I Need Thoughtful Advice

Mar 24, 2023
Hello, okay... where to even begin. I need some honest advice. I've been in college for 5 years and am working on my bachelor's degree in biology, with a premed minor (cause my school doesn't have a predental program). Cutting to the chase, my grades suck... my GPA right now is like 2.7 and I have 4 classes left. I am not optimistic about getting A's in those classes because it is AP physics, Cell bio, and advanced microbiology (hopefully, the course offers a research opportunity but not enough people have been signing up. I did get an A in microbiology and I turned out to be really good at it so I am trying to push myself to go above and beyond!) and truth be told, I am not a straight-A student... or even a straight-B student. I'm a B-C student with a few A's, mainly in writing, and a little math. My A's are only in a few prereq courses. But before you judge me I want to explain my academic background a little bit.

I am not supposed to be here. I was a high school dropout... not only was I a dropout but I still probably hold some sort of record at that high school for the amount of trouble (detentions, in-school suspensions, suspension) I was never expelled though. In my Junior year, my principal came to me and told me all about this other school that I need to consider going to. I had accumulated months and months of in-school suspensions and it was like "we don't run a prison here..." kind of thing. I switched schools to a place where they send the worst of the worst. There isn't a single person that went to that school that could ever dream to be here where I am currently. I never fit in there. I wasn't the bad kid I was made out to be... I was just brought up in a really crazy way. My parents were young, my mom had my brother when she was 16 and she had me on her 21st birthday. They both drink heavily, and my older brother is addicted to hard drugs and in prison... but growing up my brother was a big influence on me and he was just really leading me down a dark path in life. I never valued my education because I never really truly knew what I wanted to do. I always said growing up that I was going to be a computer programmer and that I would follow in my father's footsteps. But I think I just told myself that all those years to really dodge that question. I never really had any idea what I wanted to do.

After dropping out, working manual labor jobs, and moving out. At 23 I got into an argument with my father about getting braces. I had gone through a bunch of stuff to get them when I was a kid but we were just unable to afford them. My little sister who is 10 years younger than me got braces and I was really jealous about them... anyhow I got them and my father made me feel terrible about it saying stuff like "I hope ur happy!" But you know... in that condescending way. And I was happy! Well, one day outside of the ortho office I got to thinking to myself, as young men tend to do, about my life and how I have absolutely nothing. I was a complete loser living paycheck to paycheck and it was just going to be that way forever... I guess? The idea came to me to become a dental assistant. I really thought what they did was interesting and they appeared to have a more respectable job than waiting tables. At the time, I was never thinking of becoming a dentist... because I wasn't stupid. I knew I didn't have the background for that sort of job. The thought didn't even occur to me. However, just like I decided to become a dental assistant and the next day I just walked into my local tech school and said I want to come to school here, how do I do it? And that was that. Over the next 9 months, I completed my program, as the only boy in the class, and I finished towards the top... if not AT the top of my class. It was really my first taste of success. I was hired immediately out of school, and the first office I interned at offered me a job before I went to my 2nd internship at another office because I was good enough that they were willing to wait the month it would take me to finish my internship at the other office!

I worked as a dental assistant for 2 years and got all sorts of experience. I absolutely fell in love with my job. One day though, during a meeting, HR announced a new employee handbook and also talked about what we could expect after we had worked there for 5 years... like extra vacation time, raises... etc. And I just thought to myself... you know, in 5 years I could potentially be in dental school and on my way to making much more than what HR is talking about... and I had an overwhelming feeling come over me. It was spiritual.... like a zombie I walked to the bathroom and called my ex-employer and asked if he could give me some hours. He said yes, and I got off the phone and went and immediately quit my job, on the spot. Just like signing up at my tech school, I walked into my local community college and told them I want to come to school there.

Look, I'm not good at college... or school... at least not this kind of school. But I've been trying so damn hard. I don't have a solid academic background. But in all fairness, I think I do pretty well with all things considered. If they are able to look past my GPA, I believe that I bring A LOT of dental experience and dental knowledge to the table. I mean I know basically every procedure we would perform in dental school and THEN SOME with implant experience and even botox and sleep studies! I can already perform a huge amount of tasks that I learned as a dental assistant like fabricating temps or prelims. I know procedures like the back of my hand as an assistant! I know how the office runs from front to back. I talk to patients, explain treatment plans, and I am able to answer most questions that patients would possibly ask. When I get dental stuff in front of me... I just consume the information differently. I just get it. And I'm able to recall it. I even saved my overdosing brother's life with the CPR that dental assisting taught me. That particular instance was my next spiritual experience with god. I was in the right place at the right time and I immediately snapped into my training and was able to do CPR until help arrived. All those paramedics shook my hand and told me what a great job I did... It will stick with me forever.

I just know inside that I am doing the right thing and I am so proud of myself every day for how far I have come. Now, let me talk about what is going on. When I did my research on what it takes to get into dental school I was given an answer that said there are 2 main pillars that get you accepted into dental school. Your GPA and your DAT and there is a little give and take with these scores... meaning one can be lower and the other can be higher and vice versa. But I have no clue as to really how much give and take there really is ... I mean if I HAVE to get a 25 on my DAT with my 2.6 or 2.7 or 2.8 GPA then I stand no chance. I am willing to go to a post-bacc program but it is really hard to commit to something like that when it still doesn't guarantee me a spot. I'm currently studying for my DAT which I plan to take this summer. And over the next year I will be finishing physics and graduating so I'm just trying to do stuff as early as I can to increase my chances.

I need lots of advice. I don't like to think I'm any more special than anyone else or that my story somehow matters more than anybody else's... but I do think my story is a little special. I have a lot of people in my life to prove wrong about me... I mean, everyone around me, including my parents, were ready to give up on me. They were ready for me to make whatever stupid decision I wanted in life and they were never going to try and stop me. I never even would have gotten my GED if it weren't for my girlfriend's mom at the time who was the only person that cared enough to help me. I don't place blame on anybody but myself. I was always someone that was destined to carve his own path. ALLLLL of this is really REALLY just the tip of the iceberg for me and my story.

I'm just losing my confidence because college is destroying me. I never cared about any of the stuff I'm learning.. I'm only doing it for the opportunity to learn what I set out to learn about. This wasn't a decision I made while I was in college... or a recent decision. It has been over a decade of me working toward this very specific goal of becoming a dentist... and it's just hard when I'm not getting the grades. What do you guys think the dental admissions will think when they hear my story? I will legitimately cry my eyes out in the interview if they ask the right questions. I won't be able to help it. My story makes me emotional when I have to talk about it. I'm not the person that is going to show up to the interview that has straight A's and makes the dean's list every semester... and playing sports and is president of every other club. I'm 33 years old and all these kids work for circles around me. I just don't know what I'm going to do if I get rejected... well there is only one thing I can do and that is post-bacc and keep trying to get in... failing isn't an option for me but I am scared that it HAS to be with my scores. I'M MORE THAN THAT GPA! I already know more about dental than every other dental student I have met! I hear all the time that admissions take people's entire applications into consideration and it isn't just GPA. I'm a great student... I sit in the front row and I engage in class and I answer questions and I usually get the answers right. In my classes, I have to shut myself up and let other people answer questions... but if they don't answer then I will! I do really great lab work!!

I'm sorry for the massively long post about my life story... and please excuse my childish writing habits. I'm not here to impress anybody. It would be really nice to talk a real professional about things. My school doesn't have a predental program and so they can't really tell me anything... I also don't want to make this sort of thing to be my first impressions with a dental school. Do I stand a chance? I'm studying really hard for my DAT right now and I'm afraid it going all be for nothing. I appreciate any feedback at all whatsoever, and THANK YOU for reading my story and giving me your time. It literally means the entire world to me.


Verified Dentist
Mar 18, 2018
I empathise with your position. I don't know how the US marking system works to be able to advise specifically on the marks that you mention. Dentistry is a hard course, and if you can't assimilate the teaching and be able to handle the unique and difficult situations that arise, then you will not succeed. I am teaching final year Dental students in Australia, and any lack of this synthesis of knowledge and skills is showing up the weaker students; a few will struggle to graduate by end of year. Although you seem to have the desire, your lower grades suggest this may not be a good career for you on which to embark at your age.


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