After TMDSAS opening May 1st, I’ve been slowly getting through the tedious details of entering in exactly how many hours I’ve spent breathing and living since high school (okay, slight exaggeration but not much) and describing every job, activity, leadership role, and class I’ve ever taken. Having said that, it’s not as deathly as some make it seem, though. Just devote some time each day, and you’ll check off each section eventually. All I’ve got left to tackle is the one or two optional essays that are incredibly vague and hard to interpret exactly what they’re asking. Some options I’m considering writing about are my mission trip to Panama, my unique combination of my degree and how it reflects my diverse interests, or even about my love of writing and blogging and how it’s connected me to other pre-dental and dental students as well as given me the opportunity to write for ASDA’s national Mouthing Off blog. We’ll see how all that actually ends up, but I’m hoping to knock those out by June 1st so I can then forget about TMDSAS and move onto AADSAS (for all other schools in the country). I recommend copying and pasting EVERYTHING from your app not only to save it in a separate place, but also if you are applying through both TMDSAS and AADSAS it will be a much smoother transfer since most of the information asked will be exactly the same.
Another extremely important section of applications is all of your letters of recommendation. At Baylor, we have a Pre-Health Committee process that helps you collect letters from professors and have them all in one place in addition to a post-mock-interview report and cover letter. I got mine from two of my favorite science professors (one who’s now my boss) that actually knew me outside of class, my absolute favorite religion professor, and luckily my stats professor from sophomore year that surprised me by how much he remembered and liked me from two years ago even though I never really talked to him extensively outside of class. Those are all confidential, so as much as I wish I could see exactly how they think of me and get a little boost in knowing they fully believe in my future success, it will always be a mystery. Let’s just say I asked each of them because I’m pretty sure they will all be highly complementary. You didn’t see me asking my [NOT so] favorite organic chemistry 2 professor…
The application service also requires a letter written by a dentist that you’ve shadowed or worked with speaking first-hand of your interest and potential in dentistry. TMDSAS requires it be from a general dentist and not a specialist. I have a little bit of a problem with this one, because obviously specialists still have DDS/DMD after their name, and if they happen to know you better, I don’t understand why it’s not supported. This is the position I was in because while I did spend two weeks after my freshman year shadowing my own general family dentist, I knew the oral surgeon I volunteered with last summer knew me on a much more personal and professional level. I figured out if I included his letter in the committee packet, then I’d still have room for the additional letter from the general dentist back home. Even though this is also supposed to be mostly confidential, the surgeon included a copy of his letter in an email to me. After reading it, I seriously was so grateful I almost wanted to cry. I’ve never had someone write such encouraging and inspiring words saying how much they completely believe that I can accomplish absolutely anything in my future career as a doctor. He realized my passion, thirst for knowledge, and that I’ve demonstrated I have everything that it takes. My encouragement bucket was definitely overflowing, and I’m extremely appreciative of everything he and his wife have done for me this past year.
So the updated list of schools that I’m actually going to apply to include (for sure):
Columbia, Penn, Colorado, Baylor, UT Houston, UT San Antonio
Pacific and Tufts
As for now, I’ve decided to not stress anymore about where I actually could see myself going because I figure I’ll have a much better idea come interview season. I’d love to hear any of your feedback if you go to these schools or extensively researched/went to interviews there. Thanks!