Total Pageviews

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Applying to Veterinary College: Your Essay or Personal Statement

By Donald F. Smith, DVM, Cornell University
Posted September 11, 2011

The deadline for veterinary college applications for the Class of 2016 is fast approaching. In a previous blog, I addressed some key features of recommendation letters from veterinarians and others whom you have asked to support your application. 

I now turn to your essay, that important personal statement that becomes the central point for evaluators as they ascertain your understanding of the breadth and scope of veterinary medicine, and your ability and commitment to become a contributing member of the profession.

As you review the various drafts of your essay and make final changes before the VMCAS deadline, consider the following
  • How well have you convinced the faculty reviewing your folder that you have a broad perspective on contemporary veterinary medicine?
  • If you have a specific interest in one species or group of species (like cats, horses, wildlife), or in one professional field (like public health, surgery, biomedical research), have you provided a compelling argument that you are flexible to learn about other academic or clinical interests?
  • Did you provide an overview of your life experiences leading to your current interest in becoming a veterinarian? Did you articulate an interest in, and aptitude for, science as well as a love and respect for animals?
  • Have you described your ability to work with people from different backgrounds and with varying personalities both within and outside the profession?
  • Avoid using the current buzz words or phrases such as zoonotic disease, human-animal bond, environmental sustainability, or one health unless you can provide a compelling reason why these are important to you as you pursue veterinary medicine.

Your essay should describe you accurately, without hyperbole. Make sure it is clear, concise, and free of errors.

Best wishes as you submit your final application and as you await those calls, letters and e-mails in a few months.

Dr. Smith welcomes comments at