It has been over 17 years since I was first accepted to veterinary school. I remember sitting in the room with the other students and thinking that there must be some mistake. Somehow, I was here but I wasn’t really supposed to be (what if they don’t call my name?)
It seems that many of the other students were thinking the same thing as our nerves were on edge about what the next four years would bring.
One of the professors got up and began to address us; we would be the class of 2004! (That seemed so far away at the time.) She began to assure us that each was handpicked from a group of over 1,300 applicants that year. There were about 130 students in my class.
All of those accepted have excellent grades, high standardized testing scores, and some form of animal or veterinary experience on their application. What then, would make someone stand out and be handpicked from a large group? My life story wasn't particularly intriguing. How and why was I here?
I remember this very clearly. The professor had made a comment during the speech about who was in the room. In this room, she said, there were soccer coaches, Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers, 4-H leaders, etc. Essentially, they were looking for those who were involved in their community. THIS IS HUGE!
As veterinarians, we are providing services to our community, and they want those that have skills to work with others for a greater good- not just book smart students or those who only focus on veterinary medicine or themselves. They are looking at your life outside of the vet med world and what inspiration you may provide to others. Yes, acceptance is multi-factorial, but I firmly believe this is a key piece to the puzzle.
Boost Your Chances:
- If you are considering a career in veterinary medicine, make sure you are well-rounded. You are obviously smart, but make an effort to be involved in your community and have other non-veterinary experience to share on your application.
- I think that letters of recommendation are very influential in acceptance. Let’s just face it, sometimes life is about who you know. Vet med is a tight knit community for the most part, especially in academia. A good recommendation from a well-respected colleague definitely can’t hurt. Think carefully about who you will ask for these letters, and plan ahead, long before those applications go out!
- They are trying to figure out who you are from your application. Paint a clear picture about where you came from and what you enjoy about life. Don’t just focus on your animal work.
- Lastly, if offered an interview- GO! I know it is expensive to fly to multiple schools for an interview, but it will really help if you can meet the acceptance committee face to face. Be yourself, and let your personality shine!
I believe that this profession is a calling. It is a career, but it is more than that. Veterinary medicine is competitive, but I believe that if it is truly your calling and you work hard, you will get in. Best of luck in your journey!