Mercer University undergraduate students who plan to pursue a career in dentistry are considered to be on the “pre-dental” or “pre-dentistry” track. Pre-dentistry is not an academic major, but a preparatory track; pre-dental students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts declare and work towards an academic major and minor>> as they fulfill the admission requirements for their preferred dental school(s). Information and advice about all aspects of the pre-dental track can be found in The Student Handbook for the Pre-Dental Tracks>>. Information about all of the pre-professional tracks at Mercer-Macon can be found on the web pages of the Office of Academic & Advising Services>>.
Please note that the minimum science coursework required for the pre-dental track is only offered by the College of Liberal Arts on the Macon Campus. Also note that competency in mathematics at or above the calculus level is required to begin the chemistry and biology course sequences at Mercer University. Students planning on following the pre-dental track are therefore advised to take mathematics in high school at least through the pre-calculus level.
Becoming a Competitive Dental School Applicant
Admission to dental schools is highly competitive, with acceptance rates in the U.S. ranging from less than 2% (Columbia University College of Dental Medicine) to 19% (Georgia Health Sciences University College of Dental Medicine) to 32% (University of Mississippi School of Dentistry) (Data from the ADEA’s Official Guide to Dental Schools 2011). Pre-dental students must therefore plan ahead carefully with a mind to creating a competitive dental school application “portfolio” during their undergraduate years. This means taking the appropriate coursework, performing well academically, and participating in appropriate extracurricular activities that will develop the skills and characteristics required of a successful dental applicant. To help them make appropriate choices regarding these things, students should bear in mind that dental schools are looking for individuals with the following characteristics:
- good reasoning ability and strong critical thinking skills;
- self-motivation and a strong work ethic;
- a positive attitude, able to function effectively under stress;
- strong leadership skills but with the ability to work well on a team;
- compassion and a commitment to community service;
- strong interpersonal skills, able to connect well with patients from various backgrounds;
- excellent communication skills (both written and oral);
- integrity and high ethical standards;
- a good base of knowledge about the field of dentistry and commitment to its study;
- good manual dexterity and excellent spatial reasoning ability;
- competitive Dental Admission Test scores (18 or higher); and
- a well-written Personal Statement.
Because the pre-dental track is challenging and dental schools are so selective, all pre-dental students should develop an alternative plan to implement in the event that adequate progress is not made on their pre-dental track (i.e., GPAs below 3.4) or acceptance to dental school is not achieved. Such plans may include strengthening the application portfolio followed by reapplication or a complete change of career goals. Students are advised to consult the Office of Career Services>> and their advisors for guidance in this regard.