How to Prepare for Vet School

I am currently a junior, meaning that I will be submitting my application this fall for veterinary school! It is exciting that I am already at this point of my education, but I am also so scared that I am not ready. I have tips and tricks for what I did to make myself prepared. In this article, I will let you know what I regret not doing so that you won’t make the same mistakes. Here is a compilation of tips and questions to ask yourself as you go through this journey! 

College Academics

  1. Any major works as long as you meet all the prerequisites for the vet school you are interested in. However many students choose Biology/Zoology, or Animal Sciences as their major.
  2. Different vet schools have different prerequisites. Keep track of them. I made a document with the top vet schools I was interested in and then typed out all the prerequisites from their site, highlighting the courses I still needed to take. I also used the prerequisites to choose what colleges I did NOT want to go to. Public speaking and history were two courses that I did not want to take, so I crossed those schools off of my list right off the bat. 
  3. Have an upward trend in your GPA if it is not consistently great (like some people are lucky enough to have). If you bombed your freshman year but did great the rest of the time, you are in the clear! Vet schools want to see that you are able to handle the science heavy course load that you will be taking in veterinary school. Instead of the max 18 credit limit in undergrad, it’s going to be a minimum of 18 and upwards to 24 credits in vet school depending on what school you go to. However, if you are like me and organic chemistry hits you hard junior and senior year, making it look more like a downward trend, you are not alone. Organic chemistry is notoriously difficult and is often what course pre-vet students have to retake if they don’t get in their first try. That’s okay! My tip for you and applying the first time around is to make sure your GRE is strong and that you have unique experiences to lift up your overall application.
  4. Build relationships with the veterinarians you shadow or work with, your professors (particularly in science courses), and your employers. You WILL need recommendation letters down the road.

woman in a gray sweater taking notes on white paper

Experiences

  1. Gain as much animal experience and vet experience as possible as some schools do have a minimum requirement.
  2. Shadow or work under different types of vets such as exotic, large, and small animals in many types of environments like a shelter.
  3. Volunteer, even if it isn’t animal related! This is a great way to gain experience and show community involvement on your application.

Holding snake

Choosing Where to Go

  1. Weigh the costs and benefits of in-state versus out-of-state schools. Then, select what universities you can afford based on your location decisions. Think about living costs as well! Where do you see yourself living for 4 years of your life?
  2. Reach out to friends who are in vet school, research on Reddit or even private message veterinary instagram pages and ask them about their experiences at their schools.
  3. Look at GPA statistics and where do you stand compared to the average. Look at what the school will consider when they analyze your GPA. Last 45 or 60 credit GPA and science GPA or cumulative GPA?

Girl In Iu Hoosiers Shirt With Dog

Other Tips 

  1. Prepare for the GRE. Take it at least twice. Vocabulary words seem to be what a lot of people focus on when studying. Make sure to get the prep book made by the people who make the GRE as this is the best way to practice. I have heard that other brand GRE prep books are a waste of money.
  2. Set up an appointment with the veterinary school admissions office to talk about what else you can do to improve your application. I do not recommend Pre-Professional offices on campus as in my experience I knew more than the advisor did, plus I had a long wait in the office only to be told the wrong information.
  3. Have a backup plan! I cannot stress this enough. Not only will your world not feel like it’s ending if you don’t get into vet school, but you will also have less stress weighing down on you all of undergrad. Now, don’t jump into your backup plan too soon. Take it from me, I did that. My cumulative GPA dropped drastically because of organic chemistry, genetics and microbiology courses all in the same semester. I got spooked. I put my backup plan into place midway through the semester and after getting into a professional studies program, I realized I wasn’t ready to let go of my lifelong dream and passion without at least trying. Learn from my mistakes.
  4. Know whether or not you will apply more than once to vet school. If you’re here reading this you have probably dreamed of being a vet since you were a little kid so you won’t give up after one round of rejections. Some people actually apply 3+ times. The years that you don’t get in means you get time to gain more experience and to improve any bad grades. Also, when admission teams see your name a second time around and how hard you’ve worked to improve your application, you have higher chances of getting in. 

The Lalagirl Reading A Book Outside

Getting into vet school is hard. Many people argue that it is harder than getting into medical school. I have to agree with this because there are less vet schools in the US, only 30 in total with an average of 98 seats per class. That is not many spots for everyone who is wanting to become a veterinarian. You already knew though that it isn’t going to be easy, it will take a lot of hard work, you will be giving up fun times with friends and it takes dedication to get into vet school. In the end though, it will be worth it. Keep in mind why you are doing what you are doing and stay strong and true to your passions. Many people think that veterinarians are all in it for the money, but honestly we are in it for the animals because we all know there isn’t actually money in a veterinary career due to the vast debt accrued from 8+ years of tuition. If this is what you actually want to do, set your mind to it and you will certainly get that white coat!