M&M Rounds: Multiple Withdrawals

During M&M rounds, we will examine some fictitious cases and evaluate the facts and consider some solutions to these problems.

Grace is a 23-year-old Caucasian female who presented for having three “Withdrawal” grades throughout her undergraduate career.  She applied to vet school last year and did not get in, and is concerned that these grades are part of the reason why.

Grace’s history is that she had a difficult undergraduate career.  She is a first-generation college student, and had a hard time adjusting to the study schedule required to do well in college level courses.  Grace is intelligent and hard-working, but her study skills were almost nonexistent when she started college.  Although she withdrew from courses as she did poorly in them, she retook those courses and did well, earning an “A” in one and a “B” in the other two.

The treatment for Grace is a little bit complicated.  A series of “W” grades may indicate that the student won’t be able to handle the rigor of the curriculum in vet school.  It suggests there may be a systematic problem with their learning abilities OR that they have a hard time balancing personal and academic responsibilities.  Students who have to work full time and/or take care of family members may have this sort of transcript.

Ultimately, Grace needs to demonstrate that she CAN handle the coursework of vet school and the rigorous demands it places on students.  The best way to do that is to continue her academic career, taking semesters with heavy course loads (16-18 credits/semester) in science-based courses.  A Master’s degree may fulfill that, as could finishing a second major.  

Grace will need to explain her “W” grades in the explanation statement area of the VMCAS, and assure evaluators that her study skills are now at the level they need to be for vet school.  I personally don’t believe adding a huge amount of veterinary experience will be helpful for Grace.  Grace’s problem isn’t lack of experience in veterinary medicine, it’s demonstrating that she CAN handle the course load in vet school, which is 18-22 credits of all science courses every semester.

I think there are two important lessons here.  One: you can’t change the past.  What’s happened has happened, and there’s no use in crying about it.  All you can do is press on and try to improve going forward.  Two: vet school is academically challenging.  You NEED to demonstrate you can handle those challenges.  If academics isn’t your thing, that’s fine.  There are MANY jobs relating to animals which do not require the academic rigor of vet school.  Do yourself a favor and find something that you would enjoy that plays to YOUR strengths.

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