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Just beginning... all advice welcome!

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by SonnetMV, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. SonnetMV

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    Hi everyone,

    If you could take a moment to read my situation, and maybe leave a comment, it would be much appreciated.

    I'm currently in my last year of college and will graduate with a major in philosophy. My school is "non-traditional," meaning we have evaluations instead of grades. I did take a few language classes at a nearby school, and my GPA from them isn't very good... 2.98 average. This, however, is from a total of 4 classes, none of which relate to my major or the science requirements I will have to take. The evaluations I've received have been good, but there is no way to translate them into actual grades to up my GPA. I'm worried about this!

    After I graduate I am moving with my fiance to wherever he gets into grad school (we won't find out until April). We have agreed that I will work and try to get my vet school prerequisites completed while he gets his PhD, and then he'll work while I complete my schooling. So, I have 5 years to gain experience, take my GREs, and do all my prereqs before I even start my applications. I would really love to work at a small animal clinic while volunteering at a zoo AND taking classes at a local university. What can I do to make sure I get accepted at least somewhere? Any and all advice will be appreciated for how to fill the 5 year gap in ways which would make my application as strong as possible.

    Oh, and about my history: I grew up with animals, raised and bred goats, did 4-H for a long time (cats and goats), was the VP of my high school Science Club (I facilitated the animal dissections), then when I was older I spent three consecutive summers teaching English in a small village in Thailand (good for people skills, maybe?). Would these things matter at all in applications? I also wonder if I could work my philosophy major to my advantage- after this year I will have written a 100 page thesis, and I think it has really helped develop my critical thinking.

    I know this is what I want to do, and am determined to get there even if it is a very long road ahead of me. So, again, any advice at all (especially regarding things I may not have thought about) would be wonderful. Thanks a lot, and good luck to all those who are waiting to hear back from schools this year!
     
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  3. CatTech

    CatTech VetTech/Pre-vet
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    From what I understand, the varied experiences you have outside of animal experience/vet experience can be advantageous. They show that you are well rounded, and can offer diversity to the school. And the things you mentioned about those experiences having developed your interpersonal and critical thinking skills all seem to have the potential to boost your application as well.

    Of course, I should note that I am pretty much just beginning getting the pre-reqs done too so I may not be the best person to ask. But I have read a lot of the factors that seem important on threads in this forum, and I think many people would agree that your experiences certainly would not hurt you.

    I don't have any advice about the GPA dilemma though. But maybe when you get a better idea of the places you might be applying to you could call them up and ask how the situation would be handled.


    Anyway, best of luck! Sorry I can't be of more help.
     
  4. twelvetigers

    twelvetigers stabby cat
    Veterinarian 10+ Year Member

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    The GPA that you earn based on your pre-req courses will be much more important than that other GPA you have. I would just put a lot of effort in there - that should put you in a pretty good position.
     
  5. VeganChick

    VeganChick Tufts University V'13
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    On vet school apps, there is an "explanation" section for anything you think is applicable to your application that you can't otherwise explain. You would want to explain your undergrad grading system here, then, as twelvetigers said, your GPA will be understandably from the prereqs only.
     
  6. Emio

    Emio Fudge Bane
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    you sound like an interesting applicant! i would think most vet schools would GREATLY appreciate the fact that you've taught english in a foreign country. i also think 4-H (though i've never done it) is a fantastic base.

    as far as where to go from here:
    - consider that your fiance may not get into grad school in a city that has a vet school. your deal with him (her?) sounds like a good idea, but you might have to be separate from him when he gets out to work and you start school (unless he's willing to move again).

    - you have plenty of time to get everything done. expand on the 4-H experience. small animal clinic would be great; zoo, even better. muck horse stalls on the weekend, take riding lessons, tag along with a dairy vet, work in a research lab where your fiance's going to school maybe, shadow an equine vet, train trick goats, show dogs, show horses, show cows, shadow more vets, do midnight shifts at an emergency clinic. possibilities are endless ;).

    do make sure you get the VET experience as well as the animal experience (i.e. don't just show every breed of goat and rabbit you can for 20,000 hours of experience. that won't cut it.)

    - keep the trend up with your excellent evaluations.

    - pick your jobs/volunteering so that you can kick arse in school. i'm making an assumption here, but the science courses may be difficult for a philosophy major because they're such different subjects (ask me to write a 100 page thesis? couldn't do it). work very hard to keep those grades up. it gets competitive, and often the FIRST things schools look at, is the GPA. though the last thing i put on the list, ha.

    - know WHY you're making the transition from philosophy to vet med. they won't doubt your sincerity when they see five years of working/volunteering/studying behind your application, but they will probably ask you why you did four years of a completely different subject before you came to vet med.

    - i have no idea what to tell you about the conversion system. call admissions offices to find out how they handle it.

    i hope this helped. probably the closest i've been to writing a 100 page thesis in the last 2 years.
     
  7. tealamutt

    tealamutt WSU class of 2012
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    very good advice from others so far... I would just add that if the language classes are all you took at the other school and there's nothing else you need on that transcript, why bother mentioning that you took the classes at all? I took some math classes at a community college to freshen up before I started my undergrad (took 4 years off between high school and college) and didn't include them in my educational experience because they weren't a pre-req. and the grades weren't stellar.... just a thought
     
  8. SonnetMV

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    Thanks for the wonderful advice so far. My fiance is willing to move with me to wherever I get accepted so we won't have to seperate. I haven't taken a science class since high school, but I've already started with flash cards to review some of the basics (the periodic table, for example). Hopefully if I study hard enough I should pass with good grades, although this is something that concerns me since my natural strengths are definitely in the humanities. Unfortunately, the language classes I took are on the same transcript as my other courses, since the schools are joined in a consortium. I'm still glad I took them because I had a great experience studying abroad, but I do regret not getting better grades.

    I have a couple questions regarding vet/animal experience:

    How do you keep track of your hours of vet/animal experience? For example, once shadowing someone, do you keep a daily log of hours? How does the vet verify your hours? Also, do you need a reference for each experience you want to include in your application? - Will I need to hunt down my old 4-H leader in order to use 4-H as previous animal experience?

    Thanks again.
     
  9. DVMorBust

    DVMorBust UW SVM Class of 2013
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    I had a sort of similar experience - got a degree in Linguistics and then went back for all the sciences. In my case, it actually helped a lot - linguistics and philosophy are similar in a few regards, in that the main thing they teach is critical thinking.

    Embrace that! Seriously. I find that I study much differently than a lot of my friends who have been straight-up science students forever, but it works for me. One thing that helps me out a lot is to lead study groups with other students in my classes. I've found it works best for me to work with students a bit lower in the curve - it forces me to think about things in ways i wouldn't normally through teaching them and helping them out, and they win because it's like free tutoring.

    I found the lower-level courses MUCH harder than upper-level, because they just skimmed the surface of information, and I have a hard time regurgitating facts without knowing why they're facts. I spent a lot of time going deeper than professors in topics, and it helped a lot on tests (plus, it gives the benefit of having seen some of the upper-level stuff when you get there).

    Rambling aside, in answer to your questions:

    I keep an excel file with my hours in it. I've got a different page for each area (small animal, equine, etc.) and on each page I've got columns for veterinarian, contact information, date, hours, and interesting cases I saw (helpful to get that down because you can refer to it later on). The only verification I've run into is the vet who wrote one of my evals asked me 'how many hours did you spend with me?' and I told her...so I'm not sure that's a huge concern.

    You don't need to have references from every animal activity ever. You'll need 3-5 evaluation letters, usually at least one from a veterinarian and then schools specify where they want the others from. There's a space for contact information ont he application, but it's not mandatory (I didn't use it for a lot of my horse experiences, because instructors move and barns change ownership and I had no idea how to track people down).
     
  10. Emio

    Emio Fudge Bane
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    I think its mostly based on the honor system. i just estimated. granted, my schedules were pretty consistent, so i could go back and say, well i usually worked 15 hours per week every week, volunteered 8 hours a week every week, blah blah blah.

    if you apply to cornell, yes, you'll have to get a reference letter for every single animal/vet experience you want to include. anywhere else though, like the previous poster said, usually requires one from a vet, one from academia, and another (i think i sent in a total of 5 to most places).

    i should be studying for parasite this week, but i obviously don't want to, so keep asking questions ;)
     
  11. CatVet2Be

    CatVet2Be OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    One of the best things I ever heard (though it was a little late for me) was that you can always make up what you lack in experience but you can't undo bad grades. So even though you should definitely try to get animal experience, never allow it to be at the expense of your grades. Also, research the schools you most want to get into and statistics from accepted classes to get an idea of what you should be striving for. Hope that helps.
     
  12. catlover

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    I would suggest taking more upper-level science courses than just those required by the prereqs. I was a non-trad applicant (computer science degree) and that is what the pre-vet advisor recommended. So I took things like Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Animal Behavior, etc. in addition to the required courses.
     
  13. bclover

    bclover UIUC-CVM Class of 2012
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    You could contact any vet schools that you think would be interested in (or perhaps wait until next spring to figure that out and ask, specifically, how they would advise you to address the non-traditional grading.

    Good Luck!
     
  14. VAgirl

    VAgirl UC Davis SVM c/o 2012
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    I think, technically speaking, because of the way VMCAS (used to?) word it, they really intend for you to include all post-secondary schools attended. Since you sign a statement (I think?) that all the information is complete and correct to the best of your knowledge, it seems like leaving out schools, even minor ones, is kind of not what the VMCAS folks are expecting.

    Not judging at all, I swear. :) But in case the OP follows is considering following this advice, I would recommend s/he examine VMCAS closely when the time comes to see how s/he interprets the instructions and what s/he would feel comfortable doing.
     
  15. sumstorm

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    VAgirl, I actually called VMCAS and discussed whether or not all college credits had to be included and I was told absolutly, unequivocally, yes, even the 'camp' I attended in Jr high that was immersion in mandarin and only provided 3 credits and was over 16 years old. In this situation, it might be even more problematic since it might be part of the last 45 some schools calculate from. I don't know the ethics or legaities of it, but would agree that anyone considering this should call VMCAs and have some detailed conversations.
     

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