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Career Changer needs your advice

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oceanv

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Hi everyone,

I am 25 years old and working as a construction engineer for a general contractor in Califonia. After working for more than two years in the industry, I have realised I don't want to do it for the rest of my life. I want to switch career and pursue my dentist dream so I want to prepare for dental school.

I graduated with a Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Degrees with a 3.75 GPA. I took two Physics courses and 1 General Chem. with labs while I was in a 4-year university in Iowa so I still need to take all other pre-req courses.

I have a few questions below:

1) What program should I choose for pre-req courses, post-bac program or non-degree program?

2) Do you know any programs in Southern California? I saw UCI and UCLA have post-bac. but only for students wanting to improve grades, not for a career changer.

2) Should I still work while doing these programs? Should I use my savings to pay for these programs or take loans? Because I am just married and I have been the main financial support for both of us, I want to spend less on predental, keep the debt down and save the $ for dental school later, if possible.

3) Without knowing which dental schools to apply to at this point and each school has additional recommended/required courses, how should I start?

If you were a career changer as well, what was your story? I love to learn from your real experience.

Thanks in advance.
 

NavyDDS1990

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I'm not certain if a post-bacc program would be necessary for you since you have a strong GPA from undergrad, I hope someone can chime in for this. When did you graduate btw? I want to recommend that you take pre-req from 4-year university, does not matter where. IMO, non-degree should be sufficient due to high GPA. If you can pull off straight A's while working to support yourself and family, I don't see why not. Having less debt from dental school, you will thank your future self later.
First, I would find out which schools you're interested in applying/attending, and take all those pre-reqs at a 4-year university, then take your DAT and I would aim for 21+.
 
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Incis0r

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Bumping so OP can get more answers
 
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S_Diamond_DDS

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1) I did a non-degree program at a city college. It's a much cheaper option, with some pluses and minuses (as a fellow nontrad student, I felt/feel the pluses outweigh the minuses):

-dental schools say they prefer classes from a 4 year college over classes from a cc (However, I didn't personally see much pushback from schools for going this route)

-some schools will not take cc classes, but nearly all do (the online ADEA guide will tell you this).

- CCs typically offer every prerequisite you need except biochemistry (so you would have to take this course at your local four year college as an open/extended university student).

-many dental schools have a cutoff limit of 60 transferable cc credits, which is more than enough to complete your prereqs classes, but may be problematic if you attended a cc in the past (you can also determine which schools have this cutoff limit from the ADEA guide)

3) I suggest getting the ADEA Guide to Dental Schools (you can get an online edition that's like fifteen bucks, I think). It will tell you virtually everything you need to know about each school and their course requirements.
 
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redhotchiligochu

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1) Not sure if you need to enroll in a "program" since you got a strong GPA. You definitely need a few semesters of o-chem, bio, and English composition for most dental schools. I'd check the individual school's requirements to make sure, since some will require anatomy and/or human physiology.

2) Personally, I think there's no need. Take night classes at UC extension, CSU, or community college.

2) Work while you're in school. I juggled 2 jobs while driving/flying to my interviews late 2016. Most dental schools will set you back $300,000+ for 4 years, so unless you got that much in savings or 401k/IRA that you can liquidate, you'll almost surely need student loans. There's also loan forgiveness programs e.g. HPSP, NHSC.

3) Start with LOR's. Hit up old professors that you've gotten A's in. Being a nontrad myself who's been out of school for almost 5 years, that was the hardest part for me. One took almost 3 months to write one, so I'd say start EARLY!

Personally, I was a schoolteacher and an educational consultant. I've had quite a history and a lot of drama while at it. A lot of schools gave me early rejections (now that I think about it, some schools have this suspicion that career change applicants are "in it for the money") because of it, but other schools will welcome you with open arms. My GPA was quite lower than yours, but I've secured 1 (conditional) acceptance so far.

All the advice that the ppl above have posted are on point e.g. ADEA handbook, no need for postbac, get above 20 AA on DAT, etc.

If you need any info and encouragement regarding your nontrad status, feel free to PM me!
 
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Proximally Challenged

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You don't need a post-bacc program With your grades (in engineering no less!) you are easily smart enough to get through dental school so take the cheapest route to get you pre-reqs done. I am a career changer too, and I took my pre-reqs as a part time student. The only thing I had to do was demonstrate at least one semester where I was taking a full courseload of upper level science courses at the same time.
 
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oceanv

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You don't need a post-bacc program With your grades (in engineering no less!) you are easily smart enough to get through dental school so take the cheapest route to get you pre-reqs done. I am a career changer too, and I took my pre-reqs as a part time student. The only thing I had to do was demonstrate at least one semester where I was taking a full courseload of upper level science courses at the same time.
@Proximally Challenged did you quit your full-time job, go back to school and work a differnt part-time job at the same time?

All, thanks for all the valuable advices. I graduated in summer 2014. Has anyone taken your prereqs at universities in Southern California? Can you share your experience?

I'm looking into CSU and UC but having a hard time finding courses that fit my full-time work schedule. It seems like I will need to quit my full-time engineering job to start school and blend in part-time job.
 
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