Aug 15, 2016
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Hello,

I am new to this forum. I was wondering if it is possible to get into veterinary school with a GED. I never had the opportunity to finish, let alone go to a traditional high school. I was home-schooled since the fifth grade because the public school I was in at the time did not know how to teach special needs kids. I was thrown into a special ed classroom and despite being in the fourth grade, I was given first grade level "busy work". I had a diagnosis of autism (I'm not sure if it's Asperger's or not because I had a speech delay. My mom claims I didn't speak until I was four or five.) I've struggled with math my entire life.

I wanted to be a veterinarian ever since I can remember but I was always told vet school would be impossible for me because my troubles with math. I was told I was lazy and just not applying myself, but I was never taught HOW to apply myself and if I didn't understand something and asked the teacher to explain in a different way, I often got something along the lines of:"I ALREADY EXPLAINED IT! IF YOU WEREN'T LISTENING THE FIRST TIME, THAT IS YOUR FAULT, NOT MINE!" I was listening the whole time.

Every-time I hear the myth that all autistic people are math geniuses, I secretly want to strangle that person. I eventually got a diagnosis of dyscalculia. When I was in public school, it either wasn't a valid diagnosis at the time, or the school just missed it all together (it was a rural school in the early 1990's). I also was a poster child for dysgraphia and that was missed too despite EVERY teacher commenting on how "sloppy" my handwriting was even when I printed. Anyway, my parents pulled me out to home-school me when I was about to start fifth grade. My mom had no experience with teaching children in general, let alone teaching an autistic child and did what she could.

The bullying was so bad (this was pre bullying prevention like you see today) that had I been forced to stay in the public school setting I probably would have ended up committing suicide by seventh grade. This was about a decade before all this anti bullying sentiment you see today and other children were not my only bullies. Anyhow, I never finished high school. I was never even IN a traditional high school. I got sick twice and had to take two years off and just focus on getting better. When I was better, my mother no longer and any interest in working with me. I'm working with a retired school teacher on my math and going to try and get a GED. Anyhow, my question, one of them anyway...is Can I get into vet school with a GED? I'm 29 now and probably won't be going to college until I'm 30. I know there's no age limit for college, but is is there one for veterinary school? I want to be a zoo or wildlife vet.

Non vet people seem to think that a vet technician and a vet assistant are the same thing and that you can somehow bypass college and go straight to veterinary school if you go to vet tech school. Can people who've gone to nursing school bypass college and be MD''s/DO's? I've always been told that I should forget about being a DVM and focus on being a veterinary technician instead. When I tell them I don't want to do that, I get asked what I have against veterinary technicians. People never want to consider I could be a DVM, even as young as third grade I was told to be a vet tech because vet school would be "too hard" for me. My mom even told me about four years ago that if it was even remotely possible for me to be a vet, I would have finished college a long time ago and be just finishing up vet school by then. My mom NEVER encouraged me to be a vet. I don't really have a preference for what school I go too. People who DO think I have some chance of being a vet tell me I should try Ohio State because that's what state I'm currently in. I know I would not stand a chance of being accepted to a place like Cornell or UC Davis.
 

kcoughli

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Putting the cart before the horse a bit. At this stage, if you want to pursue vet school, it's time to start taking college courses and seeing how you can handle the pre-requisite coursework. How that goes will give you a better idea of whether or not you "can" do vet school (which is basically like taking all of your high level science courses at the same time). And even if you struggle with the college pre-reqs, you may just need to adjust your studying/learning style and figure out what works for you. Or you may find that it really will be too much to handle, which is also fine.

I will say though that being a wildlife/zoo vet is about the most difficult specialty to jump into, and will take a long time to get there. If you start taking your college pre-reqs now (at age 29), say it takes you 3 years to complete them (so now 32, and assuming you can fit them all into 3 years and don't have to retake anything and get into vet school on your first try), now 4 years of vet school (age 36) then a year or two of internships (age 38) then a 3 year zoo residency and you're looking at starting out as a zoo vet at age 41. Not saying you can't do that, you definitely can, but you also have to realize that you'll have to put a lot of time and effort into accomplishing all of that in order to be successful.

Do you have veterinary experience? Shadowing a vet I think should be your #1 step. See if being a veterinarian is really truly your life's goal. The only way to know is to follow one around and see what they really do. See the darker sides of vet med like the finances (I didn't mention it before but vet school will put you into mortgage-level debt unless you happen to be independently wealthy, and internships and residencies do not pay well, and zoo vets I don't think earn very much either), the depression/suicide rates, etc.

So, all my rambling aside, I don't think having a GED or traditional HS diploma will be a limiting factor here. Find out if vet med is something you truly want (and what you're willing to sacrifice for it), find out how well you can do with some of the college-level prerequisite coursework, and go from there.
 

Elkhart

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Kcough said pretty much everything that came to mind.

Before you spend the time and money on completing your pre-reqs, I would look into gaining vet experience to be sure that it is even something that you really want to do. Since you say that zoo is a particular interest of yours, it'd be pertinent to look into shadowing/volunteering with a local zoo vet so that you can evaluate how much you're willing to sacrifice to pursue it. Zoo medicine is easily among the most difficult areas of the profession to break into; for all but the luckiest of people, it will take 2-4 years of undergrad pre-reqs + 4 years of vet school +/- 1-2 (sometimes more!) years of internship + 3-4 years of residency. That's potentially 10+ years of education to most likely start out making just slightly above what someone with a BS would... and with $200k+ in debt, to boot. Expect even more debt if you have to rely on federal aid for undergrad. If, after shadowing/volunteering, you decide that you do want to go for zoo med, then you really ought to start branching out and making contacts, too--in my admittedly minute experience in that sect, the zoo world is a very small one, and it's almost as much about who you know as it is about what you know when it comes to getting internships/residencies/jobs down the line.

Not trying to scare you off or anything, but I want to make sure that you truly grasp how difficult and long the zoo med route is. Only the most ambitious of people make it, and they start early and start hard. It's not impossible, but it's tough, and even if you're 100% set on it I'd have a backup in mind.

But, really, I agree with Kcough that you're putting the cart before the horse. The GED vs high school diploma thing doesn't matter; most undergrad admissions will take one or the other in tandem with ACT/SAT scores. What's more imperative here is that you start accruing some real experience working with vets to determine whether or not a DVM is truly something you're willing to spend years of your life and the equivalent of a mortgage working towards. You need at least a few hundred hours to apply to vet school, anyway, but more importantly it will help you decide whether you can handle the lifestyle and daily struggles (client non-compliance, animal abuse, financial issues, mental health concerns, etc.) of a vet. You won't actually know until you reach out and get that experience.

ETA: Also, just wanted to address that last part of your post. Yes, as an Ohio resident, Ohio State is going to be your best option for vet school; not only because you most likely have the greatest chance of being admitted to your in-state school, but also because it'll be significantly cheaper in the long run since you'll be paying resident tuition. There are other ways to save money on vet school--moving and establishing residency in a state with a cheaper school, switching residency partway through (there are a few schools that will allow this)... but, again, this really isn't something that you should be worrying too terribly much about at the moment. Just focus on getting that GED and start obtaining vet experience. Before anything else.
 
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OP
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Aug 15, 2016
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Thank you! What age I finish vet school isn't something I'm particularly worried about. No, I've never shadowed a vet before. I have tried but all of them always said no. One vet was willing to let me observe surgeries but she never gave me a date when I could come in. I was also going to volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center, but the day I was supposed to come in, I got sick. I do plan to volunteer at the Cincinatti Zoo while I get my associates and bachelor's.

I know vet school is hard...but when my mom said it, she meant it would be too hard for me and basically that I shouldn't even try. Kinda like Judy Hopps' parents in Zootopia.
 
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that redhead

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One vet was willing to let me observe surgeries but she never gave me a date when I could come in. I was also going to volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center, but the day I was supposed to come in, I got sick. I do plan to volunteer at the Cincinatti Zoo while I get my associates and bachelor's.
Take more initiative - if a vet says you can observe surgeries, set the date and see if that works for her. If it doesn't, be persistent until you get a date nailed down. As for the wildlife center, why not try again now that you're well?

It is extremely important that you get veterinary experience, especially as you lay plans for the future. How do you know you want to be a vet if you haven't experienced what it's like? And I agree that zoo med is one of the most challenging specialties to get in to - you're going to need as much zoo experience as you can manage as networking within the field is a really big deal.
 
OP
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Take more initiative - if a vet says you can observe surgeries, set the date and see if that works for her. If it doesn't, be persistent until you get a date nailed down. As for the wildlife center, why not try again now that you're well?

It is extremely important that you get veterinary experience, especially as you lay plans for the future. How do you know you want to be a vet if you haven't experienced what it's like? And I agree that zoo med is one of the most challenging specialties to get in to - you're going to need as much zoo experience as you can manage as networking within the field is a really big deal.
I no longer live in that town (which was a very rural town) but I don't see why I couldn't ask other vets. How do I go about this? My mom told me that vets will only let vet students shadow them...the one who was going to let me come in and observe surgeries only did so because she was friends with my mom and my mom and my mom might have said something to her before hand to get me to shut up. She possibly had no actual plans of letting me watch surgeries...just said something because my mom suggested it to shut me up. Do I just walk in and say I want to shadow someone or do I call or email them? Should I wait until I have my GED and am in college?
 

Elkhart

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I no longer live in that town (which was a very rural town) but I don't see why I couldn't ask other vets. How do I go about this? My mom told me that vets will only let vet students shadow them...the one who was going to let me come in and observe surgeries only did so because she was friends with my mom and my mom and my mom might have said something to her before hand to get me to shut up. She possibly had no actual plans of letting me watch surgeries...just said something because my mom suggested it to shut me up. Do I just walk in and say I want to shadow someone or do I call or email them? Should I wait until I have my GED and am in college?
Considering that vet experience hours in, at minimum, the hundreds is required to even have a chance at being admitted to vet school... your mom is completely wrong.

Personally, I think it demonstrates far more initiative to show up, well-dressed and polite, and ask the receptionist on staff if the vet has a moment to speak with you about potentially shadowing. Go from there. It's also generally better to start out small; don't ask about a year-long experience immediately. Just inquire as to if the vet could accommodate you for a day or two. It's less commitment on part of the clinic staff and, if you find that you don't enjoy it or don't mesh well with the clinic's dynamic, bam--you're out once that time is over. If you did enjoy it, ask the vet about how they would feel about you coming in a couple times per week. Keep in mind that outside of the experience hours, you will need at least one letter of recommendation from a vet when you apply to vet school. So building those relationships early on is helpful if you choose to pursue it.

One thing I did when I was starting out and looking for places to shadow that might help: on your drives to work/school/whatever, keep an eye out for any vet clinics you pass. If you have a nice outfit on, you can just stop really quick, go in, and introduce yourself and explain that you're looking to shadow. I also would keep a stack of resumes in your car in case they'd like to see one or have you drop one off. Having scrubs in the car for easy access is also very helpful.
 

katashark

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I no longer live in that town (which was a very rural town) but I don't see why I couldn't ask other vets. How do I go about this? My mom told me that vets will only let vet students shadow them...the one who was going to let me come in and observe surgeries only did so because she was friends with my mom and my mom and my mom might have said something to her before hand to get me to shut up. She possibly had no actual plans of letting me watch surgeries...just said something because my mom suggested it to shut me up. Do I just walk in and say I want to shadow someone or do I call or email them? Should I wait until I have my GED and am in college?
Walk into every vet in your area dressed nicely, with scrubs in the car or easy access. Ask them if they accept students to shadow. When they say when can you come in, you are ready to go then and there. Vets lets high school students and undergrads shadow, not just vet students. If going into places isn't an option for you, call.
 

katashark

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OP
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Aug 15, 2016
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Considering that vet experience hours in, at minimum, the hundreds is required to even have a chance at being admitted to vet school... your mom is completely wrong.

Personally, I think it demonstrates far more initiative to show up, well-dressed and polite, and ask the receptionist on staff if the vet has a moment to speak with you about potentially shadowing. Go from there. It's also generally better to start out small; don't ask about a year-long experience immediately. Just inquire as to if the vet could accommodate you for a day or two. It's less commitment on part of the clinic staff and, if you find that you don't enjoy it or don't mesh well with the clinic's dynamic, bam--you're out once that time is over. If you did enjoy it, ask the vet about how they would feel about you coming in a couple times per week. Keep in mind that outside of the experience hours, you will need at least one letter of recommendation from a vet when you apply to vet school. So building those relationships early on is helpful if you choose to pursue it.

One thing I did when I was starting out and looking for places to shadow that might help: on your drives to work/school/whatever, keep an eye out for any vet clinics you pass. If you have a nice outfit on, you can just stop really quick, go in, and introduce yourself and explain that you're looking to shadow. I also would keep a stack of resumes in your car in case they'd like to see one or have you drop one off. Having scrubs in the car for easy access is also very helpful.
What counts as a "nice outfit"? If I walked there in a ball gown or something formal, wouldn't that just make me look weird.
 

katashark

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What counts as a "nice outfit"? If I walked there in a ball gown or something formal, wouldn't that just make me look weird.
Business casual, nothing ripped, nice jeans/blouse, dress, nothing too short or revealing.
 
OP
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Business casual, nothing ripped, nice jeans/blouse, dress, nothing too short or revealing.
So nothing "slutty"? I don't have any "slutty" clothes anyway. Just T-shirts and homemade skirts. I keep seeing people mention these things called "scrubs", what exactly are those?
 

Elkhart

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So nothing "slutty"? I don't have any "slutty" clothes anyway. Just T-shirts and homemade skirts. I keep seeing people mention these things called "scrubs", what exactly are those?
Here's some examples of scrubs off of Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=industrial&field-keywords=Scrubs

You can find them for fairly cheap at places like Wal-Mart or even specialty medical stores if you want a really good pair.

If all you've got are t-shirts and skirts, then I would recommend looking into getting some more business casual/professional outfits (nice jeans, khakis, slacks, blouses, maybe a suit or two, etc.), as well. Some clinics prefer professional dress; some prefer scrubs. It is something you should ask the vet about when you're discussing shadowing arrangements.
 
OP
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Here's some examples of scrubs off of Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=industrial&field-keywords=Scrubs

You can find them for fairly cheap at places like Wal-Mart or even specialty medical stores if you want a really good pair.

If all you've got are t-shirts and skirts, then I would recommend looking into getting some more business casual/professional outfits, as well. Some clinics prefer professional dress; some prefer scrubs. It is something you should ask the vet about when you're discussing shadowing arrangements.
I've seen those at the thrift store, I just had no idea what they were called. So I should call the vet or email before I come in? I will have to take a bus. I never finished learning to drive because my instructor got hurt, I moved and I can't afford a car right now. I do have some shorts and blue jeans but I mostly wear skirts whenever I go out because it's been so hot lately. I do have a case worker (I've seen three vet practices on my way to see her) could she help me find a vet to shadow? She suggested I volunteer at the zoo (which I will probably also do).
 

katashark

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You can take the bus. Besides if you are shadowing someplace, you want it on your route. You can call/email beforehand but I've always found it's harder to say no to someone's face (easier to say no over the phone/email). So just walk in and ask.
 
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Coopah

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I've seen those at the thrift store, I just had no idea what they were called. So I should call the vet or email before I come in? I will have to take a bus. I never finished learning to drive because my instructor got hurt, I moved and I can't afford a car right now. I do have some shorts and blue jeans but I mostly wear skirts whenever I go out because it's been so hot lately. I do have a case worker (I've seen three vet practices on my way to see her) could she help me find a vet to shadow? She suggested I volunteer at the zoo (which I will probably also do).
I literally called every veterinary hospital within a 30 mile radius of me before I found a place to volunteer, just be persistent. You'd think more people would want free labor. If they say no due to liability insurance you can check with your school if you are currently attending, they usually cover you for that.
 
OP
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I literally called every veterinary hospital within a 30 mile radius of me before I found a place to volunteer, just be persistent. You'd think more people would want free labor. If they say no due to liability insurance you can check with your school if you are currently attending, they usually cover you for that.
I'm not in school yet. I understand the liability thing though, my brother's friend knew a girl who worked at a vet's office and got in trouble for stealing and selling tranquilizer for horses.
 

katashark

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I'm not in school yet. I understand the liability thing though, my brother's friend knew a girl who worked at a vet's office and got in trouble for stealing and selling tranquilizer for horses.
also has to do with getting hurt, bitten, etc.
 

LyraGardenia

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Seems like that would come with the territory.
It does, which is why it's such a concern. Some clinics won't allow just anyone to shadow/volunteer because if you end up getting bitten or hurt, they're liable and you could potentially try to sue them. But every clinic has their own policy, some will allow you to stand back and watch but just not touch/handle the animals, or some will allow you to do quite a bit once you've been coming in for a while and have proven yourself.