As you are applying through VMCAS for veterinary school, one decision you will need to make is which schools that your application will be sent to. While it would be great to send your application to every school (and some people will do that!), that is often financially impossible for most students so selecting the right schools is key.
What makes the “right school?” That answer will vary for every student, but here are some guidelines. Most students tend to send their application to somewhere between 4 and 6 schools. If you have an in-state veterinary school, then that school should definitely be on your list. In most cases you have a better chance being accepted as an in-state student versus an out-of-state student. In order for you to apply as an in-state student you need to be a resident of that state. What determines residency varies from state to state, so if you or your parents (depending on your status dependent versus independent) have moved recently you may need to check what state you are actually a resident of according to the state’s laws.
What if your state doesn’t have a vet school? If that’s you, then the first thing that you should see is if your state has any contracts with other veterinary schools. This means that your state has an arrangement with a school in a different state to reserve a certain number of seats for students from your state. The conditions of these contracts vary from state to state, so you need to do your research there.
What if your state doesn’t have a vet school and doesn’t have any contracts? Well then you need to start researching schools. Some schools will take a higher percentage of out-of-state students than others who may take very few. You have a better chance of getting in to a school that takes a good percentage of out-of-state students. This guideline also applies to students who have an in-state school, but are also applying to schools in states which they are not residents in.
Other factors to consider include GPA, GRE score, required coursework, and interviews. Most veterinary schools post profiles of their previous year’s incoming class online, so it is a good idea to compare how your statistics match up against those of the students the school accepted. If your GPA is a 3.0 and the average from the previous year was 3.6, that school may not be the best one to apply to in terms of having a good chance of getting in. If you live in Massachusetts and are applying to a school in California, you also need to factor in the cost of being able to travel to California if you get an interview. That seems like a simple concept, but not all people consider it. If you submit an application to a school, make sure you have the means to go there and interview.
Another important consideration is tuition! If you are applying to a school in a state which you aren’t a resident in, what is the state’s policy for gaining residency? Can you gain residency after a year or will you be paying out of state tuition for 4 years?
Like filling out the VMCAS application itself, take time to research all aspects of the veterinary schools you are applying to. Make sure that not only are you a good applicant for that school so you have a solid chance of getting in, but that you would actually want to go to that school! Even if you are a perfect candidate for a school, it doesn’t make sense to apply if it isn’t a school you want to go to.