You Failed or Withdrew from a Class (or 10) — Now What?

Many people who are interested in applying to veterinary school look at their transcript(s) and wonder whether it will be a waste of time to apply in the first place. Afterall, an application cycle means spending quite a bit of money, a lot of time writing and preparing an application, and even more time waiting. It’s a greuling process, no doubt! Nevertheless, just because you have a blemish (or 10) on your transcript doesn’t mean that you should count yourself out!

It may not seem logical but I know a girl who did not even get an interview invite with a 4.0 GPA from UC Berkeley while a classmate of mine got accepted with over 10 W’s on her transcript. Like I said, it doesn’t seem logical, in fact, it’s not, but you have to realize that the admissions committee is looking for something less superficial than GPA in its applicants.

So how do help ensure that you end up with the invite (and hopefully the acceptance) rather than placed in the dreaded rejected pile?

  • Explain the blemish(es). There is an explanation section in VMCAS for a reason — use it to your advantage. Don’t waste precious characters in the personal statement section explaining your hardships, lack of maturity early on, or whatever the circumstances may have been; put it all in the explanation section.
  • Don’t be defensive. The blemishes are what they are. Better to come to grips with them and realize that they had their place in your life. If you don’t take the defensive stance, you are more capable of discussing the situation honestly and openly in your explanation statement as well as during the interview.
  • Demonstrate how you’ve changed. While many reasons for getting W’s or F’s are circumstantial, you must demonstrate that those were anomalous and in no way indicative of your academic capabilities. Perhaps the best way to do this is to continue to take challenging courses and do well in them.

I know I personally believe that we often learn best from our mistakes. As long as you can demonstrate that you are capable of making mistakes and learning from them, you shouldn’t worry about them negatively impacting your application beyond repair. Afterall, the girl with the perfect GPA from UC Berekely did not receive an invite, but the girl with over 10 W’s did. Perhaps W’s and F’s are considered a sign of maturity and growth as long you follow them up with some stellar grades and achievements.

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