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How can I demonstrate to vet schools that I can handle a rigorous curriculum??

ElizaThornberry

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So I am a very non-traditional student.....I will be getting my B.S. in Biology after this upcoming fall semester. Unfortunately, it has taken 7 years. I started at a community college and kinda just took random classes but did get an A.S. I believe I have only gone 12 credits or more for 3 semesters or less in my whole 7 year college career. My question is how bad will this look to the veterinary colleges I apply to?? (In all fairness, I only decided to pursue vet med very recently-less than 2 years ago). I hope that there is some way to "fix" this. I also will add that with the less than full time status most semesters, I also have some withdrawals on my record... which also looks wishy-washy.... :(
 

EngrSC

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I’m a non-traditional student and have a degree in an unrelated field. I took some of my prereqs one at a time but took 12 credits/semester the last 4 semesters before applying to vet school (though one of those semesters was 15 credits). It didn’t seem to have a negative impact on my applications, nor was I asked about it any interview. However, I was working 30+ hours and had several volunteer things going on alongside my 12-credit hour semesters. So I guess the answer to your question is it kind of depends. If you took 12 or less credits, did meh, and weren’t doing anything outside of school ... then that isn’t ideal. If you had family obligations, work, volunteer stuff, etc in addition to those semesters and performed well then I think you shouldn’t worry about it :)

But worst case scenario you apply to vet school and are rejected. Definitely a hit to the ego but it would give you the opportunity do to file reviews and figure out where you can improve.
 
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5Hs5Ts

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if you apply and dont get in anywhere, go do a year or two of heavy course work and excel, then reapply. i have a bsc and msc and had to go back and do 2 semesters of science and humanities to apply to my school, primarily because my undergrad was a mess and I was playing catch up on first and second year courses the whole time in order to switch programs rather than focusing on an end point. my local college couldn't calculate a GPA for me so I did upper year medical science courses, nailed a 90+ average and have been offered spots at multiple overseas schools (and rejected once for an interview at my home school, lol) since last application cycle
 
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JustPaws

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Did you do well in your science classes? I took 10 years post bacc to get my science prereqs, had a couple withdrawals, lots of vet med experience and didn't have an issue getting in
 
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that redhead

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Like EngrSC says, I think a lot of it depends on context. If you didn’t have much of anything else going on and didn’t do very well, I think it would be more of a problem than if you were also working, caring for a family member or some other time-intensive commitment.

That being said, it isn’t like there’s no way you will be accepted with less intense semesters. You’ll need to show you can handle a more rigorous course load, which basically means you would need to take tougher courses and get A’s. If your prerequisites are already done, I don’t advise taking more classes for that sole purpose. But if your prerequisites aren’t strong (Cs, basically) you would likely benefit from redoing some and mixing in some upper level science courses. However! If you can’t excel in these courses, it’s just going to hurt you. So make sure that you have a plan for handling these tougher courses and increased load.
 
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ElizaThornberry

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Did you do well in your science classes? I took 10 years post bacc to get my science prereqs, had a couple withdrawals, lots of vet med experience and didn't have an issue getting in
I have a 3.3 gpa right now. I have done well in prereqs but have yet to take both physics and biochem. I have only been going to this university for 4 semesters. I got a "C" in Evolution and a "C" in ecology....I took them because they are required at my school to get my B.S. in bio.
 

ElizaThornberry

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Like EngrSC says, I think a lot of it depends on context. If you didn’t have much of anything else going on and didn’t do very well, I think it would be more of a problem than if you were also working, caring for a family member or some other time-intensive commitment.

That being said, it isn’t like there’s no way you will be accepted with less intense semesters. You’ll need to show you can handle a more rigorous course load, which basically means you would need to take tougher courses and get A’s. If your prerequisites are already done, I don’t advise taking more classes for that sole purpose. But if your prerequisites aren’t strong (Cs, basically) you would likely benefit from redoing some and mixing in some upper level science courses. However! If you can’t excel in these courses, it’s just going to hurt you. So make sure that you have a plan for handling these tougher courses and increased load.
I haven't always had things going on. I have volunteered and shadowed a bit....totaling less than 50 hrs. I also have decent gaps in my employment history. For example....last spring I worked 3 months at a dog kennel and then was unemployed for another 9 months. I was thankful to finally find a job through my school at the research farm. To summarize, no....I have not consistently been that perfect prevet student that has been going to college full time, volunteering, doing research, and shadowing.
 

that redhead

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To summarize, no....I have not consistently been that perfect prevet student that has been going to college full time, volunteering, doing research, and shadowing.

The good news is that you don't need to be perfect :) However, given what you've shared with us, I would really consider delaying your application for a year. I know that's a hard pill to swallow after so many years already invested, but I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice applying with light semester loads, a lower-than-average GPA and less than 50 hours of volunteer/shadowing experience. I would take your remaining prereqs and a couple additional upper level science courses (and make sure you ace them) and then plan for more experience hours when things open up a bit more. Again, you don't need to be perfect! But there are definitely things you can work on before spending a lot of money applying this cycle.

When you do apply, I would start to think about how you will answer questions about a lighter course load, gaps in employment/experience, etc. I don't think you necessarily need to complete the explanation statement area, but I would anticipate being asked about these things in a potential interview. You want to have a response that shows admissions committees that you are prepared to handle drinking from the fire hose of vet school.
 
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ElizaThornberry

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The good news is that you don't need to be perfect :) However, given what you've shared with us, I would really consider delaying your application for a year. I know that's a hard pill to swallow after so many years already invested, but I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice applying with light semester loads, a lower-than-average GPA and less than 50 hours of volunteer/shadowing experience. I would take your remaining prereqs and a couple additional upper level science courses (and make sure you ace them) and then plan for more experience hours when things open up a bit more. Again, you don't need to be perfect! But there are definitely things you can work on before spending a lot of money applying this cycle.

When you do apply, I would start to think about how you will answer questions about a lighter course load, gaps in employment/experience, etc. I don't think you necessarily need to complete the explanation statement area, but I would anticipate being asked about these things in a potential interview. You want to have a response that shows admissions committees that you are prepared to handle drinking from the fire hose of vet school.
I completely agree and was not even considering applying until next year. I have a few additional questions that you might be able to answer and if you do TYIA!! Considering my employment gaps and lighter course loads....what is considered a "good enough excuse"?? I mean, I have had some anxiety (not diagnosed so idk if that's valid). In all fairness, this is all still quite new to me....before I was kinda just taking classes and exploring what I wanted. I am a first generation student and have had zero guidance. I cut off my family about 5 years ago because I dealt with physical and emotional abuse. Frankly, I was destined to live in poverty and toxicity if I didn't get out. No one told me to go to college, I went on my own accord. I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer, a studio artist, and even a psychologist before I stumbled upon biology. No one fostered that passion in me but myself. Anyway, is this something I can explain that would seem valid enough to admissions people??? Also, would I be more likely to get into a dvm/ms or dvm/phd program??? I am very interested in that.
 

that redhead

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I completely agree and was not even considering applying until next year. I have a few additional questions that you might be able to answer and if you do TYIA!! Considering my employment gaps and lighter course loads....what is considered a "good enough excuse"?? I mean, I have had some anxiety (not diagnosed so idk if that's valid). In all fairness, this is all still quite new to me....before I was kinda just taking classes and exploring what I wanted. I am a first generation student and have had zero guidance. I cut off my family about 5 years ago because I dealt with physical and emotional abuse. Frankly, I was destined to live in poverty and toxicity if I didn't get out. No one told me to go to college, I went on my own accord. I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer, a studio artist, and even a psychologist before I stumbled upon biology. No one fostered that passion in me but myself. Anyway, is this something I can explain that would seem valid enough to admissions people??? Also, would I be more likely to get into a dvm/ms or dvm/phd program??? I am very interested in that.
I think it would be great to highlight some of these things in your personal statement. Resiliency, independence, resourcefulness...all great traits to emphasize. I would also discuss how you were NOT one of the people who knew from a young age they wanted to be a vet- that will definitely make you stand out! Discuss how you’ve explored other fields and how you came to decide on vet med.

As for a dual degree program, no, you are nor more likely to get in to one of those and unless you want to go into academia, it’s likely not worth the time, money and hassle. You can still participate in research without going through a dual degree program.
 
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EngrSC

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I think it would be great to highlight some of these things in your personal statement. Resiliency, independence, resourcefulness...all great traits to emphasize. I would also discuss how you were NOT one of the people who knew from a young age they wanted to be a vet- that will definitely make you stand out! Discuss how you’ve explored other fields and how you came to decide on vet med.

As for a dual degree program, no, you are nor more likely to get in to one of those and unless you want to go into academia, it’s likely not worth the time, money and hassle. You can still participate in research without going through a dual degree program.
I legit started one of my essays with “I haven’t always wanted to be a veterinarian, nor was there a light-bulb defining moment when I realized it’s the career for me.” So I can validate Redhead’s suggestion :p
 
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supershorty

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Agreed with @that redhead. Also, not trying to dig at you, OP, but I see this misconception on the APVMA page a lot too... saying you're interested in a dual program doesn't make you more attractive to an admissions committee anyway. Dual students are expensive. Graduate students cost programs a lot of money, particularly for DVM/PhD programs as they don't get the kind of funding that MSTP programs do, but are still expected to offer some sort of tuition remission. It's a big part of why there are so few dual student positions offered - it costs a lot for the program! If you don't want to do research long-term, it's totally impractical to do a dual degree program. You can get research experiences in school without making that kind of a commitment.
 

ElizaThornberry

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Agreed with @that redhead. Also, not trying to dig at you, OP, but I see this misconception on the APVMA page a lot too... saying you're interested in a dual program doesn't make you more attractive to an admissions committee anyway. Dual students are expensive. Graduate students cost programs a lot of money, particularly for DVM/PhD programs as they don't get the kind of funding that MSTP programs do, but are still expected to offer some sort of tuition remission. It's a big part of why there are so few dual student positions offered - it costs a lot for the program! If you don't want to do research long-term, it's totally impractical to do a dual degree program. You can get research experiences in school without making that kind of a commitment.
This is all helpful information. I am asking if I am more likely to get into a dual degree program because my main interest is in one health. I am interested in infectious diseases/zoonoses and don't want to be doing clinical work 100% of the time. I have some micro research experience and have done best in those types of courses and I feel like it's super fun. It's especially very relevant research now with the ongoing pandemic. I have only worked on a farm for about 2 months but I already see a bunch of things that need improving....let's be honest....pandemics like this (and in the past swine flu, bird flu, etc) could be prevented if we improved the living conditions of these animals and/or relied alot less on them. This is a reason why I have considered getting a dual degree MPH/DVM to ultimately be something like a veterinary public health officer.
 

WildZoo

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This is all helpful information. I am asking if I am more likely to get into a dual degree program because my main interest is in one health. I am interested in infectious diseases/zoonoses and don't want to be doing clinical work 100% of the time. I have some micro research experience and have done best in those types of courses and I feel like it's super fun. It's especially very relevant research now with the ongoing pandemic. I have only worked on a farm for about 2 months but I already see a bunch of things that need improving....let's be honest....pandemics like this (and in the past swine flu, bird flu, etc) could be prevented if we improved the living conditions of these animals and/or relied alot less on them. This is a reason why I have considered getting a dual degree MPH/DVM to ultimately be something like a veterinary public health officer.
The interest makes sense, but I agree with what others have said. The dual programs tend to be more selective, not less, so I don't think you're more likely to get an acceptance that way. But different schools run those programs differently, so it may not affect your vet school application at all (the second degree is often a separate application). In any case I would focus on the issue at hand, which is showing you can handle the vet school curriculum itself, before considering whether you want to add on more. There's always time to get more involved in research when you're in school, or to add on an MPH. You can certainly bring it up as part of your interests.
 
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