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Nontrads: FT vs. PT Employment During Prereqs

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by callacat, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. callacat

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    Hi all,

    Nontrad pre-vet here. I'm looking for some advice regarding full time vs. part time employment while taking classes. A bit of background: I currently work a full-time schedule at a non-vet related job. This summer, I started my prereq journey as a post-bacc student - I just completed Physics I and am currently enrolled in Physics II. Class runs M-F, for 1.5 - 3.5 hours nightly, in addition to the 1-hour commute each way. Needless to say, it's been mentally draining.

    In order to get to vet school in a reasonable amount of time, I've made it my goal to complete two classes per semester, starting this fall. I'll need to take all prerequisites, so by my estimates I'm heading down a 3-year road. To me, it seems that these classes will occupy just as much time as my current schedule, as they both have lab components.

    So, my question is - how would adcoms view a PT work (nothing too part-time, maybe 25-30 hours/week)/PT school schedule? Do you think this would reflect extremely poorly on my ability to handle multiple responsibilities? I'll admit that I'm not the best at handling stress, and the last thing I want to do is sacrifice my grades for a job that in the long run won't matter very much. So, right now, I don't feel confident that I can handle the workload of two classes and a full-time job. I've considered going back to school full time, but I don't have residency currently in the state in which I'm living (not for another year, at least) and cannot justify the financial expense of paying out-of-state tuition. I've also considered taking one class, but as I mentioned earlier, I'd like to minimize the time spent in part-time classes (and get to vet school sooner!!).

    Thanks all for your help in advance!!
     
  2. LuckySpartan

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    Hi! I am also non-traditional and applying to vet school as we speak. After working for about 5 years after college I completely quit working and went back to school full time. I never really considering doing the part-time school/ work thing. I wanted to complete the pre-reqs asap which was two years for me. I could not have taken a full class load and worked while maintaining excellent grades.

    I think because this is a second career for you, you earn points there... so really any points you may lose from only carrying a partial class load will be made up for there. Plus you are working. I wouldn't worry about it. If you can just go to school full time and focus on getting the classes done, I would obviously opt for that.
     
  3. missdarjeeling

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    I'm a non-trad, too, applying this cycle for the first time. The advice I got was that it was important for me to have at least one full-time semester of pre-reqs. The admissions people I spoke to and my advisor all said that schools want to see real evidence that you can handle a full-time science course load, and for a non-trad who's working, that means at least one semester. They want to see that you're able to do well in juggling multiple science courses with a lot of material.

    I ended up working full-time and studying part-time for just one semester. I also had a 1 hour commute to school, and it was brutal. My grades would've tanked if I had to keep that up, so I dropped down to part-time at work and took as many classes as I could at a time. Every other semester except my last was full-time, and I'm glad I was able to do it that way.

    Of course, if it's not realistic or feasible to cut your hours at work, you simply do what you can. Assuming you put together a strong application, I don't think it'd hurt that much. But if at all possible, I'd try to fit in at least one full-time semester. The only thing is that if full-time school plus full-time work is going to result in crappy grades, that'll likely do you more harm than just doing part-time school the whole way through.
     
  4. LetItSnow

    LetItSnow Skipping the light fandango
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    I think that's probably good, reasonable advice ... but I wouldn't get too caught up trying to make <sure> a non-trad has full-time semesters to prove anything. I certainly wouldn't make any major life changes that are financially stressful to do it.

    I mean, I didn't have any full-time semesters in my pre-req classes. I kept working full-time instead. And if they had reason to wonder about <anyone> being able to manage a full-time load, it was me, the guy that failed out of college twice and had a 0.0 GPA at UMN from my undergrad days. You'd think if they were worried about someone being able to manage the load, I'd be the poster child. And they accepted me nevertheless. And somehow I made it through the program (still wondering about that, but.....).

    Obviously, I'm just one person and one school, but I think I'd probably suggest people give more weight to the GPA in general than sacrificing much to have full-time school on their application. Probably better to be part-time (+ working full time) with a 4.0 than full-time with a 3.5, yanno?

    In the end, though, you're right: you just do what you can and that's life. I honestly don't think this issue (full time vs part time) is a huge make-or-break kinda thing for applications people. They look at a broader picture.
     
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  5. LetItSnow

    LetItSnow Skipping the light fandango
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    I think you got pretty good advice, but .... at some point you need to feel confident you can handle the full-time workload of vet school.

    If you are very early in the pre-req process, I think I would consider doing this: take the PT job and take 2 relatively straightforward classes (i.e. not organic chemistry, etc.). Take, like, Bio I and some other comparatively easy pre-req. That will give you a better feel for time management in what ideally are less time-demanding classes.

    The downside, of course, is that if you bomb them you blew what should be some easy A's. So there's some risk involved. But you should be able to handle working 25-30 hours/week with 2 classes. I worked about 40-50 hrs/week, took 2 classes, and managed 1.5 days/week volunteering/shadowing, and had kids ... so it's doable. I am NOT the world's best time-management person, so I'm pretty sure if I can do it, just about anyone can. I'm a total slacker.
     
  6. wallydo

    wallydo MSU c/o 2021!
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    I have a similar background to @LetItSnow here including the rough start from a first semester of courses. During my undergraduate studies, I have worked 40 hours week in a veterinary setting (began 8 years ago, as an assistant and now working as a technician in my practice). There was no other option for working less because I had no family in Michigan during the majority of my studies and I paid for a lot of my college as I went along.

    However, I was able to 4.0 many courses. I actually 2.0'ed Biology I which I took very early on but 4.0'ed both Orgo I and II. So for me, there was a bit of a learning curve but had I been working only 25-30 hours, I would've been just fine. It is absolutely do-able to work those hours and excel in two courses and I'm no time management expert, though this skill has greatly improved over the years. I have worried about whether or not my admissions committee would've have liked to see one full time semester but I did what I could and hope that my full time work, weekly volunteering, finding new veterinary experiences, constant fostering, and doing well in those smaller course loads will help me out.

    My overall opinion; I agree with do what you have to do. Looking back on my experience, I don't know that I would've done it any other way if I could've, simply because I enjoy having very little debt and I've gained a lot of invaluable experience over the years.
     
  7. Squeaksmom

    Squeaksmom 2020 baby
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    I worked 30 hours a week with a full-time courseload in undergrad, and volunteered every second weekend (I worked the alternating ones). I don't exactly recommend it... I was perpetually exhausted... but it can be done.
     
  8. Gr8fu11

    Gr8fu11 NCSU CVM c/o 2019
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    I think working while finishing your pre-reqs is a smart idea. You will be signing your life away in loans once vet school starts and if you can pay for the classes out of pocket without accruing loans prior to vet school that is great. I worked while taking my last two pre-reqs after graduation. I could only take one per semester because that was all that I could afford. I was afraid how that would look but it worked out fine.

    Also, find out if your veterinary school accepts pre-reqs from community colleges. Some schools permit lower classes (Physics 1 and 2, Gen Chem, Gen Bio, sometimes Organic) to be taken at a community college and recommend that higher level classes (Microbiology, BioChem, Genetics,etc) be taken at 4-year institutes. Other schools just want the pre-reqs done and don't care about where they are completed. This could help you save money. For example the community colleges in my state charge ~$69/credit hour while most 4-year universities charge $200-$300 per credit hour in addition to fees.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  9. StartingoverVet

    StartingoverVet Flight Instructor for hire
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    There is one (or maybe 2) schools that essentially require you take at least a semester of full time work load. Can't recall which one(s). Michigan maybe?

    Other than that, do what will be best for you. If a work + school is too likely too much, then don't do it. You don't want to get completely burned out and stressed out doing prereqs... that is what vet school is for (i kid.... oh wait no i don't:p).

    My situation, which as for most non-trads is not necessarily representative, was as follows:
    Was a B+ student in undergrad a few decades earlier.
    Worked full time while taking 1 or 2 classes each semester to do pre-reqs. I got As in almost every pre-req (3.9 pre-req gpa) and had no trouble getting into schools. So if you do extremely well that would help to balance out the lack of full time course load.

    For those who think a full time science load is necessary in undergrad to demonstrate you can handle it in vet school I say phooey. It proves nothing. Maybe if you took 10 science classes, but there is really no comparison. And I found working full time and taking 2 classes was challenging mostly because of the work side. Of course, if you can't handle a class only schedule in undergrad, it probably won't work in vet school, but that only proves the negative if that makes sense.

    ramble ended.
     
  10. LuckySpartan

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    Im applying to Michigan and my advisor at the CVM has never mentioned that to me.
     
  11. Squeaksmom

    Squeaksmom 2020 baby
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    Calgary wants at least 2 consecutive years full-time, or at least they did a few years ago. I had to delay my application because I hadn't realized that, and was only taking 3 courses/semester when I started back to school.
     
  12. EngrSC

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    I work FT in an unrelated field and PT in a vet hospital - that translates to 6 day work-weeks. I take 1 lecture and 1 lab each semester and I can't imagine taking another class on top of that ... though if I only had my FT job it would be totally doable. I would love to quit my FT unrelated job and get through my prereqs faster BUT I place huge value on my financial well-being. That said, my husband's job will likely take us out of California next year and if we end up somewhere with a lower cost of living then our plan is for me to work PT and knock out my remaining prereqs in a semester or two. It can be done.
     
  13. callacat

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    Wow, look at all these awesome replies - thanks, all! It seems like the general consensus is to (at least start out with) a PT work/PT school schedule, if that's what's doable for me. Like @StartingoverVet mentioned, it's really the working FT thing (not the PT class thing) that's the stressful component - the expectations, inflexibility, etc. I have also been considering heading back to school FT once I get residency, so it was good to know that some schools want to see a full-time courseload. We'll see when I get to that point.

    Many have mentioned being able to manage a FT work/PT (or even FT) class schedule - to you all, I say the more power to you! I genuinely wish that I could do everything that I'm doing currently and be OK, but the reality is that I'm not sure I'd be able to handle the stress of it all. If I don't end up FT back at school, I'll definitely consider bumping back up to FT at work, after I figure things out a bit more.
     

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