Quantcast

Please help with non-traditional student!! pre-dental

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

LLBean

Full Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Hello everyone,
I would like to thank and appreciated any advice, comments for my situation. I am out of college for 5 years now, transferred 2 times for family reasons from quarter to semester schools and never stay at one place long enough to make lasting impression or get to know the profs well. I am a very late decider for dental as a career. Some of the dental schools are asking for letter of recommendation from health profession advisory committee. When I contacted the counselor from the college I've graduated asking for a committee letter of recommendation (is this a new trend?!?), he said since I am out for 5 years he is not sure how beneficial the committee letter will be. But he assumes that your activities over the past five years will be more informative than the undergraduate committee letter. He would write me one if the schools were to ask for his letter though. I took Gen Bio about 10 years ago and some of the schools specifically ask for a LOR from biology teacher, it has been too long, they won't remember me and it would be awkward to ask out of the blue. I have ask my biochem teacher to write me one, we are on good terms and exchanged greetings during this past x-mss), but i have not heard back. I have called U of P in Cali, and they said it is a toss up for i am competing with newly graduated, I can be denied if they think my courses are too old. I am working as a research assistant for a cancer group with possible 2 published papers as co-author.

I am taking DAT again in July (2nd time), I already have dental and physics LOR, just need one bio. I have about 50 hrs dental shadowing. I can't concentrating to prep for DAT with all this...i am so crying right now and so stress out. I have invested so much money thus far and to retake gen bio again is too much. I am 30 and the odds are stack against me.
Thanks for all your help and sorry for my greek tragedy, I am sure there are worse situations out there.

So first question:
1. given his less-than-thrill response from the health advisor should I go with the committee LOR? He does not have confidence in me.
2. if I can't get a LOR from biology teacher, should I retake gen bio just to get a LOR and apply on my own?
3. Should I retake gen bio, shadow some more, then take DAT again (second time so dont take one in july)

LLBean from Boston
 

NMC2010

τετέλεσται
7+ Year Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Messages
700
Reaction score
288
1. No, you don't want a bad LoR

2. Are the people you're researching with professors/have PhD's? If so, why not get LoR from them?

3. You should try to have 100+ hours of shadowing. You should be fine taking the DAT in July if you budget your time

First, stop panicking - you still have some time. Make a schedule for studying and shadowing to help you stay on track. Also, bear in mind that not all schools require a letter specifically from a bio teacher. Many will accept LoR from any science professor.
 

LLBean

Full Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Hi NMC2010
Thanks for your reply. No those I worked with are MDs so I can't really ask one from them in the sense of biology. I can get one from the MDs no problem and it will be a good one too. You're right that not all school is asking specifically from a bio teacher, but I just want to cover my grounds. Sounds like I should not depend on the committee LoR then.
 

toothshine

Full Member
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
141
Reaction score
44
As a nontraditional student, I'm sure dental schools will understand that you're unable to get a committee LOR or even a LOR from a professor. I'd call up the schools, explain your situation, and ask them if you could get one from one of your current supervisors instead - they'd probably have a better idea of if you'd be a good dental school candidate than someone who knew you five years ago, and I'm pretty sure the dschools won't have a problem with this.
 

Qtn2x

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
May 17, 2005
Messages
81
Reaction score
8
Hi, I was in exact same situation as you one year ago, except that I have been out of school for even longer (9 years) and were not even doing anything science related. In your case, the committee letter does more harm than good because you really don't want an average letter. The rec letters are like your personal statement, the good ones don't really help much with the admission but the bad ones can really hurt you. In my case, i was advised to go back to take a few science classes to show my current academic ability (make you a stronger candidate) and it is also easier to get current recommendation letters (the dean of admission of the school i talked to flat out told me he doesnt want to to read letters of someone who knew me 5, 10 years ago even though it might be a good letter. It doesn't say much about the person I am today. i have to agree to that. So my advice to you is to take 2 or 3 bio classes (you can take during the summer) and study for your DAT at the same time. Then obtain the letters from them. Remember, you are competing against the freshly graduated so you have to make yourself competitive as well. Don't just get a letter from old professors or have no current classes to show your academic ability.
 

LLBean

Full Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
As a nontraditional student, I'm sure dental schools will understand that you're unable to get a committee LOR or even a LOR from a professor. I'd call up the schools, explain your situation, and ask them if you could get one from one of your current supervisors instead - they'd probably have a better idea of if you'd be a good dental school candidate than someone who knew you five years ago, and I'm pretty sure the dschools won't have a problem with this.

Thanks Toothshine for your reply in the wee hour of the morning for me :)
I called U of P and that is the sense that they gave me regarding my old classes; that echos the idea that I should ask for LoR from prof I am currently taking classes. I should call them then.
 

LLBean

Full Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Hi, I was in exact same situation as you one year ago, except that I have been out of school for even longer (9 years) and were not even doing anything science related. In your case, the committee letter does more harm than good because you really don't want an average letter. The rec letters are like your personal statement, the good ones don't really help much with the admission but the bad ones can really hurt you. In my case, i was advised to go back to take a few science classes to show my current academic ability (make you a stronger candidate) and it is also easier to get current recommendation letters (the dean of admission of the school i talked to flat out told me he doesnt want to to read letters of someone who knew me 5, 10 years ago even though it might be a good letter. It doesn't say much about the person I am today. i have to agree to that. So my advice to you is to take 2 or 3 bio classes (you can take during the summer) and study for your DAT at the same time. Then obtain the letters from them. Remember, you are competing against the freshly graduated so you have to make yourself competitive as well. Don't just get a letter from old professors or have no current classes to show your academic ability.
Thanks a bunch for your input! I appreciated it. Are you in dental school now?
That was my initial game plan as well: to at least re-take Gen Bio or to take Molecular or Immunology ( i am lacking these classes)...I am just self conscious the time I have "wasted" not investing sooner/dragging my feet.
 

LLBean

Full Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Hi again,
Just as an update: The biochem teacher has not emailed me back regarding whether or not he will write a LoR for me. It has been a week. I have contacted my school to see if he is around (I wanted to find out if he has passed away...he retired after all and life is short:whistle:) and he reply back to the school but not to me...yet. Given the lack of enthusiasm from the other party...what do you think?
LLBean from Boston
 

youngy

Full Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2013
Messages
129
Reaction score
24
a week of waiting is not long because sometimes they do take their time to get back to you.
Sometimes they have a lot of letters to write or they could be busy wrapping up a semester or getting ready for summer classes, vacation, etc, etc.
My 0-chem professor flat out ignored my few emails I sent out, so I had to go see him in his office to give him my resume and personal statement. He was supposed to get back to me to talk about the letter, so he never did and didn't reply to my two emails. I had to go track him down again. It can be difficult. It's not always a smooth sail like you want it to be.

I am in a similar boat with you in a sense that my O-chem professor taught my class about 8 years ago, but I was an SI leader for his class in 2008, so hopefully they won't look at it as too old, even though it kind of is.

My neurobio professor doesn't even remember me, but he said he'd try to write me one and I had no choice because one of the schools requires 1 bio LOE. FML really.



I can probably relate to you more than other people because I know how awkward it feels to have been out of school long and you still have to try and get the letters to fulfill the requirement. But hey, do we have a choice? We should give it a good whirl and see what happens.
 

youngy

Full Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2013
Messages
129
Reaction score
24
You should probably try and go visit him if he's still on the campus.
 

LLBean

Full Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
a week of waiting is not long because sometimes they do take their time to get back to you.
Sometimes they have a lot of letters to write or they could be busy wrapping up a semester or getting ready for summer classes, vacation, etc, etc.
My 0-chem professor flat out ignored my few emails I sent out, so I had to go see him in his office to give him my resume and personal statement. He was supposed to get back to me to talk about the letter, so he never did and didn't reply to my two emails. I had to go track him down again. It can be difficult. It's not always a smooth sail like you want it to be.

I am in a similar boat with you in a sense that my O-chem professor taught my class about 8 years ago, but I was an SI leader for his class in 2008, so hopefully they won't look at it as too old, even though it kind of is.

My neurobio professor doesn't even remember me, but he said he'd try to write me one and I had no choice because one of the schools requires 1 bio LOE. FML really.



I can probably relate to you more than other people because I know how awkward it feels to have been out of school long and you still have to try and get the letters to fulfill the requirement. But hey, do we have a choice? We should give it a good whirl and see what happens.
Thanks for your input...I totally get what you are saying. I forgot to add he is retired and for about 4 years now. I have called the school to reach out to him and he got back to them but not to me yet. And based on another person posted her, she/he thinks I should take classes again...
 

youngy

Full Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2013
Messages
129
Reaction score
24
If its hard to get a hold of them, or if they dont remember you, its bettet to not ask for one. But if you think you can wing it, and have otherwise great stats, go ahead and get it.

I know its a tough decision.
Goos luck
 

Qtn2x

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
May 17, 2005
Messages
81
Reaction score
8
ý
Thanks a bunch for your input! I appreciated it. Are you in dental school now?
That was my initial game plan as well: to at least re-take Gen Bio or to take Molecular or Immunology ( i am lacking these classes)...I am just self conscious the time I have "wasted" not investing sooner/dragging my feet.
Yes, I just made it to dental school this year and will be a D1 this coming Aug. I was in the exact same shoes as you a year ago. I was ready and wanted to apply to dental school around October of 2012. At that time, I thought all i needed to do was to take the DAT since I had finished all the pre-reqs already, got my degree in Bio with a 3.87 GPA and I also already got letter of recs from old professors stored in interfolio (I planned to apply in 2005, thats why I got their letters but the plan got postponed due to a family situation). Needless to say, I was a bit shocked when I was told by the dean of admission that i need to go back to school to take more classes. A lot of other schools I call flat out told me they don't accept pre-reqs 5 years or older. I was so worried because I didn't want to retake all the pre-reqs again, it would be a total waste of time and money. I didn't want to take classes but ended up having to do so. I enrolled back to school spring semester of 2013 taking 3 bio classes (its good to take the classes you haven't taken already or retake the classes that you did bad in. Take upper level classes also, don't take general bio 101 again). I applied in summer 2013, submit the letters from the profs that I just took their classes. All in all, it took me a year to make it to dental school. U might want to try to do the same. Just apply right now without any current classes and current letters is not a very good idea. Temple didn't even call me for an interview even though I got A+ in all the sciences classes I took (all hard core biology courses like Immunlogy, Medical Microbiology, Histology). When I was applying, i was even in a graduate post-bac program taking graduate classes and got A+ in them. My DAT was 23 with nothing below 20. Yet, there were a lot of schools that didn't call me for an interview. Their acceptance stats are below mine so I think those school gave preferences to freshly graduated students. Of the 10 schools I applied, I got calls from 5, went to 3 and got accepted to those 3.
 
Last edited:

dentalWorks

Nights Watchmen
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2009
Messages
5,646
Reaction score
161
Being non-traditional myself.... I didn't use the committee letter because if I remember correctly, it was a pain in the a$$ trying to obtain one. Instead, I just got individual LORs from science professors during post-bacc courses.

I don't know anything about your situation (whats your GPA? science GPA?) because if they are on the low end, you should do post-bacc and obtain good LORs from those classes. Otherwise, unless you are friends (or stay very close) with your old 5-10 year old professors, you may not get a LOR from them.

By the way, you are panicing over nothing.... LORs SEEM like they are worth something, I doubt they weight much in the admission process (Im not even sure if they are even read by decision makers)
 

LLBean

Full Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Being non-traditional myself.... I didn't use the committee letter because if I remember correctly, it was a pain in the a$$ trying to obtain one. Instead, I just got individual LORs from science professors during post-bacc courses.

I don't know anything about your situation (whats your GPA? science GPA?) because if they are on the low end, you should do post-bacc and obtain good LORs from those classes. Otherwise, unless you are friends (or stay very close) with your old 5-10 year old professors, you may not get a LOR from them.

By the way, you are panicing over nothing.... LORs SEEM like they are worth something, I doubt they weight much in the admission process (Im not even sure if they are even read by decision makers)

Hi, Thanks for your input. I really like your breakdown the schedule in how to study for DAT that you have posted before! Ido use it but it is one tough schedule to follow.
I asked two old profs, physics and biochem, those are the only two that I am in contact after graduation. I got the physics teacher reply the next day saying she would write one for me. I have not heard back from biochem and it has been almost 2 weeks and I have not email him again. I think I should not use the committee after all and use individuals like you did. I might cause more problems since he head of of the committee thinks LoR from the committee might not help at all.
I have 3.7 GPA overall from the school I graduated from (I transferred) and 3.5 science. I have about 80 hrs of shadowing. I work in cancer research and got 1 publication and one more on the way, but regarding breast cancer nothing to do with dentistry. I dont have any art classes or pottery classes to show for my artistry skills like some of the dental schools looking for. I have not taken any classes post graduation 5 years ago. I am studying to re-take my 2nd time DAT which I am shooting for in July thinking to apply afterwards, but if I were to decided to take more bio course then I will have more time to study (a bit).
My question is: should I take more bio classes--upper division courses and get the LoR from new teachers? so in the mean time I can do more shadowing and art classes or something of that sort? It just that it will push me back 1 year, but as of right now, I dont think I am THAT competitive comparing to newly grads. I emailed U of W my situation and they said, LoRs from old profs are fine, but U of P are very hesitant about my old pre-req classes....she said if I chose to apply it is a toss up and that I am competing with newly grads so be aware...I sense that she was not impress with my brief academic history.
So now I am freaking panicking over a new issue: my academic competitiveness. :arghh:
 

LLBean

Full Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
ý

Yes, I just made it to dental school this year and will be a D1 this coming Aug. I was in the exact same shoes as you a year ago. I was ready and wanted to apply to dental school around October of 2012. At that time, I thought all i needed to do was to take the DAT since I had finished all the pre-reqs already, got my degree in Bio with a 3.87 GPA and I also already got letter of recs from old professors stored in interfolio (I planned to apply in 2005, thats why I got their letters but the plan got postponed due to a family situation). Needless to say, I was a bit shocked when I was told by the dean of admission that i need to go back to school to take more classes. A lot of other schools I call flat out told me they don't accept pre-reqs 5 years or older. I was so worried because I didn't want to retake all the pre-reqs again, it would be a total waste of time and money. I didn't want to take classes but ended up having to do so. I enrolled back to school spring semester of 2013 taking 3 bio classes (its good to take the classes you haven't taken already or retake the classes that you did bad in. Take upper level classes also, don't take general bio 101 again). I applied in summer 2013, submit the letters from the profs that I just took their classes. All in all, it took me a year to make it to dental school. U might want to try to do the same. Just apply right now without any current classes and current letters is not a very good idea. Temple didn't even call me for an interview even though I got A+ in all the sciences classes I took (all hard core biology courses like Immunlogy, Medical Microbiology, Histology). When I was applying, i was even in a graduate post-bac program taking graduate classes and got A+ in them. My DAT was 23 with nothing below 20. Yet, there were a lot of schools that didn't call me for an interview. Their acceptance stats are below mine so I think those school gave preferences to freshly graduated students. Of the 10 schools I applied, I got calls from 5, went to 3 and got accepted to those 3.

Congratz! for all your hard work had paid off.
I think my depression is setting in as I read your post....not your fault though...mine mostly :(
I could only dream of such a high DAT score. I am working full time so cannot do 3 science classes at the same time even for one semesters...I might have to do it in one year. I think youre right, I should not re-take gen Bio, waste of time. I should focus on those classes that I have not taken before. I have read on line and on website from some of the schools, they said it would help if students were to take art classes or pottery classes and the likes...did you do this? what do you think? it might takes me forever in preparation and the more I waited the more time stack against me.
 

dentalWorks

Nights Watchmen
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2009
Messages
5,646
Reaction score
161
Hi, Thanks for your input. I really like your breakdown the schedule in how to study for DAT that you have posted before! Ido use it but it is one tough schedule to follow.
I asked two old profs, physics and biochem, those are the only two that I am in contact after graduation. I got the physics teacher reply the next day saying she would write one for me. I have not heard back from biochem and it has been almost 2 weeks and I have not email him again. I think I should not use the committee after all and use individuals like you did. I might cause more problems since he head of of the committee thinks LoR from the committee might not help at all.
I have 3.7 GPA overall from the school I graduated from (I transferred) and 3.5 science. I have about 80 hrs of shadowing. I work in cancer research and got 1 publication and one more on the way, but regarding breast cancer nothing to do with dentistry. I dont have any art classes or pottery classes to show for my artistry skills like some of the dental schools looking for. I have not taken any classes post graduation 5 years ago. I am studying to re-take my 2nd time DAT which I am shooting for in July thinking to apply afterwards, but if I were to decided to take more bio course then I will have more time to study (a bit).
My question is: should I take more bio classes--upper division courses and get the LoR from new teachers? so in the mean time I can do more shadowing and art classes or something of that sort? It just that it will push me back 1 year, but as of right now, I dont think I am THAT competitive comparing to newly grads. I emailed U of W my situation and they said, LoRs from old profs are fine, but U of P are very hesitant about my old pre-req classes....she said if I chose to apply it is a toss up and that I am competing with newly grads so be aware...I sense that she was not impress with my brief academic history.
So now I am freaking panicking over a new issue: my academic competitiveness. :arghh:
I mean, at the end of the day, your GPA is quite competitive. So its possible you got your hands on 2 LOR letters (both sciences), thats really good, try to get 1 more from a dentist and 1 more from a non-science and thats 4 LORs.

FYI, if you need an LOR from a professor, you shouldn't email them... its much more polite to stop by their office and ask (much classier)
 

LLBean

Full Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
I mean, at the end of the day, your GPA is quite competitive. So its possible you got your hands on 2 LOR letters (both sciences), thats really good, try to get 1 more from a dentist and 1 more from a non-science and thats 4 LORs.

FYI, if you need an LOR from a professor, you shouldn't email them... its much more polite to stop by their office and ask (much classier)
FYI: I would love to stop by their offices if they have not retired already and the other one moved out of state to another school.
 

Qtn2x

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
May 17, 2005
Messages
81
Reaction score
8
By the way, you are panicing over nothing.... LORs SEEM like they are worth something, I doubt they weight much in the admission process (Im not even sure if they are even read by decision makers)
well, i think this depends on the schools. For one school I went to the interview with, they reviewed my file inside and out, read all of my letters and even commented on them. Another school i went for the interview, the interviewer just review my file and read the letters on the spot.
 

Qtn2x

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
May 17, 2005
Messages
81
Reaction score
8
Congratz! for all your hard work had paid off.
I think my depression is setting in as I read your post....not your fault though...mine mostly :(
I could only dream of such a high DAT score. I am working full time so cannot do 3 science classes at the same time even for one semesters...I might have to do it in one year. I think youre right, I should not re-take gen Bio, waste of time. I should focus on those classes that I have not taken before. I have read on line and on website from some of the schools, they said it would help if students were to take art classes or pottery classes and the likes...did you do this? what do you think? it might takes me forever in preparation and the more I waited the more time stack against me.
Don't be depressed, just tackle the whole application process one step at a time. RIght now you are struggling with the letters requirement, well, try hard to get one. Take a summer class to get one. Then study for DAT and apply this year to help you save a year. This whole application process could get very unpredictable. I have a friend who was like us, out of school for 5 years (but she has a degree in dental hygiene that I feel was helping her out a bit). The summer she was applying, she didn't retake any classes, but she did take some classes the fall semester following that summer and the Spring semester as well. Her DAT was lower than mine (in the 20s with a 16s in math), but she got a call from Temple (which she didn't get in), and then didnt hear from anybody else until the following June, got a call from Howard and got accepted. So you might have a chance given that you are out of school for 5 years (vs me, who was out of school for 10 years when I applied) but you have been staying current with sciences by doing research. Just study hard for DAT and get decent score (I feel that the DAT helped me a big time), take an upper division bio class for second session of summer, then obtain the letter from that class. Don't waste your money taking art class ect...right now, what you need to show or what they are interested to know is your current academic ability, are you still able to handle tough science classes. Did you have a degree in biology by the way?
 
Top