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How To Get Into Dental School: Recommendation Letters, A Series

Hello again, my dear readers. I hope that each of you had an amazing spring break full of fun activities and surprises. I can tell you that I did. I spent the entire week in Costa Rica, visiting animal rescue centers, zip-lining, water rafting, and, of course, drinking coffee. It was an experience like no other. And I just wanted to share a little bit of that before starting this article. 

As you know, a couple of weeks before spring break, I published the first article of my new series aimed to help pre-dental students get into dental school. This week, I will be writing about how to efficiently ask for a recommendation later. 

So, without further ado, let’s get started. 

Procrastination is NOT key

With such a busy schedule, it is often easy to want to leave other things outside of school activities for a later time. However, we must also prioritize our dreams. And if going to dental school is one of them, you should definitely give it the time it deserves. Future YOU will thank you greatly. 

So when exactly is a good time to start asking for recommendation letters? Well, generally, dental school applications open in May. But this does not mean that it is a good idea to wait until then to ask your chosen recommenders. Since you need a  letter from two professors and one dentist, requesting it soon makes it easier for them to accommodate it in their busy schedules. That way, they won’t feel rushed to complete it but rather take the time to write a thorough letter that effectively speaks about you. It is also a good way to be considerate of their time and come up with a plan B if something goes wrong. In my case, I requested mine in January, 4 months before the application cycle started. And I can guarantee you that everything went smoothly. It was relieving not having to think about it during the spring semester, knowing they were ready before the application cycle opened. 

Treat People with Kindness (Formal Kindness)

It is true that when requesting a recommendation letter, formality is important.. It is true that when requesting a recommendation letter, formality is important. However, you must know that being formal does not equal being indifferent. When the moment comes to write that email to your professor or dentist, don’t forget to be kind. It is not ok to simply email them saying that you need a recommendation letter. Let them know why you chose them to do so. Maybe you found their class or method of teaching very interesting. Maybe they made an impact on you. Or maybe they were a source of inspiration for your future endeavors. Whatever it is that helped you choose them to be part of such a crucial step in your life, let them know -kindly and formally. If you feel a bit unsure about the formality of your email, there are always good sources online that guide you through the process of drafting one. I highly recommend using them; it will help you enormously.

Have your resume, personal statement, and information about extracurricular activities.

Something that I found extremely helpful was having all my materials ready before I sent out my request emails. Usually, when your recommenders agree to write a letter for you, they will respond to your email and ask if you can provide them with more information about yourself. They want to make sure that the letter is as detailed as possible. In most cases, they might ask for an updated resume and a personal statement. So, I encourage you to take the time to create a folder on your computer with those documents to have them readily available. If they have any questions about either of them, they will contact you to clarify. I promise that doing this simple step will save you lots of time. 

Thank You Notes Never Go Out of Style

Gratitude goes a long way. Sadly, it is often overlooked. Sometimes, people might think that asking for a recommendation letter starts and ends with sending the request and receiving a positive response. This, however, could not be more incorrect. Writing a recommendation for someone is a task that requires a lot of time and effort. And as I mentioned before, recommenders often have a busy schedule. By agreeing to write a letter, they are not only showing that they trust you as a candidate but also that they believe you to be deserving of their time. Therefore, it is crucial -and also kind- to express our gratitude. Write an email thanking them for taking a couple of hours of their day to help you accomplish your dream. This will not only put a smile on their face. But it will also reassure them that they were right to believe in you in the first place. In my case, I wrote two thank you notes for each of my recommenders. One after they had agreed to do my recommendation letter and the other after they had submitted it. I also wrote another email after my acceptances came in. It was important to me to share the good news and express, one more time, how grateful I was to them for making it possible. 

And with that, we have reached the end of this article. I hope you found these tips helpful and enjoyed learning more about my dental school application process. Next time, I will be sharing tips on how to complete the application, so stay tuned! 

As always, thank you all for all the love and support. 

Hello, My name is Brenda. I am a senior student at Texas A&M, majoring in Biomedical Sciences and minoring in Spanish. I have an enormous passion for reading and writing. My favorite books are Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. I enjoy practicing playing the piano and singing, for I believe music feeds the soul. I consider myself to be the biggest Disney Fan. My favorite movie of all time is Beauty and the Beast, and I dream of becoming a dentist one day.
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