LyraGardenia

Kansas State c/o 2020
5+ Year Member
Dec 9, 2013
2,941
3,934
The Little Apple
Status
Veterinary Student
Did you take a gap year? More than one year? What did you do, and how did it work out for you? Or what are you planning to do if you want to take a gap year(s) in the future?
I took two gap years between finishing undergrad and starting vet school. I didn't plan it that way, but it took me three tries applying to get accepted anywhere, and I used the time to build up experience hours. I worked part-time at an SA/exotics clinic, and also part-time in customer service because the clinic wasn't able to give me full-time hours, and I needed the money. I was miserable a lot those two years because both of my jobs had their drawbacks, I didn't have much free time, and I lost touch with a lot of my friends from undergrad. But in hindsight it was definitely beneficial in that I was forced to enter the "real world" and be financially independent, rather than just chugging straight from high school to undergrad to vet school. And I was able to live with my boyfriend for a year, so that was nice.

I definitely understand wanting to go to vet school right after undergrad, and sometimes I'm a little sad it didn't work out that way for me, but I think a lot of people are scared of taking a gap year (or two or three...) for no real reason. Just make sure you have a plan and make the most of your time.
 

lhmhtd

℅ something somewhere eventually
5+ Year Member
Mar 3, 2012
1,221
840
29
Status
Pre-Veterinary
I took a gap year and chose to forgo applying last year. I got a "real job" in which I learned a lot about the corporate/business world and myself. I took no classes and it was great to just work, volunteer, and relax. It was awesome mentally, to not constantly have school stuff lingering in the back of my mind. It also confirmed my desire to become a vet. I could've made a career out of the job I had, and probably would've made more Than I will as a vet, but I learned I'd rather be happy and make less than vice versa. I highly recommend it. Every single vet student I've ever talked to told me to take a gap year and I'm glad I did (hopefully now that I'm applying I'll get in and it will only have been one gap year! Ready to get this show on the road!
 

supershorty

Minnesota c/o 2020ish
5+ Year Member
Jan 14, 2013
701
1,576
Status
Veterinary Student
I had 3 years between when I graduated and when I applied to vet school for the second time. I had a job working as a tech in a research lab, which not only confirmed for me that I had a strong interest in biomedical research, but also gave me a few years to work, get more experience, and retake a few courses while contributing to research projects that ended up being published. I highly recommend it, even though when I first headed into my unanticipated gap year (didn't get in anywhere the first time), I thought it was the worst thing ever.
 

Cyndia

c/o 2018
Gold Donor
5+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2013
2,790
1,321
Florida
Status
Veterinarian
I wanted to take a year or two off to work, but kind of panicked when all my friends were getting their acceptances to professional schools, and realized I didn't want to be out of school yet. I also wanted to travel, so I ended up applying to a masters program at Royal Veterinary College. After I finished the masters, I spent a few months working in England while applying to vet schools, and then moved to Ireland for about 8 months while I was waiting for vet school to start. I was on a visa that only allowed me to work in casual employment, which was a great break for me since I was a little burned out after my masters finished. Gave me the chance to recharge while making a little money & traveling - best decision ever! I really loved the time I spent there. :)
 

Bronzewing

5+ Year Member
Mar 3, 2013
7
3
Status
Veterinary Student
I graduated undergrad in June 2012, applied for the first time in October 2013, and started vet school in August 2014. I think I really needed that time off to strengthen my application, and also to mature a little more before I took on four more years of rigorous schooling. During that time, I:
-worked part time jobs before becoming a full time kennel assistant (never worked at a vet hospital before this)
-studied for and took the GRE, giving me plenty of time to get an excellent score and retake if necessary (to compensate for my lowish cumulative GPA)
-volunteered and shadowed as often as I could: animal shelters, exotic animal sanctuaries, other hospitals, mobile equine vet, etc.
-took a month off to travel to a dream destination/volunteer activity that I probably couldn't do once I started vet school.
-research all the schools more in depth, and gave me time to take any pre-requisites I might have missed (like a communications class)

I don't regret this at all. Two years was a perfect time for me to refocus and to work on myself as a person as well as a vet school applicant. If you feel burned out after undergrad, or don't feel your application is strong enough, I'd recommend taking off a year or two.
 
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Feb 1, 2015
57
56
Status
Pre-Veterinary
I'm applying for the first time this year and it has been 3 years since I graduated.

I had convinced myself I wanted to get a "real job" and keep animals "just a hobby" so I did that. I worked in Human Resources for a year. It took less than a year of that for me to realize I had made a huge mistake in not applying to vet school and I got a job at a spay and neuter clinic and started finishing up my vet school prereqs that I had opted not to take. Right now I work in the ICU at a large equine clinic (love this job so much, which tells me I'm on the right path) and am taking biochemistry this fall while working full time.

I don't regret taking the years that I have to get some experience and make sure this is something I really want (I'm a very cautious person so this experience lets me know I'm not just going off on a whim here). I do vaguely regret not finishing up my prereqs during my bachelor's only because taking classes during the day while working a full time overnight job is sort of a drag. I also could have worked part time and started finishing my prereqs sooner but I didn't want to because in my interview at my clinic I had committed to being full time for a certain amount of time before going part time - it was never in writing but I wanted to maintain a good relationship with the management.
 

kaydubs

<3333
Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Nov 9, 2010
7,992
6,621
Pennsylvania
Status
Veterinarian
I applied to vet school in undergrad, got accepted and was dealing with migraines, burnout and depression/anxiety as school approached. I deferred for a year, got a job doing data entry (it's funny, I never worked in our field before school, there were never jobs in my area, I only ever volunteered. It came up in my interview. I have always known how to work hard, it's one of my strengths) and walked away from the veterinary profession mentally. By the time spring rolled in, I was ready to take a spot in the next class at Tufts.

Despite my bumpy road in vet school (and unclear path now), I wouldn't change it. I learned strength and determination whenever I stumbled and fell. I always got back up. I never had the traditional veterinarian mindset and I don't think I'll seek that path going forward. Our journeys are what make us all unique. Good luck going forward. If you have questions, OP, or just would like to talk, please feel free to drop me a PM.
 
Dec 24, 2013
105
42
Status
Veterinary Student
When I finished undergrad I lived abroad for three years and traveled the world. It was great and I don't regret starting vet school a few years later.
 
Mar 14, 2017
19
11
Status
Pre-Veterinary
How did you guys manage academic letters of rec? I'm considering applying at the end of my senior year of undergrad, so that I can take a gap year and start vet school the following year, and also get those academic letters the end of my senior year while I'm still in their heads and they know me. But if you've taken a couple years off, how do you get those? Mostly curious but also wondering for if my plans change or I take a different route.
 

love2hunt

VMCVM c/o 2021
2+ Year Member
Jul 11, 2016
244
353
Status
Pre-Veterinary
How did you guys manage academic letters of rec? I'm considering applying at the end of my senior year of undergrad, so that I can take a gap year and start vet school the following year, and also get those academic letters the end of my senior year while I'm still in their heads and they know me. But if you've taken a couple years off, how do you get those? Mostly curious but also wondering for if my plans change or I take a different route.
I only had one professor that I felt comfortable asking for a letter of reference after being out of undergrad for 3 years. I just sent an email and asked. I would recommend you work to establish that relationship now so that you can do so later.
 
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Awapi

UGA VetMed c/o 2021
7+ Year Member
Sep 13, 2010
365
281
Status
Veterinary Student
@Allymadeathing As a disclaimer, I did not use an academic letter for vet school (I only applied to one school that did not require an academic letter so I didn't bother) BUT I do have a general plan for things like this and have used it over the years for references and it has worked well.

I've been out of undergrad for 12 years and grad school for 4 years. Over those experiences and work experiences, I try to identify someone to stay in touch with. For example, from grad school I have a professor that I had TA'd for and saw as a mentor. Over the last 4 years I have touched base with him on occasion and have gone by his office when I have been near campus just to say 'hi' for 5-10 minutes - nothing onerous, just something (email or something) every 4-6 months. I also did this with one undergrad professor and a manager from the job I had before Peace Corps - those references ended up being really helpful for me when I applied to grad school 6 years after undergrad. On the flip side, I have a couple of interns from as long as 6 years ago who have done the same with me and I recently wrote one a recommendation for a new job that was twice removed from her internship. I would be comfortable writing a letter of recommendation for any of those who have kept in touch with me, but less so for the ones who haven't - mostly just because I feel like I don't have any connection to them.

Since you have some time, I would maybe identify a couple of professors (just in case one isn't responsive) that you could see yourself maintaining that kind of contact with. Who knows, it may be beneficial even further down the line as a professional reference or if you decide to do a fellowship, etc.

Another thing that might be helpful, if you have something you are doing for gap year that might require a letter of recommendation, ask that same professor(s). I save all the letters I write - I had written an LOR for that intern I mentioned above 3 years ago for her first job after the internship. I just pulled that letter up and edited it with more current information for the one she needed last month - a lot of people who write letters will save them, so if they have something to refer back to that reminds them of how great you were, that would also be helpful.

Just my opinion, but when you are applying to jobs after having many years of experience, it's a plus to have a history of references that span further than your most recent employment. People definitely get jobs without it, but I've had a couple of people comment favorably on it over the years and it certainly can't hurt to have more options when you need a reference!
 

Madden91

Midwestern c/o 2021
Jun 14, 2013
4
3
Status
Veterinary Student
I took 3 years, unplanned, off before applying to vet school. I initially was going to apply my senior year of undergrad but didn't have the best GPA (3.34) and didn't feel confident whatsoever of getting in anywhere and I didn't want to spend the money for applications with that feeling. So I took a year off, and that became 3, but I had worked in multiple veterinary settings, starting with a small animal emergency clinic which made me fall in love with ER and made me realize the depth of what I could do in small animal medicine. (Originally I was all about large animal and wanted nothing to do with small animal). I also am glad I got some time in the real world and faced struggles of finances, balancing my life, etc. I do wish I spent time traveling but I always had vet school in mind and thought I should spend my time building my resume as much as possible. Though I wish I could have started vet school right after undergrad, I don't hate that I didn't.

Also, for another story, my best friend took 3 years off as well. She came out of undergrad with a very significant amount of student loans and looking at the numbers (the amount of debt vs. vet salary) deterred her and she decided to try and go for pharmacy school to make money and have animals as a hobby as well as open a rescue which has always been one of her plans. But halfway through her first semester taking the pre-reqs for pharmacy school, she realized she hated it and deep down all she wanted was to be a vet. So she applied this year and is going to school this fall. Her time off made her realize it was what she really wanted to do and she then used this past year to work at a veterinary clinic and found her love of orthopedics. She also was strictly "I want to do large animal only". You never know what you'll love unless you dip your toes into multiple areas.

For school recommendation letters, we both kept in touch with professors we had been close with in undergrad, so it was easy to ask.

So do what you have to do. Need to make sure this is really what you want? Don't think you have the grades or resume to get accepted? Feel burnt out from school? You have a lot of time and don't need to do everything right away. Also, don't think you have to stick with a plan you made for yourself. Life is great at making things change.
 
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CalliopeDVM

7+ Year Member
Nov 21, 2010
937
719
Toronto, ON
Status
Veterinarian
I took 11 years between my B.A. graduation and my start of vet school. I don't know if that counts as "multiple gap years", but I don't think so.

A year or two off gaining new experiences could be very worthwhile and give you all sorts of valuable experience, but every year away will make it more difficult to get back into the swing of academic schedules and study habits. How hard will depend on you and your personality. Of course, that benefit assumes you are actually doing something on that time, either working or traveling to gain new experiences and meet new people....Taking a year off to laze around at home and do the same thing you always do and see the same people you always see won't really benefit you much.
 
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