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WAMC- very low gpa, ready to mend with experience

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May 24, 2020
  1. Pre-Veterinary
Applying to: Virginia (dream elite school because of their wildlife program), Colorado, Illinois (dream school because of their wildlife program), University of Arizona

What do you want to do? Wildlife veterinary medicine in a wildlife rescue or in the field/ overseas- would also like to be able to help in times of crisis like with the wildfires or other mass casualty/ more-hands-on-deck-needed situations. But first I would like to be my local wildlife rescue's first vet (right now we work with other vets and rarely can afford to send birds) and then move to a larger wildlife facility with exposure to all types of animals or into the field. Note: not interested in zoo med

Cumulative GPA: 2.312
science GPA: not sure how to calculate- do you include repeated classes (that I failed) as a separate class or take the better score?
last 45: see above

Any degrees achieved:
As of May 2020 (although I won't get my diploma til July), I have a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture (went through the animal science/ pre vet program) and an Associates of Arts (wasn't able to get AS for some reason- went to an early college high school)

GRE results: Q/V/W- had to reschedule for August since I had planned to take it March 30 but all test centers in my city shut down

Veterinary Experience:
None. Tried to get in with a zoo vet and spent two years waiting before giving up since the same volunteers remained there over the two years and the clinic only took two people at a time (with no guarantee I would be anywhere near next in line if I stayed); tried to get in locally but all small animal clinics (who were small in size too) were filled with high school students whose school had a health program or required seniors to have volunteer hours before they could graduate along with the rare college student, and the few large animal clinics were on the extreme outskirts of town (not reasonable for me to drive that far without looking elsewhere first) and some simply weren't looking for help

Animal Experience:
Zookeeper aid- 2 years- assisted with cleaning outdoor enclosures + indoor cages for big cats (tigers, leopards), a sun bear, small mammals, birds in an open indoor aviary, and primates (briefly with siamangs, lion tailed macaques, and extended with orangutans), along with preparing enrichment and house keeping duties

Zoo Commissary (diet prep) assistant- 2 years- prepared carefully measured diets for certain animals, utilized large equipment for bulk material prep, dishwashing duties, restocking fridge

Wildlife Rescue volunteer and subpermitee (allows me to act as rehabber in terms of animal care duties without licensed rehabber being on property but still under their instruction)- 3 years and still going-cared for mostly birds (some mammals, reptiles) in terms of maintaining feed schedules, cleaning duties, wound care and management, diagnosis and treatment or euthanasia under authorization by licensed rehabber, caring for our resident mule deer along with helping with his sedation for health check and hoof trim, transportation of animals, releasing and monitoring released animals, baby bird care, training volunteers and potential replacement rehabbers (with the rehabbers, it was more so in how we run things and animal care with our limited resources compared to the larger facilities they've come from).

Stable hand- ~1 year (they went out of business)- helped muck stalls, tack/ warm up and exercise horses, assisted with gymkhana (series of multiple small equestrian events throughout the day)

Research Experience:
None. Wasn't able to get into a lab with my work schedule and by time I resigned from the zoo, my GPA had already been hit, and I was in no financial position to retake classes.

135 mile waiver scholarship
Science Bowl 2013 Regional Champions- 1st Place, went to nationals
Science Bowl 2014 2nd Place
National Honor Society- chords

College Quiz Bowl- club started 2 years ago, I joined at the start
College Esports club- 1 year
College Pre vet club- 2 years, club was only meant for freshmen and didn't express any interest in providing resources to further along students
Local World Quest Competition Participant- 1 year
UIL- Science. Literary Criticism, Number Sense- 3 years for Science and LC, 1 year for NS
Mariachi Class and Club- 3 years

Working on getting employed with the wildlife rescue but haven't received first paycheck

Letter of Recommendations:
One from my boss- a licensed wildlife rehabber
One (possibly) from a coworker who has worked with me from the beginning and can note how I've grown; otherwise I can ask other coworkers who have also worked beside me for just as long

Summarize any concerns you have
- Since I graduated, I can only improve my application via experiences (which I am fully capable of and prepared to do) so any advice on diversifying my experiences would be great. Would attending conferences/ seminars also help a little (especially since they're probably gonna be online)? Would it be too hard to get in a lab even if it's just breeding lab animals or cleaning cages and feeding lab animals?

-As for why my GPA is as low as it is, I just barely got diagnosed with ADHD this past month and haven't received medication yet (thanks insurance problems), I wasn't able to get help earlier (therapy/ counseling or otherwise) due to familial beliefs on mental health (and because they paid my tuition, I had to bow down to those beliefs until just recently when I gained more financial independence); due to those same beliefs, I also wasn't able to properly grieve the death of a friend which lead me to fall into a 3 month depression which initially destroyed my GPA for the first two semesters (in hindsight, I should have fought for a semester off but that too wasn't an option). Since then, I have received what help I can for the ADHD and working at the wildlife rescue has taught me how to better manage my emotions around death (since I actually perform euthanasia's instead of just observing) and how to develop different coping mechanisms (for stress, harder deaths, long days/ busy schedules where I don't have as much free time at home etc).

- Are there any other parts of my application (except GPA) that I need to improve on? I technically need one more letter of rec but since most schools are dropping that requirement (including the schools I listed) I might just stick with the two (unless the VMCAS people won't verify my application without the third one, in which I'll have figured out who my third one will be from). Unfortunately I don't have any recent instructors I could ask, except maybe two who could do more a character or student review than anything serious.

Thanks in advance! Let me know if you need any more info (and how to calculate those two GPA's).


Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride!
2+ Year Member
Nov 17, 2018
So not sugarcoating it, your cGPA is going to be a big hindrance. Doing some research, Virginia actually does not have a GPA cutoff, CSU will replace you in early review, but for Illinois and Arizona, your app is DOA and it won’t even be looked at.

wildlife rescue is awesome experience, but you have got to get some veterinary experience. Not an obscene amount of hours, but you need to do some shadowing here and there so you can demonstrate to the committee that you know what you’re getting yourself into regarding this career.

I truly don’t see your chances being good this year. I strongly implore you to save your money, invest in getting a masters degree with a near 4.0 to show you can perform academically, and work on networking with some vets.

and on top of all of this, I’d make sure you have the tools/accommodations you need to succeed. It’s sadly going to be an uphill battle but it’s doable if you commit.
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Trash Panda C/O 2022
5+ Year Member
May 16, 2016
with the livestock
  1. Veterinary Student
I'm not going to sugar coat it-you won't get in anywhere with 0 hours of vet experience. This is a requirement for a good reason, because someone without any shadowing does not understand the field or have an idea of what it actually takes to be a vet not including the debt load that goes along with it and options that are realistic and sustainable for living unless you're independently wealthy.

You would need to do research for appropriate schools as your cGPA is too low for many schools as rocky stated.
Here is CSU's evaluation criteria: https://vetmedbiosci.colostate.edu/.../6/2019/06/dvm-phased-admissions-process1.pdf

Calculating your sGPA depends on the school but is basically any science course and each school depends on if they average repeats or do grade replacement. Your last 45 is approximately the last 45 hours of course work grades.

Also many schools require a letter from a veterinarian, some require an instructor and veterinarian, depends on the school.

My suggestion would be to don't apply this cycle. Save your money. Maybe pursue a master's degree, but most importantly get veterinary experience.

Don't be afraid to explore all aspects of vet med. It will be eye opening.
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c/o 2025!!
2+ Year Member
Dec 19, 2018
Agree with the folks above. In addition, you won't even be able to submit your VMCAS app without adding three LORs- just checked on my own app and it hasn't changed. According to the AAVMC's updated COVID-19 chart, CSU and Illinois are not relaxing their DVM letter requirement, Arizona is a "maybe but undecided", and I'm not sure if Virginia needed one in the first place, so that's at least 2/4 schools you'd get auto-screened-out at regardless. I would say don't apply this year- put that energy instead towards getting vet experience and improving academics so that you'll be in a better place for next year.
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May 24, 2020
  1. Pre-Veterinary
What master's program are available? I've kinda looked through some but I'm not sure if they are all created equal in that after getting one, I would have to worry about the vet school's saying "sorry, this isn't a good representation of what we focus on" or something to that effect.


WSU C/O 2024
2+ Year Member
May 4, 2019
  1. Pre-Veterinary
I would have to worry about the vet school's saying "sorry, this isn't a good representation of what we focus on" or something to that effect.

Vet schools aren't necessarily focused on what a specific master degree "represents." In fact, they encourage students to study in a topic that they are passionate about and can make a career out of if they are unable to get into a DVM program.

Something complementary like a MPH holds no more weight than a MSW. Instead, it's the rigor with which you've completed the program, your overall performance (including extracurricular) during the program, and how you communicate why that makes you an excellent candidate for the school.

There are so many master's programs available. Please find something that interests you and roll with it rather than suffer through a program you don't like in the name of getting into vet school. Simply being interested in a topic will help with academics, bring out your uniqueness as a candidate, and set you up for success if this vet thing doesn't work out.
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VMCVM c/o 2024
7+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2012
  1. Veterinary Student
Similar to what everyone else has said, don’t apply this cycle. I graduated undergrad in 2010 with a cGPA of 2.6 or 2.7 (can’t remember) and had multiple acceptances for c/o 2024. No amount of experience will make up for a poor GPA. Admissions committees need to know that you’re capable of succeeding academically.

My situation is a little different than yours. My original degree was in engineering so I needed to return to school to take all of my vet school prereqs. I took more upper division bio courses than I needed to so I could prove my ability to succeed and didn’t apply until my last 45 credit GPA was a 4.0. I think you’d benefit more by getting a masters since you’ve taken all of your prereqs ... but I would do what you need to do to get your ADHD under control before you attempt it. Going into my post-bacc schoolwork I felt like it was do or die - doing poorly was only going to solidify my **** GPA.

I used the explanation statement to discuss health issues I had as an undergraduate student and focused on what I did about it and provided examples to demonstrate how it’s behind me. I think putting several years between those poor grades and now really benefitted me as well.

And get vet experience before you apply. I don’t even know how you’d write good essays without it. The profession is so different than what many people perceive it to be (both good and bad) and you may find that you hate it, or love another area of vet med, or whatever. It may not be a requirement to have a vet LOR or vet hours to apply to vet school with the COVID stuff ... but I can’t imagine how someone can be accepted without it.

Anyway, getting into vet school with a blemished academic history is possible (I’m evidence of that), but I think you’ve got some work to do yet :) I quoted my successful applicant stats below if you’re curious about my full story.
Low GPAer with multiple acceptances! :hello:

My undergrad GPA was a 2.7ish so this goes to show that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself if you’re willing to work for it! Being an older student ready to move on with my life, I applied to a ridiculous number of schools. I was also super worried about how much my academic history would hinder me. I timed my application cycle with my husband being overseas on an unaccompanied tour (he’s career military), giving us the best chances of ending up in the same region of the country when he returns. Of course this would only work if I was accepted so that’s another reason why I applied to so many schools! I wouldn’t recommend being financially reckless (I have the GI bill and savings to pay for vet school so cost was less of a limiting factor), but ultimately you gotta do what’s best for you!

32 y/o female, non-trad, Georgia resident, 1st time applicant

Applied: Auburn, CSU, Davis, UF, UGA, U Illinois, Iowa State, K-State, LMU, LSU, Michigan State, UMN, Mississippi State, tOSU, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Penn, Purdue, SGU, Tufts, VMCVM
Rejected: Davis, Auburn, CSU, U Illinois
Interview waitlisted: UF, tOSU
Invited to Interview: SGU, LMU, K-State, VMCVM, Mississippi State, Purdue, Michigan State, UMN (declined), Tufts (declined), Penn
Waitlisted: Oregon State, Purdue, Mississippi State, Michigan State
Accepted: SGU, LMU, LSU, Oklahoma State, Penn, K-State, VMCVM, Iowa State, UGA
Attending: VMCVM :soexcited: :love:

Cumulative GPA: 3.06
Last 45 GPA: 4.00
DIY Post-Bacc GPA: 3.87 (84 credits, all science)
Science GPA w/o engineering: 3.63
Science GPA w/ engineering: 2.98 (thanks VMCAS)

GRE: 152 V / 160 Q / 3.5 <- don’t half-a$$ the writing portion like I did LOL

Undergrad degree: BS Aerospace Engineering (2010)

Veterinary Experience
- SA general practice with Chinese medicine: 2800 hours
- SA ER: 250 hours
- Avian, exotics & wildlife: 170 hours
- Equine/swine: 100 hours
- Equine/LA/internal medicine: 240 hours
- Low cost clinic: 140 hours

Animal Experience
- Therapeutic riding group for disabled children: 120 hours
- Farrier: 12 hours (corrective shoeing)
- Shelter: 55 hours
- Cat rescue: 300 hours
- Wildlife center: 30 hours
- Pet ownership (only included animals I’ve owned as an adult independently of my parents and super low-balled the hours)

- Nada!

Community Service/Volunteer Things
- 7 years as a board member and caseworker with a non-profit that provides financial assistance to owners and rescuers of dogs in need. We disperse funds to veterinarians directly to be used for non-routine treatment. I’ve worked some super interesting cases and this is where my interest in medicine began.
- 3 years as the Family Adoptions Director (board position) of a breed specific dog rescue. A group of us broke off because we wanted the flexibility to take in mixes of said breed so I was a founding member and the Applications Director for 2 years of the new non-profit. I really enjoyed working with potential adopters so managing the application and adoption process was a natural fit for me.
- Volunteer at an emergency women and children’s shelter

Non-Animal Employment
- 10 years for the same engineering company, first as an intern, then mechanical engineer, and finally as a systems engineer. The highlight was working software test on a really cool program that was awarded a Collier trophy (a pretty big deal).
- Also included the 2 jobs I had as an undergrad student: recycling center for 2 years and mechanics lien company for 2 years.

LORs (tried to pick people in different areas of my life that know me very well)
- SA vet
- Equine/LA vet
- Engineering boss
- President of non-profit I’ve been with 7 years
- A&P I & II and Neuro professor
- Infectious Diseases and Micro professor

Explanation Statement
I used this space to discuss GI issues I had from childhood through my undergrad years. I had a slew of medical tests done when I was an engineering student and, living alone, I developed some very disordered eating habits stemming from anxiety about my GI stuff, which resulted in me being super underweight. I struggled with the decision to include this in my application but ultimately I did. I used the first paragraph to outline the facts: this is what happened and this is what I did about it (cognitive behavioral therapy and working with a registered dietician). In the 2nd paragraph I talked about the things I do today (9 years later) to manage my GI issues and anxiety (basically putting self-care first and confronting the things that make me anxious, both food-related and not). And in the 3rd paragraph I was able to demonstrate how much more functional I am now by discussing the strong grades I’ve earned as a post-bacc student while juggling an engineering career, a cross country move, a periacetabular osteotomy (corrective surgery for hip dysplasia), and making time for veterinary experiences.
These days I’m super open about my struggles and how I got to where I am now. My inbox is always open to anyone struggling, needing a little encouragement, or whatever; and I’d be happy to share my explanation statement with anyone needing an example and/or help with editing theirs. I asked half a dozen people for feedback on mine to be sure it was conveying the right message ... I basically admitted to having anxiety and an eating disorder, which could’ve sunk my ship if not done right. Moral of the story, own what happened and make it a strength (but only if you can demonstrate how you’re a bada$$ now).


1 - Opened with why I studied engineering, talked about the development of my interest in medicine, included a major takeaway from each of my vet experiences, and closed by saying that I’m seeking an area within vet med where client relationship and continuity of care are valued, as this relationship is most fulfilling to me.
2 - Given my rescue background and having lived in states where shelters are understaffed and at max capacity, I talked about supporting my local shelter and/or rescue(s) in some capacity once I’m a vet. I emphasized that I want to improve the lives of the animals in my community through education, which I hope to do in clinical medicine. I also expressed an interest in teaching the next generation of vets as my contribution to the profession that benefits the community long after I’m gone.
3 - I went with commitment to learning, finding enjoyment and meaning outside of medicine, strong oral and written communication, and integrity.
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