Today we are featuring an interview with Cat, she goes to the University of Minnesota. She got into vet school with an overall GPA of 3.4 and a science GPA of 3.0. This is just another example of how vet schools look at more than just GPA, and that vet school requirements can look a little bit different for each applicant. Hopefully, her story can provide some encouragement to others thinking that they can’t get in.
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Check out this book: Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR) to help you navigate all of the requirements for each college.
Name, Veterinary School attended, and year that you started.
Catherine (Cat), University of Minnesota C/O 2020, started in fall of 2016
There are many majors that can allow you to get the proper prerequisites for vet school requirements. What was your major in undergraduate college?
At what age did you first apply to Vet school?
I think 20—between my junior and senior year of undergrad.
How many schools did you apply to?
1 on my first round, 5 on my second
How many application cycles did you apply to, before being accepted?
How many schools invited you for an interview?
How many of those gave you an acceptance letter?
Do you remember any specifically challenging interview questions?
No, nothing sticks out.
What was your GPA (in undergraduate)?
3.4 overall, ~3.0 science. So it’s totally possible to get in without a perfect GPA!
Part of vet school requirements involve taking the GRE, what was your GRE score? GRE at Magoosh.com!
155 quantitative, 145 verbal, 4.5 essay
Vet school requirement do not usually involve attending grad school, did you attend grad school?
To be competitive in the application process vet school requirements usually, involve having large and small animal experience as well as some exotic. Did you have all three?
I mostly had large animal and wildlife experience but I had some small animal experience too. I actually started quite behind most of my vet school classmates in small animal clinical skills but way ahead in large animal.
What types of paying jobs did you have before going to veterinary School?
I worked on my school’s swine farm for around 3 years and I think it really helped me get in because not a lot of people have pig experience. Prior to that, I worked a bit as a kennel assistant for some dog breeders/handlers and then I got a fun job at a doggy daycare for a few months before school, after I had been accepted.
How many people read your personal statement before submitting it?
I think two. One was my roommate who was also applying and one was a friend that I knew would be brutally honest. It was helpful to have someone read it that understood the application process and had an idea of what admissions were looking for.
As part of getting the vet school requirements in or, er many applicants choose to volunteer. Did you volunteer?
I did a lot of volunteering, that was the bulk of my experience. I did two volunteer study abroad trips, one to Thailand to work with elephants and one to Southern Africa to work with cheetahs. I also volunteered a little at my local humane society and a farm animal sanctuary. A lot of my volunteer hours came from interning at Wolf Park in Indiana where I spent two summers working with wolves, foxes, coyotes, and bison. That was a unique and beneficial experience and I could tell during interviews that the schools were really interested in it.
When did you decide to become a vet and start working on the vet school requirements?
I wanted to be a vet when I was young but lost interest when I learned that it wasn’t just playing with puppies and kittens all day. I became interested again in high school when I had to pick a career to do a report on and realized that was what I wanted to do.
Did you interview any vets before starting the application process? If so how did you approach them?
Not formally but I talked to the vets that I shadowed. I already had a relationship with them so it was easy to bring up any questions I had. One of the vets I worked with was my dog’s vet and the other I contacted via email to ask if I could shadow.
Were you a member of any clubs at your school? If so, which ones?
Yes. I was in the pre-veterinary club for a few years which was very helpful for learning about the application process, vet school requirements, and gaining experience. I also joined and served on the executive board for my school’s poultry science club and draft horse club. I was also on my school’s equestrian team.
Did you join student clubs in your DVM program? If so, which ones? Were they helpful?
I’m in a lot of clubs, probably too many in fact. Clubs are awesome because they are the best way to gain experience that you won’t get in a classroom. I would highly recommend that every vet student joins at least a club or two. I’m involved in my school’s zoo club, behavior club, small ruminant and camelid club, sled dog medicine club, and shelter medicine club. Plus, I participate in the two clubs we have that provide wellness and surgery clinics for different communities in Minnesota. I’m also active in VOICE, which is a chapter of a national organization that promotes awareness of socio-cultural issues in vet med. I like to totally over-extend myself.
Did you apply for vet school after, or during your Bachelors education?
During. I ended up having to take an extra semester after graduation because the schools I applied to during my second cycle had different requirements.
Letters of recommendation are required from Professors and veterinary Doctors, did you have both? Did you know them well?
None of the schools I applied to required professors. I had letters of recommendation from two different vets I worked with, my boss, and one of the animal curators at my internship. I knew them all quite well, some of them very well, and I was confident they’d all write me positive letters.
Did you find the application process stressful? Why or why not?
Yes, the application is very long and tedious. There’s a lot of information to sift through and enter into VMCAS and it takes a long time. Make sure you keep clear records of where you got your experiences, how many hours you did, and what you did. Also start early with the application because it is much easier to deal with if you spread it out over a few months.
Are you happy that you chose this career?
So far yes. I love what I’m learning and I’m feeling more competent every day.
Do you have any advice for students, once accepted?
I liked having a fun, low-key job before vet school to build up my savings account. I was still able to travel and have fun but I went into vet school with some money saved up and it kept me from having to work during the school year. Don’t work yourself too hard though—once you’re accepted you don’t have that many summers left!
Any study tips?
This is going to sound counter-intuitive but take it easy. I’m seeing a lot of my classmates burn out because they feel like they need to be studying all the time. The nice thing about vet school is that you don’t need that 4.0 anymore to succeed, you just need to understand the material and pass the test. Taking breaks and finding time to do the things you want to do won’t hurt your grade, but it will help your mental health. Also, find a study group. My study group has been so helpful for explaining concepts and helping me stay on task.
What was the most challenging class, in your DVM program?
I struggled a lot with immunology. I didn’t have an immunology class in undergrad so I didn’t even have the basics to start. Anatomy was also a challenge just because there were so many obscure structures to remember.
Do you have a specialty or are you working towards one?
I’m potentially interested in specializing in behavior.
Have you read or listened to anything worth sharing (doesn’t have to be Vet related)? (articles, podcasts, books)
I’ve been getting into podcasts lately. There are some vet ones out there but I’ve been actively trying to avoid vet related content. I’ve been listening to The Adventure Zone, which is fantastic, and I’ve also heard a lot of good things about Serial.
Do you have any last words of wisdom?
Your mental health is more important than your grades.
How can people find you?
Feel free to contact me on Tumblr! https://vet-and-wild.tumblr.com/
*****If this interview has been helpful for you, please check out some of other ones like this one with Hannah, she was told that she wasn’t smart enough to handle the curriculum of becoming a Veterinarian and had a difficult time getting in. Now she is a practicing vet.*****