SMU Veterinary Students studying in library

How To Prepare a Strong Vet School Application

There may not be a single guide on how to get into vet school that will work for the student, but the pointers can help you with the best odds of success.

Veterinary medicine offers an extremely rewarding career. However, it’s also a highly competitive field. You need a strong vet school application to improve your chances of being accepted into an accredited veterinary school, such as St. Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine. 

Vet schools want to see a well-rounded individual with a passion for animals, people, science, and learning, and this should be reflected in your application.

Here are our vet school application tips to help strengthen your chances of being accepted.

The journey starts before you apply

If you are wondering how to increase your chances of getting into vet school, the road to becoming a veterinarian starts long before you submit your application. You need to demonstrate a track record of being interested in animal care. 

The more animal-related experience you can acquire before applying to vet school, the better. Alongside experience of working in a veterinary environment, you should show that you have experience in working with and caring for animals in general. 

This could be shadowing, volunteering, working at farm stables, boarding kennels, rehoming centers, or any other relevant experience of animals such as at wildlife parks.

Excelling at school can take you far

You must demonstrate academic excellence and a passion for learning. This means a strong overall grade point average (GPA) in your graduate work and prerequisite course requirements. 

You also need to demonstrate that you are up to the challenge of the rigorous, science-based veterinary school curriculum. While the GPA for admission will depend on the specific vet school, you’ll typically need an average minimum overall GPA of 3.0. Ideally, aim for at least an overall average science GPA of 3.6 or above for the best chance of earning a scholarship.

Get as much animal/vet experience as you can

Being able to show that you already have experience with animals will be an important part of your vet school application. While the admission requirements will vary depending on the specific vet school, you may be required to have at least 150 hours of supervised experience. However, most students get many more hours than this, with applicants averaging 1,660 hours of vet experience and 1,130 hours of animal experience before applying to veterinary school, according to the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges. 

Almost more important than gaining a specific number of hours of experience is the breadth of your experience. Most vet schools will expect a broad range of experience with different animals and clinics.

Research on your application matters

Participating in research is not necessarily a prerequisite for veterinary school, but being involved in research, especially in an area you are particularly passionate about, will certainly benefit your application. 

Start looking for research opportunities as soon as possible, ideally in your sophomore or freshman year. The sooner you can find research opportunities, the longer you’ll have in the lab to enable you to get more involved. Don’t be afraid to contact labs to work as a volunteer or even as a paid lab assistant to help you attain crucial experience.

Work with a pre-veterinary advisor

If you have access to a pre-vet advisor, you should take full advantage as they can help you with your vet school application. While gaining relevant experiences and excellent grades are essential to getting into vet school, a pre-veterinary advisor can help you with the finer nuances of applying. 

Pre-veterinary advisors are usually ideally positioned to keep up with individual vet school admission processes and requirements, and often have access to up-to-date lists of internships and clinics that let students shadow veterinarians.

Volunteer whenever possible

Volunteering is a great way to show your dedication to caring for and working with animals and is also a useful way to discover whether becoming a vet is the right career for you. It also increases your experience and confidence with animals and talking to people. 

Ideally, try to volunteer in various places, like small and large animal practices, rescue centers, farms, and kennels.

Get recommendations from your teacher/tutor/mentor

Vet schools typically require applicants to submit letters of recommendation as part of their application. These letters will be written by people who have supervised your work and can provide admissions committees with valuable insight into your skills, personal qualities, and readiness for veterinary medicine. 

Most vet schools will require you to provide three letters of recommendation, with at least one from a veterinarian, and others from your college professors. Letters that have the most impact are those that come from people who have known the application for an extended period of time and base their recommendation on personal knowledge.

Promote yourself but stay humble

So, how to make your application stand out for vet school? 

Your application needs to make the admissions committee aware of your strengths, dedication, experience, and achievements. Focus on the impact volunteering or working with animals has had on you and discuss your contribution to the experience. Approach your experience in terms of how it demonstrates your qualities, including responsibility, maturity, hard work, accountability, calmness under pressure, and dedication to service. 

Vet schools also want to learn about the entire person, so be sure to mention your long-term interests, whether in sports, arts, science, or music. Be sure to mention your achievements, even those outside animal care. Provide the admissions committee with a full picture of who you are. Most vet schools will require you to include a personal statement. Take this opportunity to share your story, values, and goals.

Choose your field

There are several fields within veterinary medicine, including behavioral medicine, emergency, critical care, laboratory animal medicine, radiology, and pathology. Deciding the right field for you will help you prepare for your vet school application and interviews. Knowing what area you wish to pursue will help you arrange relevant volunteer and work placements.

Prepare for all interview rounds

Most veterinary schools will want to meet you in person before accepting your application. Interviews are a crucial part of the admittance process, helping vet schools assess your personal qualities, which are impossible to reflect in a written application. If you are invited for an interview, you must prepare carefully. 

Try to find out the types of interviews the vet school typically conducts, whether by phone, video, panel, or multiple mini interviews. It would help if you had creative answers ready in your interview for common questions such as “why are you interested in this vet school?” and “why are you interested in veterinary medicine?”. 

Interviewers will use it as an opportunity to see how you interact with people and assess your motivation and ability to handle conflicts.Now that you know how to boost your veterinary school application with our application tips, look at the veterinary program at St. Matthew’s University or check out our latest webinars and open houses to learn more about studying with us. We offer a broad-based veterinary curriculum that integrates classroom study, research opportunities, and hands-on clinical training. If you are ready to apply or have any questions, contact us today.

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