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Applying to Veterinary School: Beyond the Numbers 

Applying to veterinary school is a long and increasingly competitive process.  You have a passion for working with animals, you have worked hard in school, and you have great vet-related experience, but how do you stand out in a large pool of applicants who all have similar credentials? While many components of the application are objective, there are several areas of the application that allow for a more personal, subjective evaluation – take advantage of these sections of the application!

Personal Statement:

The VMCAS personal statement will go to all schools you apply to and it is an opportunity to explain why you want to pursue veterinary medicine.  However, it should be much more than that.  If the application components are the building materials, the personal statement is where you tie everything together and actually build the building.  How does everything tie/fit together? What is the overall story you want to tell?  Make sure your personal statement is about YOU – what you have learned, what has been meaningful, your goals, and why veterinary medicine is the right path for you. 


Diversity of experience is important for most schools – show you have a solid understanding of the field.  Aim for vet hours in 2-3 different settings/animal types and if you have a specific interest, get shadowing hours in that area.  When completing the experience section of VMCAS, communicate what you learned, what was meaningful, how it inspired you, etc.  While vet hours are important (and required for most programs), things like leadership, community involvement and service, research, work experience, animal experience, etc. all impact your application – show you are a well rounded candidate.

Program Materials:

This is where you will respond to school-specific essay questions/prompts.  Do your research and know why you are applying to each school – how do your values, goals, and experiences align with the programs you applied to?  Use school websites, VMSAR, current students, etc. to learn more about the programs – schools want to know why you are applying to their program – be prepared with specific reasons.  

Explanation Statement:

An optional additional essay offered in the VMCAS application.  This is an opportunity to explain (or further explain) anything you feel is important for the admissions committee to know that cannot be found elsewhere in the application.  Things to address (not a comprehensive list) include: a break in education, a low GPA semester or year, a lack of experience/vet hours, extenuating circumstances, hurdles/barriers, disadvantages, etc.  It is important to focus on your growth and lessons learned – don’t dwell on the situation or the circumstance.

Have questions? 

Need help getting started on your personal statement? 

Galin Education’s Graduate/Pre-Health Admissions Team is available to help you navigate the application process and stand out as an applicant.

Reach out at info@galined.com

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