Aug 1, 2016
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I thought I share my experience with how I got into vet school with a low GPA and maybe I could help someone out who is thinking about applying and wants a different perspective.

I was original planning on going to medical school. I went to Arizona State University for my undergrad and didn't take school as seriously as I could have. Furthermore, after being in school my entire life, I was burnt out and 4 years of more schooling didn't sound appealing. After my graduating with my bachelors I enlisted in the Army.

After a mediocre college career, I felt I had something to prove to myself and choose a more extreme path in the Army. I enlisted as an infantry man as I felt it was the farthest thing from medical school as I could get. After a year deployment, I tried out for Special Forces and went through the 3 year training pipeline to become a Special Forces Medical Sergeant. Yada Yada....a couple of deployments that gave me great experiences for my personal statement....Yada Yada......I applied for veterinary school.

I feel like at this point I should annotated that there are wide number of varying skills and jobs in the military that will give you the both the special experiences that help ensure your acceptances and the financial benefits which I'll go over later. The point of my story is not that you have to make it into the Special Forces in order to get into veterinary school; only that you do not have to take the an obvious job and be a vet tech in the Army (although that is definitely a good option as well.) One of my friends spent his army career in Civilian Affairs and then applied to medical school and had similar results that I did. (If you want more information on my army experiences or are thinking of entering and want some advance on what path you want to follow, message me.)

So I applied to veterinary school with a 3.2 college GPA and my last 45 credit and prereq GPA was probably even lower. Throughout my undergrad, I did not do any volunteering or resume building. I did not work as a vet tech for years. My GRE was mediocre (except for the verbal section which I attribute to reading a lot of Harry Potter on deployments.) I am not even a very personable guy who is great at interviewing. I applied to a ton of schools because I thought my application was weak and was under the expectation that I was going to have to apply again next year after bring up my GPA and working in a vet office. To my surprise, I ended up getting accepted into EVERY school I applied to.

Now to the financial benefits. When you join the military they give you the option of paying off a certain portion of you student loans and receiving funding for school after you get out (called the GI Bill.) Its possible to get both but you would have do the time commitment for each one. (There is also another benefit which will pay for some classes/prereqs while you are in the military that you can take advantage of as well.) The loan repayment is nice, as you can eliminate your undergrad debt, but the GI Bill is what you should focus on. After serving 36 months, you get the full benefits which pays for 100% of instate tuition to public schools, a housing allowance (I think I am getting around $1500 a month but it varies based on location) and some money for books. Furthermore, there is a new law which gives veterans instate tuition to all 50 states. Most schools placed me in the instate applicant pool because of this, which further increased my likelihood of being accepted.

To recap: the unique experiences that you receive serving are highly sought after, your instate school becomes every school, and the biggest problem facing new veterinarians, the debt, becomes negligible.

I understand joining the military may seem like an extreme path to becoming a veterinarian but its benefits line up so incredibly well with the hurdles of entering the field that I thought I'd share my story.
 

ANSohschm

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Congrats and thanks for your service. Getting into every school you applied to is solid. I am hoping to do some time after vet school in the veterinary corps, sort of a reverse to the path you took.
 

StartingoverVet

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Are you recommending joining the military because that will improve your chances of getting into vet school? I can't imagine going through years of being a soldier if my intention was only to improve my vet school application chances. Seriously.
Really? A lot of people and professions use the military as a stepping stone to jobs after the military. It is pretty common. For most people with financial impediments, it is a really efficient way to get ahead in life.

And people coming out of the military are almost universally respected for their work ethic, seriousness, focus, and dedication.

I don't see anything wrong with recommending that as a path to someone who just can't see getting to veterinary school through a traditional path. And what applicant wouldn't want to be IS everywhere, and have their tuition paid?
 

DVMDream

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Really? A lot of people and professions use the military as a stepping stone to jobs after the military. It is pretty common. For most people with financial impediments, it is a really efficient way to get ahead in life.

And people coming out of the military are almost universally respected for their work ethic, seriousness, focus, and dedication.

I don't see anything wrong with recommending that as a path to someone who just can't see getting to veterinary school through a traditional path. And what applicant wouldn't want to be IS everywhere, and have their tuition paid?
I think you are missing Caillope's point, you should join the military to join the military. It isn't something you just do as a means to get elsewhere. It isn't a job you jump into, you need to be serious about joining the military to be a part of the military. Especially considering how much of an impact serving in the military can have on your physical/emotional/mental health. I don't see the military as a simple stepping stone to vet school. I'm glad it worked out well for the OP but would most definitely not be the advice I'd be giving to prevets looking to go to vet school.
 

LetItSnow

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Really? A lot of people and professions use the military as a stepping stone to jobs after the military. It is pretty common. For most people with financial impediments, it is a really efficient way to get ahead in life.

And people coming out of the military are almost universally respected for their work ethic, seriousness, focus, and dedication.

I don't see anything wrong with recommending that as a path to someone who just can't see getting to veterinary school through a traditional path. And what applicant wouldn't want to be IS everywhere, and have their tuition paid?
Agreed - I think that you can make some HUGE long-term financial gains to going through the military that can easily make up for the time investment, and I agree that people tend to have a higher respect for people coming out of the military.

The latter, though, I think, is probably a fiction (even though it is popular belief). I've hired a number of post-military folks back at my old job.... some of them were outstanding - all the 'work ethic' etc that goes along with the expectation. And some of them were lazy bastards who expected to work minimally and get paid maximally. In other words, they were just like hiring someone who didn't have a military background. So since my 'hiring days' experience, I've come to decide that people coming out of the military are no more or less likely to be great employees. But I think the belief that they will be amazing employees is still pervasive.
 

LetItSnow

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I think you are missing Caillope's point, you should join the military to join the military. It isn't something you just do as a means to get elsewhere.
People have been joining to military as a means to get elsewhere for a long, long time. In particular, since 1944, when the GI Bill was enacted. Nothing wrong with that. Thousands upon thousands of people have gone into the military SOLELY for the GI Bill benefits. I think it's perfectly appropriate to join the military with a different long-term goal - you're serving your country in exchange for an anticipated 'payback' from the country.

I agree that I wouldn't give it as "advice" to a pre-vet - as in, "you should join the military to get into vet school." But I think for people who are happy serving, it's a perfectly reasonable route.
 

StartingoverVet

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I think you are missing Caillope's point, you should join the military to join the military. It isn't something you just do as a means to get elsewhere. It isn't a job you jump into, you need to be serious about joining the military to be a part of the military. Especially considering how much of an impact serving in the military can have on your physical/emotional/mental health. I don't see the military as a simple stepping stone to vet school. I'm glad it worked out well for the OP but would most definitely not be the advice I'd be giving to prevets looking to go to vet school.
Nope, not missing the point. Just disagree with your premise.
Even the military sells themselves as a stepping stone to get a job elsewhere.
It is not for everyone, but a really large number of people have used the military as a means to an end.
 

StartingoverVet

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The latter, though, I think, is probably a fiction (even though it is popular belief). I've hired a number of post-military folks back at my old job.... some of them were outstanding - all the 'work ethic' etc that goes along with the expectation. And some of them were lazy bastards who expected to work minimally and get paid maximally. In other words, they were just like hiring someone who didn't have a military background. So since my 'hiring days' experience, I've come to decide that people coming out of the military are no more or less likely to be great employees. But I think the belief that they will be amazing employees is still pervasive.
My experience was different, but I was mainly involved with officers, so perhaps you weren't? I was mostly impressed. Still, perhaps there is some confirmation bias involved.
 
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DVMDream

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People have been joining to military as a means to get elsewhere for a long, long time. In particular, since 1944, when the GI Bill was enacted. Nothing wrong with that. I think it's perfectly appropriate to join the military with a different long-term goal - you're serving your country in exchange for an anticipated 'payback' from the country.
Yeah, but I think people really need to consider what they are doing first. I mean, my sister joined the military as a means to get elsewhere, she barely made it out the other side. And definitely didn't make it out without permanent mental scars. It shouldn't be taken lightly. And people need to realize the government basically owns your ass once you sign up until you either leave via dishonorable discharge in which you get no benefits or you finish your term.

I mean, it is an option but not the first I'd recommend.
 

StartingoverVet

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Yeah, but I think people really need to consider what they are doing first. I mean, my sister joined the military as a means to get elsewhere, she barely made it out the other side. And definitely didn't make it out without permanent mental scars. It shouldn't be taken lightly. And people need to realize the government basically owns your ass once you sign up until you either leave via dishonorable discharge in which you get no benefits or you finish your term.

I mean, it is an option but not the first I'd recommend.
Fair enough. There are certainly some serious drawbacks no question.
 

LetItSnow

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My experience was different, but I was mainly involved with officers, so perhaps you weren't? I was mostly impressed. Still, perhaps there is some confirmation bias involved.
You could be right, I'm not sure. The people I hired were a mixture of (post-)enlisted and officers. I didn't find it made much of a difference (that I recognized, anyway), but it's not like my sampling pool was huge. I just know I was struck by the whole "hire an ex-military - they'll be amazing workers!" expectation, and as a group they didn't really live up to it. They weren't WORSE than civilian hires; they just weren't really any better.

But yeah - small sampling size, so my perception may not reflect reality.
 

Trilt

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Yeah, but I think people really need to consider what they are doing first. I mean, my sister joined the military as a means to get elsewhere, she barely made it out the other side. And definitely didn't make it out without permanent mental scars. It shouldn't be taken lightly. And people need to realize the government basically owns your ass once you sign up until you either leave via dishonorable discharge in which you get no benefits or you finish your term.

I mean, it is an option but not the first I'd recommend.
I really can't agree with this more. My father is getting out of the Marines right now (being medically discharged in <2 weeks) after, to put it bluntly, being completely mentally ****ed up by it. The whole family has had to deal with the side effects and it's really not fun.

It's an option, yes, and it works for many people. But it also destroys others, especially in times where people are likely to be deployed. Really have to suggest that people only join the military if they want to serve in the military, not just as a means to go to vet school.
 

CalliopeDVM

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I guess I just can't imagine wanting to do X so badly that I'd be willing to risk my physical and mental health to do it. Especially since those mental and physical risks might preclude you being able to get into and graduate from vet school. Really.....I didn't want vet school that badly, and I think anyone who only sees that one potential path in life (becoming a vet) needs to look around more. Now, if the thread had been about joining the military as a vet (or while in school) as a way to help pay off debt, my answer would be very different -- being a military veterinarian is very different than being an enlisted soldier.
 

FeartheDogMonky

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I've gone over something very similar to this in a previous post. I cannot stress enough that the military should never be a route out of desperation for money and education. There must be more to a person's desire to join than that. Sure the path worked for some of us at a cost, but there are many that never came home. It would kill me to know a Soldier of mine died while only pursuing a stepping stone to vet school/college instead of chasing that dream another way. Plus, the military is not kind to you physically or mentally. Take it for what it's worth...
the Vet Corps route needs to be something you really think about. This should not be anyone's preferred path to avoid loans. The military is a lifestyle that you will be living 24/7/365. You will also most likely be deployed at least once for around 6 months, unless vets get changed to the 90days BOG limit like human docs.

I've been in a long time and it pains me to see Soldiers come in simply because they wanted a way to pay for college. Some of them end up miserable and hate every moment of their time in uniform. This leads to toxic environments and ain't nobody got time for that. I've had my moments over the years where I wanted to throat punch things/people/etc, but as a whole I would never change my decision to join.

Granted life as a doc is a little different in general, but you are still a Soldier. For your sanity and the sake of those already in, please think about the decision to join holistically. If this is a decision you're passionate about for more than the money, then by all means grab it by the horns and make it yours.
 
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My issue with the entire thing is....

1) If you haven't done any resume building/shadowing/volunteering or gained any experience and 2) your only experience with an undergraduate scholastic workload resulted in a "mediocre" performance, particularly in prerequisite subjects...

How do you truly know that you want to go into veterinary medicine, and how do you know you will be able to handle the academics?

I have no issue with people using the military as a stepping stone for a career (assuming they are truly dedicated to military service as well), and have the utmost respect for those who choose join up, but this story has a lot of holes and I wouldn't use it as an example to follow.
 

Nmlvaio101

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Jun 12, 2016
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Everyone,

I am currently serving in the military. To my understanding, the original author wrote this piece to share his experience. To be honest, this passage gives me hope. I have a subpar GPA, GRE with little vet experience. I am currently knocking out my MPA with a concentration in Public Health Administration, on-post vet experience, and equine exposure. However, every time I introduce myself to any university; I feel like I get knock back without having enough experience. So again, it give me hope to see someone in a similar situation able to get their feet in the door.

On the military topic, the military experience is what you make it to be, or you will be dragged, pushed, ordered to do things otherwise. In my experience, I have applied myself to be completive amongst my peer group, and it awarded me with everything I wanted. It's true that health is a big issue in the Army, and I had my fare share of bad experience (no fault of my own). But, I learned from it. I have gained more in 4.5yrs than I would in the civilian world. I know 'war' is a big deterrent for everyone, but serving our nation is no easy task and joining/signing should not be taking lightly.

V/R
Graham.
 
OP
V
Aug 1, 2016
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Veterinary Student
Are you recommending joining the military because that will improve your chances of getting into vet school? I can't imagine going through years of being a soldier if my intention was only to improve my vet school application chances. Seriously.
No, I'm recommending the military because I personally think to serve to your country is the right thing to do. As an added bonus it helped me with veterinary school admission and the financial responsibility that comes with it.
 
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CalliopeDVM

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No, I'm recommending the military because I personally think to serve to your country is the right thing to do. As an added bonus it helped me with veterinary school admission and the financial responsibility that comes with it.
Gee, that's not what you seemed to say when you called it a "trick" to get into vet school ;)
 

LetItSnow

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I really want to take my time, do well in my classes, study for GRE, gain lots of experience in these next two years before application time.

Does anyone have any tips for me? What would you do in my case?
I think you answered your own question pretty thoroughly. Take your time, do really well in your classes, prep for the GRE, and gain lots of experience. That's really about it. I suppose I would add - make sure that along the way you build relationships that will ensure you have good letters of recommendations from people that matter (you'll need at least one or two veterinarian recommendations).

Learn as much about the industry as you can - where the jobs are, what a new job looks like, what the pay is, the whole debt:income issue. You're going to want to consider that very strongly when you think about where to go to school.

G'luck.
 
Jan 8, 2017
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Sorry I am so late to this thread... I just signed up because I've had a hard time finding people who have decided to choose this path into vet school. My question is by the time you applied for vet school were you still active duty? I am planning on joining the NG, but I am not sure what would happen if I applied to vet school (while active), got accepted, then got deployed during vet school.
 

Keri

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Jan 8, 2016
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So I have lurked this forum for a while and finally joined just to comment on this thread.

I went the military route after weighing the cost of college and my own lack of direction at that time in my life. It was partially meant as a stepping stone, but more as a chance to buy myself time to figure out what I actually wanted to do. Four years at West Point and almost six more as a helicopter pilot later, and I've finally narrowed it down to becoming a veterinarian.

Thanks to the OP for raising my hopes significantly!! I have started building hours volunteering at an animal shelter and at a vet clinic, but the numbers are far from impressive due to the hours I work and deployments. I have another year and a half until my contract is complete to continue building the resume, but reading this thread has definitely helped to calm my nerves about my application and chances, given the circumstances.
 
Feb 22, 2016
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So I have lurked this forum for a while and finally joined just to comment on this thread.

I went the military route after weighing the cost of college and my own lack of direction at that time in my life. It was partially meant as a stepping stone, but more as a chance to buy myself time to figure out what I actually wanted to do. Four years at West Point and almost six more as a helicopter pilot later, and I've finally narrowed it down to becoming a veterinarian.

Thanks to the OP for raising my hopes significantly!! I have started building hours volunteering at an animal shelter and at a vet clinic, but the numbers are far from impressive due to the hours I work and deployments. I have another year and a half until my contract is complete to continue building the resume, but reading this thread has definitely helped to calm my nerves about my application and chances, given the circumstances.
I had MAYBE 400 hours of experience when I applied. Didn't start working in a clinic until my junior (?) year of undergrad. And those were not diverse experience hours. Perhaps this wasn't such a big deal since I don't want to go into GP, but it's totally possible to get in without thousands of hours :)


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ResoluteMike

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So I have lurked this forum for a while and finally joined just to comment on this thread.

I went the military route after weighing the cost of college and my own lack of direction at that time in my life. It was partially meant as a stepping stone, but more as a chance to buy myself time to figure out what I actually wanted to do. Four years at West Point and almost six more as a helicopter pilot later, and I've finally narrowed it down to becoming a veterinarian.

Thanks to the OP for raising my hopes significantly!! I have started building hours volunteering at an animal shelter and at a vet clinic, but the numbers are far from impressive due to the hours I work and deployments. I have another year and a half until my contract is complete to continue building the resume, but reading this thread has definitely helped to calm my nerves about my application and chances, given the circumstances.
My hours weren't nearly as impressive as some folks either. I tried to get a good variety of experiences to help show that I understood the variety of the profession. I also worked to build a good relationship with a few veterinarians for the letters of recommendation.

Also, make sure to save off all your performance reports. It helps a lot to have them to reference when you are filling out your work history for VMCAS.