What does a competitive application for dental hygiene school look like?

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Scarlett in Seattle, Washington

18 months ago

I've volunteered as an admin assistant at a low-income dental clinic and would really love to become a hygienist. However, I'm concerned that I won't get accepted into any schools due to the high level of competition. Would anyone who has completed or has been accepted into a DH program please give me an idea of what specific qualifications they look for? I know they say excellent grades, relevant work experience, etc. but I's like to have a more definite idea of what qualifies as "excellent" grades and "solid" work experience.

Just to give you a sense of my background, I started college at age 16, graduated from the University of Washington magna cum laude with a BA in Political Science. As an undergrad, I won a research award for $1,000 (Human Rights related) and coauthored a paper with my psych professor that was published in a professional journal. I volunteered for over 4 years and worked as a legal assistant. Will these accomplishments count for something even though they have absolutely nothing to do with DH? Doing the science prereqs alone will take nearly 2 years, and I really want to make sure to make the most of my time before applying.

I'd REALLY appreciate hearing back so I can get a realistic sense of how what I should do to reach my goal of becoming a hygienist.

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still retired in Texas

18 months ago

Scarlett in Seattle, Washington said: I've volunteered as an admin assistant at a low-income dental clinic and would really love to become a hygienist. However, I'm concerned that I won't get accepted into any schools due to the high level of competition. Would anyone who has completed or has been accepted into a DH program please give me an idea of what specific qualifications they look for? I know they say excellent grades, relevant work experience, etc. but I's like to have a more definite idea of what qualifies as "excellent" grades and "solid" work experience.

Just to give you a sense of my background, I started college at age 16, graduated from the University of Washington magna cum laude with a BA in Political Science. As an undergrad, I won a research award for $1,000 (Human Rights related) and coauthored a paper with my psych professor that was published in a professional journal. I volunteered for over 4 years and worked as a legal assistant. Will these accomplishments count for something even though they have absolutely nothing to do with DH? Doing the science prereqs alone will take nearly 2 years, and I really want to make sure to make the most of my time before applying.

I'd REALLY appreciate hearing back so I can get a realistic sense of how what I should do to reach my goal of becoming a hygienist.

Starting from the bottom with good grades is a good start.Pre-reqs is almost a must and be recently taken prior to applying to programs is a +. SOME schools want to see "hands on" dental experience. I highly suggest you get fully immunized to get floor experience (HEP B shots started and menningitis etc,etc.) As I started in my dental hygiene program, most of us had ample experience and where dentalasst. for 2 plus years. This career is going through tough times lately. Tons of schools have opened up. Choose carefully. Think about getting licensed in several states if you can afterwards....your state may be oversaturated. .

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Scarlett in Everett, Washington

18 months ago

Still retired in Texas--

Thanks so much for your advice! I really, really appreciate it.

To everyone else--

If anyone has personal experience specific to Washington state, PLEASE let me know what types of grades/experience you had when you applied to DH programs and whether you were able to find work after finishing. Thanks!

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exp in Massachusetts

18 months ago

I would recommend with all you've said.... to go to school to become a Dentist....DH is overcrowded and even if you work PT as a Dentist...you will have a good income. Look into Dental schools, seems like this would be a better career.

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JessicaRDH in Bremerton, Washington

18 months ago

hey Scarlett,

I'm a hygienist in your area, and I think that if you're willing to commute, and can afford to/are happy working part time (at least to start), hygiene could still be the career for you. yes, it's very crowded right now, and no, the jobs aren't coming easily, but I think that's just the reality of the job market in general, not just hygiene. I applied for (and got) my dream job in dental research three days after I graduated.

when I applied for hygiene school, there were 150 or so girls in my year who were trying to get in. 32 were accepted, and 3 were waitlisted (2 of the 3 got in later, when a couple students dropped out). I had a 3.79 gpa, was the Vice President of my school's honor society, and fairly active around campus with the GSA. in my interview, I mentioned wanting to get a Master's degree, and said I'd like to focus on research or public health. I got in, but I was nowhere near the top of the pack. My best friend was the very last pick of the year, with a 3.6 and two years of leading the pre-dental club.

consider talking to some folks at UW, and look up the CNOHR program through the University of Colorado. see what opportunities are available, what you can volunteer for, and if there's anything that might be enhanced by your skill set. native oral health research might be a good way to segue from your previous experience to your dental goal.

good luck!

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