What is Pre-Vet?
So what is pre-vet? When you ask a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” If they have anything to do with animals they will most likely say, Veterinarian. It is their childhood dream. However, the reality takes a high degree of dedication and a good work ethic. While some universities may offer a “Pre-Vet” major, others may offer to track “Pre-Vet” within a different major, often times Animal Science.
Is There a Certain Major for Pre-Vet?
There is not a required major to apply for veterinary school. Instead, veterinary schools have a set of course requirements for undergraduate students to complete before applying. Each school is different and therefore has its own set of requirements. It is important to know the requirements list for each veterinary school you are applying for well before you begin the application. Knowing the requirements, and keeping up on them is important because they are subject to change from year to year.
Since each school has different requirements, it may be best to keep a document, or spreadsheet of these and update them as you are completing your undergraduate classes. That way as you complete them, you can mark them off for your own record. This will help you make sure you stay on track. If you start earlier in your undergraduate career doing research, you will have a broader selection of schools to apply to when it is time. If you are doubting a course to meet a requirement, reach out to the school that you are questioning. This will be the best way to double-check if you need the course or not.
The Pre-Vet Application:
When applying for veterinary school, there are several components. The application includes weighing grades, hours of experience, letters of recommendation, and essays. Each veterinary school has a different formula to determine which part of the application is weighted more heavily. It is uncertain to know what that formula is exactly. Because of this it is best to make sure you have all areas covered.
Any veterinary school has heavy course loads and rigorous classes. A high GPA often times is taken as being able to handle the course load. Many schools choose to weigh a high GPA as being important in their application process. In addition to your overall college GPA, the GPA from your science courses, and the GPA from the last 45 credits you have taken are considered.
It is not required to have straight As to get into vet school. It is still important to have as good of a GPA as possible. If you think that there are courses in your undergraduate that you will not do the best in, find a person in the class to study with or get a tutor. A lot of the universities will offer forms of study groups within the course specifically, or there are other students hired by the university to be a tutor for a certain class.
Universities can have other veterinary school-specific requirements such as taking the GRE. Some universities also have an interview process following the application for top candidates. When you are applying to schools know what the application process is as well as the requirements for applying. You want to apply and be prepared for this as you have spent years working toward your career goal.
Hours of Experience:
Before applying to veterinary school, begin logging all animal and veterinary experiences you have. This includes hours spent working, shadowing, or volunteering. A wide variety of experiences can be included in this segment of the application. You will need to provide a brief description of the experience, and the number of hours you participated in the activity.
Gaining experience around animals and in veterinary clinics is essential. This is to know if you will enjoy the career path. Veterinary school is very demanding. If you are not 100% sure you want to be a veterinarian it can be even more demanding. There are other things you can become involved in as well. Research experience, for example, is not required on applications. It is often perceived as a bonus on applications, however.
Letters of Recommendation:
Applying for veterinary school has a lot of different components. Along with good grades, and involvement in the industry, it is important to have strong letters of recommendation. During your undergraduate career, network as much as you can. Seek out mentors, professors, veterinarians, and other professionals. This is so when you are looking for recommendation letters, they can speak to the qualities you possess to be successful. There are a few tips when you are asking for a recommendation letter. Indeed.com has a great article outlining things to keep in mind as you are preparing for this.
Some tips for asking for a letter are listed below:
- Create a list of people that could potentially write you a letter. This way, if the application asks for two to three, you will have more than that to choose from when it comes time to ask for the letter. When you are making this list it is also important to avoid friends and family members. We all know they would give each of us a shining recommendation, schools (as well as employers) will likely see this as inaccurate or biased.
- Make it Personal: Don’t send out a general email, text, or phone call to the people you would like a letter from. Contact them directly and in-person first. If you are personal about contacting them their letter will be the same in return.
- Write a Formal Letter: After asking each person on your list if they would be willing to write a recommendation letter, formally ask them to do so. Write them a letter, or nowadays a formal email, asking. Include an up-to-date resume, and what you are doing now. Also stating what the recommendation is for and why you are qualified is important. They can specify what they are writing toward your goal. It may also be beneficial to include your grades and other academic success you have had in the relevant years. If there is a due date for the letters to be in it is also important to include that as you do not want them to feel rushed when writing.
- Give them time to write your letter. Reach out to your prospective people much before the due date. You do not want them to feel rushed when writing the letter. More so, you do not want them to turn you down because it wouldn’t be enough time for them to complete.
Each application portal has a few general essays that all applicants are required to complete. Some schools, however, require additional, school-specific essays on topics they choose. The essay portion of the application allows students to share their individuality. It also allows them to reflect on their experiences in veterinary clinics, and other opportunities in which they have participated. Most veterinary programs value applicants that have interests outside of veterinary medicine. This is because the importance of having a work-life balance is becoming more and more prevalent in veterinary medicine.
So What is Pre-Vet?
As you have read, there are many things to consider when applying for veterinary school. Applying can be a stressful process. It is important to start your application early to make sure everything you need and have is included. If you are interested in learning more about veterinary school, many universities offer a “Pre-Vet Club.” This is where like-minded students can join together to learn more about the profession, and volunteer. They can also gain leadership experience through roles within the club. Pre-vet clubs can look different at each college or university. Most often host local veterinarians as speakers, panels of veterinary students, and veterinary school admissions committees to speak about vet school and their application process.
If you want to know more about technology in the industry check out our other blogs.VetMeasure’s Implementing Veterinary Technology: Why Now? blog covers why technology is prevalent in the industry and where it is headed.