Veterinarian Veterinarian Schools Veterinary School Entrance Requirements In today’s economy, becoming a veterinarian can be an excellent choice, given the growing importance of the pet care sector in America. With many pet owners demanding world-class care for their animals, in addition to the need for qualified veterinarians to work in a variety of government and private organizations, this field is enjoying robust and sustained growth. However, becoming a veterinarian is a goal that requires a great deal of work, even before the candidate enters a veterinary program. Preparing for Veterinary School When preparing for veterinary school the student should consider that veterinary schools are just as challenging as medical school, and in some respects more so, as a veterinarian will be working with many different types of animals with widely varying needs, unlike a physician who will be solely concerned with the human body. This demands that the student obtain a wide range of skills before entering a veterinary program. Secondly, there are only 28 accredited veterinary programs in the United States, and because of that, the admissions process is an extremely competitive one. In order to be assured of entry, students must ensure that they have excellent academic and extracurricular qualifications. High School and Preparing for Veterinary College Individuals who are considering a career in veterinary medicine should start preparing in high school. They should seek to excel at as many classes in biology, math and other hard sciences as possible. In addition, if the school offers advanced placement (AP) courses or courses that offer college credit, the student should make certain to enroll in them. The student should consult with the school’s career counselor in order to help develop a program of study that will ensure that that as many helpful classes as possible are taken. In addition, the student should work to ensure that he or she maintains a high grade point average (GPA), which will mean doing well even in those classes that are not directly related to a career in veterinary medicine. In addition to helping maintain a high GPA, English courses will assist the student’s communication skills, which will be very important both in veterinary college and as a practicing veterinarian. College Courses Before entering a veterinary college, most candidates attend a university or college in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Veterinary school requires that the student have completed a large number of college science and math courses, so most individuals seek a bachelor’s degree that is related to their veterinary goals. Common degrees that can assist in becoming a veterinarian include degrees in biology, zoology, biochemistry, chemistry and math. As with high school, it is vitally important that the student work to maintain a very high college GPA in order to maximize his or her chances of being admitted to a veterinary program. A student should ensure that his or her college has been accredited. Veterinary college admissions departments often discount diplomas that have been conferred by non-accredited institutions. In the United States, most colleges are accredited by a variety of private agencies, and many college programs are also individually accredited. While the government does not directly accredit schools, legitimate accreditation agencies are recognized by the United States Department of Education. Extracurricular Activities Finally, students should seek out veterinary related extracurricular activates in both high school and college. These can range from on campus clubs such as the 4H club or Future Farmers of America, to independent internships and volunteer work with local humane societies or veterinary offices. In some cases, these activities may actually offer various types of academic credit for the student. Most importantly, they provide the volunteer with real world experience that relates to the veterinary field. In addition to the academic benefits, extracurricular activities can assist the student in obtaining the letters of recommendation that will be required by most veterinary colleges. By being able to obtain these letters from industry professionals, the student can improve his or her chances of being accepted by the college. The Veterinary College Admission Test In addition to graduating with a high GPA, the student must also take the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT). This comprehensive multiple-choice exam is designed to determine the student’s academic and practical qualifications for veterinary college. This test is designed to effectively evaluate students who may have faced dramatically harder or easier grading standards, depending on the college they attended. Students intending to take the VCAT should ensure that they are well rested and prepared for the test, due to its importance in becoming accepted to a veterinary college. Applying to Multiple Colleges Finally, a student should consider applying to multiple veterinary colleges. Due to the competitive nature of the admissions process, less than half of all applicants will find themselves accepted at their primary school. By applying to several schools, the student may be able to ensure that he or she will be accepted to a program, even if some schools reject the application. The student should not become discouraged if he or she is rejected from all the selected schools. At that point, the student should consider retaking the VCAT, especially if their scores could be improved, as well as discussing their academic record with the college veterinary department. It may be possible that obtaining extra education or work experience will position the student to apply with a greater chance of acceptance at a later date. Becoming a veterinarian is a complex process that requires a great deal of academic work on the part of the student. However, a student who plans ahead and ensures that he or she has obtained a high level of academic success before seeking entry can maximize the probability of being accepted to a veterinary college program.