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December 15, 2020

Veterinary college applicants increased by 19%

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The number of people applying to veterinary colleges increased by 19% year over year, and it could be pandemic related.

A total of 10,273 individuals submitted applications for the 2020-21 veterinary college admissions cycle, compared with 8,645 last year, according to preliminary data from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

In times of uncertainty, people go to school, said Lisa Greenhill, EdD, AAVMC senior director for institutional research and diversity.

“Applications to veterinary school have been trending up in the last few years, so at least a modest increase was already anticipated,” she said. “It is important to note that in economic downturns, applications to graduate and professional programs always increase as undergraduates completing their programs often have difficulty finding employment.”

Forty-four of AAVMC’s member colleges use the Veterinary Medical College Application Service to process applications. See the full list of AAVMC member institutions. Most U.S. veterinary colleges use the service.

The 19% increase is substantial in that, while the number of applicants has gone up over the last few years, the typical increase has been around 6-7%.

The data also show a rise in the submission rate, or the percentage of applicants who complete the application process with VMCAS after beginning it. The rate was 79% during the 2020-21 cycle and has previously averaged 72-73%.

The reason for the increase is unclear. However, the AAVMC did open the applicant window in January this year as opposed to the typical May time frame to give applicants more time to work on their applications, according to a press release. The AAVMC’s Office of Admissions and Recruitment also did more webinars and communicated more with applicants.

“Given the economic uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic for the coming year, more individuals decided to apply now,” Dr. Greenhill said. “Certainly, there are likely other factors that drove the numbers this high. As usual, AAVMC will be surveying applicants and hopefully will have more insights to share in 2021.”