ED Cornell vs. state schools for pre-vet programs...very conflicted

My daughter is trying to decide between applying ED to Cornell CALS for animal science/pre-vet vs. not, and seeing what she is offered through the other schools (all states schools) that offer a similar program.

Cornell is a reach. Her chance of admission through ED given her school (extremely competitive) with her profile (very good student) is about 50/50 (per her dean and Naviance). I’ve read all about how stressful the program is and she would be thrown in with the best and the brightest in an extremely challenging STEM program.

Other schools she applying to, all with great animal science programs: UVM, UMASS, UCONN, U of Maryland. We do not qualify for aid but there is a good chance she would get merit and/or honors program in these others. Suny Binghamton is another option, at only $27k (big on science, but no animal science…and I know you don’t need to study this to get into vet school, but she is very passionate about this and this is what she wants to study). All of these are on her safety list. Not to say any of these programs will be “easy” for her…I just don’t believe she would be constantly clawing her way to a good grade, stressed to the hills 100% of the time.

The thought of full whack at Cornell ($232,000) PLUS then approximately another $320,000 for 4 years of vet school is a very hard pill to swallow. Versus some merit from one of the above schools and/or Suny Binghamton…but if she applies ED to Cornell and gets in, this is all off the table.

We are struggling with whether or not the undergrad institution is as important than her grades, GMAT, experience, hours, etc. when applying to vet school. Or would she be crazy not to try for Cornell because it’s, well, Cornell, and ranked at the top for animal science programs?

Where do you get Cornell at $232k. More like $320k.

What state are you in ? Look to the flagship. U did not provide #s. Example if she’s a 4.0 UW you can go to AZ for $20k a year total. Others recommend Colorado State for pre vet

This is for undergrad, not a terminal degree. Even if it was, next time my dog asks my vet where they went to college or vet school is the first. And probably in a movie.

Veterinary Science is generally not well paid.

Me thinks you can save at least 50% over Cornell, find another use for the $$ and live with less stress. If her #s are strong, you can save more.

My child wanted to apply to Cornell. As we had a max we were willing to pay and there is only need aid, Cornell, Gtown, Tufts and others were eliminated b4 applying.

Good luck


No and No.

But: you know your daughter! How well does she “fit” Cornell? Everything you have heard about the intensity of the program is somewhat of an understatement- and it’s not just that the other students are the ‘best and the brightest’- it is their level of internal drive and determination. Is that your girl? If so, you wouldn’t be able to stop her anyway :slight_smile:

Seriously, the financial difference is so big that if she isn’t absolutely dying to go I wouldn’t even apply.

ps, have her check out animal science at Penn State


Based on the price the OP quoted for Bing, they are NY residents, and Cornell’s contract colleges charge $40K for tuition rather than $60.

It’s a tough decision, OP.


You are asking good questions. Do not have her ED because it is Cornell. That is not the reason to lock yourselves into a binding commitment without seeing what else is offered.

Let her get multiple options that will all be great and compare the financial aid packages and the opportunities for her at each college. Even with the instate CALS discount of about $20,000 a year the remaining $230,000 you estimate is a lot on top of vet school.

Look at the honors college deadlines as those deadlines for consideration are around the same times as the ED and EA dates and are not always as easy to find.


Even though your question focuses on the financial aspect, I am going to point out another factor. D20’s BFF is currently studying animal science and considered several of the schools on your D’s list (we are also in NY). The takeaway I got from several dinner table conversations is that all animal science/pre-vet programs are not created equal. It really pays to take a deep dive into the programs and look for ones that align with her career objective. Some programs have a very different focus - everything from the types of animals available on campus to how the students interact with them. D’s friend had several acceptances to wade through, made a choice, and ended up transferring after a year because she was finding that her experience wasn’t going to help her get into the types of graduate programs she was aiming for. It’s not really what you were asking but just my 2 cents :upside_down_face:


Oooh. Yeah they have several schools for in-state. They didn’t say which state so I missed that. Thx

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Agree, the opportunities on campus including access to research and the kind of animals of interest is huge. I know from a few pre-vet students they asked about undergrad opportunities at Universities with vet schools, some had more opportunities than others. The distance from the main campus is important to consider, too.


My older daughter is currently studying in a DVM program. We have some experience with this.

If you look at current students in DVM programs, they come from a very, very wide range of undergraduate universities with a wide range of majors. Cornell does indeed have an excellent DVM program and I expect probably very good animal science as well. However, there are a lot of other schools that are very good for animal science also, and many DVM students had other majors. I agree that your daughter should not go to Cornell just because it is Cornell. Finding a good fit is important. Fitting the budget is important.

Being a veterinarian is a very good career. However, there are two things that you need to keep in mind. You need to be driven to do it. Also, being a veterinarian does not pay well enough to pay off the cost of four years of university plus another four years of veterinary school. If anyone wants to become a veterinarian, they need to find a way to get there while avoiding or minimizing debt as much as possible.

UVM has a very good pre-vet program. You should look at their CREAM program. However, UVM is not cheap out of state. If your daughter has the stats to get into Cornell then she probably has the stats to get a presidential merit scholarship at UVM, which will help some. You should check the NPC.

Our daughter was very successful getting acceptances to multiple DVM programs. I suppose that no parent is ever quite sure how this happened. However, I don’t think that her undergraduate university mattered. My guess is that her experience working with animals (and the associated references) was very helpful. Working on a farm, reaching inside cows, cleaning up after cows and other animals, giving shots and drawing blood, helping with surgeries, doing research (no animals were harmed), and not freaking out when an animal dies is all part of this. Being kicked or bitten is also part of this. This experience can be obtained while in university, during the summers, and/or after graduating with a bachelor’s degree.

Some of this might come down to your budget. I would expect veterinary school to cost more than $80,000 per year. There are several programs that are more than this now if you are out of state (I am not familiar with the in-state cost at Cornell). Prices will go up over time. Your daughter does not want to take on this much debt. Even half of this as debt will be painful for a new veterinarian.

Some of this might also come down to fit. Your daughter needs to think about what she wants in a university.

I also agree that looking at what animals are available on campus is a good idea.

Understand that prevet classes will overlap with premed classes. There will be a lot of very strong premed students in the same tough classes. My daughter reports that premed organic chemistry really was as difficult as people claim that it will be. She will want to do well in difficult classes while getting broad experience with animals while avoiding debt at a university that is a good fit.

I am not personally a fan of ED. You need to be very confident that the school is a good fit and will be affordable if you want to apply ED.


Thank you everyone for your insights. We are in NY which is why I mentioned Binghamton. She has a 3.91 UW avg at one of the most rigorous high schools in NY, with several AP and honors classes.

She is highly driven and almost her entire life has been dedicated to animals (250+ hours working at a nature center, summer pre-vet classes at Cornell, Tufts, UMass, U of Rochester, shadowed a local vet, in a science research 3-year program researching immunotherapy for dogs with footpad melanoma, developed a dog rescue website for her Girl Scout gold award, started an animal care business, etc.). She wants to stay east coast for schools, which is why the schools I mentioned are limited (there are others on her list like Brandeis that have excellent science programs and research opportunities but no animal science major). I guess I should have included this info the first time around…new poster here :roll_eyes:.

The whole ED/lock her in to one school before we see what the others come back with seems daunting, considering the hefty price tag. We all know the field isn’t the highest paying but this is her life’s passion, so… And she does love Cornell. The rigor and intensity for a kid who puts extreme pressure on herself to get all A’s (particularly at Cornell) is what worries me (aside from the price tag for both college and vet school!).

UVM Cream program is very attractive to her (we visited this summer and met two kids on the farm who gave us a tour and she loved it). The school has been texting her all week via a few animal science students…I guess that is a good sign? She is applying there EA.

DadTwoGirls: “She will want to do well in difficult classes while getting broad experience with animals while avoiding debt at a university that is a good fit.” You hit the nail on the head…now if we could just figure out what school that is :slightly_smiling_face:.

Again, thank you for the advice.


Has your D looked into starting salaries for veterinarians? It’s about on par with graduating engineers with bachelor’s degrees, and probably worse benefits. It can go up, but maybe $120k-$140k tops after years of practice? Are you paying for both undergrad and vet school out of pocket or taking out loans? Don’t forget the opportunity cost of lost income during the four years of vet school. The compensation for other professions (doctor, lawyer, dentist) are much higher than vets so you can make an argument for paying for grad school in those professions; it’s tougher to justify for veterinarian salaries. So keeping undergrad costs under control is very important.


My daugther started vet school last month. When we talked with many people who gave the same mantra: Undergrad as cheap as possible. As others have noted, vet school is expensive and vet salaries are not very high. My daugther took a full ride offer for undergrad. With AP credits she was able to graduate in 6 semesters of classes. Her scholarship was refundable so the university deposited cash into her bank account for the 2 semesters she was not taking classes (she had 2 paid equine internships during those semesters). Her room and board was also covered by her scholarship during those semesters (if she wasn’t living on campus, the university deposited her room and board scholarship into her bank account which she used to pay for apartment/food).

About 4/5 vet grads have debt. Two of my daugthers roommates are vet students as well and they both will have debt. My daughter won’t in large part because her undergrad was free and her scholarship allowed her to bank a year of vet school tuition.

She talked with an admissions officer at Cornell Vet School who asked her what she would do if she was admitted to more than one vet school (she was admitted to 7). My daughter answered the one that was the best fit and with the strongest program but was interrupted by the admissions officer who said the cheapest one. Do you know where your vet went to vet school (much less undergrad)? My daughter worked at a top equine hospital and they had vets from across the country (and across the vet school ranking platform).

In terms of vet schools, many vet schools no longer require GRE scores. Some still look at them if you submit them but others refuse to even consider them. Cornell is more formulaic than most vet schools. Here is their formula:

When reviewing applications, the Admissions Committee uses the formula below:

  • 20% - Overall GPA
  • 25% - Prerequisite GPA
  • 10% - Quality of Academic Program
  • 20% - Animal/Veterinary/Biomedical Experience (a minimum of one letter from a veterinarian required)
  • 10% - Non-Cognitive Skills
  • 10% - All Other Achievements and Letters of Evaluation
  • 5% - Personal Statement


Prior to the 2020 application process (for the class of 2021), Cornell factored in the GRE. They stopped doing that in 2020. The Quality of Academic Program factor is what replaced the GRE. The trend is definitely away from stadardized tests (for undergrad as well). Do not see that reversing but you never know.


I wonder what quality of academic program means. They don’t define it.

Does that mean school name or major / classes taken or both.

From Cornell website (doesn’t specifically address the answer of how Quality of Academic Program is determined but provides some insight):


We went through this precise dilemma several years ago - we are also NY residents, D was pretty sure she wanted to be a vet and loved the Cornell campus, but really didn’t think she would get in,so she didn’t want to waste an ED and she applied RD. Quite unexpectedly she DID get in - and went because,well its Cornell (turning down merit from Delaware’s honors animal science program).
Part of the thought was also IF she at some point decided not to be a vet, and went to a less rigorous school just to have better undergrad grades for vet school, she might miss out on the doors that Cornell would open for another field. And that is almost what happened - she became very interested in sustainable farming. Ultimately she circled back to vet school, but not being the “gunner” for vet school that other kids had been from the start, she was at a disadvantage when applying to Cornell Vet - these kids were actively involved in pre-vet,made connections with people at the vet school, were active in research.
At the end of the day she LOVED Cornell, and does not regret her decision for one minute, she got outstanding experience in the animal sciences that her peers in vet school - who were bio or chem or whatever majors did not get (yes,she did get into a DVM program - just not Cornell’s); and because Cornell presented the opportunity to explore another career path, it made her more sure that vet school was the right choice. Cornell Vet does take a decent amount of their own - again those kids who have been determined from the start - and yes undergrad GPA - from whatever school will probablt matter more than a low GPA from Cornell, but even still, there is the thought that having the Cornell undergrad degree might have helped with her DVM admission. Separate from the money issues, does your daughter love Cornell enough that she is willing to take the risk that her GPA from there might not get her into their vet school (and may even make it harder to get into other vet schools)?


My son is a second year vet student. I would not ED Cornell. He was an animal science major but was in an early admissions program. She should go to a school that has the prerequisites for the vet schools she is interested in, where she can get top grades, minimize/eliminate debt and get experience hours. Prestige of the school is not factored in to admissions.

From my son’s experience he is doing better in vet school than many of his peers from higher ranked schools, he came in relaxed and ready for the pressure not burnt out from 4 years stressful undergrad classes. He was with premeds in most of his classes and they were very good classes that were intellectually challenging without being weed out mentality. He enjoyed being at a school with a vet school where he was able to do undergrad research. Some of his friends have said their smaller schools didn’t offer some prerequisites and they were scrambling to find online acceptable options, that their advisors didn’t understand vet school requirements, etc. Look at the programs and look at some OOS undergrad big schools. My son found several that with merit were equal or cheaper than our in state (room and board WAY cheaper. He chose Kansas State (best deal and he loved it) but liked several others too.

So look carefully. Cornell is great but maybe not ED. Remember no GMAT for vet school GRE at some schools (less and less). Good luck!


I just have to pipe in again. For a person whose passion is animal science/vet med, the vet school experience is phenomenal. You’re surrounded by fellow passionate and brilliant students and faculty. You see the most interesting cases, encounter the most devoted and compliant and grateful owners, and live and breathe in a collaborative environment with all the equipment and supplies you could want. It is a harsh wake-up to reality after graduation, where the job environment is none of those things. Speaking from experience.

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Not sure thats really unique to vet med though. Day to day grind of a job are often much different than the academic settings that led to them.


This was my first post on this site and I just wanted to say how much I appreciate everyone’s candor, thoughtfulness and quick responses. Gives us a lot to ponder and discuss.


Seems the solution is, no ED to Cornell. BTW, the state schools all have early action (not restrictive), so she’ll have the assurance of early acceptances, likely with merit money. Then she can compare all her offers in April, possibly along with a RD acceptance to Cornell.