Q&A: Do I Have a Chance? Experience, Areas of Interest & LOR’s Oh My!


I had a few questions and was wondering if maybe you could help me out.

About me – I’m 27 years old, married and graduated from UCSD as a Biochemistry major last June. I was working in biotech labs for about 8 months before I moved up to Oakland in February. I only recently decided I wanted to pursue vet school (never really thought it was an option for me) so I’m working hard to get as much experience as possible before I apply this fall (I’m only applying to Davis). I have had several ‘animal/vet experiences’ (I worked at a chicken farm in Israel, at a commercial snake breeder, at an aquarium in San Diego, and at a lab at UCSD that studies bee behavior), but am also now working at a small animal hospital, a wildlife rescue, and am suppose to hear back any day now from an internship at the Oakland Zoo. I’m also studying for the GRE which I plan on taking in a few weeks. 

Despite all this, my grades are on the low end (~3.0 – and I only have a couple of pre-reqs to complete). So if you have some time, I’d SUPER appreciate it if you could answer some questions of mine:

Do you think I have a chance? I mean…do you have any tips or things I should focus on to bolster my application despite my low grades? I’m definitely going to be a ‘non-traditional’ applicant (I also served in the Israeli military for a few years after high school).

Yes. You sound like you have a lot of diverse experience (both in veterinary medicine and in life) and you will likely stand out as a candidate.

Do you think my veterinary experience should be broad or deep? In other words, should I focus on getting experience in areas that I don’t have (food animal, equine, etc.) or work on getting as much experience as possible in the areas I already have?

I firmly believe that broad experience is far more likely to get you accepted to veterinary school than having depth of experience. Veterinary schools want to know that you are aware of what the field of veterinary medicine entails.If you only worked with one veterinary practice for 10 years, you have a lot of experience, but is one practice really going to give you a good idea of what is out there in the field? Practices vary tremendously so schools want to make sure you’re making the right decision, an informed decision, before they accept you into veterinary school. Frankly, I think this is a good thing as it prevents many students from getting into huge amounts of debt without being fully aware of what the profession entails.

I’ve heard a lot of focus on applicants spelling out in their application what type of veterinary medicine they are interested in. I’m kind of in a position where I’m interested in everything (and feel like until I go to vet school I can’t really make a decision like that). Should I just choose one for the application’s sake?

No. If you are unsure, you can express that in your personal statement. Feel free to say where you have interest and where you think you may end up, but there is no need to commit to anything in your application.

Letters of recommendation – at the animal hospital I work at, I work with several vets. One of them owns the place, but went to Florida for vet school and another one went to Davis.  Assuming that both of their letters will be good – which do you think would be most valuable? The owner of a pet hospital or a Davis grad?

When asking for letters of recommendation, you should focus on asking whoever knows you the best and can write you the most positive letter of recommendation possible.

Thank you so much for all of your help in advance! Again, if you have any tips or recommendations they would be greatly appreciated!


Date: 4.7/11