Prospective Veterinary Applicants-Keep Records!

22 Dec

One of the most important things you can do [mid-stream side-note/soapbox:  Aside from the obvious importance of keeping that G.P.A. as near to 4.0 as possible] if you are dreaming of a career in veterinary medicine is to keep track.  Of everything.  Don’t underestimate the amount of work that goes into remembering and physically typing all your info into that veterinary application.  You would be surprised how difficult it is to recall the starting and ending date of your third job or the first name of your high school Key Club adviser!

Aside from trying to remember specifics, the sheer volume of material you have to fill out (perfectly) is daunting:  There is the personal statement as well as potential for essays on diversity, animal experience, and poor performance.  Aside from actual essays, you pretty much have to type out everything from your transcripts (a personal beef of mine since you have to pay to send physical copies) into the coursework section as well as the pre-requisite section.  Then, there is space to include work history, volunteerism, sports, clubs, activities, animal experience, any leadership positions, and awards.

And of course, more is better, because you never know what factors the admissions committee will really relate to.  In a tie with another applicant, it just might be your 8 years of concert band that puts you ahead.  If there is something really random/exciting/cool/different in your past make ultra-sure to mention it somewhere.  It could really set you apart from mostly similar applicants, and distract the admissions board from faults that might also be present.  What I’m saying is that there is a lot of information to add, so you should make it easy on yourself by having your unique information handy before you begin the app.

–>  Write down all the volunteer work you do, including:  Where, the date(s), how many hours you spent, who supervised (or what organization it was associated with), and highlights of what you did.  It’s also helpful to write a mini-essay, that of course avoids cliches, of what donating time means to you.  This is good for your soul, and the type of thing admissions people like to hear.  STOP for a second because I sort of rushed by this all important point–do NOT fall into trite cliche’s when writing about charity work.  Make sure you really evaluate WHY you participate (hopefully not just to write on the application) and write from the heart.  If you think some other applicant could possibly write the same words (exp:  It makes me feel good to help those less fortunate, and gave me a new perspective) dig deeper.

–>  Keep track of every club, sport, and community activity you have done since Freshmen year in high school.  For extraordinary participation further back then that, I suggest you save the details for mention in an essay or sneaky mention in an activity description section.

–>  For actual jobs, write down the term of employment, approximate number of hours, (pay for certain job applications), your supervisor’s first and last name and title, and your title and duties.  For non-animal related jobs, find something that ties back to the veterinary profession.  You want everything on your application to point to you as an obvious choice for competent and compassionate veterinarian.  Exp:  Working at McDonald’s translates to honing on communication skills and adhering to sanitation and disease prevention procedures.

–>  For any animal or veterinary related activity, no matter the type, write down the species you worked with, hours spent, dates of involvement, and who supervised (name and title).  Also write descriptions of awesome things you learned from these experiences, as you will use them over and over on applications, essays, scholarship applications, etc, etc. . .

In short, you can’t write down too much.  And come veterinary application season, when you have your last semester of hard-core science classes (that count toward admissions GPA calculations), work, volunteer, clubs, family obligations, AND have to finish that long vet school application between July 1 and Sept-Oct 1, you will be thankful you have something to refer to.  You will be more thankful if you wrote it coherently enough that you are able to cut and paste some of the information.

Aside from being helpful for your veterinary school application, this information is useful to give your letter writers.  They will have all the specifics of your best accomplishments right in front of them, which will get you more meaningful recommendations.  It can also be used when applying for summer jobs, writing scholarship essays, or getting an internship later.  So start keeping track, or organizing your information, to get ahead in the game.  You’re welcome!

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