Mar 21, 2010
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Hi,
Before you ask--yes, I did read the article on the main page. But my question is much more specific than that.

Basically, I began exploring veterinary medicine late in my sophomore year and I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian in the middle of junior year.
The big problem is: Now I'm a senior, and there's very limited time left to get everything done I need to do.

I spent so much time exploring that now I have hardly any time left to plan for the future.

And one of the biggest pieces of advice I need from someone with experience is: what makes a good letter of recommendation or reference for vet school from a professor and what can I do with the limited time I have left to get to know a professor well enough now to get a good reference?


I've had professors in the past who were very encouraging of me. I even had a professor who taught at the vet school that I wanted to attend at one point. He told me he thought I was the ideal vet student and that he would see me in veterinary school. The problem is, that was a year ago! :scared:

And there's a difference between excelling in a course and having a good reference.

I've always wanted to try research or being a teaching assistant. And one thing that I plan on doing is going to some of my professors I've done well in recently and asking for the opportunity to do either of these two things with them. Does this sound like a good plan to you? If you were in my shoes, what would you do? Do I even have ample time left to get to know my professors?


Any advice at all would be extremely appreciated!
 

twelvetigers

stabby cat
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Just an aside before answering your question, but do you have a veterinarian to write you a letter yet? You need at least one, and in some cases two or more. Do you have significant (200 hours, ish) veterinary experience? If not, that's what I would be worrying about.
 

BlacKAT33

UPenn c/o 2014!! :)
Jul 1, 2009
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Before I talk about LORs, have you been able to get any vet experience between jr. year and now? You should have at least 300 hours of vet experience and ample animal experiences before you worry about who to ask for a letter. If you are interested in research (don't waste your time being a TA, it is too late in the game and wont provide that much experience unless it is for a hands on animal sci class) I say try to get a research postbac job. IMO i would take 1 yr off to strengthen your experiences. If you get some research/lab experience not only will that add to your application but you can also get a letter written from your PI and they will know you well
 

HopefulAg

Texas A&M CVM c/o 2014!
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Also you don't have to finish everything by your senior year. You can take a year to get experience and build report with a veterinarian. You'll likely need to do so to get all your pre-reqs in no? I don't know where you stand though, just an idea.
 
Mar 21, 2010
50
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I have about 300 total from three different areas. 100 abroad volunteering for a spay and neuter clinic, 100 volunteering at a local spay and neuter center, and 100 working at a local veterinary clinic during the summer.

I know I definitely need more and I planned on taking at least a year off to work at a vet clinic when I graduate. At least.

I have limited research experience (about 50 hours). And about 50 hours large animal experience.

I plan on working more with large animals during the summer because I've gotten the least experience with that so far.
 
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Whyevernot55

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Also you don't have to finish everything by your senior year. You can take a year to get experience and build report with a veterinarian. You'll likely need to do so to get all your pre-reqs in now? I don't know where you stand though, just an idea.
This too!

I decided I wanted to pursue vet med halfway through my senior year - I was an English major. I worked with an equine vet then, and I've spent the past few years working in a small animal clinic and getting my pre-reqs done, since I had ZERO of the necessary classes! Don't panic about getting your classes done. Like others have said, getting experience is crucial, and you may need to take some time between college and applying to get that done.
 

PrimalMU

Mississippi c/o 2014
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I was in the same boat as you, deciding on vet school my junior year. As such, I am now finishing up my 6th year of undergrad since I also decided to switch my major to biology. Sometimes you just gotta suck it up and stay in school.
 
Mar 21, 2010
50
0
0
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Veterinary Student
Thank you all for all your help, but don't you at least need to have one professor write you a letter of recommendation before you decide to apply?

I've already gotten all of my pre-reqs out of the way--or they will be when I graduate. I actually need three more and then I graduate.

The problem is--don't you need your professors for at least one letter of reference?
 

Whyevernot55

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Thank you all for all your help, but don't you at least need to have one professor write you a letter of recommendation before you decide to apply?

I've already gotten all of my pre-reqs out of the way--or they will be when I graduate. I actually need three more and then I graduate.

The problem is--don't you need your professors for at least one letter of reference?
The short answer is yes. Depends on the school if you need one or two. I used a general chem professor for one, and the VP of my undergrad institution for another.
Start making friends with professors now - going to their office hours to ask questions is a great way to start getting yourself recognized. One of my professors and I became friends after I went to ask for help to catch up on stuff I missed and saw the photos of his dogs in his office - now we have coffee on Sundays and he brings his dogs to the clinic I work at. You can also use an academic adviser in most cases. Check with the schools you want to apply to in order to be sure you have the correct requirements. I didn't have a second professor in the sciences to use, and I felt like using an English professor that I took a class with 3 years ago was silly - so I called Tufts to ask about using the VP as a reference, since he knew me better than most of the professors that taught me and had offered many times in the past.
 
Jan 31, 2010
872
0
0
Minnesota
Status
Veterinary Student
Hi,
Before you ask--yes, I did read the article on the main page. But my question is much more specific than that.

Basically, I began exploring veterinary medicine late in my sophomore year and I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian in the middle of junior year.
The big problem is: Now I'm a senior, and there's very limited time left to get everything done I need to do.

I spent so much time exploring that now I have hardly any time left to plan for the future.

And one of the biggest pieces of advice I need from someone with experience is: what makes a good letter of recommendation or reference for vet school from a professor and what can I do with the limited time I have left to get to know a professor well enough now to get a good reference?


I've had professors in the past who were very encouraging of me. I even had a professor who taught at the vet school that I wanted to attend at one point. He told me he thought I was the ideal vet student and that he would see me in veterinary school. The problem is, that was a year ago! :scared:

And there's a difference between excelling in a course and having a good reference.

I've always wanted to try research or being a teaching assistant. And one thing that I plan on doing is going to some of my professors I've done well in recently and asking for the opportunity to do either of these two things with them. Does this sound like a good plan to you? If you were in my shoes, what would you do? Do I even have ample time left to get to know my professors?

Any advice at all would be extremely appreciated!
I was in the same situation you are (decided late) and I agree with the people above me - take a year to build experience and cred with potential letter writers. I applied at the beginning of the extra year, so I really only took a summer to fortify my application, but even that was plenty.

As for that relationship that's a year old? I say so what, go for it. Schedule a meeting with that prof and update him on what's been going on with you lately, and while meeting, ask him for application advice. Then, after the meeting, contact him again and ask him if he'd be willing to write you a LOR. If he told you he thought you'd be an ideal candidate and you've had classes with him, he should write a great letter.

If you haven't been getting to know your professors by now, you need to START. Meet with ones you like for advice. Talk to them after class about things you found interesting in lectures. Generally talk to them outside of class - not in ways that make you sound like a kissa** ("OMG, you're like my favorite prof!" or " I made a facebook group for you!" or "I liked this stuff so much I read way ahead in the chapter!"), but in ways that show you're genuinely interested in pursuing the subject further and want to benefit from their expertise ("I was interested when you said X in lecture, but this was unclear" or "I've been reading ___ by ___ on this topic we've been talking about, and ___" or "I'm really interested in x, do you have any further reading on the topic you might recommend?")

To build cred in class, treat all assignments for a potential letter-writer like they're A Big Deal. Don't slack, don't be late, don't just do the minimum of what's asked. A prof sees a lot of students, so it's important to dazzle them a little bit if you want to stand out. That said, this tactic is less about additional effort (you can't show it off if you don't have it) and more about being careful not to slack off.

Ask for research, not a TA position, and yes, it will help - not only with your LORs, but also with experience. Try to get in with someone who does animal research so you can list it under vet experience. If your school offers summer research, you might want to sacrifice summer break on vet school's altar this year.

Whatever you do, don't give up hope. If I can get 2 (I assume great, b/c I got in) LORs from bio profs after coming into the department Junior year having never taken a science class before, you should totally be able to pull this together.
 
Mar 21, 2010
50
0
0
Status
Veterinary Student
That's what I'm hoping to do--And I know it's going to take me a lot of time after I graduate to get exactly where I need to be.

So, another huge question that I have is--Can I use the same professor I had a year ago and got to know for a reference when I apply if I apply 1-2 years later?
 
Jan 31, 2010
872
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0
Minnesota
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Veterinary Student
That's what I'm hoping to do--And I know it's going to take me a lot of time after I graduate to get exactly where I need to be.

So, another huge question that I have is--Can I use the same professor I had a year ago and got to know for a reference when I apply if I apply 1-2 years later?
You mean, can you have the same person write you an LOR for two application cycles?
Sure. Just make sure that you get them up-to-date information about what you've done between cycles so they can update the letter.

Edit: If you mean - will the LOR still be good if you apply later? Of course, as long as you keep in touch with that person.
 
Mar 21, 2010
50
0
0
Status
Veterinary Student
Thank you, that was really encouraging advice :). I've spent the last month and a half being *extremely stressed out* about all of this.

I think what I will probably do is meet with previous professors that I've had and ask them about potential research opportunities. I'd be a little nervous about meeting with the vet school professor I haven't seen in a year. But I suppose at the very least he might be willing to offer me some advice on what I should do now. It kills me because I've had some of the most encouraging, wonderful professors who basically would have bent over backwards to help me and I just didn't take opportunities.
 

BlacKAT33

UPenn c/o 2014!! :)
Jul 1, 2009
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Not all schools require a LOR from a professor. I applied to Illinois, wisconsin, missouri, penn, virginia, minnesota, and colorado. They do not require a letter from a professor. The most important thing is you have at least one letter from a vet. [I think] all schools require at least one letter from a vet. and some schools require two (ohio? not totally sure i didnt apply there)
 

Allthingsequine

WSU CVM c/o 2014
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Thank you all for all your help, but don't you at least need to have one professor write you a letter of recommendation before you decide to apply?

I've already gotten all of my pre-reqs out of the way--or they will be when I graduate. I actually need three more and then I graduate.

The problem is--don't you need your professors for at least one letter of reference?
I think to some extent this depends on the school. Some schools specify exactly who they want you to get LORs from, some don't state any preference. All three of my LORs came from veterinarians I had worked with and I still got accepted. I too decided to apply to vet school a little late in the game and though I probably could have gotten a reference from a professor I didn't feel they would know me well enough to go beyond my academic qualifications in a LOR. On the other hand, I had a great relationship with these three vets and thought that I would be able to get stronger references from them. With that said, I think it would be ideal to have at least one LOR come from a professor if possible. Research may be a great way to go about this. The professor you mentioned who said you'd be an ideal candidate could be great too, provided you can get back in touch with them and update them about all the great things you've been doing since then. Good luck!
 

twelvetigers

stabby cat
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It's a massive pain in the butt, IMO - some schools want an academic reference, like a professor or an adviser, and some want two vets... but you want to cover all your bases so maybe you include a PI as well... so you have 5 LORs. Some schools let you submit all five, some want to know what three you would like looked at... but at least one will choose randomly from the 5. So if 3 are non-vet, they could in theory choose those 3 and therefore disqualify you.

Lol, sorry... I was thinking about this the other day. It kinda ruffles my feathers.

Ohio wants two vet letters, and Cornell wants a letter for every vet experience you've ever had. Most other schools only want one vet. So, choose the types accordingly, and then just go with whoever will write you the best letter. They need to know you well.

I can't offhand think of a school that requires an academic reference - maybe a couple just suggest it?
 

HopefulAg

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None of my LORs were written by profs. Got accepted at 3 schools and waitlisted at 2. So no, unless specifically required, you don't need a prof to write a LOR.

I'd check with your target schools. If a professor is specifically required, it should say so some where on their website.
 

gone2dogs

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I can't offhand think of a school that requires an academic reference - maybe a couple just suggest it?
Tufts requires 2 academic letters... I can't remember the specifics, but they want something like your academic advisor and a letter from a professor of a pre-req.

This is what may keep me from applying to Tufts! Sadly, I believe I heard my academic advisor had passed away a few years ago (I haven't been in touch since graduation), and at this point I really don't have any contact with professors from pre-req classes (because they were either taken about 15 years ago or were online). Grrrr...

But with that said when I tried explaining my situation to them it seemed like I could petition to have other letters accepted or something. I don't know if they would do this for any applicant, or if it would just be because of my particular situation.

ETA: StartingOverVet beat me to it and was much less verbose!
 
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Whyevernot55

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Thirding Tufts - I used one pre-req professor, and the VP of my undergrad college. They are really, really nice in the admissions office there, so calling to ask is always a good idea.
 

gilch

VMRCVM
Oct 2, 2009
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OP, what is your instate or contract school/s? Are there any other schools that you are interested in?

As for the LORs, ask the schools about it. We SDNers may be able to help you figure out what your schools are looking for as far as vet/animal experience. There is a tremendous amount of variability!
 

smilin1590

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None of my LORs were written by profs. Got accepted at 3 schools and waitlisted at 2. So no, unless specifically required, you don't need a prof to write a LOR.

I'd check with your target schools. If a professor is specifically required, it should say so some where on their website.
What schools did you apply to?
 

StartingoverVet

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Neither here nor there.
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Also, that info is generally in the VMSAR (Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements) Book. Get a copy when it is available for 2010-2011 or borrow a copy of last year's. It will answer a ton of questions.
 
Mar 21, 2010
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Hey,
My in state school and also the school that I am interested in applying to is University of Georgia.

Do you know anything specific about this school?

And thank you everyone for your advice. I'm going to make an appointment with my academic advisor tommorrow to try to straighten all this out.
 

HopefulAg

Texas A&M CVM c/o 2014!
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What schools did you apply to?


Rejected

  • Missouri
  • Colorado
Waitlisted

  • Ohio (13)
  • Iowa (un-ranked)
  • LSU (kinda)
Accepted

  • A&M
  • Edinburgh
  • Western
  • Kansas
 

twelvetigers

stabby cat
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Hey,
My in state school and also the school that I am interested in applying to is University of Georgia.

Do you know anything specific about this school?

And thank you everyone for your advice. I'm going to make an appointment with my academic advisor tommorrow to try to straighten all this out.
UGA requires that you take both the general GRE (like any other school) and the biology GRE (only UGA and OK). :)
 

sumstorm

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My PI from 2000 wrote my letter of ref for admission into the class of 2013. The zoo vet I worked with in 2005 wrote another letter. As long as the relationship is there, the individual is willing and able to write a strong referrence, and the individual can provide specific examples to illustrate the strong points they are sharing about you, it will probably be fine.
 

that redhead

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To be honest, there are many other things you need to worry about as well. Not to freak you out, but I guess it's best to get everything out there while you're considering/deciding on it!

Letters of recommendation - As mentioned, you will need at least one veterinarian to write you one. This ties in with experience, which you will almost certainly need some of before applying. I worked as a teaching assistant and although I think my "mentor" liked me well enough, I don't think I'll go to her for another LOR, since I don't think she'd be able to gush about me in the way that I'd like ;) I feel solid in the other people I'd ask - my problem is finding a non-vet to write me one!

Pre-requisites - I hate to say this, but you may not be able to get them all in before applying for this cycle. Vet schools typically want you to plan to complete the requirements during or before the spring semester before hopping off to vet school. This means if you want to apply for this coming cycle (enter vet school Fall 2011), you need to be on track to take your pre-reqs by next spring. If this isn't possible (and it may not be) don't panic! Either take an extra year (coughlikemecough) or take classes while working, going to grad school, whatever. Not all applicants are fresh out of under grad!

Anyway, I think you probably still have a lot of reserach to do about this career path. Fortunately, you've stumbled across an awesome resource. Good luck! :)
 

heylodeb

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What is a PI?
 
Jan 31, 2010
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It's a massive pain in the butt, IMO - some schools want an academic reference, like a professor or an adviser, and some want two vets... but you want to cover all your bases so maybe you include a PI as well... so you have 5 LORs. Some schools let you submit all five, some want to know what three you would like looked at... but at least one will choose randomly from the 5. So if 3 are non-vet, they could in theory choose those 3 and therefore disqualify you.
For reasons like this, I feel like it's safest to go the trinity route - 3 letters on your VMCAS - 1 from a vet, 1 (ideally) from a professor who you've both had for class and researched with, and 1 from another vet, your advisor, or a supervisor. Combining two roles into one person when possible ensures that you get maximum perspective out of each letter.

I did vet, prof I had for both labs and lectures, academic advisor who was also the PI for my research experience.
 
Jan 31, 2010
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That certainly doesn't pan out for everyone... it does sound nice, though.
Well, since the OP has yet to develop her relationships all the way or pick her letter writers, I was trying to show that you can get two for the price of one if you plan ahead a bit and make strategic choices in who you approach for research positions.
 

fierymicky

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Thank you all for all your help, but don't you at least need to have one professor write you a letter of recommendation before you decide to apply?

I've already gotten all of my pre-reqs out of the way--or they will be when I graduate. I actually need three more and then I graduate.

The problem is--don't you need your professors for at least one letter of reference?
Not true. Normally, if schools require LORs from certain people/professions, they list them under admission or application requirements on their website.

Also, it's perfectly acceptable to have someone not affiliated with academics or veterinary medicine to write you a LOR if they can write a good one that speaks about your strengths. For example, one of my LORs was from the owner/manager of a restaurant where I put in 25+ hours a week for over a year while attending school full-time, helped with the transistion of ownership, trained staff, worked in multiple roles, and pretty much anything else that needed to be done to make everything run smoothly. The owner could talk about responsibility, adaptability, leadership qualities, communication skills, etc. which are all important qualities a veterinarian should have. My other 2 LORs were from a veterinarian and the farm manager of a Hackney Pony breeding farm that I worked at for a couple of summers.
 

sumstorm

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Not true. Normally, if schools require LORs from certain people/professions, they list them under admission or application requirements on their website.

Also, it's perfectly acceptable to have someone not affiliated with academics or veterinary medicine to write you a LOR if they can write a good one that speaks about your strengths.
As usual, the answer is 'it depends' and you have to ask the schools you are applying to. Some may take other LOR's, some won't. Some want the LOR from the academic environment to help determine if you can handle the academic challenges of vet school.

It may help to figure out what you want to convey most to school (or what concerns they will have about you) and ask for LOR's from folks who can best address those...then provide them with any assistance you can in writing those LORs (resumes, letters of intent, discuss experiences you had with them, etc.) I shared my goals with my LOR writers and recalled specific encounters we had that I thought might remind them of those qualities. They appreciated the extra effort I put in to making things easier for them.

I am actually writing a LOR for another applicant for next year. A former employee at the zoo. She did something similar to what I did, and it reminded me of some major projects she did a lot of work on...and some emergencies that she handled so superbly that I didn't have a strong recall because I didn't have to get involved.
 

smilin1590

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Not all schools require a LOR from a professor. I applied to Illinois, wisconsin, missouri, penn, virginia, minnesota, and colorado. They do not require a letter from the professor.
I don't know why I thought University of Illinois required a letter from a prof. So would I be able to use one or two vets and my long time employer as LOR writers? Also, if you get rejected one year do you have to get these people to write you brand spanking new LOR's the next application cycle or can they use the ones they wrote last time? This is the fuzzy part to me. Sorry if I sound naive:confused:
 
Jan 31, 2010
872
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I don't know why I thought University of Illinois required a letter from a prof. So would I be able to use one or two vets and my long time employer as LOR writers? Also, if you get rejected one year do you have to get these people to write you brand spanking new LOR's the next application cycle or can they use the ones they wrote last time? This is the fuzzy part to me. Sorry if I sound naive:confused:
You would probably want them to update your LoR. With plenty of time left prior to submission, you'd want to fill them in on how your application has improved over the year. They would then revise your LoR to reflect your improvements.
 

smilin1590

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That sounds like a good idea. Thanks Tiktaalik.