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Nontraditionals?

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by coloradocutter, Apr 14, 2007.

  1. coloradocutter

    coloradocutter Junior Member 7+ Year Member

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    Apr 8, 2006
    Any nontraditionals? I am 30 - wanted to be a vet as a child, but felt like I was too sensitive. I have volunteered in rescue for years and almost went bonkers. I make more money now then I ever would as a vet - patent lawyer, but I don't care about age or money when chasing a dream.

    I am really just looking for perspective about what is involved. What kind of person makes the best vet student and vet? Is it ok to love animals and want a ranch full of rescued animals but not be a vet? I chose something at 21 and am now stuck with it for a while - so I don't want to go to something else and fail again. Just exploring - thanks for any thoughts and please PM me.
     
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  3. critterfixer

    critterfixer Veterinarian 2+ Year Member

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    Mar 31, 2007
    Tennessee
    I'll be starting veterinary school this fall at the age of 41. I've been married for almost 19 years and have two teenaged daughters. I thought long and hard about what I'm putting myself and my family through to pursue my dream. Fortunately, I have great support--except that my 16-year-old daughter is very unhappy about moving. My husband has a very lucrative career, and leaving may not be an option for him for awhile. We may have to live in separate locations in the short term and that has me stressed. But we have a strong relationship and while this is going to be hard, it's nothing we can't weather. When I announced at the age of 36 that I was going back to school to get my pre-veterinary degree, my husband said, "Go for it!" He knows I need to do this to feel fulfilled and has supported my goals. I don't expect a little distance to change that.

    It came down to the fact that this (veterinary medicine) is what I'm passionate about and I'd be involved with animals in a significant way even if I never got into veterinary school. I'll be 46 at graduation, but you know what? I'll be 46 anyway. I may as well be doing what I love.

    So I say if this is your dream, go for it. It's been difficult, and I know that I may have a more challenging time of it than some of my classmates because I am juggling family responsibilities, but we all have unique challenges. Age has nothing to do with it. As to what type of person makes a good student or veterinarian--I imagine you'll get a lot of different answers. Passion, dedication, good time management, and an unflinching desire to do this work are what I hope make me a good student and a great veterinarian.
     
  4. twosoakers

    twosoakers Addict & Western U '11 7+ Year Member

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    Jan 18, 2007
    Pomona, CA
    <--32

    majored as an undgraduate in biology, taking a ton of mar bio courses with the hope of working with sharks. was sensitive, as well. had trouble with the useless euthanasias of healthy animals, just becasue a client demanded it. have since learned that a vet may refuse that request. applied to veterinary school at penn after earning my b.s. (only because i was told there was nil shot of getting into an 'out-of-state' school). i didn't get an interview. so i bought a pet store. ran that for a year. then moved out to california, to be an administrative assistant for a consulting firm (oh, the things you can do with a b.s. in biology). grew tired of that, moved back to pa, worked in a medical lab for several years, spending a year in central processing, a year in microbiology and toxicology, and another in pathology. quickly learned there's little room for advancement and no windows. so i decided to return to school for a teaching certificate. i walked out with an m.a. in english. that progressed to a ph.d. in english at purdue (hence, i hate caps). while at purdue, i used my free tuition waiver to take biochem, org chem II, etc. etc. as well as a bunch of purdue's first-year veterinary courses. and now i'm heading out to western in the fall, still twitching with hopes of working with elephant seals and great whites up at point ano nuevo.

    life for me has never been a straight path. always crooked, twisting, turning--just like a bad hawthorne story. i've often been jealous of people who know what they're going to do with their lives from the time they're ten. but then again, they often only do one thing. i've dipped my fingers into a dozen pies. and i'm sure i'm not done yet. ;)
     
  5. Bluepawelephant

    Bluepawelephant 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 19, 2007
    I am 31, and will be starting vet school in the fall. I always wanted to pursue a career in veterinary medicine but never had fany amily support or financial means, until now. The thought of college after high school was a laughing matter in my family. No body has ever gone to college and most have never graduated high school, putting food on the table was always a concern. After high school, I had to care for a disabled mother and joined the Marines, where I committed 8 years of my life. My career was going good and I could have retired but choose to get out and pursue my dreams. I took a major pay cut returning to school and it has not been easy starting all over again when I had been a supervisors of ~30 Marines, but now I have a great support system (my husband). Whenever I feel down or stressed out, he is there to pick me up and push me along because he knows how important this is to me.
    You only live once and the journey may not be easy but I would hate to look back at my life with regrets. The only conflict I have had with returning to school so late is that I have no children. I want to have some but do not know when I will have time. I am scared to have one in vet school and if I wait until after I will be ~37 because I am interested in the dual degree program. After school, I will be starting a new career, and will I have time for children then? Time goes by so fast and I am feeling the crunch.
    As for the difficulty in transition, it is hard to get back into the routine of studying while balancing a home and unlike a job, school never goes away when you go home but because of our experiences in the real world, deterimation helps us adjust quickly. I think that nontraditionals are very driven because of all that we have given up to be here. I hope that this has helped and good luck in your ventures.
     
  6. AuburnPreVet

    AuburnPreVet AU CVM Class of 2011 5+ Year Member

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    Nov 10, 2004
    Podunk
    For another perspective...

    I'll be starting vet school this Fall - at 21. Don't feel as though you are "behind" because you are a non-trad. Personally, I feel as like you all are AHEAD. At 21, the majority of my work experience has been centered around vet med, the majority of my ECs are centered around vet med, etc etc. I suppose, what I'm trying to say, is that you will have so many more experiences to draw from than those of us fresh out of the mold...and it is NOT a race. If you consider life "starting" when you get your DVM, there will always be something else "when I buy my own practice," or "when this evil residency is over," ..etc.

    Cheers.
     
  7. seaturtlegirl

    seaturtlegirl 2+ Year Member

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    Dec 15, 2006
    MN DVM c/o 2011!!
    Well said Auburn! I will be turning 30 this september, and have often felt as though I am behind the ball! (especially when my classmates are so much younger...) I worked as a stage technician in New York for 5 years, and then decided that I was ready to grow up. (ha!) I knew that this was something I always wanted to do, but I don't think I would've been ready before now. I think that as non-trads, our experiences will help us a great deal, and I know that for myself, my determination at the tender age of 21 (no offense) just wasn't enough to be successful as a vet. So...on those days when I feel really old and grey, I just tell myself that I am 25 again, and that's when I realize that i don't want to be 25 again! :laugh: I think that we all must pursue our dreams at the time is right for us. :) And, it seems that no matter how much older I get, I don't know that i'll ever really be "old"!
     
  8. StealthDog

    StealthDog U of MN 2010 Veterinarian 7+ Year Member

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    Feb 17, 2006
    I agree with the sentiment that non-traditional students have a "head start"- they seem so much more grounded and well-balanced that those of us heading right in after undergrad. The variety of experiences that each non-trad has had trumps pretty much anything that I've done so far. Plus the work that non-trads have done to get into vet school shows a higher dedication to it than those who (*coughcough*) think that getting in is easy, so our non-trad students are generally much more appreciative of being here- I've rarely seen them go storming into a prof's office to bicker about losing one point on a test. We've lost two students so far this year, and they've both been young and straight from undergrad.
     
  9. hoodle

    hoodle UC-Davis DVM/PhD 2+ Year Member

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    Dec 18, 2006
    Davis
    I couldn't agree more (and I'm in a similar situation as AuburnPreVet). I'll be 23 going into vet school, if I get in next year, and thankfully I took a year off in the middle of undergrad to go exploring and screwing around a bit. Even then (having 1 year out of school under my belt) I feel vastly unprepared for the non-academic side of vet school: the "this is my life" side. I can see how starting later can seem scary, but I know (and so does AuburnPreVet) how far ahead you guys are in some ways... and I'm jealous... I mean, all the living on your own, financial independence, taxes, etc etc stuff, I'm just figuring out NOW!

    At least you know how the world works outside of vet med before beginning.
     
  10. wildfocus

    wildfocus DVM/PhD student 5+ Year Member

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    Nov 14, 2006
    Rocky Mountain High
    damn! thanks for the reminder;)

    another nontrad here, who has been on the long windy path for 15 years. i'll be turning 33 the first day of vet school orientation, and 39 when i walk out with a dvm and phd (if gods be willing). i've nothing else to add really, but imagine yourself 10 years from now. those 10 years are going to pass no matter what, and on the other end, you may as well be doing something that you enjoy. dive in!
     
  11. pressmom

    pressmom Third year! 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 4, 2007
    <-- 27

    (Well, the pepper in the picture did mold before Weston took a picture of it, but I'm not moldy. That's an art history geek talking!)

    So I'm 27, graduated undergrad with a degree in political science and worked in marketing research consulting for awhile before leaving because I didn't find it fulfilling. I decided I wasn't a business person. So I moved back to where I went to college and started working as a nanny. Long story short, I kept driving past the vet school and thought "hey, there's a profession that's doing a lot of good in the world." So I shadowed at my vet and loved it. Then I started taking classes at night and working at the vet and as a nanny during the day. For one (maybe two, I can't remember right now) semester I went full time and lived off savings (working a little) just to finish things up more quickly.

    Now I'm headed to vet school in the fall. It has all been worth it. (Although my family teases me about my extended education.)

    To answer your questions:

    "I am really just looking for perspective about what is involved."
    Probably lots of night classes. Some financial sacrifices if you want to get it done more quickly.


    "What kind of person makes the best vet student and vet?"
    A dedicated one. People come to veterinary medicine for all kinds of reasons. I love the good I can do, and I love medicine. You may love other parts. What counts is your dedication to your patients and the profession.

    "Is it ok to love animals and want a ranch full of rescued animals but not be a vet?"
    It is 100% okay. Just like it's okay to love kids and not be a pediatrician.
     
  12. philomycus

    philomycus The Tree Rat 7+ Year Member

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    Aug 21, 2006
    In an oak tree...
    <-- 33 here

    OK is my last shot this year. If I don't get it, I'll be reapplying until I do.
    Got a good job, job security, health insurance...but I still want to be a vet!

    Go for it!
     
  13. twosoakers

    twosoakers Addict &amp; Western U '11 7+ Year Member

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    Jan 18, 2007
    Pomona, CA
    i admire you, philo :love:
     
  14. PdxYOSHI

    PdxYOSHI Oregon State 2011 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 20, 2007
    Oregon
    I agree on the general consensus that if its what you want go for it. For me, I know that I wouldn't be happy doing anything else. I've already had a job and a boss that drive me crazy and I don't want to feel negative about my career. My job is too much of who I am and I want to be happy with that, plus I'm not content just doing any old thing. So, even though I'm 28, I'll be starting vet school this fall and I couldn't be happier. Age ain't nothing but a number. :)
     
  15. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 4, 2006
    We are a widely varied lot, but I'd guess that a common thread for most people looking to be vets is a drive to figure out what makes things tick, and to fix things that are broken. It might be worth noting that most of the people I know who are "ranch full of rescued animals" types are actually *not* vets. Being a vet generally involves long hours taking care of sick animals that do not belong to you, and doesn't leave the kind of time you'd need for a ranchfull of your own (you don't get paid to treat your own animals, after all). Since you're still in the exploring phase, it might be really helpful to try to get some experience as soon as you can - find a clinic that will let you shadow and see how vets spend their days, so you know it's what you want before you start jumping through hoops.
     
  16. philomycus

    philomycus The Tree Rat 7+ Year Member

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    Aug 21, 2006
    In an oak tree...
    I am jealous of you, so close to Peyton Manning and all.... ;) I'm a huge Colts fan !!!


    on another note, I love my job now (most days!)...it's not like I'm running away from another career.
     
  17. ShelterGirl

    ShelterGirl UC Davis SVM 2012 5+ Year Member

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    Dec 21, 2006
    Bay Area, CA
    Ditto pretty much what everyone else said - it takes time, money, and a lotta hard work to do it, but if it's your dream then it's totally worth it.

    Make sure to get some experience working with veterinarians to make sure you like what you see before investing a lot into going back for prereqs and such. There are lots of options - clinics, shelters, research, zoos, etc. Best of luck!

    p.s. I didn't get in this year (got an interview!) but I'm gonna keep trying until I do :D
     
  18. runnerDC

    runnerDC Tufts - class of 2011 2+ Year Member

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    Sep 6, 2006
    MA
    I'm 33 and will be going to vet school in the fall.

    My "epiphany" came about 4 years ago, when I asked myself what I would feel like if I were still in my current field (public policy research) 20 years from now. My answer was so immediate and clear: I would feel like I missed out on something important. I had finally recognized the difference between an interest (policy research) and a passion (veterinary medicine). And realized that I wanted my passion to be my work, and vice-versa.

    So I started taking all of the pre-reqs PT at night, while working full-time, and volunteering at a small-animal clinic in my neighborhood several hours a week to understand from the inside-out what I was getting into. It took a lot of work; 13-14 hour days were common, and there were many nights where the last thing I wanted to do after coming home from a long day of work and lecture/lab was study some more. But after a while, all of those things just kind of became something else that I did, and didn't feel nearly as daunting anymore.

    I, too, am leaving a career where I'll be lucky to make half of what I am making now when I get out of vet school. And lucky to match what I'm making now even several years from now. But there is still no doubt in my mind that this is what I want to be doing.

    I can understand your fear of starting over in something different after having built up a successful career where you are now. But I think what might be harder and more damaging to swallow is the regret of not having tried, when you know that where you are now is not where you want to be. Whether its veterinary medicine or something else, once you realize where you want to be, start taking the steps to get there.
     
  19. Emio

    Emio Fudge Bane 7+ Year Member

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    Jan 12, 2007
    Columbus
    she took the words right out from under my fingers... go get 'em, Philo!

    same here. i don't plan on having many animals when i grow up (though i did warn my mother and best friends that they're going to end up crazy cat ladies with one of every other three-legged critter imaginable). maybe something relatively easy, like lizards or a boarded horse. cause goal #2 is to compete in a Grand Prix one day. anyway, if you really like animals, but maybe not science or medicine so much, by all means, start up a rescue farm and take in everyhting that comes your way! there will be plenty for you to do.
     
  20. TheDuck

    TheDuck Featherbrain 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 12, 2007
    I'll be non-trad when I apply in a few years, at the ripe old age of 27. I guess that's non-trad ??? ? I think the fact that I've had another career first also helps push me into the non-trad thingy.
     
  21. thomphea

    thomphea 2+ Year Member

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    Mar 15, 2007
    28. Graduating this May with BS in biology. Applying this summer to vet school. There are tons of us older kids- my theory... at least we know this is what we want to do!
     
  22. InfiniVet

    InfiniVet 5+ Year Member

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    Oct 17, 2006
    College Station, Texas
  23. CookieBear

    CookieBear 5+ Year Member

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    Oct 1, 2006
    East Coast
    <----- 30, to be 31 this August.

    B.A. in English, 1997.

    Went back in 2002, part-time, for all the science pre-req's save two that I had from undergrad.

    Second application try this year. Made KSU!

    I'm leaving a great, secure job, with very good pay and benefits.

    If it's what you really want, deep down, go out and get it.

    If you're going to look back, years from now, and still think, "I wish I had become a veterinarian"...

    Like WildFocus said, 10 years are going to pass, and more. Where do you want to be 10, 20 and more years from now?

    (For me, I still almost can't believe that I made it in, and this is finally going to come true. It's still unreal to me. I suspect it may not completely sink in until I'm actually sitting in first day of lecture.

    Or, possibly, signing my name to all these loans... :laugh: )
     
  24. twosoakers

    twosoakers Addict &amp; Western U '11 7+ Year Member

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    Jan 18, 2007
    Pomona, CA
    you can get a b.s. in english?? that's awesome! (do you have to take o-chem for english majors?) :laugh:
     
  25. Lathiana

    Lathiana Missouri CVM 2011

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    Mar 31, 2007
    Missouri
    Well, I also am a nontraditional student - I'll be 28 when I start this fall, and I don't think that veterninary schools look at it negatively at all. In fact, when comparing my interviewing experience with others this year, I feel that mine was a breeze and I really didn't get asked some of the more technical questions that my younger peers did - the committee seemed more interested in talking to me about my experiences and how I had come to choose veterinary medicine. If you can explain why you have chosen alternate paths prior to this one, then you are fine. I joined the Army right out of high school and was active duty for awhile before I decided to go back to school full time (with husband and children in tow). I think that the schools like to see people that have tried other things and are dedicated to their current path. I think that if you can explain that your life choices have rounded you out as an individual, you will find that you will be a prime applicant. Not to ramble on, but I truly feel that it was my nontraditional status combined with my life experiences that really helped to push the odds in my favor for getting picked up on the first time around. If you have good family support behind your decision, I think you will have no problems at all in pursuing your dream :)
     
  26. CookieBear

    CookieBear 5+ Year Member

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    Oct 1, 2006
    East Coast
    I think it's a BA in BS :bow: :hungover:

    :D
     
  27. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 4, 2006
    One of the non-trad first years at Davis told this story at their interview workshop... He used to be a helicopter pilot. One of his interviewers said to him (paraphrasing a paraphrase here obviously) "I'm a tenured professor doing what I always dreamed I would be doing, I love my career, great pay, awesome benefits, etc... But if someone walked up to me tomorrow and offered me a chance to be a helicopter pilot instead, I'd take it in a heartbeat. So I just don't buy that you'd rather be a vet." :laugh:

    So, especially for those people leaving lucrative professional careers that other people would love to have, just be sure that you actually can speak convincingly about why vet med is right for *you*...

    (Just turned 31 myself. 31/32/33 seems to be the top end of the "normal" non-trad population, in that you'll have several of us in every entering class, with maybe one or two of the 38/39/40+ crowd thrown in for spice. Seems like 27/28 hardly even counts as nontraditional anymore.)
     

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