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Pre-veterinary

The pre-professional curriculum is designed to provide students with the solid academic foundation needed for veterinary school. Because prerequisites, deadlines and other aspects of the application procedure vary significantly, we urge you to research each school's requirements carefully and to work closely with your advisor.

While it is possible to enter veterinary medical school without completing four years of undergraduate preparation, most schools prefer students with a bachelor's degree.

Overview of the Application Process

Students usually apply to veterinary medical colleges the summer between junior and senior year (that is, in the summer of the year before they expect to enter professional school). Twenty-three out of twenty-seven colleges of veterinary medicine participate in a centralized application procedure through VMCAS, the Veterinary Medical College Application Service. VMCAS is an organization that assembles, checks and duplicates your application material, forwarding it to the schools that you designate.

To apply to participating schools, submit one generic application, three letters of evaluation, standardized test scores, official transcripts and a processing fee. VMCAS has introduced a new electronic application that you complete and submit online. You can also download the paper application from its web site.

Applications for the following year become available in the spring. If you apply to schools with differing deadline dates, normally October 1 or November 1, make sure that all your application materials are postmarked by the earliest date. Some participating schools also require that you submit additional material to them after they have received the generic application from VMCAS. If a school does not participate in VMCAS, you must contact it directly to request their institution's application.

When all application material has been received, selected applicants may be invited to visit the school and interview with members of the admissions committee. After the interview, the committee either accepts or rejects the applicant or places him/her on an alternate list. Apply as early as possible. It is your responsibility to be accessible if you are on a veterinary medical college's alternate list.

If you are traveling, you should give the school the name and telephone number of a dependable person who can contact you. If a school finds that there is no way to reach you, it may offer the position to the next person on the list.

Schools require at least one standardized exam: the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), VCAT (Veterinary College Admission Test), or MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). The GRE is the most frequently required, although the VCAT is also required by a few schools. We do not recommend that you take the MCAT. GRE scores must be reported directly to the individual schools, while VCAT scores must be sent directly to VMCAS.

Prepare for your examination carefully and take it seriously. GRE scores that do not average above 600 per section (at least 1800 total) can hurt your chances, and scores averaging below 500 per section, total 1500, may be considered unacceptable. Plan to take the GRE by spring or early summer, so that you can repeat the test, if necessary. The GRE web site offers registration information, sample questions and access to paper and software study guides.

The school web sites and the Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements handbook (VMSAR) can help you to determine the entrance requirements, application procedure, accepted standardized test, selection factors and matriculant profile for the various schools. The VMSAR is available for reference in the Pre-professional Advising Office or you can obtain your own copy for appoximately $20.00, including shipping, from Purdue University Press, 1(800)933-9637.

IMPORTANT: Residents of Ohio must apply to The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine directly, not through VMCAS. Application information is available from OSU's web site. In addition to their application, you must submit an official transcript from each college you have attended, exactly two reference forms–at least one from a veterinarian– and an application fee. Applicants must have a minimum of 50 hours of documentable work experience at one location under direct veterinary supervision.

Ohio residents should apply between July 1 and October 1 of the academic year preceding the desired year of enrollment. Note: No more than one required pre-veterinary medical course may remain to be completed by the end of the autumn term of the academic year in which you apply; that course must be completed by the end of winter quarter or spring semester of the academic year in which you apply.

The Competitive Applicant

Animal/veterinary-related volunteer or work experience can be an important factor in a school's decision to admit you. Try to find documentable volunteer or paid work with different kinds of animals in a variety of settings, such as a veterinary clinic, the humane society, laboratory animal facility or a zoo, farm, wildlife refuge or ranch. Research experience during school or summer internships may also be helpful.

We recommend that Ohio University students take the "long" organic chemistry series, i.e, CHEM 305-7. Organic chemistry labs are not required for your major or for admission to Ohio State. However, some veterinary schools may require them, so you should check their web site or the VMSAR. In addition, many veterinary schools recommend a course in public speaking or nutrition.

It is difficult to get into veterinary medical school. Nationally, even though the number of applicants in 1999 declined slightly from a high point in 1998, only 32.8% were accepted. More than one third of the applicants had applied previously. Students hoping to go into veterinary medicine must have very strong grades and test scores. All applicants should explore some backup options as well, such as graduate study in biological sciences or public health.

School Selection

Nationally, in recent years the average applicant to veterinary medical college applied to approximately four schools. Wherever else you may decide to apply, you should also apply to the public veterinary medical college in your home state. State residents receive preference for admission to their state schools and pay much lower tuition. Conversely, before you consider public schools outside your home state, remember that most of them accept relatively few out-of-state students and that tuition is high.

If you are applying to veterinary medical colleges outside of your state, private schools may be your safest bet. Consult the VMSAR for information on a school's proportion of in-state to out-of-state entrants

Financing Veterinary Medical School

Loans are the most common form of financial assistance. The financial aid offices of the schools that you apply to are important sources of information. Helpful information can also be found at the sites listed on the Internet Resources page.

Some words of caution about debt: A history of unpaid bills or late credit card payments can lead to a poor credit rating, and this could prevent you from getting the loans you need for your professional education. Because your credit report may contain errors that could cause problems, you should check on your credit status. You can obtain a copy of your credit report from companies such as Experian, TRW Information Services, Equifax Credit Services or Trans Union Credit Information.