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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Do Grades Matter?

Haleigh has this question....

I am a freshman in college and have had a little bit of a shaky first year. my first semester i got all A's and B's with one D that i am making up this summer to exchange grades. my second semester was very difficult for me and may not have very outstanding grades.will vet schools judge me harshly on my first year of college or do they take into account for the transition period of incoming freshman? i appreciate your time and energy

First of all, each veterinary school has different entry requirements.  Yes, all of them share some common factors, but you really should look at what you need for each one.  I would recommend getting catalogs from any schools you may apply for and see what their criteria are.  You can also talk to someone in registration at the school and see what they look for in their selection process.  Be careful, as the catalog may say that there is a certain minimum GPA needed, but this is only a minimum.  Realistically you'll need much higher because of competition with other prospective students.

Each school looks at grades differently.  Some will weigh experience, recommendations, or interviews just as high.  Grades are only one factor that schools use to select students.  However, grades are certainly an important part of that decision.  Those grades are usually looked at in a couple of ways.  First is your overall GPA when you apply (which may be before final graduation).  Some schools will also look at your grades in the required classes.  For example, a D in Art History will affect your overall grades, but isn't as important to your entry into vet school as your grade in Organic Chemistry or Biology (a D in these is a pretty bad thing). 

My recommendation is to really work hard to bring up your grades.  To even have a chance to be competitive you'll need at least a 3.0 GPA (using American standards), but realistically you'll need a 3.2 or better.  As perspective, I graduated Cum Laude with a 3.495 from undergraduate, but then went on to get a Master's degree before entering vet school.  I feel that the graduate degree probably helped me compete against those who had a Bachelor's but a higher GPA.  I'm not recommending going for advanced degrees prior to veterinary school, just showing an example of how other factors can affect our chances.

Work hard, Haleigh, and good luck!