Transitioning from an undergraduate degree to an accelerated 4-year graduate dentistry course can be a daunting prospect.
Only a select few institutions offer a graduate dentistry entry pathway. Because of this, reliable information on the application process is often few and far between.
Ensure you know the requirements of each university
The best way to not get caught before submitting your UCAS application is to be rigorous. Scour the course requirements for each institution that you intend to apply for. Amongst other things, certain universities require you to sit the UKCAT, undertake a specific minimum amount of recent work experience before applying and cover specific subject areas at university. If you are ever in doubt, do not be afraid to contact the university directly.
Flaunt your undergraduate experience
As a graduate, you will have had a wealth of experience while at university. You can use this to your advantage in both your personal statement and interview. Have you have embarked on a research project, committed yourself to societies or worked part-time throughout your degree? You should reflect on these experiences and be able to articulate how they show qualities of a good future dentist.
Interview preparation, preparation, preparation!
Although you are a graduate, the interview process is extremely similar to that of undergraduates. A common way to prepare for interviews is to draft out possible interview questions. You can then formulate answers as bullet points rather than in full sentences. This will help you deliver your answers naturally and will avoid you sounding obviously scripted. Where possible, practise with people and invite constructive criticism. It is always better to make mistakes in practise rather than in the interview itself!
A common question to prepare for as a graduate is: ‘Why did you decide to apply for graduate dentistry now rather than straight after school?’.
The true answer to this question will indefinitely vary between people. Showing honesty, even if it means addressing past weaknesses, is often a good approach. Just make sure you ultimately emphasise why you are in a strong position to apply now.
Consider whether the non-graduate dentistry path is for you
Certain dental schools allow graduate students to apply for the full 5-year programme. It is not uncommon for graduate applicants to apply for both the 4-year and 5-year courses to broaden their options. Before applying, ensure you read and understand the financial implications of studying the 5-year programme as a graduate. You can do this by examining both the Student Finance England and NHS Student bursary websites.
Life as a successful graduate dentistry student
When amidst the ordeal of a UCAS application, it can sometimes be impossible to imagine what life would be like to embark on a dentistry degree as a graduate. With students coming from a multitude of degree specialities, your first year experience at dental school will vary from person-to-person. The dentistry degree is by no means easy. However, in the early years, graduates will often have the experience to cope with academic pressure at a much faster rate than their undergraduate peers. Whenever existing dental students try to scare you with horror stories of academic stress, take it with a pinch of salt! As with any intense degree, knowing how to balance your studies with free time is the key to enjoying your time at dental school. Best of luck!