How to Win a Dental School Scholarship

Dental school is EXPENSIVE! Luckily, there are many scholarship opportunities to offset the cost. Scholarships usually focus on academics, community service, or both. For advice on how to excel academically (without working harder), see my blog post on How to Boost your Class Rank!

One of the major obstacles to winning a scholarship is self-doubt! Many of my well-deserving colleagues failed to apply for scholarships because they (incorrectly) assumed they wouldn’t qualify or they’d never win!  In fact, some of our school’s scholarships went UNCLAIMED because no one applied for them. What a shame! Remember, you have nothing to lose! Apply! I earned over $30,000 in scholarship money while in dental school. Here’s how I won these scholarships!

Email Inquiry

I recently received the following email: 

“I saw in the MSDA newsletter that you were the recipient of the R.K. Tongue scholarship for UMSOD. I will be a D1 starting this year, so I was just wondering if we could chat about what things you did in your time at UMSOD that you think contributed to you receiving the scholarship.”

My Response

Here was my response:

“I was honored with the RK Tongue Scholarship for my work in elder dental care. I lived with my grandparents during my post-bacc program, and had a close relationship with my grandmother who lived to 101 years old. In dental school, I found that I gravitated towards working with geriatric patients. I really found my ‘niche’ in this patient population.

My best advice to you (or anyone interested in a scholarship) is to find a patient population or cause that you are passionate about, and focus on it. I’m sure there were other students who had more volunteer hours than me, but I think their activities lacked a common cause or focus. I would imagine this makes it difficult for a scholarship committee to really get a handle on who you are and what you’re all about. Having a focus will allow your genuineness to shine through. 

At the University of Maryland, there are community service opportunities that benefit children, veterans, patients with special needs, patients who are medically compromised, patients experiencing homeless, patients in recovery programs, survivors of sex trafficking, and survivors of domestic abuse. Dental school offers so many opportunities for volunteerism, you will undoubtedly find something that speaks to you!”

What advice do you have for dental students seeking scholarships? Comment below!


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