By Sachi Mehrotra, UCLA School of Dentistry Class of 2019
Arguably, the most important day of the year for pre-dental students is the day the AADSAS application opens up for those applying to dental school each cycle. Typically, it occurs during the first week of June (either the first Monday of the month, or June 1st this year.) I went through the application process two summers ago and remember the day well. Although I had prepared for several months leading up to the date, it was still a relatively stressful day. In retrospect, there a few things I wish I had known that would have helped me, and that I hope can help those of you who plan on applying in the future.
1. It’s okay not to submit it on the first day.
If you’re like me, you’ll want to turn in your application ASAP and get it over with. You might even have pre-written your responses for each section to have them ready to copy-paste into the application. But don’t stress out about getting it submitted on that first day! Take your time filling it out and make sure everything is done satisfactorily. Don’t sacrifice the quality of your responses just because you want to turn it in before your peers. Generally, the sooner the schools receive your application, the sooner they begin processing it, and the sooner you will hopefully receive an email/phone call for an interview. I’d say within the first three weeks is a safe range to submit it by.
Pro-tip: Use express mail and pay to expedite the shipment of your transcripts to AADSAS if you want to speed up the process ever so slightly.
2. Don’t try calling AADSAS once the app is open.
The AADSAS application is quite confusing. My suggestion is to create an account a few weeks before the application opens up and navigate the site to familiarize yourself with all the sections and guidelines so that you’ll be ready to go when it opens up. The support line is generally pretty good about answering the phone in the weeks leading up to the opening date. However, I found that on the day the app opened up, the lines were completely busy, and I could no longer reach a representative to ask questions.
Takeaway message? Get your questions answered early. Don’t wait until everyone else logs in for the first time and calls AADSAS with questions.
3. Have backup letters of recommendation.
The maximum number of letters of recommendation you can send to AADSAS is four. However, some schools have different criteria for whom these letters should be from. For instance, I submitted 2 letters from science professors, 1 from a humanities professor, and 1 from a dentist. However, some of the schools I applied to required 3 letters from science professors. For those, I had a backup science professor letter that I had to mail directly to that school. Familiarize yourself with the letter requirements for each school: figure out which letters you’re going to upload to AADSAS and if you’ll need to send in additional letters to some schools.
Applying to dental school can be nerve-wracking, but it’s also an exciting and important step in the process of becoming a dental provider. Good luck to all those applying!