Being a pre-vet major is well...not the easiest thing in the world. Now, I'm not saying other majors aren't hard, but pre-vet takes all the hardest science and math classes and says "Here! Good luck with that!" You can't just "memorize" you're way through biology like middle school, you can't just "fake" your way through chemistry, and you can't just "bullsh*t" through homework like you did with high school English. Oh what I would give to want to do something else with my life (but I know it'll all be worth it one day!). But here's to us, the pre-vet majors of the world, who are used to getting the short end of every stick.
1. Start early
Please think about being a veterinarian long before you attend college, it will make your life so much easier. I strongly recommend getting a few hundred volunteer hours in at a vet clinic or otherwise animal-related place (since you need 2000 to apply to vet school!) and it will take a long time to get those to add up. Consider somewhere that you can come back to over breaks and for summer.
2. Thicken your course load
Do not take "blow off" classes in high school. You want to take as many AP classes as possible to prepare yourself for college. I took five AP classes my senior year (four of them were science or math-related), and although I had a lot more work than some of my friends, its paying off in these college classes. My first semester of college even felt easier than high school.
3. Watch how many labs you are taking
In my experience, labs are the worst. They are three hours long and require hours of outside-the-classroom work. Prepare yourself each semester and know what you are up against. Try not taking more than two per semester, you will become overwhelmed.
4. Do not schedule labs on nights that you have tests
Most of my tests for my science and math classes have tests at night, so all the sections come together to take it at once. I promise you you will not want to have a lab on the same day you have an exam, it takes away from study time and leaves you exhausted. Keep that in mind when registering for next semesters classes.
5. Get all types of animal experience
Vet clinic. Goat farm. Horse farm. Humane society. Another vet hospital. These are few of the vet-clinic and non-vet-clinic experiences I have been lucky enough to have over the past few years. In this year alone, I've had four different internships/jobs and it has really opened my eyes to what I want for my future. This week I officially decided to do large animals and that I plan to not work in a vet hospital. Its eyeopening, but don't expect to get a paycheck.
6. Meet with your advisors once a semester
I cannot tell you how important this is. Depending on your majors, minors, and other factors, you could have any number of advisors. I meet with three of mine each semester to look at how I am doing, what my future may look like, and any concerns I may have. They will keep you on the right track and make sure you will be able to graduate on time (which is pretty important!).
7. Make a plan
Know what you are up against when you decide your major and your pre-vet route. Every person will do it differently, but its a personal decision so make sure it is what you want. Have a four-year plan written down to help you in registering for future classes as well as see what you still do and don't need for your Bachelors degree. Your advisors can and should help you with this so don't try to do it all alone.
8. Have a backup plan
For the longest time I struggled on deciding between English and Biology major. Why? As a pre-vet student, there is no specific major. I could do International Social Work, Business, or Women's Studies, it doesn't matter as long as you complete your prerequisites. You need to prepare for the fact that you might not get into vet school and need to make your decision based on your back-up job. For me, that is a wildlife biologist or writer. But, biology covered many many more of my required courses for veterinarian school than an English major did, so I'm trying to look out for myself in as many ways as possible if I really want to be a vet.
9. Do extracurriculars and take fun classes
With all the science and math classes taking up most of your time and energy, throw in a few "fun" or elective classes once a year. It will get your mind thinking in a different way and may even be interesting to you. I had my gen. eds. done my first year thanks to all those AP classes, so I have a little more room to spread out the rest of my schedule when it comes to challenging classes and making sure I get a few art or writing classes in there as well.
And be sure to get involved in other ways around campus; Pre-Vet Club, Outdoor Club, Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity, writing for Mogul and the Odyssey, as well as keeping up with hobbies like running, photography, and sketching, are just some of my resume builders.
(Beyond that, consider working through college at a vet clinic or dairy goat farm, whatever you thinks interests you. You'll get paid in experience, but that experience pays off.)
10. Give yourself a break every now and then
Just to put in a little perspective for you, my chemistry department is on probation and for my first exam tonight the class average is a 66.5% from the previous semesters. Welcome to my world and what I am set up for. Its stressful, its challenging, and sometimes you are ready to give up. So give yourself a break every now and then, and do something for you, to get your mind off of school, and to enjoy yourself. I promise you, you will get through it and you can succeed. Go pre-vet and you''ll go far!