Feeling overwhelmed as a non-traditional gap year student, WAMC?

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2+ Year Member
Jun 16, 2020
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I graduated from college in the Spring of 2019 with the plan to take a gap year and gain work experience before enduring more school. I was initially Pre-Optometry after shadowing a family friend who seemed to love his career choice and has done really well for himself. I applied for a job as an Optometric Tech and landed the job so things were seeming well on their way. At a routine dental visit, I noticed the high energy and passion my dentist and her staff had in the office. I asked to shadow her a few days and began to have doubts about going into Optometry. This all took place in the summer of 2019.

Fast forward to now, I left my job as an Optometric Tech at the start of COVID-19 in hopes to gain more dental shadowing experience to determine which field I should fully commit to. It has been difficult gaining shadow hours due to the pandemic, but that left me with time to do some research on both fields and start reviewing for the admissions test whether it be the OAT or DAT as they are pretty similar. Working full time as a Tech granted me little to no study time so I never picked a date and wound up finding myself in another year off.

My stats from undergrad were as follows:
oGPA - 3.69, sGPA - 3.5
Research - 100 hours under a Professor
Volunteer Hours - 120+ as VP of a non-profit
Opt Shadowing - 200+
Dental Shadowing - ~40 (still shadowing)
Work experience on campus
DAT - not taken

I have been out of touch with my professors for about a year, but asked a few to write a recommendation letter for me before I decided to apply to school and they seemed happy to. Basically, I am curious to see if I stand a chance after taking my DAT and accumulating more shadowing hours in the dental field. No one in my family is in the healthcare field and I am a first generation college graduate so the application process seems a bit overwhelming.

Any advice or stories of students in similar situations (2 gap years) would be greatly appreciated!


Full Member
2+ Year Member
May 7, 2019
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It’s hard to work full time and study, but it’s not impossible. You had to break that mindset that you have no time to study.

I had to also work full time as well, take upper level sciences classes at night with a heavy workload both during summer, fall, and spring for LORs, shadowed, and studied for the DAT at the same time. I’m not gonna lie, it was hellish, but it’s doable. You just need to do it.
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7+ Year Member
Jun 24, 2015
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Yes you stand a good chance. Be sure to study hard and do well on the DAT and accumulate 100 hours of shadowing (on the safe side), and ideally gather two letters of recommendation from those dentists. And reach out to your old professors sooner rather than later. You might consider interfolio, that way you have letters in hand when the application opens.