Organization is key to completing a quality application on time. By quality application, I mean all your information is present and correct and done in such a way that makes you look like the most desirable vet student you can be. Here are 10 tips to help your application process go smoothly!
1. Get a 70-page spiral bound notebook, and use it to keep track of your application: I used one to keep track of my usernames, VMCAS ID, passwords, admissions offices contact info, transcript send-dates and receipt dates, phone calls and names of people in the admissions office, dates of materials submissions and receipt, payments and confirmation numbers, dates and scores on the GRE, and more. Using my notebook helped me have all the important information accessible at any moment and made entering information into the application go quickly and smoothly.
2. Budget time carefully. Start working on your application early and often. Aim to submit it about a month before its due-- you will really appreciate the time cushion-- I aimed to submit 1 month early, but wasn't ready to submit until 2 weeks before the deadline (of course, I was taking 8 units of summer classes, working and volunteering at the same time I was writing my application, so I really had to block my schedule to work on my application). It is ridiculously scary waiting and watching your portal and waiting for your application to become "verified". Understand that the supplemental applications take a lot of time to complete (with quality), and that some supplemental applications will not be made available to you UNTIL your VMCAS verifies your transcript. Many supplemental applications are due at the same time the VMCAS is due. Some schools, like UC Davis, will give you an extra month to work on your supplemental.
3. Budget money NOW. Application expenses add up fast. Don't underestimate the cost of travel including airfare, missed classes, missed workdays, that are associated with getting interviews. Applying to four schools cost me over $1000, which was actually much less costly in comparison to my peers' expenses. For more information, see my other posts- "Expensive begins with the application".
4. Double check, triple check, and get other people to check that your transcript entry matches your transcript EXACTLY (unless you are paying for the VMCAS transcript entry service). I probably checked mine 5 times over and found at least 2 mistakes every time until the 5th time!!!
5. Keep in contact with your letter-of-rec writers (aka "evaluators" in the VMCAS). They are likely extremely busy people themselves, who appreciate your gentle reminders to work on your evals. You are not allowed to submit your VMCAS until 3 evaluators have completed their evals. However, if you have more than 3 evaluators, note that you are allowed to submit your VMCAS for verification as soon as 3 of your recommenders submit their evals, and the rest of the recommenders can submit letters at any time after that, but before the VMCAS deadline.
6. Add the VMCAS applicant hotline number, and all of the Admissions offices' phone numbers into your contact list, and don't be afraid to call them!!!!!!!!!!! Note-- VMCAS email help requests suck!!! CALL THEM with all your questions. The email help requests just give you a canned paragraph that matches the key words in your question.
7. Pick a pre-vet friend to be your application buddy; work on your apps together; use each other as resources as you progress on your application. Me and my friend Jade texted each other all summer as we worked on our applications, running in to similar problems like "where do we find the UC Davis course equivalent codes for high school AP classes???" . (By the way, we both got in to UC Davis SVM.). ALSO: Find the VMCAS 2018 Facebook page, or start it if there isn't one yet. We had one for VMCAS 2016, which was a fantastic resource.
8. Double check that your pre-requisites are all or almost all complete; find out from each school how many you are allowed to have not completed at time of application; it may be different from school to school. Also, make sure your prerequisites meet the school's criteria-- some schools may tell you that your genetics curriculum doesn't match their genetics curriculum and thus you need to take a different genetics class.
9. Start working on your personal statement early (NOW!), and get several different kinds of people to read and comment on your personal statement. Don't necessarily take everyone's advice; hear each person's comments keeping in mind their potential individual biases. In the end, you want your statement to really come from you and sound like you, but other people's input are great to make sure you sound sincere, committed, and are answering the prompt appropriately. In my experience, veterinarians give the best suggestions and comments. Before you start writing, make a brief list of the tones you are trying to imbibe (e.g. compassion), and the main point you want to make in your essay. Take a look at my other article, "Evolution of a Personal Statement" to see what my brainstorm draft, first draft, fifth draft, and final (seventh!!) drafts looked like.
10. Making a quick tab for all my vet school application-related web pages was super helpful!