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So You Want to Go to Veterinary School

Have you been considering becoming a veterinarian? Hold your horses, as there may be a few surprises coming your way. Getting into a veterinary program is a rat race. Did you know that it is more challenging to get accepted to a vet school than to a human medical school? No wonder, there are only 29 veterinary schools in North America and the admission ration is about 6:1, which means that for every one opening there are 6 applicants. For this reason, veterinary schools are putting forth a good effort to separate prospective students in the application process. So what now, brown cow? Let’s see what's out there to help you take the bull by its horns and make a beeline to successful admission:  

First things first

Getting into a veterinary school means making adequate preparations ahead of time, being organized, and doing all you can to stand out as a competitive applicant. The following assets will be closely examined in the admissions process:  

Excellent Grades

Considering vet school without 4.00 GPA may make you think it's hopeless, especially after reading the above statistics about admission. But vet schools are not necessarily looking for bookworms. The average cumulative GPA of successful applicants is typically around 3.50, and the universities like to look at the individual as a whole and consider all of their relevant attributes.  

Acceptable Prerequisites

Are you not enrolled in a veterinarian science undergraduate program? No worries - just make sure you complete all the required prerequisites during the course of your studies.  Look up different schools and their programs and discuss them with a counselor on campus to make sure you're meeting all the requirements. Check the specific lists of prerequisites required by each individual school fairly regularly, as they can change year-to-year.  

Extracurricular Experience

When it comes to veterinary education it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, so make sure you work on excelling not only in academics, but also in animal-related extracurricular activities.  You could help out at your local veterinary clinic or volunteer at an animal shelter. Farm work can count in your favor as well.  

Ready, Set, Go

Getting all the necessary paperwork in order can like herding cats, so make sure you start early. Check out the websites for the veterinary schools you're applying to, and make lists of all the elements you need to put together, including letters of recommendation, personal statement, standardized test scores, transcripts, and application fees. Also, remember that many veterinary schools require an admissions interview! A spreadsheet can be a useful way to organize this information. Fortunately for people applying to multiple schools, many veterinary schools in the US accept a common application offered by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. 

Standardized Tests

All veterinary schools expect their applicants to submit standardized test results. Requirements vary from school to school. Exams you may be required to take include the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), and, if you are an international student applying to a US school, a language ability test such as TOEFL. Keep in mind that many schools accept only results from tests completed within the last 2 or 3 years.  

Finances

Unless you have a goose that lays golden eggs, you'll probably be interested in the cost of attending a veterinary school. The total cost of attendance for in-state students typically ranges from  $40,000 - $50,000, while non-resident students can expect to pay up to $80,000. Don’t let finances keep you away, though, as there are several scholarship options and tuition assistance programs available. Remember, the early bird gets the worm, and this is especially true when it comes to scholarships and financial aid.