Extracurriculars for pre vet?

What are some impressive extracurriculars for someone who is hoping to become a wildlife vet? I am doing some things already but I need to step up my game. I want to be accepted to some of the top 20 schools. What are some impressive extracurriculars that would correspond to my career goals? Thanks.

Are you currently working with a local vet? Are you a volunteer at a local zoo or rescue?
There’s a lot to being a vet that entails paperwork, labs, and studying exotics. Start there first.

I am assuming that you are currently a high school student. Let us know if this is not correct.

To become a wildlife veterinarian, you first need to become a veterinarian. One daughter starts vet school in September, so we have some experience with this.

I am not convinced that there is much to gain from attending a “top 20” university for undergrad if you want to become a veterinarian.

One issue is that the top universities for animal science and DVM programs are usually not the top universities overall. For example UC Davis has the #1 ranked DVM program in the world. It’s overall ranking according to US News and WR is #39. Colorado State University is #3 in the US for DVM programs and #4 worldwide. It has a superb DVM program. USNWR has it ranked #153 overall in the US. Top ranked universities are often in cities (Harvard and MIT being examples of this). Top ranked animal science programs and top ranked DVM programs usually have farms, which are often not in cities.

When our daughter was applying to DVM programs, I looked at where accepted students at a few top programs had done their bachelor’s degree. Generally the accepted DVM students had come from all over the place. You can attend any one of a very wide range of universities for your bachelor’s degree and still get accepted to a top DVM program.

Of course this is largely good news. It suggests that getting accepted as an undergraduate student to universities that have very good animal science programs is not necessarily as insanely competitive as getting into a “top 20” university in the US.

Another issue is cost. If you want to keep open the option of becoming a veterinarian, then you need to budget for a full 8 years of university. The last 4 years are going to be expensive. For example, the in-state cost at CSU for their DVM program show a total cost of attendance a bit over $60,000 per year, and this is IN-STATE. It is over $80,000 per year if your are out of state. Prices usually go up from year to year. One big implication of this is that you want to completely avoid debt for your bachelor’s degree if you want to keep open the option of becoming a veterinarian. This is very likely to point you to in-state public universities. There are a lot of cases where in-state public universities have very good animal science programs.

Our daughter did very well in her various applications for DVM programs, with multiple acceptances and only one rejection. I think that a very large part of this success did come from her experience working in a variety of veterinary situations. This includes working in veterinary offices, working on farms, working with people, and doing some animal research (no animals were harmed in the research that she did).

I agree with @aunt_bea that you should be looking for opportunities to volunteer with a local vet. Our daughter did however also do some work while she was in high school on a farm not all that far from where we live. Volunteering (or getting a job) on a farm is a useful thing to do.

If you want to be a veterinarian, things like reaching inside a cow and cleaning up animal waste become “impressive” extracurricular activities!

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I am working with a sanctuary. I am also a beekeeper starting my own business, but idk how relevant that is. I am trying to join a few other organizations.

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Thank you for the advice! Right now, I want to major in zoology when I go to college. Not a ton of colleges have that, so maybe biochemistry.
I know that vet school is really competitive to get into so I assume that it looks better to go to a higher ranked school. Also, CSU is amazing for vet school, but it is not as good for undergrad. They do not give preference to students who went to Undergraduate there probably because they know it is the the most competitive school in the world. So I do not mind if I go to a college with or without a vet school.
But you are right. The most competitive colleges are super expensive!
I am currently working with a monkey sanctuary, and I am trying to join a few other animal organizations. I have an internship this summer. I am just seeing what else I can do.

Cool. To me this sounds very good.

One thing that I did not mention: In looking at where students at top DVM programs got their undergrad, I also saw the list of undergraduate majors. There was a very wide range of majors also. My understanding is that pre-vet is a lot like pre-med in the sense that you can major in anything as long as you complete the pre-vet requirements and maintain a high GPA. To me zoology sounds like a good choice. The fact that it is unusual I think is fine. I can see that this will restrict which universities you might choose to attend.

I think that the cost of your undergraduate education, the strength of their program in the courses that you want to take, and finding a good fit for you, are going to be much more important than the overall ranking of a university. Finding a university that is a good fit for you is likely to help you maintain a high GPA. Your pre-vet classes will overlap with pre-med classes, which tend to be very competitive.

Agree that anything you do in the area of working with animals is good experience for you as well as for the animals. As long as it is something that you like, then its considered a good EC because you are able to show your passion for it through your work.

My daughter attended Davis and had friends in the premed and prevent programs. Her dorm, Tercero, was a few steps from the dairy cows. @DadTwoGirls is absolutely correct in that the Pre-vet major is very similar to pre-med. Super competitive with strong classmates. You’ll be taking the same courses and vying for the same grades such that those EC’s will be really important.
Good luck with the bees!

As others have noted, find ECs that interest you. There are a large number of paths that lead to admission to vet school. So its not like experience A or B will lead to vet school but experience C or D will not. It will be easier to write vet school essays about experiences you like and talking about activities you like in interviews (for vet schools that interview) will be better received. Plus its a lot more fun/interesting to do things you enjoy rather than things you think you should be doing.

And keep an open mind. You never know what experiences will interest you. Or ones that you thought you would enjoy are not that enjoyable once you experience them. Nothing wrong with that.

My daugther will start vet school this fall. One thing we heard from pretty much everyone was “undergrad a cheap as possible.” Debt at graduation is a significant issue (one that schools spend a lot of time discussing). If there is $400-$500k available to pay for undergrad/vet school, not an issue. But for everyone else, its an issue. My daughter took a full ride for undergrad that was refundable. So for 2 semesters when she had a job (graduating in 6 semesters of classes), school still paid her room/board and deposited tuition scholarship in her bank account. Allowed her to bank essentially a full year of vet school tuition.

The rank of your undergrad school does not help you get into vet school. My son’s vet school class has more from lower ranked state U’s with good pre-vet programs than from top rated colleges. The key is low debt, lots of animal and vet hours, ECs showing you can work with people too, high GPA, and if the school requires it, high GRE. The don’t rate top 20 schools any differently that those in the 200s.

Even more than my son’s animal hours they were impressed he volunteered for a hospice and was a camp councellor living with young campers a month at a time, while also teaching them horseback lessons.

Good luck!


thank you.

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thank you!

I will definitely keep price in mind!

thank you for the info.