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How to Best Play the Waiting Game (for dental school acceptance)

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Well, first of all, congratulations! The purpose of this blog post is to provide you a timeline and a game plan on how to best navigate the remaining months of the application cycle in order to gain admissions to dental school.

I remember receiving my interview invitation to UCSF three years ago and feeling butterflies in my stomach- it was a special moment. It felt like someone had acknowledged and validated the hard work I'd put into to becoming a dentist, and that they wanted to get to know me for who I am. I hope the same feeling for you in your endeavors in the future. To best make that happen, continue reading below:

Historically, September- November are popular interview months. The infamous “D-Day” or decision day this year will be on December 15th, 2020 where the first round of rolling admissions will be sent out to interviewees. As an example timeline, I will describe the interview process for UCSF. The majority of interview invitations were offered pre-December. On December 15th, students who have interviewed between September - November may hear back with an acceptance, waitlist, decline, or “in review”. For those that are offered dental school admissions, students have 30 days to submit a deposit to their school of interest. This means starting in mid-January- February will be the time to host the remaining interview days (typically 2-3 interview dates). *For more information on the admissions timeline and application process, please email

To best serve the audience reading this blog post, the remainder of this post will be divided into a dichotomous action plan of either:

  1. “I applied to dental school, have had at least one dental school interview, and am waiting”.

  2. “I applied to dental school and have NOT received a dental school interview”.

Scenario 1:

If you have interviewed at least 1 dental school and are waiting to hear back as early as December 15th, your game plan may look like:

  1. Send a follow up email thanking your virtual interviewer for their time and ask any follow up questions about student life, finances, etc. that you may have specific to that school.

  2. Stay updated on the current state of dental education and dental practice by

    1. Attending dental school webinars and conferences

      1. Ie. Similar to many other schools, UCSF Office of Admissions & Outreach has one pre-dental webinar every month.

      2. USC:suture webinar coming up by the ℅ 2022

      3. UOP: annual virtual pre-dental bootcamp

    2. Staying up to date on CDC guidelines in regards to COVID and dentistry

    3. Maintaining your connection with your dentists and mentors and shadow in person/virtually

  3. If you are enrolled in classes, make sure to maintain a B- average. Your dental school acceptance is contingent on your remaining course grades.

  4. If upon reflection, you feel you had a decent interview or felt it could be improved, there’s always room to master your interview schools. Consider reading our blog posts on a short term and long term methods of acing your dental school interview. If you’d like to schedule a mock faculty, student, MMI, or group interview with Wilson and or I, send us an e-mail at

  5. And finally, make this a priority. Make sure to spend ample time with your loved ones in a COVID-safe fashion. Whenever I reflect on my journey to dental school, it was indeed the late nights studying that got me the grades I needed to be a competitive applicant. More importantly, however, it was nurturing the relationships with my friends and family that ultimately has gotten me to where I am today. When you begin dental school, balancing your personal life and professional life will become a skill that must be practiced. In a year of unpredictability and uncertainty, I truly think investing quality time with your people will allow you to be more grounded when starting this crazy saga to becoming a dentist.

Scenario 2:

If you are reading this blog post and haven’t received an interview to a dental school, don’t fret. You have a couple of options for taking action. First, it’s important to start dissecting your application and identifying areas that you may be weak in as an applicant. Is it your GPA, DAT, an academic infarction, limited dental experiences, poor quality writing pieces? Once you’ve identified that, you can decide how to utilize these tips to show acknowledgement and improvement in your weaknesses. This becomes vital if considering reapplication.

Gaining admissions to dental school can be analogous to dating. You want to show your interest but in a desirable fashion, am I right? To best show your interest in a school in a strategic and collected manner, consider:

  1. Submitting an academic update on ADEA AADSAS: The academic update is open from December 4th, 2020- February 3rd, 2021. This is the perfect first “nudge” to send to all the schools you’ve applied to through the centralized application if you are currently taking classes, participating in research, or academia.

  2. After February, the academic update and most interviews will be closed. Around Mid-February, consider sending a letter of interest to prospective schools. In my experience as a pre-dental advisor, private schools factor these letters of interest more often than public schools. UCSF for example adds letters of interests to your file, but it doesn’t get factored into admissions. It does, however, make a great difference for many of my colleagues now in dental school.

  3. It’s never too early to start practicing mock interviews. If you receive an interview after December 15th, there are even more limited spots and it’s imperative your interview skills are impeccable. Don’t wait and schedule a mock interview with us ASAP!

  4. Finally, Wilson and I strongly advise that around February-March, if you have not heard back yet, students start considering reapplying to dental school the following cycle. In order to do this successfully, you must as aforementioned, identify areas of improvements and give yourself enough time to manifest those changes. For example, if you identify that your application has little experience in dentistry and community service, then you should be seeking additional experiences ie. dental assisting, front desk work, patient care counselor etc. You’ll need to have lived this experience for a few months to be able to write eloquently in your application which ideally, you’d prepare to submit now in June 2021.

If this may be the case for you, don’t fret. The Pre-Dental Guide has got your back. E-mail us to schedule a mock interview or application breakdown session where we can help you plan accordingly. At the end of the day, if you envision yourself serving your community as a dentist, it WILL happen for you. The path is not always linear, but know you have great mentorship in Wilson and me.


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