The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is the only veterinary medicine program in Florida, one of only 30 accredited veterinary programs in the United States and ranks as number 35 in the world. The main vet program focuses on preparing students for a broad career in veterinary medicine. From this four-year program, students can specialize further if they choose. The first two years of vet school is focused on teaching science classes. The final two years alternate between clinics and elective courses.

Second-year vet student Maria Grillo has found that, “the material isn’t necessarily harder, it’s just you learn a semester’s worth in three weeks and you are expected to retain all of it. It’s like drinking from a firehose.”

Due to the vast amount of information, students learn the importance of making a good study plan while maintaining balance in their lives.

“You can be hardcore studying but you kind of burn out,” Jeff Jacobs, a first-year vet student, said. He suggested finding something in the field that interests you to help you stay motivated. For him, taking advantage of UF’s many vet clubs that teach him about different specialties and allow him to network has been fun. Going to tour a zoo or aquarium through these clubs helps him remember the “why” behind all his hard work.

For Grillo, keeping a set rule to keep schoolwork at school and rest at home has helped her establish healthy boundaries for balance. Ultimately, once you are in vet school, it is so rewarding that the work doesn’t feel as bad. “The classes are what I love to study, so studying became more enjoyable,” Lindsay Culbertson, a first-year vet student, said.

But how do you get into Vet school?

Resilience, grit, and diversity in background and interests are three qualities looked for in applicants, Alex Avelino, UF’s pre-vet advisor, said. A high science GPA and multiple in-class science subjects each semester are favorable in applications. The application also asks for extracurricular, volunteer, research, non-veterinary employment, and clinical experience. In addition to required clinical experience, “we especially love jobs in customer service because so much of being a vet is working with people,” Avelino said.

Jeff Jacobs believed his extensive years of work experience are what secured his spot in this year’s class. Avelino also shared that students who are most successful in UF’s vet school are the “realistic” students who “know what they’re getting into.” On top of challenging themselves in science coursework, these students have shadowed multiple kinds of veterinarians, thought through their finances to plan for debt, and are confident in who they are before they come into the program.

“I would say an all-around developed human [is what we’re looking for],” Avelino recommended. Communication skills, good mental health, and of course, a love for animals are necessary for vet school.

If you are a well-rounded student passionate about helping animals, check out UF’s award-winning program to get on the pre-vet track.