Getting Into Veterinary School: 5 ESSENTIAL Tips

how to get into Veterinary school

Getting Into Veterinary School: 5 ESSENTIAL Tips

Embarking on the journey to become a veterinarian is both exciting and challenging. Veterinary school is highly competitive, requiring not only academic excellence but also a well-rounded profile. This article, focusing on “Getting Into Veterinary School: 5 ESSENTIAL Tips,” aims to guide aspiring veterinarians through the crucial steps of preparing for this demanding yet rewarding career.

The path to veterinary school involves more than just good grades. It requires a strategic approach to your undergraduate education, gaining relevant animal experience, and developing key soft skills. Each aspect of your preparation plays a vital role in strengthening your application. From selecting the right undergraduate major to securing impactful recommendations, every step you take should align with your ultimate goal of becoming a veterinarian.

Moreover, it’s important to remember that veterinary schools are looking for candidates who are not only academically capable but also passionate about animal care and welfare. Your journey should reflect a balance between academic pursuits and practical experiences in the field of veterinary medicine. By following these essential tips, you can enhance your chances of admission and prepare for a successful career in veterinary medicine.

Essential Tip #1: Achieving Academic Excellence

Academic excellence is the foundation of a strong application to veterinary school. It’s not just about having high grades; it’s about demonstrating your ability to handle the rigorous coursework that a veterinary program entails. Excelling in science and math courses is particularly crucial, as these subjects form the core of veterinary medicine.

  • Understanding the Importance of Grades: Veterinary schools use grades as a measure of your academic ability and dedication. While a perfect 4.0 GPA isn’t mandatory, maintaining a high GPA, especially in science courses, is essential. It shows your commitment to academic excellence and your ability to thrive in a challenging environment.
  • Balancing Academic and Practical Skills: Alongside your GPA, veterinary schools also value practical skills and experiences. This includes involvement in science clubs, research projects, or any activities that enhance your understanding of the veterinary field. For instance, the American Veterinary Medical Association provides resources and insights into the veterinary profession that can complement your academic pursuits.
  • The Role of Prerequisites: Completing the required prerequisites is a must. These courses not only prepare you for the veterinary curriculum but also demonstrate your readiness for advanced study. Ensure you’re aware of the specific prerequisites of your chosen veterinary schools. The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges offers a comprehensive list of requirements for various veterinary programs.
  • Standardized Tests: Preparing for and excelling in standardized tests like the GRE is another critical aspect. These tests are a requirement for most veterinary schools and serve as an additional metric to assess your academic readiness. Resources for GRE preparation can be found on the Educational Testing Service (ETS) GRE website.

In conclusion, achieving academic excellence is a multifaceted endeavor. It involves not only excelling in your coursework but also engaging in activities that build your practical skills and understanding of veterinary medicine. By focusing on these areas, you can create a strong foundation for your veterinary school application.

Essential Tip #2: Selecting the Right Undergraduate Major

Choosing the right undergraduate major is a pivotal decision for aspiring veterinarians. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to limit yourself to a pre-vet or biology major. Veterinary schools value diversity in academic backgrounds, recognizing that various fields of study can contribute unique perspectives and skills to the veterinary profession.

  • Broadening Your Academic Horizons: Embrace majors that genuinely interest you, whether it’s in the sciences, arts, or humanities. A major in a non-traditional field like psychology, sociology, or even literature can enrich your understanding of animal behavior, human-animal relationships, and communication skills. What’s crucial is how you integrate your major with your goal of becoming a veterinarian.
  • Integrating Major with Veterinary Goals: Regardless of your major, ensure that you complete the necessary prerequisite courses for veterinary school. This might mean taking additional science courses if your major is outside the scientific domain. The key is to demonstrate your ability to excel in both your chosen field and the sciences essential to veterinary medicine.
  • Showcasing Your Unique Perspective: Use your major to stand out. For instance, a major in environmental science can highlight your interest in wildlife conservation, while a major in business can underscore your aptitude for veterinary practice management. Your unique academic journey can become a compelling part of your veterinary school application.
  • Maintaining Academic Rigor: Regardless of your major, maintaining a strong GPA is essential. Veterinary schools look for candidates who have excelled academically, showing discipline and dedication in their studies. Your academic performance, irrespective of the field, is a testament to your potential as a veterinary student.

Essential Tip #3: Gaining Valuable Animal Experience

Gaining hands-on experience with animals is not just a prerequisite for most veterinary schools; it’s a crucial component of your professional development. This experience provides practical skills, enhances your understanding of animal behavior and welfare, and demonstrates your commitment to the veterinary field.

  • Diverse Experiences Count: Seek opportunities in a variety of settings. This can include volunteering at animal shelters, working in veterinary clinics, participating in research projects, or being involved in animal advocacy groups. Each experience contributes to a broader understanding of animal health and veterinary medicine.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Focus on the depth and quality of your experiences rather than just accumulating hours. Long-term commitments where you can demonstrate growth, learning, and increased responsibilities are more valuable than short, superficial engagements.
  • Reflecting on Your Experiences: In your application, reflect on what these experiences taught you about veterinary medicine, animal care, and yourself. Discuss challenges you faced and how they shaped your understanding of the profession. This reflection shows veterinary schools that you have a realistic view of the field and are committed to it for the right reasons.
  • Building Relationships in the Field: While gaining experience, build relationships with veterinarians and other animal care professionals. These connections can provide mentorship, guidance, and potentially strong letters of recommendation. They also offer a glimpse into the daily life of a veterinarian, helping you confirm your career choice.
  • Documenting Your Journey: Keep a detailed record of your experiences, including the roles you played, the skills you developed, and the insights you gained. This documentation will be invaluable when crafting your veterinary school application and preparing for interviews.

In summary, gaining valuable animal experience is about immersing yourself in the world of veterinary medicine, learning from each encounter, and building a portfolio of experiences that collectively underscore your passion and readiness for a career in veterinary care.

Essential Tip #4: Developing Key Soft Skills

In the journey of getting into veterinary school, developing key soft skills is as crucial as academic achievements. Veterinary medicine is not just about animal care; it’s also about interacting with pet owners, collaborating with colleagues, and managing various aspects of veterinary practice. Here, we delve into the essential soft skills that can significantly enhance your veterinary school application and your effectiveness as a future veterinarian.

  • Leadership Skills: Leadership is more than just holding a title; it’s about influencing others, making decisions, and taking responsibility. Engage in activities that put you in leadership roles, such as heading a student organization, leading a volunteer project, or organizing community events. These experiences demonstrate your ability to lead, a quality that is invaluable in veterinary settings where teamwork and initiative are key.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is fundamental in veterinary medicine. You need to be able to convey complex medical information to pet owners clearly and empathetically. Participate in activities that challenge you to develop these skills, like public speaking clubs, debate teams, or customer service roles. Being able to communicate effectively will not only aid in your interactions with clients but also enhance your teamwork within veterinary practices.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Veterinary medicine can be emotionally taxing. Developing emotional intelligence – the ability to understand and manage your emotions and those of others – is vital. Engage in experiences that test your emotional resilience, like working in high-pressure environments or dealing with challenging situations in animal care. This skill helps in managing stress, empathizing with clients, and maintaining a professional demeanor in difficult circumstances.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Veterinarians often face complex cases that require critical thinking and problem-solving. Engage in activities that challenge your analytical skills, such as research projects, complex coursework, or strategic games and sports. Demonstrating your ability to think critically and solve problems is a strong indicator of your potential success in veterinary school and the profession.
  • Adaptability and Flexibility: The field of veterinary medicine is constantly evolving. Show that you are adaptable and open to learning. This can be through embracing new experiences, traveling, learning new languages or skills, or adapting to different roles in your work or volunteer experiences.

In conclusion, while academic prowess is essential, the development of these soft skills is equally important in your quest for getting into veterinary school. They not only strengthen your application but also lay the foundation for a successful and fulfilling career in veterinary medicine.

Enhancing Your Application

Essential Tip #5: Securing Impactful Recommendations

Securing impactful recommendations is a critical step in your veterinary school application. These letters provide a third-party perspective on your abilities, character, and suitability for the veterinary profession.

  • Building Relationships: Start by building genuine relationships with your professors and veterinarians. Engage in meaningful conversations, participate actively in classes or projects, and demonstrate your passion for veterinary medicine.
  • Choosing the Right Recommenders: Select individuals who know you well and can speak to your strengths and potential. This could be a professor in a relevant field, a veterinarian you’ve worked with, or a supervisor from your animal-related experiences.

A strong recommendation comes from someone who can provide detailed insights into your work ethic, problem-solving skills, and ability to handle the challenges of veterinary school.

  • Providing Context: When requesting a recommendation, provide your recommenders with your resume, personal statement, and specific points you’d like them to address. This helps them write a more personalized and effective letter.
  • Timeliness and Courtesy: Request recommendations well in advance and follow up with a thank you note. Showing appreciation for their time and effort goes a long way.

Remember, a compelling letter of recommendation can significantly bolster your application, offering a glimpse into your character and potential as a future veterinarian.

Navigating the Standardized Test Landscape

Navigating the standardized test landscape is an essential part of preparing for veterinary school. The most common tests are the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and, in some cases, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

  • Understanding Test Requirements: Research the specific test requirements of the veterinary schools you are interested in. While most require the GRE, some accept or prefer the MCAT.
  • Preparation is Key: Dedicate ample time to prepare for these exams. Utilize study guides, practice tests, and preparation courses to enhance your performance.

Your scores on these standardized tests provide veterinary schools with an additional metric to assess your academic readiness and ability to succeed in a rigorous academic environment.

  • Balancing Preparation with Other Responsibilities: While preparing for these tests, balance your study schedule with your other academic and extracurricular commitments. Effective time management is crucial to ensure you do not neglect other important aspects of your application.
  • Retaking Tests: If you’re not satisfied with your scores, consider retaking the test. Many students improve their scores on a second attempt, demonstrating their commitment and perseverance.

In conclusion, excelling in standardized tests is a vital component of your veterinary school application. It showcases your academic abilities and readiness to tackle the challenging curriculum of veterinary education.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Are the Prerequisites for Veterinary School?

Most veterinary schools require a set of prerequisite courses, typically including biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. It’s essential to check the specific requirements of each school you’re interested in, as they can vary. These courses lay the foundational knowledge necessary for the advanced study of veterinary medicine.

How Important Are Grades in Getting Into Veterinary School?

Grades play a significant role in veterinary school admissions. High grades, particularly in science courses, demonstrate your academic ability and readiness for the rigorous curriculum of veterinary school. However, veterinary schools also consider other factors like experience, recommendations, and personal statements.

Can I Get Into Veterinary School with a Non-Science Undergraduate Major?

Yes, you can get into veterinary school with a non-science major, provided you complete the required prerequisite science courses. Veterinary schools value diverse academic backgrounds and the unique perspectives they bring.

What Types of Animal Experience are Valuable for Veterinary School Applications?

Diverse animal experiences are valuable, including volunteering at animal shelters, working in veterinary clinics, participating in research, and being involved in animal advocacy. Quality and depth of experience, along with what you’ve learned from these experiences, are crucial.

How Can I Stand Out in My Veterinary School Application?

To stand out, focus on building a well-rounded profile. This includes excelling academically, gaining diverse animal experiences, developing key soft skills, securing strong recommendations, and performing well on standardized tests. Personal statements that reflect your passion and unique experiences also help you stand out.

Is Research Experience Important for Veterinary School?

While not mandatory, research experience can be beneficial. It demonstrates your ability to engage in scientific inquiry, critical thinking, and problem-solving, which are valuable skills in veterinary medicine.

How Do I Prepare for the Veterinary School Interview?

Prepare for interviews by practicing common interview questions, understanding your application thoroughly, and being able to discuss your experiences and motivation for pursuing veterinary medicine. Demonstrating good communication skills and a thoughtful understanding of the veterinary profession is key.

What Should I Do If I Don’t Get Accepted to Veterinary School?

If you don’t get accepted, consider seeking feedback from the schools to understand areas for improvement. Work on enhancing your application by gaining more experience, improving your grades, or strengthening your test scores, and reapply.


Embarking on the path to veterinary school is a journey of dedication, passion, and comprehensive preparation. It’s a multifaceted process that goes beyond academic excellence, encompassing diverse experiences, development of soft skills, and a deep understanding of the veterinary profession. Aspiring veterinarians must balance their academic pursuits with practical experiences, showcasing their commitment and readiness for this challenging yet rewarding career.

Remember, each component of your application – from your undergraduate major and grades to your animal experiences and personal statement – contributes to painting a holistic picture of your suitability for veterinary school. It’s about demonstrating not just your ability to excel in a rigorous academic environment but also your passion for animal welfare, your empathy, and your readiness to take on the responsibilities of a veterinarian.

In this journey, resilience is key. Facing challenges, whether in academics, gaining experience, or even in setbacks like not being accepted on your first try, is part of the process. Each challenge is an opportunity to learn, grow, and come back stronger.

As you prepare for this journey, keep in mind that getting into veterinary school is just the beginning. It’s a stepping stone towards a fulfilling career dedicated to the health and well-being of animals. Stay committed, stay passionate, and let your journey to veterinary school be a reflection of your dedication to becoming a veterinarian.