Feb 18, 2020
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I have been fortunate enough to get accepted into five of the schools I applied to and wait-listed at two others but I am having a hard time deciding between them. I have thought a ton about this decision but every time I decide to eliminate a choice I think of a new reason to reconsider it. I am hoping to pursue a career in aquatic medicine but I am also open to exotic/zoo/wildlife medicine as well. I am originally from Iowa but I have spent the past two years interning and working in aquatics and have made many connections in the aquatic field. Any information on the way exams work at each school, social life, and opportunities in aquatics or zoo medicine would be extremely helpful.

Minnesota was by far my favorite school after all of my interview days. I felt very welcomed and the school overall seemed very supportive. They also have a good partnership with both the como and the Minnesota zoo. However, out of state tuition at Minnesota is extremely high and I don't know if I can justify being that much in debt.

Purdue is kind of my in between choice right now. I really enjoyed my visit there, liked the small class size, and the international programs they offer. Purdue is also the cheapest out of state option but has limited opportunities in zoo/wildlife medicine.

Tufts is the best school on the list for wildlife medicine. I really enjoyed my visit there and I like that you can kind of flexibility in the the courses you can take. I also lived in the Boston for about a year and have many friends in the surrounding areas. However, Tufts is expensive and the cost of living in Mass is very expensive and flights home are also expensive.

Iowa State is still on my list because of in-state tuition. From what I have heard recently, the exotic program is basically gone and they have closed their wildlife clinic this year. Even though I am from Iowa I have not had the opportunity to visit the vet school and with admitted student day being moved online I won't have the opportunity to visit before the deadline. I personally do not feel like I would get the best education for what I want to do if I went here but tuition is close to $20,000/$30,000 cheaper than some of the other schools I am considering.

UGA was the one school that I was pretty sure I wouldn't be accepted at because of how few out of state students they take so I wasn't heavily considering it until I found out I was accepted. I studied abroad with UGA during the summer of my junior year in undergrad and have visited Athens once so I am slightly familiar with the school. I really enjoyed Athens but I have never visited the vet school. I don't know a ton about their curriculum but I know they have a zoo/exotic rotation. There also are multiple aquariums/zoos/other organizations that deal with wildlife in the surrounding areas that I could get experience at.

I know the best school for what I want to do is UF, but I personally did not feel like their interview day was well organized. UF was my number one choice going into this process but I left my visit feeling very disappointed. However, I did enjoy the atmosphere of Gainsville and they are the only school with courses in aquatics. I don't know if I should even consider UF since I was wait-listed and they don't give you your rank number.

With admitted student days being canceled and moved online I feel like I lost an opportunity to learn more about these schools. Overall, I am really conflicted and any extra information about any of these schools would be appreciated!
 

genny

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Iowa State is still on my list because of in-state tuition. From what I have heard recently, the exotic program is basically gone and they have closed their wildlife clinic this year. Even though I am from Iowa I have not had the opportunity to visit the vet school and with admitted student day being moved online I won't have the opportunity to visit before the deadline. I personally do not feel like I would get the best education for what I want to do if I went here but tuition is close to $20,000/$30,000 cheaper than some of the other schools I am considering.
So yes, the exotics clinician left. You will have to work harder to get your exotics education if you go to ISU. However, it can be done. I have a couple of classmates who are headed toward zoo jobs, a couple in lab animal medicine, so it's possible to specialize even without formal coursework. There is a 4th year rotation at the Blank Park Zoo, and the zoo vet is still on staff at ISU, so you can get your foot in the door with zoo med/exotics that way. There is also an elective course in aquatic medicine, but it's focused more on the production animal aspect of fisheries. Your 4th year rotations and your summer experiences are probably going to be the most important part of landing a job in your desired field, and that's probably going to be similar wherever you go.
 
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Georgethecat

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Iowa State is still on my list because of in-state tuition. From what I have heard recently, the exotic program is basically gone and they have closed their wildlife clinic this year. Even though I am from Iowa I have not had the opportunity to visit the vet school and with admitted student day being moved online I won't have the opportunity to visit before the deadline. I personally do not feel like I would get the best education for what I want to do if I went here but tuition is close to $20,000/$30,000 cheaper than some of the other schools I am considering.




[/QUOTE]
According to VIN resident tuition at Iowa State is approx $100k, Minnesota OOS $232K, Purdue OOS $179k, Tufts OOS $233k, UGA OOS $208k, and Florida OOS $182k. So I'm not sure where the $20-30K figure comes from unless you mean per year? Also should factor in the varying cost of living from very inexpensive Iowa to expensive Tufts.

I don't have any insight on aquatic/wildlife/zoo medicine, but in these very uncertain times I'd be hesitant to take on more debt than absolutely necessary. Best of luck to you in your decision.
 
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supershorty

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I don't have any insight on aquatic/wildlife/zoo medicine, but in these very uncertain times I'd be hesitant to take on more debt than absolutely necessary. Best of luck to you in your decision.

I second this, as a Minnesota student who loves this school very much. We're heading into very uncertain times financially. I'd be very cautious about picking up extra debt.

OP, if you have any MN-specific questions, I'm happy to help, although I'm not super useful with zoo med/exotics questions because that's not at all my area.
 
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Feb 18, 2020
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So yes, the exotics clinician left. You will have to work harder to get your exotics education if you go to ISU. However, it can be done. I have a couple of classmates who are headed toward zoo jobs, a couple in lab animal medicine, so it's possible to specialize even without formal coursework. There is a 4th year rotation at the Blank Park Zoo, and the zoo vet is still on staff at ISU, so you can get your foot in the door with zoo med/exotics that way. There is also an elective course in aquatic medicine, but it's focused more on the production animal aspect of fisheries. Your 4th year rotations and your summer experiences are probably going to be the most important part of landing a job in your desired field, and that's probably going to be similar wherever you go.
Thanks for your response! I wasn't for sure if the zoo vet was still on staff so that is really helpful to know. I'm just worried that the zoo rotation will be gone by the time I am a fourth year since the school is already decreasing the exotic department. I love vet medicine as a whole but my passion is working with non-domestic animals and I'm having a hard time justifying attending a school that is decreasing the amount of opportunities students could get with these kind animals.
 

genny

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Thanks for your response! I wasn't for sure if the zoo vet was still on staff so that is really helpful to know. I'm just worried that the zoo rotation will be gone by the time I am a fourth year since the school is already decreasing the exotic department. I love vet medicine as a whole but my passion is working with non-domestic animals and I'm having a hard time justifying attending a school that is decreasing the amount of opportunities students could get with these kind animals.
I don't think the zoo rotation is going anywhere, and the school is actively looking for another exotics clinician. That doesn't mean that they'll find one any time soon, since they've been looking for a neurologist since like 2016.
 

JaynaAli

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It seems like a whole lot of zoo med is summer experiences and externships. While having a rotation is very nice, there are ways to show your interest in certain specialties even when they are not offered at your school. I don't personally feel like taking an extra 30,000 in debt (which honestly seems low given rough estimates I've heard comparing relatively 'cheap' Iowa in-state tuition to OOS tuition other places; is this 20-30k per year or total?) is worth it. Vet school is largely what you make it. It's easier when the opportunities are handed to you from the school, but you will be in a much better place financially in the end by not taking the extra debt. Plus many zoo/wildlife positions don't even pay that well compared to other types of vet med, so minimizing debt is very important when possible.
 
Feb 18, 2020
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Iowa State is still on my list because of in-state tuition. From what I have heard recently, the exotic program is basically gone and they have closed their wildlife clinic this year. Even though I am from Iowa I have not had the opportunity to visit the vet school and with admitted student day being moved online I won't have the opportunity to visit before the deadline. I personally do not feel like I would get the best education for what I want to do if I went here but tuition is close to $20,000/$30,000 cheaper than some of the other schools I am considering.
According to VIN resident tuition at Iowa State is approx $100k, Minnesota OOS $232K, Purdue OOS $179k, Tufts OOS $233k, UGA OOS $208k, and Florida OOS $182k. So I'm not sure where the $20-30K figure comes from unless you mean per year? Also should factor in the varying cost of living from very inexpensive Iowa to expensive Tufts.

I don't have any insight on aquatic/wildlife/zoo medicine, but in these very uncertain times I'd be hesitant to take on more debt than absolutely necessary. Best of luck to you in your decision.
[/QUOTE]
I should of specified but I meant per year. I know going out-state is going to be at least $100K more after all four years when you factor in tuition and cost of living. I definitely have looked into cost of living and I lived in the Boston area for about a year doing internships so I know how expensive it is to live out there. I've also considered the cost of getting home which is partly why I am leaning towards the Midwest schools on the list since I could drive home and save on flight costs.
 

MixedAnimals77

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Just putting this out there, yes zoo/aquatics/wildlife med don't pay great to start with, but like many others are warning at this time I'd be very hesitant to take out any additional money if you don't have to. Our economy is going to be in the toilet for the foreseeable future. Veterinarians are going to be affected. Maybe it won't be as bad as last time, but it could be worse. Where new grads can't even get a SA GP gig for a lower salary. Is it going to last 5 years maybe, maybe not. I do know it took while to dig out of the last recession back to a "decent place." I wouldn't chance it. You have a cheap IS don't take it for granted. I'm lucky and got into a cheaper OOS than my IS and I'm so glad I'm here right now than having an extra 30k hanging over my head when I get out let alone 100k more plus interest. Imagine what additional things you could do with that "extra" 100k-buy a house, take vacation, attend all the zoo symposiums you want. There are lots of exotics opportunities for you to participate in outside of your school. If it's your passion you will find what you need no matter where you go. I wish you all the luck.
 

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