What's the difference?
You'd be surprised by how many applicants are confused by this! Most first time Match applicants think that when they apply to a VIRMP program, it is a done deal and they must rank each program. After all, your application is complete and has been submitted (including letters of recommendation).
Then, when the second deadline (in January) comes around, it's just a matter of assigning numbers to the programs you've already selected, right?
Let's start by simplifying what happens when you apply to and rank programs:
Sounds simple right?
It does, and most of it simple. The problem is that most applicants think that you have to rank every single program you applied to. THIS IS NOT THE CASE!
should must obtain additional information on the programs you applied to between the December (application deadline) and January (applicant rank order lists due) deadlines.
Why is this important? It might mean that you now have information that makes program "X" not a good fit for you. If that's the case, and therefore you don't want to go there anymore, why would you rank that program? Doesn't make sense right? You'd be surprised by how many of you will still rank such a program simply because you assumed you had to!!
You don't have to rank every program you applied to! Plus, the rank order list is not due until Jan 18, 2019, meaning you have time to think about your rank order.
What you should do instead
As mentioned in other posts and in the How to Navigate the Veterinary Matching Program eBook, you have to do your home work - this means you have to first identify the programs you want to apply to based on the VIRMP program descriptions. You will then collect additional information on those to make sure they are still a good fit for you. This can be through mentors, current interns/residents at your school and at the programs you're interested in.
Based on the new information, you will then decide on the rank order list. Bottom line, you will want to rank your top choice #1, second choice #2 and so on. If you are no longer interested in program "X", don't rank it.
However, it can get a little tricky when you start thinking: "should I rank program X or not? I don't think it's a good fit for me, but I'm afraid that not ranking it will mean I'll go unmatched". This definitely is something that every single applicant goes through. And honestly, there is not a good answer to this. It all depends on the individual applicant. Some won't rank that program and match elsewhere, some will rank it and match there, and some won't match regardless of what that decision was!
You can only match to a program you ranked. Likewise, you can only match to a program if they have ranked you.
Ultimately, you'll have to be ok with the decision you make: ranking it and possibly having to spend one year (or three, if applying for residencies) at a place you don't really want to go; or not ranking it and not matching anywhere else (although there's zero guarantee you'll match if you rank it).
Remember that ranking more programs does not increase the odds of getting a position!
Good luck and please consider sharing this and the other posts with your classmates and friends!!