2+ Year Member
Aug 26, 2015
I am entering Rutgers University, possibly as a Public Health major. I know there have been a lot of posts about advice for freshman, but most of them are old and I would love to receive personalized advice.

I have already started shadowing a dentist and volunteering at a nursing home this summer. I didn't take any summer classes because I thought it was necessary to have a break. Also, I am going in with nine credits, which isn't much but it's a start. Anything I am doing right or wrong?

What should I start doing or prepping for? What do you all most regret doing or not doing?

When do students usually start studying for/take preparation classes for the DAT exam?

I am assuming I should join clubs, but not so many because it does not show my dedication to all (what they told me when applying to college: Don't fill up your application)? I guess I should also start volunteering and shadowing in new places. What kind of volunteering do you all recommend?

I am just curious on everyone's opinion: What do you think dental schools love seeing most on a student's application? I would guess tons of shadowing hours. What do you all say?
Jan 19, 2015
Just get good grades. Don't burn yourself out. Have lots of fun, go to the activities at the school.
As far as clubs go, don't do anything just because it "looks good" for an application. Only do something if you want to. Have fun. This is your time.

I just had the attitude of yeah, I'll work hard and do some box checking.. But for the most part, I'm going to have fun, and if they don't like who I am they can kiss my a**. (But having a good GPA and DAT score allows you to have that mentality).

So yeah, work hard, have fun, do box checking but not to the point where you burn yourself out.
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Nov 22, 2014
Join the pre-dental club because it looks good. Other clubs, join because you want to. They would rather see 4 years of participation in 2 or 3 activities vs 20 activities you did for a semester or a year.

The best thing you can do now is study hard, use the tutoring center, get to know a couple science profs very well and get as high of a GPA as you can. I suggest taking the DAT at the end of the summer between sophomore and junior year so you don't have to study while taking classes, but only if you have taken O Chem and maybe a couple upper level bio classes by then.

Volunteering--do what you enjoy, there is no right or wrong answer here.

Shadowing, they like to see around 100 hours, Georgia requires 200 hours. If you are not a GA resident, you won't need that much. Try for at least 100 volunteer hours, more if you can.

What dental schools want are well rounded students that are serious about becoming dentists. Since you have already started on that path, as long as your GPA and DAT scores are good enough and you continue to do what you are doing now, you will be fine.
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5+ Year Member
Apr 30, 2013
Try to get easier professors. Learning is important, but that GPA matters more unfortunately.