How to Make the Most of Vet School

Making it into vet school is a huge accomplishment — and with the number of applicants increasing each year, it’s becoming more competitive to get into ANY veterinary program. Let alone one in your preferred country. 

This year, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) released data showing a 19% increase in students applying for the 2021 academic year.

Usually, there is an annual increase in applicants, 6-7% per year, but this year’s jump has been unprecedented — Likely from Covid-19 quarantining that helped prospective students realize their veterinary dreams CAN BE REACHED.

Applicant Trends of Veterinary Schools
Source: AAVMC Design: Tamara Rees

Combine that with limited seats and extremely low acceptance rates, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

So if you are in a program, then you definitely owe yourself a round of applause and a guilt-free treat. Cheesecake?


  • Hit the books and study? – Yes, there will be plenty of time for this.
  • Help to solve your friends/family pet problems? – Yes, of course.
  • Develop a satisfying coffee addiction? – Yes, most definitely.

To make the most out of vet school

You REALLY need to do is GET INVOLVED.

(and here is how)

1. Join Clubs and Organizations.

This is so basic but makes all the difference. 

Especially if you’ve come to study in a new country, start meeting people by getting involved with organizations at your faculty! Here at the University of Zagreb, the veterinary faculty is fairly small (but mighty) and full of opportunities. 

From my experience, it’s been a great way to integrate with the student body, and professors. You meet like-minded people and create a network. It makes the entire experience of veterinary school more enjoyable.

Some organizations that I decided to join include:

The Vet Society

The Vet Society - Veterinarski fakultet

This is a student-run organization and was the first one that I joined. They have a huge role in integrating students both on and off-campus! 

They also work closely with local animal shelters and have ongoing projects to help promote both student and animal welfare.

Last month we had a Easter candy-gram event where students could send chocolates to fellow students and staff. This coming week we have a Bake Sale! Click here to visit their Instagram.

International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA)

IVSA Croatia logo

The IVSA takes things up a notch and expands connections internationally. 

They hold several exchange events throughout the year between the IVSA groups of other institutes around the world. This year we’ve already had online exchanges between South Korean and Pan-Balkan students! 

These events are like mini-online conferences held over the course of a weekend where we discuss emerging topics in vet med, give presentations, and have a chance to meet new people from across the world. This month, we are joining a Pen-Pals system between the IVSA Netherlands! Click here to find out more about IVSA Croatia.

Veterinar Journal

Veterinar Archives - Veterinarski fakultet

Founded in 1938, this is the university’s academic journal that is published twice per year and highlights the research being conducted at the faculty. Many professors and students are involved in making this journal a success, and they are always welcoming new members!

(Ps. Veterinar = Veterinarian in Croatian)

2. Volunteer at University Clinics.

We get introduced to many volunteer opportunities at the start of vet school, but the catch is that you have to be at least 2 years into your studies before you are eligible to volunteer…

This makes sense since you need a basic understanding to work with sick/injured animals, but it shouldn’t stop you. If you really want to get some practical experience, then there is always a way! 

Ask professors. Do some research and send emails.

Do whatever you have to do to get a position and you’ll become a more well-rounded vet because of it.

For example, next year the university is opening a treatment facility for wild and endangered animals that can definitely use the help of volunteers! Whether you find opportunities at the university hospital or at other local clinics, there are always vets who can use some extra help.

This is a great way gain practical experience, because let’s face it, being a great vet requires as much practical experience as possible.

3. Participate in Research

It’s safe to say that every veterinary school has research projects on the go. 

This is one that a lot of people tend to forget about, but it’s an exciting chance to get involved with novel research, apply your knowledge, and maybe even become an expert in your field. 

The thing with research projects is that funding can be limited, so if someone like you comes along and wants to volunteer, the odds are in your favor. 

Ongoing research topics at our university range from bear/lynx/wolf conservation projects, all the way back to the lab bench where we are discovering important biomarkers involved in canine renal and kidney disease. 

The project I was most interested in focuses on using propolis from honey bees to treat mammary gland infections in dairy cattle. So found the contact information for the professor running the project, had an interview, and was fortunately offered a role with Dr. Jelena Šuran’s research team.

If you take the time to put yourself out there, people tend to respond well and you will see much success from this approach!


What you put into your veterinary education is what you are going to get out of it.

You’re going to graduate and get that DVM eventually, so use this opportunity to expand your horizons and get more than just a credential.

If you spend all your time studying, you’ll be a great student but would have missed out on so much more. Besides… there are so many ways to study smarter, and not necessarily harder.

That friend you made in a student organization will become a colleague in the future that you will collaborate with.

By volunteering in research, you might learn that you aren’t a big fan of lab work and prefer to focus on the practical side of vet med.

At least you took the time to realize this in vet school. All the best and enjoy this opportunity!


It’s crazy to me that 1st year of vet school is almost finished as exam season approaches, but this also puts me in a great position to recollect and make a post that covers my cost for studying abroad.

Everything from tuition to study snacks…

1 thought on “How to Make the Most of Vet School”

  1. Pingback: Studying Abroad - Cost of Veterinary School – Vet Abroad

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