Q&A: Experience, Personal Statements & Will My GPA Prevent Me From Getting An Interview?

Hi Sharon,

First of all, I wanted to give you a big thanks and let you know how informative and helpful your blog has been. I have wanted to become a vet for as long as I can remember. Animals have always been my passion, all types, even though my first word was “dog.” I am now a junior and will be applying to vet school in the fall. My gpa isn’t so hot, at a 3.39. My gpa is my largest concern, because I have heard the interview process is based solely on gpa. Is that true? I also have a few other questions for you, I know you are receiving a ton of emails, but if you get the chance, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could help me out!

– I worked with a small animal vet last summer, and this winter had the opportunity to go on a VIDA trip in Costa Rica and Nicaragua that was similar to yours. That is really all of the experience I have thus far, but I was planning on applying for a husbandry internship at the aquarium this year, and I was wondering if you thought that would be beneficial in building up my resume for vet school? I was told that you need to stand out and be different than the rest to help get them to notice you and make a lasting impression. I had the opportunity of working with the vet of the aquarium some last summer also. I wondered if this type of experience would be considered somewhat unique and interesting, or more towards seeming unrelated? How would they view it?

– I noticed that your personal statement had a story element to the beginning, is that typical of all vet school personal statements, and does it serve as the “attention grabber?”

– My gpa is somewhat low, but I was wondering if vet schools will take into consideration that my gpa has been on the rise every semester and continues to get higher? When applying to college, I know that they took that into consideration, seeing that I was only working harder and grades were getting better, and I was wondering if vet school did the same?

Thank you so much,




Hi LW –

To address your questions and concerns…

With respect to experience, admissions committees generally want to see that applicants have a variety of experience. This helps give them confidence that you have a good understanding of what the field is all about. After all, if you only worked in one private practice for 10 years but accumulated thousands and thousands of hours, you have an idea of one practice in the entire field and each practice is different. Seeing more of the field is the goal. You don’t necessarily have to be unique in your experiences, but it doesn’t hurt if something piques the admissions committees interest because it is not typical (and I could be wrong, but I think it isn’t very typical to have experience working with an aquatic vet).

As for the husbandry internship at the aquarium, that couldn’t hurt your application, for sure. I suppose it would be most beneficial if you were applying as someone predominantly interested in an aquatic medicine. If, however, you were interested in small animal medicine or equine medicine, you may want to consider it a bigger priority to gain additional experience in those fields. It never comes off well to the admissions committee when applicants claim to want to work in a field they have very little experience in.

With respect to personal statements, as you can imagine, if you were to sit down and read hundreds of these, you’d get bored pretty quickly if they all started with (more or less), “I’ve wanted to be a vet since I was born…” or something of the sort. The personal statement is where you should focus on standing out! …and yes, having an attention grabbing beginning is to your benefit as it breaks the monotony of lackluster personal statements with something much more interesting, something the admissions committee wants to keep reading!

As far as your GPA, do not stress too much over it! Really. You are not going to be eliminated from the applicant pool for that GPA. If your GPA has been steadily on the rise, the admissions committee should realize that and take that into account. You can also be sure to address that in the explanation section of VMCAS if you want to make sure they recognize the improvement. If there happens to be a reason why your grades were lower (or have improved) you may want to mention that as well. Please do not worry about getting cut based on your GPA alone – while I cannot say that no vet schools do that, I can say that it is not likely, especially not for your GPA. If your GPA was 2.0 or less, it may be more reasonable for the admissions committee to cut people before looking at the rest of the application. Also, a solid GRE score can be a convincing example of how you are more capable than your GPA may suggest.

Hope that helps you a bit!

Good luck!

-Sharon Ostermann

Life In Vet School & Tips On Getting In