Not getting into dental school can be painful and impact your confidence, particularly if you’ve invested so much time and effort into your application. It’s important to remember that this isn’t the end of your journey.
If you have your mind set on becoming a dentist, your commitment and positivity will help you succeed – it’s all about having a positive mindset! The following will outline the options available to you.
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The ideal way to start is by going through each part of your application to highlight areas for improvement. This should include things like your UCAT score, your work experience, personal statement, A-Level grades and interview performance.
Consider what areas you are weaker in and how you can improve to stand out from other applicants who may have similar grades and academic background to you.
It’s a good idea to have a friend or teacher help you to get a second opinion. Reflecting on these things thoroughly will help you to strengthen the weaker parts of your application and consequently improve your chances of a successful application next year.
The most popular option is taking a gap year and reapplying to Dentistry. The earlier you plan the year, the better, because there’s so much you can do in just 12 months!
A gap year is also great for taking a break from academia and using the opportunity to expand your experience in different sectors. It is important you maximise your year to gain the most out of it, as there are so many opportunities available exclusively for gap year students.
Aim to get a mixture of work experience which includes private and NHS general practices as well as hospital dentistry.
This demonstrates your commitment and also gives you a lot to talk about in your interviews. The key point is to keep a note or journal of significant things you observe, so you haven’t forgotten by the time you reapply!
Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to expose yourself to a wide range of sectors and develop your skills. Even if it seems completely unrelated or just once a week for a couple of hours, it can still be used to boost your application to dental school.
Volunteering shows you are a dedicated and caring individual, both very important qualities to have in Dentistry. Examples include volunteering in a care home or for a local charity you are passionate about.
Use your time during your gap year to develop completely new skills and experiences. This could be anything, such as travelling, taking up a new instrument or getting a job.
This will help to differentiate you from other applicants and shows you are a well-rounded and distinctive applicant. It may also end up being something you continue with in university, which is great to discuss in your personal statement and interviews.
Alternatively, you may decide Dentistry isn’t for you, or a gap year is not something you’re willing to consider. You may decide to take the offer to study another subject you are interested in, and consider postgraduate Dentistry after the degree.
This is completely fine and a popular option if you are not entirely set on Dentistry or want to explore other avenues before making a set decision.
Whatever your decision is – remember to plan well and make the most of the time you have. Look at it as an opportunity to develop yourself personally and professionally.
This will help you to maintain a positive mindset and develop into a more balanced, well rounded individual, regardless of what decision you make.
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