A-C-L: Keys to admission

An important question that students and families ask is, “What does it take to get into vet school?” Many are surprised to find out that being selected for veterinary school is about more than grades. Admissions committees will consider these three areas:

  • Academic preparation
  • Career exploration
  • Leadership development

Think A-C-L (even though this has nothing to do with your knee).

Tips for success

Admission to vet school is competitive, and you’ll want to do everything you can to set yourself apart. If you’re in high school, here are some hints for what you can work on now that will help you later.

Academic preparation

  • Challenge yourself through the courses you select. If you have the opportunity to take a challenging course, take it!
  • If you can take a class in biology, chemistry, and physics during your high school years, go for it! You’ll need those courses in college, and having become familiar with the subject in high school is a big help.
  • Learn how to take notes, study for exams, and take various kinds of exams. If you’re not sure you have these skills, ask people in other support systems in your current school to help you learn them.

Career exploration

  • Shadow a veterinarian. Contact your local veterinarian and ask if you can shadow him/her.
  • Vet schools want to know that you have some knowledge about what being a vet entails. Simply loving animals is not enough. You need to actively seek knowledge and experience in the veterinary medicine field (e.g. shadowing or working in a clinic).
  • When you meet with the veterinarian, here are a few questions to ask:
    • How did you get where you are now?
    • What is it you like (and don’t like) about your job?
    • Do you have any advice for future vets?
  • Keep records of your experiences. Keep a log of dates, names, places and maybe a sentence or two about what you learned. This will come in handy for your vet school application and perhaps for scholarship and award applications as well.

Leadership development

  • Belong to a few (2-3) clubs or organizations. Seek leadership roles where you can. You don’t have to start by running for president—serving on a committee is a great place to start.
  • Vet schools would like to see you participate in a few groups and hold an office or work on committees in those groups. This is much better than belonging to many groups but not being very active in any of them.
  • Again, keep records of your experiences. Keep a log of dates, names, places and maybe a sentence or two about what your role was. You’ll be amazed at the details you’ll forget when it comes time to complete those applications. This log of activities will be very helpful.