For much of the summer of 2012, junior biology student Neelam Shah lived with a secret—something she wanted to keep to herself in case things didn’t work out as she had hoped. She had applied to the IU School of Dentistry and viewed it as a long-shot attempt at early admission into the competitive program. “My dream is to become a dentist,” she said. “I thought my application looked pretty good on paper even though I had only finished my sophomore year.”
Only a handful of students in the history of the dental school have been accepted without an undergraduate degree, although a degree is not a requirement for entry. Some of her close friends in the Women in Science House (WIS) knew she had applied, but she didn’t even share her plans with her family until she learned she would get an interview with admissions officers. By that time, she was spending six hours a day preparing for the entry exam.
“When I hadn’t received notice, I figured I didn’t get accepted,” said Shah. In fact, she almost chalked up the experience to nothing but good practice for her future application until she learned in late February that she had beaten the odds and been accepted into the dental school. Only 100 students from among 1,200 applicants were accepted for entry this year.
“I’m really excited about beginning my dental school classes, but I have to say the hardest thing is for me to leave all my friends at the Women in Science House. That was something I really asked myself: Would I regret missing out on my senior year?” she added.