Published: 20 June 2017

5 top tips for making the most of the summers before vet school

Find out how to make the most of your free time before starting university with our top tips on preparing for life as a veterinary student.

You’ve put the work in and it’s paid off; the school year is over and summer has finally arrived. Now is your time to relax, unwind and start getting excited for your future as a veterinary student!

From getting a head-start on your animal experience to thinking about your career options, there are plenty of ways you can use your time productively in the final few summers before starting university.

Read on to discover our top five tips for making the most of your summer holidays before starting vet school.

Top five tips for preparing for vet school

1.  Spend time with animals

As a vet student, animal handling is an essential skill and one of the very first things that you will practise in your first year of study. It’s worth getting ahead of the game by spending some time getting used to handling animals. Even a friend’s pet would be useful!

Spending a day at a farm or veterinary practice, visiting a laboratory or volunteering at a local animal charity are all great ways of increasing your exposure to animals and improving your confidence ready for the start of your veterinary programme.

2.  Sharpen your scientific skills

First and foremost, vets are scientists and being a good problem solver is vital to a successful career in the veterinary field. It’s worth taking steps to keep your scientific and problem solving skills sharp over summer with interactive problem-solving puzzles or games.

You may also want to do a little research around your upcoming modules and read some related research to get a head-start on your programme. You can find out more about Surrey’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s research on our website.

3.  Scope out a summer job

The summer is a relatively quiet time and you might find you have some spare time on your hands, which is the perfect opportunity to take on a summer job and earn some extra money before starting university. Veterinary programmes can be intensive and during term time your spare time would be better spent studying instead of working, so saving some money before you start could take some pressure off while you work on your degree.

A summer job is also a fantastic chance to develop real-world communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills that will be very useful for your veterinary studies and later career, and could help you when it comes to making friends at university. It’s also a good way to ease the transition from living at home to life at university by developing your independence.

4.  Start to think about your career options

It’s never too early to start thinking about the future! There’s no such thing as being too prepared and, while it may seem a long way off, it can be a good idea to begin to think about future career options. Having an idea of what you want to do after you graduate can help you keep focused throughout your degree and give you an ultimate goal to work towards.

It is also completely OK not to know what future career path you may want to follow, or to change your mind during your degree; a veterinary degree can take you in many different directions so there are ample opportunities for vet school students.The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons have published some useful advice about the doors open to you with a degree in veterinary science/medicine, so this can be a great place to begin. Using your time over the summer to read around and start to think laterally about your career opportunities could help you make the most out of your degree and your ultimate career.

5.  Rest and relax ready for September

Being proactive and putting work in over the summer can have big benefits, but don’t forget that it’s also important to relax, unwind and get some well-deserved rest in those final few summer holidays before you dive into your veterinary programme. Especially in your final summer, once your exams are all done and dusted, it’s time to take a break and recharge your batteries so you can start your veterinary programme refreshed and ready to go.

As your summer stretches out in front of you, make sure you spend some quality time with friends and family, dedicate some time to doing absolutely nothing, and use the opportunity to rediscover old interests or try new things.


Discover more helpful advice for new students, including information on Welcome Week, via our Welcome to Surrey page, or explore the student experience at Surrey by reading real-life student profiles.

Wondering what else you can do to prepare for university life? We’ve also put together a handy list of tips about making the most of your summer before university

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