Wondering what’s new in VMCAS applications? Curious about the ever-evolving essay prompt and length requirements? Read on, friend!
Official 2024 VMCAS prompt, per the AAVMC website: Your personal statement is a one-page essay that gives veterinary admissions committees a clear picture of who you are and, most importantly, answers the question, why do you want to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.
Over the past decade or so, VMCAS essays have seen a number of iterations: from a longer autobiographical essay, to several short essays of shifting lengths, to the current personal-statement-in-miniature format.
If you’ve applied previously (loads of vet applicants are actually reapplicants, so you’re in good company), perhaps you recall writing several “short” essays. Personally, I liked this format! It allowed applicants to explore distinct aspects of their strengths and experiences.
However, applicants who took those prompts way too literally wrote generic essays. Consider this question from a couple cycles back: In what ways do veterinarians contribute to society and what do you hope to contribute? Many applicants dutifully dedicated half their essay to listing vets’ contributions. If you’ve read one list of contributions, you’ve read them all. Admission committees were probably bored stiff.
Why did I like those prompts? Because they gave creative applicants an easy advantage! What a gift!
But now we’re back to a standard personal statement like you’d write for nearly any professional or graduate program. Except not quite…
What’s different about writing a veterinary school personal statement? I have a couple of quick tips. (Full disclosure: I do save a little something back for my personal clients. After all, vet school is insanely competitive, and my clients come first.):
- 3000 characters=ridiculously short personal statement. For perspective, medical school applicants get a generous 5300 characters. Medical residency applicants are permitted an outrageous 28,000 characters! The VMCAS short essay format from previous years allocated 6000 total characters. Your takeaway? Boil this sucker down to your best possible material. Yes, shorter is actually harder.
- Do not waste characters. I mean it. Consider omitting: quotes from famous people, your philosophy of the profession, lists of jobs that interest you, activities from high school, descriptions of the classes you took in college, that story about the time you made a splint for your hamster.
- Differentiate yourself. Everyone has a dog/cat. Everyone took hard classes. Everyone learned to study better in college. Everyone thinks spaying/neutering is important. What have you done and learned that sets you apart? Highlight unique experiences and stellar performance.
- Not everything you include has to be animal-related. We want the reader to step away with a clear picture of you who are as a person and what kind of student/colleague you will make. They want to hear your story and know what makes you tick, what makes you relatable.
- Edit the heck out of your personal statement. You won’t get it right on the first go. You need feedback.
Obviously, this is the point where I remind you that EssayMD can give you some amazing input at a reasonable price. And I where I reassure you that we’ve worked with lots of other people like you. And that we helped them stand out. By all means, feel free to reach out to me personally (email@example.com) if you’re interested in taking your VMCAS application to the next level. We provide comprehensive, knowledgeable editing and proofreading for all aspects of your veterinary application!