I’ve said before that where you go to veterinary school Does Not Matter except for the cost of attendance. I stand by that statement and genuinely believe it. If your school is accredited by the AVMA, you will get a good education, so long as you are a good student. Your education depends FAR more on YOU than it does on where you go to school. Nonetheless, there are some aspects of schools that I think are red flags.
Not AVMA accredited
If it’s not accredited, it’s going to be a harder, longer road for you to get licensed to practice in the US and Canada. It’s still possible, but definitely harder. If the school from which you graduate is not accredited, you’ll have to go through the PAVE program.
AVMA Terminal Accreditation
This is a school which has repeatedly failed accreditation and it’s going to have its accreditation revoked. Don’t go here. In fact, they won’t be admitting new students.
AVMA Probationary Accreditation
The school has a Major deficiency in one of the core areas of accreditation. This usually is a strong motivator for the school to fix that deficiency, and most of them will. Nonetheless, if you have a choice between equally expensive schools and one has full accreditation and the other has probationary accreditation, I would go with the full accreditation school.
AVMA Provisional Accreditation
This is the distinction given to a school before it graduates its first veterinary class. Don’t worry, your degree will be accredited, so I don’t consider this a major red flag. The worst case scenario is the program doesn’t follow through with what they need to in order to earn full accreditation, in which case they will transition to a Terminal Accreditation. But enrolled students will still be OK if they graduate from a program with Terminal Accreditation following failure of Provisional Accreditation.
Lots of faculty vacancies
Even for fully accredited programs, if they have a lot of empty faculty positions (one school had 28 open clinical faculty positions a few years ago), that’s a bad sign. It suggests people don’t want to work there or they can’t attract quality faculty. Maybe that means the faculty they CAN attract won’t be as keen on teaching. I would be more cautious about a school with a lot of faculty leaving it than a school which doesn’t have difficulty recruiting faculty.
Unhappy faculty or students
If, during the interview process, you get the impression that the people at the school are generally unhappy, that’s a bad sign. Obviously there will be occasional individuals who may be disgruntled no matter what but, if you detect a trend, that may suggest a systematic problem and may indicate YOU would be unhappy there.
That’s really all I can think of. At the end of the day, where you go to vet school really doesn’t matter, except how in debt you are at the end of it. You can get a good education anywhere.