As I just matriculated this fall at the UMKC School of Dentistry, I figured now is the best time to write about this subject.
Having just gone through the all the steps involved, I’m fresh, and feel like I have some advice that could help others achieve their dreams so I want to pass it along.
Getting into a professional school (medicine, law, dental, veterinarian, graduate programs) isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re thinking about that path you’ve most likely been above average compared to most of your peers in school. The only issue is that everyone you are competing with for that seat is above average.
I’m not going to lie, if you don’t have the grades and test scores to back yourself up, you’re going to have a hard time getting into professional school. But if you meet that threshold, there is a chance you can get in. Now you just have to compete against people with higher test scores than you. But that is more than possible, if you leverage one key thing that is the focus of this blog: your brand.
The biggest factor of your brand in this case is attitude.
Attitude is all about showing that you care. You have to really show that you want more than anything to get into professional school. It seems silly, but why would they accept someone that deep down wants to be a dentist (fill-in with your profession), but doesn’t care enough to show interest in the present.
Everyone hates turnover and drop-out because professional schools do not want any seat to be unfilled for 3 years from someone who dropped out after the first because “it wasn’t for them”. That is why attitude is a huge part of your application.
How to Show You Care Online
Many of the schools you apply to are hours away from where you live, making it nearly impossible to just walk up to the dean of admissions and chat with him/her. There are some ways that you can show you have the right attitude without being in person. A personal website is a perfect place to showcase this.
Why? Everyone I meet and think I will be in contact with again, I do a Google search to learn a little more about that person. You can safely bet that the admissions committee will be doing the same thing.
(An aside: If you don’t already own the search results for your name, you need to get on that by building up your social media accounts and your website and doing some simple search engine optimization.)
Protip: If you are die-hard about one school even, go ahead and say that on your website. My personal site used to say, “My dream and passion in life is to go to dental school (hopefully at UMKC) and become an orthodontist.”
It’s pretty obvious that anyone from UMKC dental school that visits my site will see that I’m really serious about want I want. I don’t know 100% if that helped my application at all, but I can guarantee it didn’t hurt it.
Showing you care online can oftentimes be the tipping point that allows you that offline meeting/interview.
How to Show You Care Offline
When you meet people in person, your attitude will become even more important than online. Attitude will depict how you act and your body language. You can’t easily fake this. (And if you have to fake it, you probably shouldn’t pursue that career…)
If you have a poor or uninterested attitude that day, it will affect how they perceive you and can make a big difference between you and the other guy. Even the way you dress depicts your attitude. If you want to get accepted, you need to dress like you deserve it. I spent a couple hours making sure I picked out a clean-cut suit and had proper grooming before my interview. You don’t necessarily need to spend $500 to get a new suit, but that investment will more than pay for itself when you are accepted.
Your follow up is a big part of your attitude as well. Do you send a thank you within the next day to show your appreciation for their interest in you? Definitely! It shows you care. Doing tons of research on the school shows you care as well. Do more than you think as it can really help when it comes time to meet an admission person, giving you a talking point should you ever need one.
There are many ways to show you have the perfect brand to be accepted such as shadowing, internships, and other experiences, but just showing you have the right caring attitude can be a big distinguishing factor between you and the other applicants.
Kevin is a dental student at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, where he’ll graduate from in 2016 with his DDS degree. He is already a graduate of the University of Missouri system in Columbia (Mizzou) obtaining a degree is Biology with University Honors. In addition to school, Kevin has helped start a successful online bonding company, SuretyBonds.com, by leading it’s marketing program since 2009. He is a passionate triathlete and marathoner with dreams of competing in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Connect with Kevin: @kevinckaiser, LinkedIn