A liberal arts College education, as students are often told, can lead to limitless career options. Among these options
is dentistry, or any one of its many specialties. Each year, however, the College has significant numbers of students following the pre-med track, but few who pursue a pre-dental path. The founder of the new Williams College Pre-dental Society, Kevin Eagan ’15, asserts that this phenomenon is not due entirely to lack of interest.
“There is an average of zero to one dental applicants per year and, historically, pre-dental students haven’t had as much of a community of peer support as, say, pre-med students,” Eagen said. He added that applying to dental school can be more complicated than the already difficult process of applying to medical school since dental schools have stricter shadowing requirements.
Eagan, along with board members Elaina Pullano ’15 and Aaron Jordan ’15, hope that the Pre-dental Society will be helpful to students navigating the process of applying to dental school. “We want to kind of support each other while we are working through the application process,” Eagen said. This, however, is not the only goal the board has for their new society. “One of the main points of this group is to get ourselves established and to have a [pre-dental] community,” Pullano said.
The junior class at the College currently has four students planning on applying to dental school, according to Pre-dental
Society member Karen He ’15. However, she had not realized there were others in her class with similar interests until recently. “Before you guys, I’d never had anyone to talk to,” she said.
Dental schools are increasingly looking for more than just students who excel in the science. “There is really more of a push for someone who has a good science background, but also is able to excel at things like extracurriculars and be social and be extroverted in order to interact with patients,” Jordan said. Eagan said that in order to address this, “one of the main missions of our club to help people put themselves out there.”
Because the undergraduate classes required to apply to dental school are identical to the classes required to apply to medical school, pre-dental students are traditionally grouped with pre-med students. Pre-dental, along with pre-vet, is not currently an official pre-professional track recognized by the College.
“The information [about dental school] is on the website, but you don’t actually get it explained until you’ve met with [an advisor] and figured it out on your own,” Pullino said. She added that while the advisors are informative, the Pre-dental Society “will be helpful for things like going through the application process [with fellow applicants].” According to Eagen, another result of pre-dental students being grouped with pre-med students is that “professors who teach pre-dental classes don’t know what it means to be pre-dental, and that has a real effect on letters of recommendation.”
While the leaders of the society are more committed to dentistry than most potential members might be, they want to emphasize that the society is open to students with any level of interest in the field. “Hopefully we’ve kind of conveyed that we know what we’re talking about, but we’re also looking for people who are just interested and might not have experience,” Jordan said.
“Anyone with any level of interest in any sort of dental field is extremely encouraged to talk to any one of us” Eagan said.