Best choice for pre-vet undergrad

My daughter is a high school senior planning to pursue a pre-vet course of study, most likely as an animal science major (although zoology and wildlife management also appeal to her). She has been accepted to Purdue, Colorado State, U Mass Amherst, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Missouri, and Mississippi State. She is accepted to honors at all schools except Purdue, which will not notify until February for honors, and has received some merit aid at all schools. Because of the merit aid and because we budgeted for a private college, all are affordable for us and we will still be able to help her with vet school. Our big question is how does she decide among these schools? She prefers to leave Texas for undergrad to experience something different since she will likely consider returning to Texas for vet school due to preferences for in state applicants. We have been trying to find out if there are significant differences in vet school admission rates or “weed out” rates but there is very little data available. She is very interested in getting hands on experience with large animals and exotics as much and as early as possible. She doesn’t know for sure what specialization she will eventually pursue but she is pretty sure she wants something other than just a companion animal practice eventually. We welcome and would value any opinions and insights on these programs and the differences between them.

Your daughter has been accepted to multiple very good universities. Congratulations! I can understand how this is a tough decision.

DVM programs have quite low acceptance rates and it is hard to know just why one student is successful when another is not. It is indeed hard to get good information. A lot of experience dealing with animals in a veterinary and/or research environment seems to be important, along with a very good GPA. The programs that I have looked at have accepted students from a rather wide range of undergraduate schools. Our older daughter has been accepted to several DVM programs at schools that are not in the same part of the US as where she did undergrad and this does not seem to be an issue. She does have a huge amount of veterinary and related experience.

You are wise to look at affordability. We are seeing in-state costs on the order of $60,000 per year for DVM programs (total cost) and so having some $$ left for the DVM program is important. Out of state or private schools can cost more than this and prices tend to go up over time.

Colorado State, Texas A&M, Purdue, and Kansas State all have very good DVM programs. I think that some of the other schools that you have mentioned do also but I am not familiar with all of them. U.Mass does not have a DVM program (the only DVM in New England is at Tufts) but it does have a very good animal science program.

You might want to ask schools about programs that students can use to work with animals for example over the summer, and also ask about internship opportunities. Here are a couple of links that I found in our corner of the country:

https://www.uvm.edu/cals/asci/cream

https://www.vasci.umass.edu/undergraduate/opportunities/internships

I think that your daughter will want to participate in something sort of along these lines if at all possible. I would look for something similar at each school that you are considering.

I might also look at how your daughter’s GPA and SAT (if applicable) compare to the average of incoming students at the schools you are considering. It is not a bad idea to be in the top 10% or at least 20% of incoming students if you want to stay in the top 10% or at least 20% of students once at university. Pre-vet classes are going to overlap with premed classes and there will be quite a few very strong and very serious students in these classes, with very tough exams and homework. Our pre-vet (soon DVM student) daughter described organic chemistry as “the most difficult B in her life”, until she took a veterinary specific course that was just as tough.

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Thank you. This is very helpful! My daughter’s GPA (4.17 weighted at strong private prep school; they don’t calculate unweighted and limit the number of AP classes you can take) and ACT (31 taken early junior year and not retaken due to covid) make her a pretty strong incoming student at most of these schools
I believe, but we are struggling with whether to go to the “strongest” of these schools or choose a bit lower for the reasons you mention. She is working the experience piece, too, and is currently spending a few hours a week shadowing a vet. She has experience volunteering at a couple of shelters, volunteering with a wildlife rehab place, petsitting, and attending a couple of vet camps, too. She struggled a bit to find a vet willing to let her shadow on a regular basis and finally found one just before covid hit. Then covid shut everything down and she lost that opportunity. She found another place this fall but didn’t get all the shadowing hours she wanted in the summer because of it. Oh well, she is back on track now adding to her experience hours. The difficulty she had finding a place to shadow really made her more focused on wanting to attend somewhere with lots of hands on opportunities early. U of Missouri claims to really emphasize hands on work as part of their university focus on “Show Me” (the state motto). It is hard to tell if they really are any different than the others, but it has caught my daughter’s attention.

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I think you can get hands on at most of the places that she has been accepted at. I know almost all have very active pre-vet clubs, jobs available locally and on campus etc. At K-State undergrads can work at the vet hospital or at local clinics, the zoo, research facilities, the animal units etc. There are calving, lambing, foaling classes that are very hands on. Most other schools are like that. My son enjoyed going there undergrad, got top grades, did well on the GRE, got lots of experience and internships (through mainly contacts with K-State vet school grads) and is at the top of his vet school class with people from many undergrad schools! So they key is to go where she feels good and is affordable. GPA and experience are the most important, not what school she goes to. Make sure she has a plan B.

Thank you! I really appreciate your advice.

My daughter has applied to the early entry programs at Kansas State, Purdue, and Missouri, but I know they are crazy competitive to get in, and so we are working on a plan for if she doesn’t.

Getting early entry would be her dream and she would take that anywhere, but she couldn’t retake the ACT with covid and only got a 31, which is on the lower end for these programs I am sure. And Missouri notifies so late on their early admit program… She does worry that going to K State,

Purdue, or Missouri would put her at a disadvantage as a second class pre-vet student if she doesn’t get into the early entry program. Any thoughts on that?

We are also working on a plan B if she doesn’t get vet school admission on the first cycle. Her thought would be to get a masters and try again. She has a hard time imagining doing anything but being a vet, and we are struggling to advise her what other careers might be options for smart kids AND pay the bills.

This process is grueling. My daughter is an identical twin. Her twin is going to Tulane with plans to major in molecular and cell biology and pursue a path in health sciences - physical therapist, chiropractor, MD, DO, or PA are all on the table for her.

What was your son’s plan B, if I may ask, and where are you from? We are from Houston.

Vet schools do not care where you went undergrad. They may care if you are IS or OOS due to the number of seats they have. After that it is based on GPA, GRE (if required - most this is going away) and experience to get an interview. If they do interviews then those add in. All the schools you mention get their students into vet schools just as well as the others do and it isn’t a disadvantage. The standard words are go to the school where you can get the best grades, get out with the least debt and have a good fit.

My son didn’t have much of a plan B since he got in the early admit program and was sure he was going to vet school. Probably a PhD in immunology would have been hi plan B.

Thank you for confirming what we have heard. One last question for now - while we are crossing our fingers and toes and hoping for admission to the early entry program for our daughter, we recognize these programs are incredibly competitive. If one attends K-State and is animal science/pre-vet but not early entry, do you think this is a severe disadvantage? My daughter loves what she has seen of the AnSci program but is worried about being viewed as a second tier pre-vet student if she attends a school with an early entry program but doesn’t get early entry. Your thoughts on this and on available opportunities in that situation? Thank you.

@Momoftxtwins At K-State they really don’t care if you are early admit or not. There are a lot of students that don’t decide what they want to do until their Sophomore year or just didn’t apply for the early admit because they didn’t want to do the extra work or just didn’t think about it. At K-State there are no second-tier students. The school just doesn’t work like that. Everyone is on equal footing. The way they work is that the better your grades once you get there the more opportunities you have. His class is full of students that are early admit and even more that weren’t when you look at the ones from K-State. I would guess your daughter will probably get in the program. They weigh heavily on the interview as well as grades and a 31 makes their cutoff. After that they look for fit into the program. There is another student from Houston that was accepted into the program and is a freshman now. If she doesn’t get early admit she will still have plenty of opportunities. Get involved in the Pre-vet club and get a student job through the vet school. Not a big deal. For my son it just really pulled the pressure off him and let him feel he could enjoy undergrad more. I think by doing this his grades were actually better!

Congrats on being accepted to all of those schools! That’s fantastic! I know of vets that have graduated from all of those undergrad schools. So don’t think that you’ll be choosing the wrong school. In terms of the best school for your daughter, I would recommend the undergrad that is also your daughter’s dream vet school. I think this helped me tremendously when I applied to vet schools. The undergrad people that were writing my letters of recommendation knew people involved with the vet school admissions process. I also had an understanding of what academic and campus life was like since I had already been there for 4 years.
Things that your daughter may want to consider for a vet school would be, but not limited to, school ranking, location and program style. School ranking generally does not matter too much but if your daughter is considering a residency, having a “better ranked” school may be slightly favorable. Location may be important to some people. Most of your daughters’ vet school classmates will practice in that general region of the US so she may already have a network of colleagues once she graduates. Some of the diseases/illnesses may be localized to certain parts of the US so experiences with that may be slightly different (ie. I’ve never seen a rattlesnake bite in my career but people in the South deal with it on a daily basis). And vet school programs have been changing in how information is presented. There has been a shift from just lectures to case-based learning so that the information and decision making process is more clinically relevant. Some people really benefit from this, some don’t care.
Finally, if your daughter is interested in specializing, don’t focus too much on it right now. Once she gets into her clinical rotations, she’ll be exposed to various different specialties. I’m fairly surprised by the number of colleagues that made a 180 change in their career path after clinics. Of course, if she has a particular specialty she is interested in, she can just double check to make sure that the vet school offers that specialty but most schools will have just about all of the specialties.

Thank you for the replies everyone.
My daughter was blessed with multiple amazing opportunities, but she has decided on Kansas State. They accepted her into their Early Acceptance Program, so as long as she keeps her grades up, she is guaranteed a seat in their vet school (direct entry after 3 years undergrad), and she will complete her BA and DVM in 7 years. K-State was generous with the academic merit, so she is able to accomplish her goal of going out of state for undergrad for about the same cost as it would be to attend A&M in state. We are all thrilled for her, and this way she doesn’t have the stress of fighting for one of the very few precious seats in vet school.
The fact that K-State vet school has an amazing large animal program and the school is ranked one of the best for quality of student life is added icing on the cake.

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Can’t decide between Penn State Honors College where I would be on pre-vet track
OR
Amherst College where I would be a bio major and then be able to take classes at UMASS

My thinking right now is that Amherst has better academics in general and better teaching, and so I would basically be able to take all the pre-vet bio, chem, physics, etc. requirements at Amherst but then I could take animal-geared electives at UMASS
However, I would like to hear what people on this thread think.

another question - are 7 year vet programs good? What are the pros and cons of that

I can tell you for my son his 7 year program (he chose to make it 7 years it could be 6 or 8 your choice) has been outstanding. The program guarantees admission to vet school if you keep your GPA above a certain (very reasonable) level and meet some other requirements. You could apply to start vet school as soon as you had a certain number of hours and the prerequisites. He easily had that by his 3rd undergrad year. The way the program works at his school is that he will get his BS when he finished his second year of vet school and then his DVM two years later. I’ll give you pros and cons for his program. In our opinion very few cons. He got an excellent education, feels the vet school is excellent and has great opportunities.

Pros for us:
He knew he was getting into vet school and could enjoy his undergrad without going into vet school burned out.
Left time for other extracurriculars (President of his fraternity for example)
Reduced stress. (Ended up with a 4.0 because he wasn’t stressing over it)
Great early contacts made. Knew many of the vet school faculty starting out.
One year less undergrad tuition.
Didn’t have to take electives or classes he wasn’t interested in. Just took the prerequisites and other classes he enjoyed to fill the necessary electives.
Ability to change your mind and go on to get 4 year degree and not go to vet school.

Cons:
If your grades don’t make it, chose to change majors and you chose to not take all the classes required for the degree it might take more time to graduate.

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FWIW we just finished going through the college admissions process with my daughter, who has known since she was very young that she wants to be a vet. momocarly was incredibly helpful to us. For my daughter, she knew all along that what she wanted more than anything was to get a guaranteed (subject to maintaining GPA and meeting a few other requirements along the way) seat in vet school. As you probably know, competition for vet school seats is intense. The ability to save a year and get her DVM in 7 years instead of 8 is an added benefit. Like momocarly said, it really reduces the pressure. My daughter feels like she now has a bit more latitude to enjoy college while working hard. Plus, she loves the idea of starting to make all those CVM contacts starting as an undergrad.