Updated: Jan 20, 2021
While filling out your secondary applications, you may notice many dental schools asking some variant of the same question: "What factors influenced your decision to apply here?" There are obviously many ways to formulate an answer, but I'd like to share with you my approach.
1. Start by doing the necessary research on the school of interest:
For example, the school you are looking into may incorporate PBL (Problem-Based Learning) into their curriculum. Your job would be to understand the difference between PBL and Lecture-Based learning. Why do you prefer one over the other?
Another example may be how a certain school offers clinical training especially early in the curriculum. Articulate why that factor is important to you.
2. Evaluate your connections to the school of interest.
A) How did you hear about the school initially? Did you attend an event at that dental school?The goal here is to display a tangible, honest reason why you became interested in a particular school.
To illustrate, here's how I began my response on the supplementary application for HSDM:
B) Do you know any faculty, staff members, alumni, or current dental students of the school?If you do, reach out to these individuals and ask for their perspectives about the school. In particular, you want to ask this question (or a variation of it):
"What do you like most about ___ School of Dentistry? Or, what is the most outstanding, unique feature of ___ School of Dentistry? Why?"
Listen to this insider's perspective. Then, on your supplementary application, write that you have indeed taken the time and effort to contact a member of their school. Talk about why these unique features of the school is important to you.
I'll post the remainder of the previous response in hopes you understand what I mean:
***If you do not have such connections, simply contact the school's admission committee to be put in touch with a current dental student. You can also try posting on your Pre-Dental Society's Facebook group or online forums to see if any current dental students are willing to help.
Other sample questions you may want to ask these individuals for your own benefit:
1. What schools did you turn down and why did you ultimately choose ___ School of Dentistry?
2. What is the faculty there like?
3. How is the patient pool there? Do you feel like you have received enough clinical
experience to prepare you for private practice? How much time do students spend in the clinic?
4. Do you plan on specializing? Do you feel like this is a school that adequately prepares its students to go specialize? How so?
5. What is your least favorite thing about your school? Why?
6. If you can choose a dental school all over again, would you still pick ___ School of Dentistry?
7. Are the students happy to be at ___ School of Dentistry?
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