To be competitive in applying to veterinary schools, what you do outside of class is as important as what you do in class.
Vet schools are looking for students who have strong communication and interpersonal skills. The university offers a variety of courses in speech and writing to help you refine your abilities.
Your performance in college is the best indicator of your performance in a vet school. As such, plan to take a rigorous, yet balanced course load which allows you to demonstrate both your proficiency in science and a range of academic interests.
All vet schools require experience with animal care with animals other than your own pets. This is expected to include substantial first-hand observation or work experience with a practicing veterinarian. Many vet schools recommend experience with a range of animal species, both large and small, both pet and livestock. All schools require a letter of recommendation from a practicing veterinarian with whom you have spent a significant amount of time. These experiences demonstrate your motivation for the profession, your understanding of the work vets do, and help you develop skills with your patients and their owners.
Volunteer / Community Service
Because you are preparing for a humanitarian profession, it is important to have volunteer learning experiences which demonstrate a commitment of service to others. It is suggested that this be ongoing throughout your college years prior to application for admission.
As a veterinarian, you will be a leader and team member in many ways – with your patients, your staff, your colleagues, and your community. Examples of leadership include offices held in organizations, committee work; leadership in church activities; coordinating a project; managing, training, supervising at work or in other activities; teaching experience of any kind; peer counseling or mentoring, etc.
Veterinary medicine depends on professional literature for practicing vets to remain current in the field. Most veterinary schools highly recommend participation in research. It is good to participate in independent, hypothesis-based research using the scientific method. Your research experience could be from many different areas – it does not necessarily have to be medically related or in a lab.
Things to Remember
Make sure you have accurate contact information for supervisors and veterinarians you shadow or work with, in case you need to have them write recommendation letters. Even if you discontinue an activity, try to keep a relationship with the people you have worked with – through social media for example.
Record all hours of service and experiences. Writing your reflections in a journal will be also helpful when you write a personal statement.