Timeline for Pre-Vet Med Students
*This timeline was developed for those students planning to apply for veterinary medical school admission immediately after graduation. It is also very common, however, for students to take a year or more off after graduation and then apply. If you are considering taking a gap year (or more) after graduation, some of the suggested activities can be postponed until later in college.
- Let your advisor know that you are interested in going to veterinary school.
- Complete first year pre-vet med coursework (usually English Composition, Math through Calculus, Introductory Biology, and General Chemistry courses).
- Visit the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) Site: http://www.aavmc.org/ (come back often over the next couple of years to keep an eye out for any changes).
- Begin to look over practice GRE exams. Although you will not be ready to take this exam for a while, looking over practice questions will help you plan your college coursework to best prepare yourself for this exam. (Note: some veterinary schools will take MCAT exam scores)
- In the summer between your freshman and sophomore years, consider doing volunteer work in an animal health care setting.
- Explore campus extracurricular activities. Remember that quality is more important than quantity - choose activities that you are passionate about and that you could possibly eventually take a leadership role in.
- Keep in mind that getting into veterinary medical school is very competitive. Even students that have very good grades may not necessarily get in. Thus, everyone should have a "Plan B" in mind that they can also work towards at the same time, in the event that acceptance to veterinary school does not occur immediately after graduation. Be sure to discuss your "Plan B" with your advisor so that he/she can recommend any additional coursework that might help you out with your backup plan.
- Complete second year pre-vet med coursework (usually includes Genetics, Organic Chemistry, and other major/GE courses).
- Continue to participate in extracurricular activities. If you notice that you are having trouble keeping your grades up though, you will want to pare back on this somewhat.
- Continue to look over GRE practice exams. Begin to develop an GRE study plan for your junior year.
- Sophomore year is a time period when students who had initially performed well in science courses may sometimes start to struggle, as the level of the material becomes more rigorous. Be sure to get help from your professors and the tutoring center early and often.
- Start exploring research and internship possibilities for your upcoming junior year.
- Complete third year pre-vet med coursework (usually includes Physics, Microbiology, upper-level Biology electives, and additional GE/major coursework).
- Junior year is often a good time for directed research projects and study abroad experiences.
- You should also plan on shadowing veterinarians this year if you haven't already done so. This can be done for academic credit - if you want this credit, please see your advisor for information on how to register for an internship. IMPORTANT: most veterinary schools require BOTH large animal and small animal experience.
- This is the year that you will focus very intensely on preparing for the GRE exam. At a minimum, you will want to obtain several GRE prep books/software packages. While more expensive, you may also wish to consider taking a formal GRE prep course (offered in many larger metropolitan areas and/or online).
- Once you feel that you have prepared as much as you can - take the GRE exam! Usually this is done after the completion of your junior year classwork.
- Begin to work on your online application (via VMCAS) during the summer between your junior and senior year. The homepage for VMCAS is http://aavmc.org/Students-Applicants-and-Advisors/Veterinary-Medical-College-Application-Service.aspx.
- Begin to work on your personal statement. Be sure to have several of your professors review this statement before you submit it. You want this statement to do a good job of promoting your candidacy based on your personal experiences and attributes and to also be very well written (i.e. free of grammar, style, and spelling issues).
- Finish and submit your online application if you haven't already done so.
- Complete any secondary applications that are required.
- Prepare for veterinary medical school interviews by participating in mock interviews and thoroughly researching the school that you will be interviewed at.
- Travel to veterinary medical school interviews. Be sure to save up your pennies in advance for travel expenses.
- Keep your fingers crossed! You may find yourself wait-listed at one or more schools. This is not necessarily bad. Sometimes students are selected from the wait list as late as mid-summer after graduation.
- If you are not accepted, first have a pint of ice cream or your other favorite comfort food, and then begin to work on your "Plan B". For some students, this may involve considering other career options. Your advisor and the Career Services center can help with this. For other students, it may involve doing some post-graduation activities that will improve your candidacy for veterinary medical school, such as graduate programs that focus on animal health.
- If you are accepted take time to celebrate with your friends and family and then be sure to start working on the financial aid paperwork as soon as possible. Veterinary medical school is expensive!