So it’s official, VMCAS has been submitted and you’re probably finishing up your supplemental applications if you haven’t already. So, now what?
While you’re waiting to hear back from schools, don’t just sit around thinking that your fate was sealed the moment you clicked the submit button; put your time to good use!
I know I’m not the only one who at vet school interviews was asked, “So what have you been up to since you submitted your application?” so you had better have a good answer! Whatever happens, you want your answer to include things that are 1) unusual and 2) demonstrate that you are still working to improve your application and preparedness for vet school.
- Get more experience. Plan to get at least one new veterinary or animal experience in before interviews begin. Do your absolute best to make that an experience that is unusual or at least different from the experiences listed on your application. If you’re primarily small animal, see about finding a dairy vet to shadow for a day. If you’re large animal focused, try shadowing a vet for a day at a cat-only clinic. There’s nothing that stands out more than someone going outside their comfort zone to gain experience and improve their application. Vet schools will notice this!
- Get good grades. I know I was nowhere near done with my pre-requisite courses when I applied to vet school. In fact, I believe I had merely 5 science courses completed when I applied (and not all of those were required by Davis!). So continue your studies and be sure to do well. Those grades are important for many reasons, but good grades post-application primarily demonstrate that you’re still trying to improve your application and preparedness for vet school. Just think, if you don’t get in, do you want some mediocre grades to be on your next application? That’s a tough one to explain. Vet schools will receive your grades from fall term and many of them will be able to use those grades when making a final decision regarding your application. Spring term grades are also submitted, so even if you get accepted to vet school, don’t slack off — keep your grades up!
- Show you can handle multiple responsibilities. Many of you will already have this down pat, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. School + work + volunteering + hobbies. Show you know how to lead a well-balanced life and succeed at most everything you do. I was asked in interviews what I did outside of school and/or how I managed stress and I think those are excellent questions. There’s nothing more boring than someone who is so uni-dimensional that they have school and nothing else going on in their life. Get a hobby, a job, a volunteer position or whatever it may be that inspires you and work these things into your life to show that you can manage your time well and not stay hopelessly focused on school all of the time. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I rock climb, ski, and swim very regularly. These are some of the things that I do to maintain a [somewhat] normal existence while I’m in vet school. Granted I have other things — I grow my own herbs and veggies, cook (a lot) and bake (even more often). In fact, during my first year of vet school I baked at least one batch of cookies every week for my class to enjoy. Yes, that’s how much I like baking!
- Do something unusual. With the caveat that this should be something unusual that would be appropriate mentioning in a vet school interview. It does not need to be related to vet school but rather something that you want to do, or have always wanted to do. Take a trip to a country that not many people travel to, pursue a goal or hobby you’ve been wanting to for so many years but have been putting off. These are things that I would also recommend a student do their summer before vet school as it is, in essence, your last “free” summer of your career.
When all is said and done, your application has been submitted, but the decisions are not final until you receive that letter (or email) relaying the verdict of the admissions committee’s decision. Until you receive that letter, act as if you haven’t even applied.
Upon the end of the fall term, Post-Application: Update the School With Your Progress