By Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA
Several publications generate lists of the “best” veterinary schools using various criteria. Unlike some other professions, which veterinary school you attend likely won’t impact your future earnings or career options. However, which school you attend can have a significant impact upon the price you pay for your veterinary degree. If you, like most veterinary school attendees, finance the majority of your education with student loans, the amount you borrow can have a major impact upon your financial well-being for decades to come. As you consider embarking upon a career in veterinary medicine, let’s look at how you can Apply Smarter.
Acceptance numbers matter
The AAVMC Veterinary Medical College Application System (VMCAS) is now open for the 2019-2020 school year. How are you going to choose the schools on your application short list?
The 5 schools with most number of applicants among the 30 US schools by total number of applications received for the 2017-2018 school year were:
- Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2,153 applications for 148 seats)
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (1,607 applicants for 128 seats)
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine (1,448 applications for 133 seats)
- Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine (1,321 applications for 161 seats)
- University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (1,309 applications for 96 seats)
This does not mean these are the best veterinary schools and you should rush to include them on your short list. Nor does this mean these are the most competitive and hardest to get into and you should leave them off your short list. Let’s take a closer look at what these statistics do say.
Want to increase your chances of getting into veterinary school?
Total application numbers only tell part of the story. For example, the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CSU) class of 2021 (entered Fall 2017) received 206 applications from Colorado residents for 71 seats for a 34% admittance rate. That’s better than a 1 in 3 chance of acceptance for Colorado residents. Conversely, CSU received 1,799 applications from applicants outside of Colorado for 51 seats for a 2.8% admittance rate, or a 1 in 35 chance of admission for non-Colorado residents. Assuming you meet all of the application prerequisites, which odds would you rather face?
To continue with the Colorado example, CSU is one of several schools with a special arrangement with certain western states via the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE). This allows students from some western states with no veterinary state school to obtain a veterinary education at a lower cost. For example, CSU received 24 applications from New Mexico residents via the WICHE program. Four of those applicants were admitted for an admittance rate of 16.7%, or a 1 in 6 chance of admission for New Mexico WICHE applicants. Those odds are not nearly as good as Colorado residents, but six times better than applying as a Colorado non-resident for the class of 2021.
Some schools have “2+2” arrangements where students complete their first two years of veterinary school at their state school and their final two years with a veterinary school. Again considering CSU as an example, they have a contract with students from Alaska via University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Students admitted through this program also have a better chance of acceptance as well as lower total education costs.
Your take home lesson—make sure you explore all of the potential arrangements with the veterinary schools you’re considering. You can find compiled application statistics and state arrangements for all US schools on the VIN Foundation Vet School Bound website.
Increasing your odds of getting into veterinary school by paying attention to residency status can also decrease your potential costs: win-win! Not only will you have better odds of being admitted into a state school if you apply as a resident of that state, in-state costs can be 2-3x less than out-of-state. You may not care much about costs while you’re applying, but your future veterinary self will care very much about any educational debt you take on. The VIN Foundation Cost of Education Map can help you understand cost differences for your targeted veterinary schools.
By using the VIN Foundation Apply Smarter tools, you can increase your odds of getting into veterinary school while also making sure you pay the least amount possible for your education.
With the current student debt crisis, it’s never been more important for you to consider veterinary application statistics and costs. VIN Foundation is here to help you pull this information together in a single resource so you can Apply Smarter!
About the Author
Dr. Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA graduated in 2012 from the Colorado State University combined MBA/DVM program and is an employee of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) and a VIN Foundation Board member. He and his wife have more than $400,000 in veterinary-school debt that they manage using federal income-driven repayment plans. By necessity (and now obsession), his professional activities include researching and speaking on veterinary-student debt, providing guidance to colleagues on loan-repayment strategies and contributing to VIN Foundation initiatives.
About the VIN Foundation
The VIN Foundation was created by members of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) in 2005. VIN is an online community of veterinarians and veterinary students with over 62,000 members worldwide. Learn more about the VIN Foundation and its programs at http://VINFoundation.org. The VIN Foundation is made possible through generous gifts by individual donors and grants; all gifts made to the VIN Foundation are tax deductible.