Low GPA and High DAT with unique circumstances. Should I apply this year?

Kou_KeiKi

2+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2017
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Dental Student
Hello SDN. This post will be somewhat long, please bear with me!

I just finished taking DAT (1 hour ago) and received 24 AA/25 TS (Bio 24/GC 30/OC 22/RC 21/QR 24/ PAT 21)! I wasn't planning on applying this year because I never thought that I would score this high. My GPA is less than average (Overall 3.43/Science 3.27/BCP 3.16) but with a great last year (3.95 over last 38 semester units).

My GPA is low because I pretty much bombed my 3rd year (or 2nd year) of university due to depression. A little longer story about myself (I used to post my story under a different account). I left high school 2 years early because I finished taking all the AP science classes (bio, chem, both physics Cs) by the end of my sophomore year. I went straight to a local community college and started developing poor studying habits and did mediocre there. However, because I took a very heavy unit load (60 semester units in a year) I was able to transfer to a decent university (UCSD) in just a year. By the end of community college my GPA was about 3.4 (a lot lower in BCP because of a C in ochem).

The first year right after I transferred, because I was rushing to complete my bachelors in a year and did research alongside, I developed very severe depression and ended up doing very poorly academically and almost got kicked out by the university. My GPA during this year is 2.23 in just 13-semester units, with 2 Fs, 1 D, and 3 Ws and passed only 4 classes over 3 quarters. However, I refocused myself and managed to beat depression and went back to my high school form during my second year at UCSD, took 38 semester units with 3.95 GPA. (I plan on writing about how I overcame the failure and how the experience helped me to become a hard working student in my personal statement).

I have 3 fairly strong recommendation letters ready all from professors I took with last quarter and they were very impressed with my academic turnaround and my work ethic in their classes. I took a very heavy courseload during last quarter as well (27 units, 8 classes, 5 As and 3 A+s). I graduated 2 months ago with cum laude (3.8 UC GPA) in Biochem and Cell Bio because of the academic forgiveness policy for up to 4 D/Fs. However, damage was already done to my AADSAS GPA (Overall 3.43/Science 3.27/BCP 3.16). I was planning on doing a master's first before heading to dental school because of my inconsistent academic record and age (turning 20 this November). But I feel like I might have a chance this cycle because of my DAT.

For ECs, I don't have much, except about 300-400 hours of research, 100 hours of shadowing, and 10 (should I even put this in) hours of pre-dental club volunteering. However, I am planning on doing a lot more this gap year. I am helping my father to establish a dental clinic in a medically underserved area. I will be working there as a manager, dental assistant, and front desk starting next week for four days a week. I am also planning on volunteering with the local Red Cross organization. I am also planning on shadowing a lot more at various different dental clinics.

Because I wasn't planning on applying this year, I haven't started my AADSAS application. If I start working on it right now, would I have a chance this cycle? What would be a realistic app submission date if I start working on the app right now (ordering transcript, grade verification, writing personal statement, submitting letters of rec, submitting offical DAT scores, etc.)? I am very flexible with going anywhere for dental school so I am willing to apply to 20+ dental schools if needed.

Do I have a decent chance at California schools? (specifically UCSF, UoP, USC, and Western) How about OOS-friendly schools like LECOM, NYU, Nova, etc.? Any suggestions as to where I should apply?

Second question, I signed up for anatomy and physiology and Japanese next semester at my old community college. Would taking these classes at a community college after graduating 4-year university damage my app or would it not matter? Should I not take them instead?

Lastly, I thank @FeralisExtremum and @Ari Rezaei for their resources that helped me immensely on the DAT. I will be posting a full breakdown later today.

Thank you for reading this long post! I am very grateful to the SDN community for helping me going through the depression (I read a lot of encouraging posts here last year!)
 

ProspectivePostPreDent

2+ Year Member
Jun 13, 2017
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It's easy to freak yourself out reading forums and get the idea that anybody applying after mid July is playing with fire.

The vast majority of the schools I've applied to are just now beginning to take a serious look through applications - without getting into the particulars of ECs, etc (wouldn't claim to know how adcoms will interpret everything), if you can turn around an AADSAS app with a respectable PS within a week or two, I imagine you'd be right there in the hunt with the rest of us for interviews. I can't imagine a better antidote for your STEM GPA woes than a TS of 25.
 
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caffeine jitters

2+ Year Member
Apr 1, 2017
631
681
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If I were in your shoes, I would absolutely apply.

You have a very interesting story, and I believe that will make for a strong personal statement. Your extracurriculars look good minus the volunteering, but I feel you can talk about your plans to become more involved within the community before you matriculate.

Great job on the DAT, congratulations on graduating, and best of luck with whatever you decide to do... P.S. Establishing a dental clinic in a medically underserved area is very cool!
 
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fit2

2+ Year Member
Aug 7, 2015
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We have identical AA and TS.
Agree with everyone here. Apply. Explain in the extra paragraph why you had lower grades 2nd year. An upward trend is really really good!
Apply broadly an apply to schools that put value on DAT a lot!
Good luck!
 
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plusalpha

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Oct 19, 2015
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We have identical AA and TS.
Agree with everyone here. Apply. Explain in the extra paragraph why you had lower grades 2nd year. An upward trend is really really good!
Apply broadly an apply to schools that put value on DAT a lot!
Good luck!
Which schools value DAT a lot, in your opinion?
 

DMDDDSHopeful

Achievement Unlocked: Dental School
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Mar 25, 2016
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It'll realistically be September or even early October before your app goes through. Didn't catch if you started your PS. That takes time too.

You still could have a shot. If money is no issue, apply.
 
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fit2

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Aug 7, 2015
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UoP, Columbia, UNLV, maybe NYU and Boston I think these schools greatly put emphasis on DAT.
Apply broadly.
 
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Kibe3143

2+ Year Member
Dec 14, 2016
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With those scores. Some skool should definitely roll the dice on you. Your gpa is not bad at all. Needless to say your DAT is amazing. Hurry and apply though. The priority deadline for most skools have passed or approaching fast.
 
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Kou_KeiKi

Kou_KeiKi

2+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2017
381
286
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Dental Student
We have identical AA and TS.
Agree with everyone here. Apply. Explain in the extra paragraph why you had lower grades 2nd year. An upward trend is really really good!
Apply broadly an apply to schools that put value on DAT a lot!
Good luck!
What do you mean by the extra paragraph? In the personal statement?

I want to write quite a bit to explain my second year and how I overcame it in the personal statement, but I am also afraid that I'll be off the prompt (which is why dentistry?) Any suggestions?
 
May 17, 2008
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You could still have a shot, but your lateness will be a big problem (as pointed out above, by the time you are verified and submit it will most likely be September, which is very late in the cycle). I wouldn't be too concerned about your GPA - your upward trend and very strong DAT scores will make up for it. I think your chances will be great next cycle if you apply early, and a post-bac/masters shouldn't be necessary in your case.
 
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fit2

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Aug 7, 2015
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What do you mean by the extra paragraph? In the personal statement?

I want to write quite a bit to explain my second year and how I overcame it in the personal statement, but I am also afraid that I'll be off the prompt (which is why dentistry?) Any suggestions?
I think there's like a paragraph in primary or secondaries where it asks if you want to say something that's not explained in the rest of the application. I wouldn't really put it in my PS....just because I structure it differently and it wouldn't go well with grace explanation
 
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Kou_KeiKi

Kou_KeiKi

2+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2017
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Dental Student
I think there's like a paragraph in primary or secondaries where it asks if you want to say something that's not explained in the rest of the application. I wouldn't really put it in my PS....just because I structure it differently and it wouldn't go well with grace explanation
Alright, I'll try to limit talking about that in the personal statement and find a way to tie it to the main topic of the personal statement.

You could still have a shot, but your lateness will be a big problem (as pointed out above, by the time you are verified and submit it will most likely be September, which is very late in the cycle). I wouldn't be too concerned about your GPA - your upward trend and very strong DAT scores will make up for it. I think your chances will be great next cycle if you apply early, and a post-bac/masters shouldn't be necessary in your case.
I actually have a question about the AADSAS timeline... For me, what will be the main thing that would delay my app the longest (DAT, transcripts, or something else)? I'll finish requesting the transcripts by tonight. I'll still have to write my personal statement, and I think I can get it done by the end of next week. I should get all the letters in by the end of the next week as well. For inputting the courses, I have transcripts from 5 different colleges/universities. Would it be faster to do it myself or using AADSAS's service?

Thank you all for the encouraging thoughts. It's a luxury/surprise for me to even have a chance to apply this year, so I will not be devastated if it ends up not going well. I still have to grow up more!
 
May 17, 2008
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Alright, I'll try to limit talking about that in the personal statement and find a way to tie it to the main topic of the personal statement.


I actually have a question about the AADSAS timeline... For me, what will be the main thing that would delay my app the longest (DAT, transcripts, or something else)? I'll finish requesting the transcripts by tonight. I'll still have to write my personal statement, and I think I can get it done by the end of next week. I should get all the letters in by the end of the next week as well. For inputting the courses, I have transcripts from 5 different colleges/universities. Would it be faster to do it myself or using AADSAS's service?

Thank you all for the encouraging thoughts. It's a luxury/surprise for me to even have a chance to apply this year, so I will not be devastated if it ends up not going well. I still have to grow up more!
Transcripts generally take the longest, since they have to be verified by AADSAS. I'm not sure if they've gotten any quicker since I applied, but it was common to have to wait 2+ weeks just to verify the transcripts once they had been received. I'm not sure if using their service speeds any of it up. DAT shouldn't take more than a week to verify, although it occasionally does. If your letters are submitted quickly your main source of wait will be the transcripts.
 

ColoradoTeeth

2+ Year Member
Apr 14, 2017
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Alright, I'll try to limit talking about that in the personal statement and find a way to tie it to the main topic of the personal statement.


I actually have a question about the AADSAS timeline... For me, what will be the main thing that would delay my app the longest (DAT, transcripts, or something else)? I'll finish requesting the transcripts by tonight. I'll still have to write my personal statement, and I think I can get it done by the end of next week. I should get all the letters in by the end of the next week as well. For inputting the courses, I have transcripts from 5 different colleges/universities. Would it be faster to do it myself or using AADSAS's service?

Thank you all for the encouraging thoughts. It's a luxury/surprise for me to even have a chance to apply this year, so I will not be devastated if it ends up not going well. I still have to grow up more!
Do the transcripts yourself. I did the service this cycle and it took a really long time for them to complete everything
 
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Kou_KeiKi

Kou_KeiKi

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Mar 10, 2017
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Transcripts generally take the longest, since they have to be verified by AADSAS. I'm not sure if they've gotten any quicker since I applied, but it was common to have to wait 2+ weeks just to verify the transcripts once they had been received. I'm not sure if using their service speeds any of it up. DAT shouldn't take more than a week to verify, although it occasionally does. If your letters are submitted quickly your main source of wait will be the transcripts.
Do the transcripts yourself. I did the service this cycle and it took a really long time for them to complete everything
Does the transcript verification start after they receive the transcripts or after I submit the entire application? This is important for me because if it's the latter then I have to make sure to submit the application with PS and letters ASAP.

Is the grade verification the same thing as the transcript verification?

Alright, I will do the transcripts myself!
 

caffeine jitters

2+ Year Member
Apr 1, 2017
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Does the transcript verification start after they receive the transcripts or after I submit the entire application? This is important for me because if it's the latter then I have to make sure to submit the application with PS and letters ASAP.

Is the grade verification the same thing as the transcript verification?

Alright, I will do the transcripts myself!
I think they will not verify until you have submitted, but I am not certain.
 
May 17, 2008
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Does the transcript verification start after they receive the transcripts or after I submit the entire application? This is important for me because if it's the latter then I have to make sure to submit the application with PS and letters ASAP.

Is the grade verification the same thing as the transcript verification?

Alright, I will do the transcripts myself!
Verification starts after you submit the application. Grade verification is the same thing, yes.
 

ColoradoTeeth

2+ Year Member
Apr 14, 2017
110
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Does the transcript verification start after they receive the transcripts or after I submit the entire application? This is important for me because if it's the latter then I have to make sure to submit the application with PS and letters ASAP.

Is the grade verification the same thing as the transcript verification?

Alright, I will do the transcripts myself!
After you submit and its the same as GPA verification. I only say do it yourself because it takes AADSAS ~2 weeks to enter your transcript and then you have to wait an additional few weeks for them to verify. Unfortunately processing (their service) and verifying are not in the same step, so you'll save yourself 2 weeks
 
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Kou_KeiKi

Kou_KeiKi

2+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2017
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Thank you all. Guess I have to start everything right away then!
 
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Kou_KeiKi

Kou_KeiKi

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Mar 10, 2017
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Quick question!

I do have to say yes to
"Have you ever been disciplined for academic performance (e.g. academic probation, dismissal, suspension, disqualification, etc.) by any college or school?"
right? Although they're not on my academic record, I did receive an academic probation and a subject to disqualification (they were like warnings...) ... And then I can also use this chance to explain my poor performance and talk about my turnaround?

"If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, you must provide an explanation. Include 1) a brief description of the incident and/or arrest, 2) specific charge made, 3) related dates, 4) consequence, and 5) a reflection on the incident and how the incident has impacted your life."
 
May 17, 2008
2,922
3,217
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Dental Student
Quick question!

I do have to say yes to
"Have you ever been disciplined for academic performance (e.g. academic probation, dismissal, suspension, disqualification, etc.) by any college or school?"
right? Although they're not on my academic record, I did receive an academic probation and a subject to disqualification (they were like warnings...) ... And then I can also use this chance to explain my poor performance and talk about my turnaround?

"If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, you must provide an explanation. Include 1) a brief description of the incident and/or arrest, 2) specific charge made, 3) related dates, 4) consequence, and 5) a reflection on the incident and how the incident has impacted your life."
I think you would only because they listed academic probation as one of the items. Which seems really strange to me because academic probation isn't really an offense, whereas everything else on that list is pretty bad in comparison. But the followup will give you an opportunity to elaborate on what it was and how you turned it around with your significantly improved grades.
 
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pgex2t

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Sep 19, 2015
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I put academic probation when I applied; they'll know when they look through your transcript anyways (grades); it won't matter too much. Agree with everyone else, either apply soon or early next cycle. I have friends who got in to Cali schools with similar situations, it's not a deal breaker.
 
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Kou_KeiKi

Kou_KeiKi

2+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2017
381
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Dental Student
I just finished the first draft of my PS... Is there anyone who is experienced willing to critique on my PS?
 

Axiomatician

2+ Year Member
May 13, 2016
131
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I really feel for you. You seem to have had a hard way to go and I am sorry you're still battling depression.

Your scores are amazing.

I personally think you are too young to go to dental school. This is not taking into account your depression.
.
 
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