Chance me (Rising HS Senior) for Cornell, Tufts, etc. for Animal Science


  • US citizen in the Southwest
  • Charter High School with a small graduating class
  • White Female

Intended Major(s)
Animal Science or Biochem, really any major that covers prereqs for vet school but I know that it differs for all schools
GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.9/4.0
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): About 4.8/5.0 but it may change depending on the AP score that come out in July.
  • Class Rank: N/A (my school doesn’t rank)
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1540 superscore (790 EBRW and 750 math), or 1520 without superscore

(AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes, AP/IB scores for high school; also include level of math and foreign language reached and any unusual academic electives; for transfers, describe your college courses and preparation for your intended major(s))
8th: AP World History
9th: AP Calc AB, AP Psych, AP Gov
10th: AP Bio, AP Calc BC, AP Lang, AP European History, AP Macro, AP Micro
11th: AP Chem, AP Lit, AP Latin (didn’t take test), AP Phys 1 (didn’t take test), AP Stats, AP US History, Post-AP Anatomy/Physiology
My scores are all 4s and 5s except Bio (3), and I’m worried that it’s really going to hurt me since that’s the direction I’m headed in :frowning: I had to take the test online and the FRQs threw me off a bit. There were honors classes preceding the years with the AP classes.

I won a book award, but I don’t know if that actually does anything.
I have a recognition award from my school (kind of like student of the year)

President and Parliamentarian of a charity league outside of school
Vice President of NJHS and member of NHS throughout HS
Vice President of Key Club junior year
Member of National Latin Society in junior year
Member of a feminist club at my school in junior year
Played volleyball in a rec league until covid hit (so first two years of HS)
I’ve played piano for about 14 years, and I’m self taught on ukulele and guitar (although not that great at guitar if I’m honest lol)
2 Online veterinary summer programs (Tufts and NC State)
Worked at a vet clinic for 7 months, tons of experience and hours
Shadowed at two other clinics freshman year and currently in another internship that should be almost 200 hours (equine, not small animal, because I’m trying to get varied experience).
Should be hired at a fast food restaurant this summer too

*The letters haven’t been written yet, but this is my best estimate on how they’ll go
College Counselor: we’ve only met a few times, but I think they will be able to speak about my passions outside the field and my personality in general, so I feel pretty good about it (9/10)
Teacher 1: AP Lang and AP Lit teacher, showed a lot of participation and interest in the classes, so I think this LOC will be good (8/10)
Teacher 2: Calc AB (A-)/BC (A) teacher. Calculus was my worst class by far, but I ended up with a good score on the BC test and I went to student hours each week for the entire two years. I think this LOC can speak about my determination to improve in a class that was particularly difficult to me, but I hope that my trimester grades in these classes won’t make the LOC detrimental (7/8?/10).

Cost Constraints / Budget
I haven’t really discussed a concrete budget yet, but my parents want me to apply to whatever interests me and make the decisions about budget after I have my confirmed options.

This is a rough drafted list of targets/reaches, and I’m not sure if I’ll be applying to all of these schools. Still trying to keep my options open though. I have not really been considering ED. I hope it’s okay that I’m not posting safeties since I’m mainly interested in feedback about the list below. I do already have a few picked out as I start to refine my college list during the next two months.

Columbia (I’m a legacy, and although they don’t have a vet school, it’s a university I’m genuinely interested in possibly attending. I don’t think my chances are very high in getting in though.)
UC Davis
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

I’d really appreciate any input you all may have! I’m a little concerned that my extracurriculars aren’t too outstanding and my awards are lacking. Hopefully I’m not forgetting anything, but I’ll update if I think of anything I haven’t listed.
Thank you so much!

Ask your parents straight up if they are ready, willing and able to pay $280,000 for your UG degree (4 x $70K). If they balk even a little you- and they- need to make some decisions BEFORE you have confirmed offers. Unless they will also put up hundreds of thousands of $$ for Vet school as well, you need to graduate as close to debt-free from UG as possible, to have a hope of paying off vet school loans before your children are grown. IF they will actually cover all the costs, happy days!

If they balk at all, ask them to run the EFC for Columbia, Tufts, and your in-state flagship.

Fwiw, the relative prestige of your UG college is a non-issue in vet school admissions.

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Thank you, I will! I’m really glad prestige isn’t an issue, but my parents are encouraging me to apply for more reaches if there’s a possibility I could be accepted. I’ve been stressing finances to them during these discussions because I’m trying to think long term with vet school (luckily some colleges offer in-state tuition that can possibly carry into vet school, so I’m seriously considering those), and I’m really trying to avoid as much debt as possible in the process. I still don’t know the exact extent to which I will be covered for undergrad, but they still strongly encourage me to apply to these schools and that they are willing to help out as much as possible if I really am accepted. I’ve calculated a few of the costs for some of my safeties, and they would allow me to finish undergrad with some savings left over for vet school, so luckily that is an option that I can lean back on too.

Why would your GPA change based on an AP score? It’s the grade that matters, not the AP score, for your GPA - or what am I missing? 4.8 - if you’re using the traditional .5 for Honors and 1 additional for AP would mean you took a crazy amount of APs - like 12 or so. Well now I read and yes, you did!! OK.

I’d say this - both Tufts and Cornell are reaches - for anyone - so they will be for you but you have a great chance superscore or not.

The part about - my parents want me to apply where interested and we’ll talk budget later is sending you down the wrong path and potentially a huge time and effort waste. You need to know now what they can afford and run it by the net price calculator because neither school will get you merit aid.

The only safety I see on your list is UMASS - a great school by the way. But you are from the Southwest - which state??

Here’s a nice link - and you can even delve deeper into regions.

At this point, unless your parents are willing to spend $320K over four years - and that’s without grad school - you need to stop - review some net price calculators on school websites. Have them do it if they don’t want to share with you their personal info.

There are great schools out there with lots of aid for someone like you - for example UF is affordable regardless, UGA. Auburn, Arkansas, and UT Knoxville, Ketucky, and WVU all have great aid. That’s just the Southeast. Yes, you’re a stellar student and would be fully challenged in the Honors Colleges and have money left for grad school.

In the Southwest, since you’re from there - but you don’t say which state - because UC Davis, if not from CA, will be $65K+, U of AZ is dirt cheap with the scholarship you’d get and the Honors facilities are first rate.

Every public flagship in the country has “ivy caliber” kids - so you’ll find others at your level - and won’t break the bank.

Now if you find out your parents are willing to spend $320K - or based on their income/assets the Tufts/Dukes/Cornells, etc. will keep your cost low due to need based aid, different story.

But money - not where you want to go - is the most important thing and NEVER fall in love with a school. The CC is riddled with kids - I got into Harvard - but I can’t afford $80K a year. Well, then honestly, why did you apply? You can determine up front roughly what your cost will be - and it will be more than the college tells you.

Good luck to you.

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond! I’m in AZ, so I’m considering Barrett at ASU and UofA Honors because of its vet school. That definitely makes complete sense, and I’m going to have more discussions moving forward about budget so I have a list I feel more secure about by the time I begin applications. Sorry about confusion for the GPA lol, I’m a bit confused about how AP factors into the weighted one. I’m still currently checking out universities through Naviance and I’ll begin recording estimates for each one and consider them with my parents. Thank you again for your help! :slight_smile:

I never gave you the link - this is a top ten ranking (there’s many rankings right) but you can also go geographically - sub links inside.

2021 Best Colleges for Animal Science - College Factual

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U of A, for example, is unweighted - the tuition is 37K. If you have a 4.0, you get 35K. If you have a 3.9, you get 30K.

So it’s reasonable. The Honors College is really nice.

If you find out your parents can’t afford (that’s different than don’t want to afford) - and then you can apply to all the meet needs based schools - but no point in applying if they want to spend $40K and they won’t spend $80K. Know that up front.

ASU and U of A are both excellent as is NAU. Is AZ your homestate?

It is. I definitely don’t qualify for needs-based aid. I think I fall into the gray zone of middle class where I can’t receive financial aid but I also don’t expect a full free ride from my parents. I’ll talk about it with them tomorrow to get a clearer idea of what to expect with costs.

The donut hole.

btw - your parents asking you apply to “reach schools”. I did this with my daughter - she was in at Washington & Lee (no aid, $81K a year), UNC (didn’t get in - they have merit - not much but it’s possible), Emory, Rice, etc.

The Ivies, Tufts, the very top LACs only have need based aid.

So your reaches can be the Vanderbilts of the world…they do have merit…but it’s not easy and everyone admitted is like you - so don’t fall in love with ANY school.

My daughter applied to 21, got into 17, and she’s going to the best fit for her - which after the scholarships they gave her after enrolling - makes it great cost wise but it wasn’t when she enrolled. It’s the #16 school if you go by pedigree of the 17 but right for her and always affordable for me.

I nixed Washington & Lee, American, Miami - she got aid at all and I could afford them all - but I did not want to afford them. She knew up front and it was fine. Had they given more aid, we would have considered. She’s going to College of Charleston and if she gets great grades and a great test score for whatever grad school, it will be just fine.

Look at the feeder schools for top grad schools - you’ll find the Boise States, the Western Carolinas, the Northern Arizonas, the Texas Techs of the world…you have an equal shot at top grad schools if you take care of business in the classroom and in your extracurriculars -with extra money to pay.

Oh, next time I even see a degree at my vet to know where they went - will be the first!! Doesn’t matter…

For which subject did you receive a book award ?

I wouldn’t apply to any school on your list. There will be zero advantage applying to any of them and they will all be very expensive. The best route into veterinary medicine is to apply to affordable undergraduate programs that also have vet schools.

Your state flagship is always a great place to start. Then look at WUE schools. Colorado State and Washington State both have great vet schools. Finally choose Midwestern schools with good vet schools where you’re likely to get merit aid. I’d choose Missouri, Iowa State and Michigan State.

Every school mentioned has a top 20 vet school. No one, I mean NO one will care where you went to UG or vet school. Prestige has zero value here. If your folks have more money than they know what to do with, they can gift you the balance for a house down payment.


Your parents see a star student who could succeed at any of those schools. They have probably been encouraging you to fly as high as you can- which is great!- and they don’t want you to feel limited by $$ - which is lovely!- BUT 1) they may not realize that prestige is not a variable and 2) the overall economics.

You can do the numbers more accurately, but off the top of my head, the colleges you are looking at are in the $200-300K range. Vet school is variable but allow $100-300K? Starting salaries for vets are $50-100K; over a career the median goes up to $100k and the high end goes up to $175K.

Those are -obviously!- very nice salaries. But if you are paying off (say) $300k in student loans, you will be paying those loans for a very, very long time- over years when you want to buy a house, start a family, etc. If you want to buy into an existing practice, that’s $$$$. If you want to start your own practice, that’s $$$$$. Being realistic up front is part of transitioning from dreams to reality.

Your parents have tried to open as many doors and windows for you, to offer you as many opportunities as they can. Now it is time for you to start thinking more like the adult than the kid, and to focus on how each door and window will play out for you- financially, yes, but also in terms of your overall adult life.

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My vet is in this exact situation. He said he just plowed through, never really assessing the economics, just eyes on the prize. He’s very successful, but given the hole he is in, he’s told me that he’s not sure he would have done it had he property worked through the math.

BTW, this isn’t a discussion most vets would have with their clients. I’m an optometrist, nearing retirement. It’s not uncommon that I’ll chat with younger healthcare professionals of all varieties in practice management issues and/or financial planning, as a friendly mentor.

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Is there a specific type of Veterinary Medicine that interests you? If it’s Equine, you may want to look at schools in Kentucky and NJ. Is it more exotic animals, what colleges are linked up and provide internships with places like Bronx Zoo, Columbus Zoo, etc. Lots of great advise on this thread, keep the end in mind.

I’m not sure if saying the college would be too much info, but it’s a selective school that doesn’t have a vet school.

I’m still uncertain about which route I want to go down, but I do really enjoy equine. However, I’m also interested in the business aspect of the veterinary field and I think I’d enjoy owning a clinic one day (lofty goal, but still one to aspire to). That would also help me pay off debt a little quicker, which would be nice. Having a specialty would be nice too, but I don’t know yet what I’d pursue. Of course that’s expensive too, so I would have better options starting at a state school that grants merit aid.

Purdue has a strong animal science program and OOS tuition is $40K ish. Not a drop in the bucket but much less than some of the privates on your list.

They are in the process of building a new vet hospital on campus.

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It’s ok -you’re 17. The guidance to go inexpensive is more important than ever. You might consider a business/entrepreneurship minor - or you can always pursue an MBA a couple years after you are out and working if that’s your long term goal.

It’s great you are planning - lots of paths to get where you want to be.

The only thing that will cripple you in your path is debt. You have a great future ahead of you otherwise.

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Start going through your list and the suggestions on this thread and look at the specific programs that are offered. I’ll add Rutgers to your list as it has a farm and animal facility right on campus with lots of hands on classes with Horses and other animals. Purdue has a Vet scholars program that would give you direct admit to Vet school (No small benefit as Vet School admissions hover around 10-15%) and allow you to finish Vet school a year early.

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As a clinic owner, there’s no benefit. You can (and should) get all the business acumen you need for free. The only use of an MBA would be if you wanted to parlay your vet med degree into a management position at a agri-business company. That’s LOTS of money to invest for that type of job.

Large animal vet med is a very tough road. VERY few work with high dollar animals. The majority of large animal vets work on farm animals owned by hard working folks that struggle to make end meet, and will thus be challenged to pay you.

As was mentioned previously, debt will be the enemy of your dream to own a private clinic. Servicing education debt and startup costs will be a struggle if your school debt is too high. Private equity is sweeping through and paying high multiples for desirable clinics, which will put them out of reach for new grads. Those that aren’t run well aren’t worth buying. Go in with the idea that you’ll open cold, probably after a few years of being an employee somewhere to hone your clinical/surgical skills. Or, you could get lucky and be brought on as an associate in a clinic that doesn’t go the PE route.

Lastly, and I alluded to this previously, but wasn’t so overt about it, students who do their undergraduate work at a school with a vet school have a higher admission rate into vet school.

Good luck.

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