I am always surprised at the number of people I meet that say they always wanted to be a veterinarian or that one of their children wants to be one. While becoming a veterinarian takes considerable commitment and sacrifice, the end results are well worth it! It is never too early (or too late) to think about applying to vet school. When I first decided to give it the old college try, I had no idea how to get started. Here are a few of the basics about applying to vet school:
Veterinary school itself is a four-year program. There are 28 vet schools in the country, and several in Canada, the Caribbean, and abroad. In order to be eligible to apply for vet school, you must complete the prerequisite courses for the particular school you wish to apply to. Most of the schools have very similar requirements, but there are some small differences. You do not have to obtain a degree to apply, although many people (including myself) do. Another requirement for most schools is to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). It is somewhat similar to the SAT, but more difficult, of course. Unlike most other graduate/professional schools, experience does count! Many students work or volunteer for veterinary clinics during high school and undergraduate studies. However, quantity does not necessarily matter. I had 3 years of experience working with horses and 1 year experience working at a small animal practice. My personal opinion is that experience in many different areas will make you a more solid candidate and will also help with your career decisions down the line. It is also important to realize that getting accepted to veterinary school is difficult and once you do get in, it is expensive! The average applicant applies 3.8 times before being accepted (2007 number) and the average graduate has around $100,000 in debt. In the end, any veterinarian will tell you that it was worth the all of the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get there! For more information about applying to veterinary school, visit the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.