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  • Writer's picturePhyllis Brust, PhD

Online Advice for Pre-Vets: Part 2

Updated: Jun 6, 2022

In my last post, I reviewed excellent and free websites* for anyone thinking about becoming a veterinarian. Here are examples of their sage advice.

Should You Be a Vet?

“… Develop a realistic picture of the profession before choosing this career. Failure to understand the demands and challenges of the profession can lead to dissatisfaction. Veterinarians must handle failure, loss, grieving and angry clients and sometimes animals that have been neglected.” (VIN Foundation, I Want to Be a Veterinarian; it is in the brochure)

“…If your answer is that you ‘love animals,’ vet school may not be the right choice for you." (University of Florida, How to Get Into Veterinary School—a guide based on your questions!)

Enjoy Being Pre-Vet—Really!

“Have fun! All work and no play can actually make you a less desirable candidate. Not all of your courses and extracurricular activities should be 100% focused on meeting the admission requirements. Do the things you like, join the clubs you find fun, and enjoy your life.” (American Veterinary Medical Association, Veterinary School Admission 101)

Selecting a College Major

Pick "a major based on your interests rather than one you think looks good to veterinary schools.” (The University of Texas at Austin, Pre-Veterinary Guide, page 3)


The University of Texas at Austin produced an interactive pre-vet guide and is kindly letting us reproduce excerpts (also see Interviewing below). A central tenet is self-reflection. As you go through the pre-vet process, especially volunteering, shadowing, and leadership, ask yourself and write down:

"What have I learned about myself through these experiences?"

"Have I involved myself in a diverse set of experiences?"

"What skills have I developed/demonstrated through these experiences? For example: “I have become a better communicator through my volunteering experiences at a veterinary office’s front desk.” Then, explain how you have done this. Be specific about your communication skills."

You can write the answers in the guide. The guide can help you to track your experiences, compose your application and prepare for the interview. The University of Texas at Austin, Pre-Veterinary Guide, pp 5-9)**


“What if you don't get in? You're not alone, and it doesn't mean you don't have what it takes. Contact the admissions staff and request feedback on your application, then address the deficiencies and reapply next year.” (American Veterinary Medical Association, Veterinary School Admission 101)

Advice for Parents

“...I encourage you to let them [students] make the phone calls, send the emails and set up the appointments with professionals who will help them on their journey. If they want you to come along, wonderful! But let them take the reins. It is in their best interest to let them take the lead during this journey, as you won’t be handing them scalpels in surgery suites."


"Be prepared to discuss your strengths and weaknesses, obstacles and inspirations, current events and personal attributes. The following sample questions are meant to provide you with a better understanding of why the interviewer might be asking the questions that they do. By asking you certain questions, interviewers are attempting to gain a better understanding of your personality and your readiness for professional school and the particular profession." [There are many more thoughtful questions on their site.]

"What is the most rewarding experience of your life?"

"What types of animals are you most interested in working with?"

"How do you handle stress?"

"What would you do if an animal you were treating showed obvious signs of animal abuse?"

"How do you feel about euthanasia?"

"What characteristics does a good veterinarian possess?"

"What current event in veterinary medicine have you heard about or have been following?" "What problems do you predict that veterinary medicine will face in the next decade?"

"Who is your favorite author?"

"Are there any questions you would like to ask me."

CareerMutt: Vet school admissions representatives understand slip-ups and problems. The key is to overcome them and prove that you have the academic ability to succeed in vet school. Example: having a bad first year in college. Perhaps, you partied too much, worked too many hours on your job, had a sick relative or your clubs and activities took a lot of time. Adjust and learn the lessons. Then clearly, honestly and eloquently explain it on your application and in your interview.


The path to becoming a vet is also the path to learning about yourself—what you excel at, what you are capable of, how you overcome challenges and what your heart and head say. Many will continue on the path toward vet school and others will discover, perhaps painfully at first, that non-vet careers are a better fit for their interests and talents. The road is rarely straight but will lead to a meaningful career (or careers). The CareerMutt website can help you explore pet-related careers in- and outside science and medicine. After all, there are many ways to help animals.

*As of this writing -- while I have you: All referenced links were working at the time of publication. Let me know if you had trouble with any.

About the Author

Phyllis Brust, PhD is an award-winning career counselor and writer who has worked at Yale University, the University of Chicago, and Muhlenberg College. She has written about careers in: sports, public policy, international development, allied health (especially physical therapy) and business. Phyllis has helped organizations including Fortune 500 companies, leading non-profits, NGOs and the US government to find candidates. But her heart is with animals. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

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