesting experiences that are still highly related to dentistry.
Writing Tips for the Dental Personal Statement
Deliver the best, most poignant part of the essay at the very beginning, not at the end. For example, if a life changing event occurred when the orthodontist took the applicant’s braces off, that should be in the first paragraph. Keep the admissions officers’ interested or their eyes will glaze over the rest of the essay.
Make sure to proofread the essay for grammar and spelling errors. Have somebody trustworthy such as a professor or career center counselor look over the essay.
The goal is to make the writing interesting and memorable, while keeping it highly relevant to the applicant’s interest in dental school. A great essay that is memorable may give admissions officers enough reasons to overlook weaker parts of the application, and result in an interview and subsequent admissions.