Shveta DuggalDespite a heavy investment of time, money and effort, many predental students struggle to improve their GPA. The good news is that a strong GPA is not the only parameter that dental schools take into account. Here are several steps that help you level the playing field:

  • 1. Score well on the DAT. Prepare well in advance for this exam, and factor in time for a potential re-take. Many students devote their entire summer to studying for this exam. They use multiple study materials and resources. This is your best chance to balance out a low GPA.
  • 2. Take advanced science courses. Retake courses if necessary. Show the application reviewers that you have mastered the material and have built positive momentum with your coursework. This will indicate that you have discipline, dedication and determination, the good kind of D’s.
  • 3. Dental volunteering/shadowing. A lot of programs at community dental clinics include a host of activities like: oral health programs, school outreach activities, research fairs, summer camps and resource markets. You can provide various oral hygiene instructions through presentations and other interactions. Equally necessary, shadow a dentist. This will prepare you for the initial years of your career.
  • 4. Develop your hand skills. Activities that require hand-eye coordination will demonstrate you have the necessary skills for dentistry. This could include: painting a picture, playing a musical instrument, sculpting or taking waxing courses.
  • 5. Research. Schools like to see some research to show your analytical, team and leadership skills. Presentation of your research findings through articles would reflect your competency and exhibit your writing skills. Performing research would also help you to showcase your interests, and goals. Even if a study fails, admission committees still appreciate the hard work exhibited.

While there is no magic wand to wave and make it to the dental school, the above steps can help you overcome a low GPA.

- Shveta Duggal