As someone who has read over 35,000 applications in my more than over 20 years as an admissions officer, the Experiences and Achievements section of the application doesn’t receive enough attention from applicants. And I get it! After zeroing in on the best personal statement, spending
hours transferring your course work details and credit hours and securing faculty to submit evaluation letters on your behalf, all you want to do is hit the submit button to send your ADEA AADSAS application to your carefully selected list of schools. Yet, I would caution applicants to pay extra
attention to this section because this is the initial opportunity to present yourself to admissions officers and committee members to get a sense of the real you.
The most useful exercise for completing this task is to prepare a resume. It will summarize your employment, volunteer activities, membership in dental clubs and organizations, educational experiences, research, etc. If this is your first time preparing a resume, a
host of online resources can support and assist you. Once you prepare a first draft, the career center at your current school might even have a resume workshop or advisors who can help to review and improve it.
Construct your resume carefully, making sure to drill down (pun intended) into the small details. For each experience you should have a start and end date (except for ongoing activities). Details matter on the ADEA AADSAS application, so you will need to enter your
average weekly hours and number of weeks. Hint:
Be exact. You’d be surprised how often experiences are underreported in cases where applicants enter details are incorrect!
For instance, dental shadowing may have taken place from March 1, 2016 to February 20, 2017, a 40-week period. The applicant records four hours per week and the number of hours in a single week, four, versus 40, the actual number of weeks that dental
shadowing occurred. The autofill feature of the ADEA AADSAS application calculates 16 total hours when in fact the applicant shadowed 160 hours over a 40-week period. It happens more often than you think and with hundreds of applications to review, the reviewer does not have time to recalculate or follow up for
Another advantage of creating a resume is to help make an inventory of your experiences and remind yourself of other activities that you may have forgotten. Many times, applicants combine or lump multiple activities under one group. I once had an applicant who participated in her predental club by
attending meetings, visiting a few dental schools and collecting and distributing food to people in need for several weeks, then combined all efforts as one reported club
activity. The applicant did not list any activities under the community service section. In this situation, it would have been more appropriate to separate the community service activities (hours and weeks) and report this type of experience separately.
An inventory exercise should be performed for all the experiences that apply to your individual situation—academic enrichment, dental shadowing, employment, extracurricular activities, research and/or volunteer work. Now you see why this section should not be given less attention than the others, since it reveals so
much about you and what makes you truly unique. Many times when reviewing applications, my admissions colleagues and I come across snippets of an activity or experience in the personal statement or in the section related to “activities requiring manual dexterity,”
but there was no mention in the experience section. Admissions officers and committee members can only infer so much and therefore cannot assess your application properly without detailed information.
Completing your application takes a lot of time and preparation, but to do a thorough job you must be patient and review it several times with fresh eyes. I recommend you take a break, take a walk or listen to your favorite tunes for a while before completing the experiences and activities section. Step away from
your application so that you can come back to it with a fresh outlook and more energy. Don’t rush to get it done
because you will not be able to update these important sections once you hit
the submit button.
Good luck with your application! I look forward to reading all about you.