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You knew you had a strong interest in Pre-Vet. What did you do/are you doing to prepare for it?
Senior, 22 years old
"Iím a city girl with a passion for beef cattleÖlarge animal practice is for me."
Previous Major(s): none
Current/Changed Major(s): Animal Science
Even though Iím from a city, Iíve always known I wanted to be a vet. I started preparing in high school, volunteering in a vet clinic and learning about pre-vet options in college. I discussed the differences between the Zoology and Animal Science majors with my high school biology teacher. I chose Animal Science because of the hands-on experience you get from the curriculum.
Once I started at NC State, I got involved with the pre-vet club (actively) and the animal science club as a freshman. The summer after my first year, I volunteered at both large and small animal clinics. That was where I learned I loved large animals. I came back to NC State for my sophomore year, dropped the animal science club and joined the dairy science club where I took on a more active leadership role because the club was just beginning. Keeping active in clubs and organizations, taking on leadership roles and getting involved as a CALS Ambassador helps with public relations, which is important too.
I have done three research projects. One with molecular genetic work Ė looking at a gene related to testosterone pathway in pigs. One with behavioral genetics Ė looking at aggression in swine. My current project is quantitative genetics Ė working with beef cattle and weaning weights. Iím polishing a manuscript to be published and will present my research at a conference in Iowa. All of my work in genetics has taught me that Iím not interested in this area of vet medicine.
Iím also a food animal scholar. Thatís a program at NC State for students desiring a veterinary career in food animal agriculture. Itís really cool. You are assigned two Faculty Mentors, one from either the Department of Animal Science or Poultry Science, and one from the Department of Population Health and Pathobiology. These two Faculty Mentors will work closely with you, monitoring your progress and commitment, and helping you get additional training opportunities, such as summer jobs and experiences. There are also specific courses you have to take and youíre required to do a summer internship working in a food animal production or research setting. You have to be an animal science or poultry science major, but if youíre chosen to participate and do all aspects of the program and complete the minimum requirements for NCSUís vet school, you qualify for a seat in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Advice for Other Students
Get involved. Get to know your professors. Make sure you stay updated on entry requirements for vet school (they change). Get to know your teachers and advisors Ė really important. Be diverse in experiences and donít just do pre-vet stuff. Try clubs unrelated to your major and other community activities. Get good grades.
If I Had to do This Over Again
I would have planned out my classes better and reviewed the requirements for University and CALS honors programs. I did more projects than actually required. I also would have gotten more experience in high school instead of waiting until college.
The Results of my Decision
I am getting classes finished and trying to complete the food scholar program requirements, surviving undergrad and preparing for vet school.
Iíve been accepted to the vet school here and look forward to starting this fall. After I earn my DVM, I really want to work with beef cattle out west.
Several students come to NC State with the intent of pursuing veterinary medicine. Itís important that you know ahead of time that others have always dreamed of being a vet too. You want to make sure you get as much experience and exposure to the field as possible. Like Christina said, volunteer hours are key. You want research experience, animal care and handling experience, as well as clinical experience. Remember you want to stand out on your application and set yourself apart from the other applicants. This involves more than just a high GPA, good GRE score, and community involvement. Getting into vet school takes work and you have to be willing to put forth the extra effort. Consider these tips as you try to meet your goal:
- Ask for advice. You can meet with a prevet advisor, career advisor, academic advisor, and faculty in general to develop your plan, but you should also talk to current vet students and find out how they "did it." The vet school is just down the road, so take advantage of that resource. Also ask them what they would do differently if given the chance. You can use our PackNet alumni profiles to research possible contacts, ask professors or your academic advisor, and attend prevet club meetings.
- Make grades a priority. Your college grades will stay with you for quite some time. When you have a good GPA in your science classes and other prerequisites, you don't have to make excuses! Do what it takes to succeed academically, whether thatís increasing your study hours, cutting back your time at work, or passing up a night out with friends to do well on an exam the next day. While you donít need a 4.0 to get in, you want to do your best and have a strong GPA. Youíll also want to study for the GRE. This is an important test and some schools will use your scores only to weed out candidates. You want to make sure you have prepared thoroughly and rested the night before so you can do your best.
- Get some experience. You will spend over 40,000 hours working in your field of interest after you complete your educational training. Donít you want to know what youíre getting into? Plus, review committees want to know that you are dedicated to the profession. Consider volunteering in a variety of vetsí offices (small animal, exotics, open door clinics, large animal, etc.). You can even start out as a kennel assistant and possibly work your way up to a vet techÖa great opportunity to gain hands-on experience.
- Apply to the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) early. The application and fee must be submitted to VMCAS by October (see website for specific date). All application materials must be sent directly to VMCAS except official transcripts and GRE scores. Plan to spend some time on your personal statement. Write it, proofread it, edit it, then have others review it. You want to make sure you are accurately ďtelling your storyĒ and putting your best foot forward. Your career advisor, an English professor, a friend or even a dentist you know can offer various insight and helpful advice. Come back to your personal statement after a couple weeks and tune it up. Applicants are evaluated on their academic performance, their understanding of the veterinary medical profession, their achievements, and their professional potential.
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