Oct 23, 2013
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Hi all. I know there are a bunch of this type of thread, but I haven't found one that really applies to my situation, so I figured I'd post my own. Sorry in advance for the length - I'll add a tl;dr of sorts at the end.

I have a bachelor's and part of a master's, both in criminal justice, which has netted me about $85k in student loan debt already. While in school, I worked in a few animal hospitals as both a receptionist and a vet assistant and I discovered that I absolutely love veterinary medicine. Of course I love animals, but I really, really love the medicine and the actual work. The criminal justice thing isn't panning out and, prior to my experience in vet medicine, I thought of going to law school, since I do like the law too. If I do as well on the actual test as I've done on the practice tests, I could likely get a free ride to my state law school.

Once I decided I wanted to go into vet medicine, I talked to the doctors at the hospital where I worked and they ALL told me to basically run for the hills and if there is ANYTHING else I like, do that instead. I know part of this is based on the debt to income ratio (my only concern), but they are all GPs and I know a few regret not specializing. I'd be interested in either small animal internal medicine or orthopedics. Plus, the hospital where I worked had a lot of management problems, which caused everyone to be unhappy there in general.

To add to it all, I'm almost 30, which I know is by no means "old" but I live on my own and don't make enough to save up to pay for living expenses in the future while paying for living expenses now. So, I'd have to incur even more debt to support myself (which I know is a boat a lot of other people are in too).

Very long story short, I love vet medicine more than anything else, but would come out with a total of at least $285000 (probably more) even if I went to a school where I could get IS after the first year. I like the law too (not as much as vet med) and could potentially get a law degree without incurring much more debt. Are you guys of the "if there's anything else you like, do that instead" mindset too? Thanks for reading!
 

Felixor90

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You'll probably be miserable as a lawyer once you graduate and realize you have to give up your morals to actually land a job, but then again you'll also probably be miserable as a vet with all the debt. Pick whichever you think will make you less miserable.
 
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Oct 23, 2013
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Ultimately, it's your decision, but if you're happy doing law, I'd go that route. I don't think I'd recommend anyone go to vet school if they're already sitting on $85,000 in debt.
The fact that I'm already in that much debt is a HUGE factor in my hesitation. Definitely a good point.
 
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You'll probably be miserable as a lawyer once you graduate and realize you have to give up your morals to actually land a job, but then again you'll also probably be miserable as a vet with all the debt. Pick whichever you think will make you less miserable.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that, if I go the law route, I'll be able to find a public interest law job. The idea of a soul-sucking corporate law job makes me want to just nope the hell out.
 
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I don't have personal experience in the field, but I have heard nothing but horror stories about the job market for law right now. As in, it's even worse than veterinary. Much worse, according to some. Complete oversaturation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/27/b...ol-graduates-struggle-in-job-market.html?_r=0

According to this, about 20% of new law grads are working in a job that does not even need a law license, and only 40% of them are working at law firms. That is pretty atrocious.
 

Innerspeaker

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Well, law school isn't necessarily cheap either. The debt:income ratio and job market for attorneys is just as bad in some places, if not worse, as it is for new veterinary school graduates. There are a lot of recent articles about large percentages of law school grads that can't pay off their student loans due to unemployment or severe underemployment.

If I were absolutely forced to pick the lesser of two evils, I would go for the DVM - my logic being that even if I'm broke or have a crap job, I still get to be involved with animals and medicine. However, you'd have to consider that you might have to return to school to obtain the pre-requisites for vet school, which could get you into even more debt before you even get accepted into a vet school. Would all that time, trouble, and extra money be worth it to you?
 
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dyachei

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I don't have personal experience in the field, but I have heard nothing but horror stories about the job market for law right now. As in, it's even worse than veterinary. Much worse, according to some. Complete oversaturation.
this is starting to turn around. My father-in-law is a law professor and the area he's in has started hiring again.

If you specialize, you will be in more than $285,000 debt. Remember that interest will accrue in internship and residency. For ortho, especially, you may have to complete 2 internships. IM not usually.
 

Felixor90

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I'm keeping my fingers crossed that, if I go the law route, I'll be able to find a public interest law job. The idea of a soul-sucking corporate law job makes me want to just nope the hell out.
Yeah that sounds great, except there are countless others with the same goal. It can be done, of course, but your odds are very slim. I have many friends that are graduating from law school now and it's tough seeing what they're going through. One friend has been jobless since graduating 2 years ago and is living with his parents while he looks for jobs. Honestly, I'd go the vet route and pray I marry someone rich. ;P
 
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Minnerbelle

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If I were you, I would cut your losses and choose something else entirely. With your financial situation, I think forcing yourself to choose between law school and vet school is foolish. Notice how all of the people telling you to go the vet route because "you'll at least be living your dream" are all not people who have gone through school and living with their choice to carry that debt. They are all people who are pre-vet or just got into school. Things always seem rosier when reality hasn't sunk in.

With 85k in the hole to start without having done pre-reqs yet... Unless you have a suuuuper cheap in state school to go to, I wouldn't even consider vet school personally. If you consider the cost of attendance currently for a lot of OOS schools, you're looking at 280k just with vet school in principal. Add to that 4 years of interest (plus however more years worth if you do internships/residency), plus your 85k and all the years of interest associated with that, plus costs of pre-reqs... And this is assuming you start vet school in the next year or two. Tuition has been skyrocketing each year so who knows how high it will be by the time you get there. Unless you go to a cheap school, you're looking at like 400k plus in loans by the time you graduate. Just the monthly interest on that is like >2,000 per month! And add to that your age (at least a little older than the fresh out of college kids), which is however many years you don't have to earn a doctors salary. Just thinking about your situation makes me want to puke tbh.
 

Kpowell14

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If I had $85,000 in debt before going to vet school I would have chosen a different career path. Even going into school with no debt I sometimes regret my decision because of the debt:salary ratio and work life balance (lack of) . Ultimately it is up to you, but I would definitely think long and hard before you decide.
 

DVMDream

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If I were you, I would cut your losses and choose something else entirely. With your financial situation, I think forcing yourself to choose between law school and vet school is foolish. Notice how all of the people telling you to go the vet route because "you'll at least be living your dream" are all not people who have gone through school and living with their choice to carry that debt. They are all people who are pre-vet or just got into school. Things always seem rosier when reality hasn't sunk in.

With 85k in the hole to start without having done pre-reqs yet... Unless you have a suuuuper cheap in state school to go to, I wouldn't even consider vet school personally. If you consider the cost of attendance currently for a lot of OOS schools, you're looking at 280k just with vet school in principal. Add to that 4 years of interest (plus however more years worth if you do internships/residency), plus your 85k and all the years of interest associated with that, plus costs of pre-reqs... And this is assuming you start vet school in the next year or two. Tuition has been skyrocketing each year so who knows how high it will be by the time you get there. Unless you go to a cheap school, you're looking at like 400k plus in loans by the time you graduate. Just the monthly interest on that is like >2,000 per month! And add to that your age (at least a little older than the fresh out of college kids), which is however many years you don't have to earn a doctors salary. Just thinking about your situation makes me want to puke tbh.
This is going to be close to my situation. Ok, it will be a little bit worse, but I had a decent amount of debt prior to vet school, plus the OOS tuition.. .it makes me want to puke too thinking about it. To be honest, I really want to be a vet but I would do so much different to try to minimize the debt. Either that or I would have been ok with doing the vet tech thing now looking back. Hindsight is 20/20 and it is too late now. But yeah, knowing what I know now, I would not have done vet school or I would have done things drastically differently.
 

Jess Monster

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I guess my questions would be...

Are you still in the process of completing your Master's or are you planning on withdrawing to pursue your new interest?
Have you completed any of your science pre-requisites for vet school?
Have you thought about ways in which you could incorporate your current education into a veterinary career?
 
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You'll probably be miserable as a lawyer once you graduate and realize you have to give up your morals to actually land a job, but then again you'll also probably be miserable as a vet with all the debt. Pick whichever you think will make you less miserable.
That's a bit disingenuous to the law profession as a whole. Of course there bad apples in every field, but it's not like real-life Better Call Saul out there.
 

pinkpuppy9

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That's a bit disingenuous to the law profession as a whole. Of course there bad apples in every field, but it's not like real-life Better Call Saul out there.
I agree. TBH, I've met a few bad apples in the veterinary field that have done some pretty shady things. Regardless of what career you choose, one has the ability to work in that field without sacrificing personal moral/ethical standards.
 

Felixor90

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That's a bit disingenuous to the law profession as a whole. Of course there bad apples in every field, but it's not like real-life Better Call Saul out there.
I agree. TBH, I've met a few bad apples in the veterinary field that have done some pretty shady things. Regardless of what career you choose, one has the ability to work in that field without sacrificing personal moral/ethical standards.
I guess Miami lawyers give the profession a bad rep. I understand it's not like that everywhere, but they're horrible down there.
 

pinkpuppy9

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I guess Miami lawyers give the profession a bad rep. I understand it's not like that everywhere, but they're horrible down there.
I haven't had very many experiences with lawyers but the ones that are currently assisting my family with things seem to truly want the best for their clients. It could very well be your area
 

DVMDream

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I guess Miami lawyers give the profession a bad rep. I understand it's not like that everywhere, but they're horrible down there.
This reminds me of someone who came in recently, "All Nebraska vets suck."

Generalizations are bad.
 
Oct 23, 2013
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If I were you, I would cut your losses and choose something else entirely. With your financial situation, I think forcing yourself to choose between law school and vet school is foolish. Notice how all of the people telling you to go the vet route because "you'll at least be living your dream" are all not people who have gone through school and living with their choice to carry that debt. They are all people who are pre-vet or just got into school. Things always seem rosier when reality hasn't sunk in.

With 85k in the hole to start without having done pre-reqs yet... Unless you have a suuuuper cheap in state school to go to, I wouldn't even consider vet school personally. If you consider the cost of attendance currently for a lot of OOS schools, you're looking at 280k just with vet school in principal. Add to that 4 years of interest (plus however more years worth if you do internships/residency), plus your 85k and all the years of interest associated with that, plus costs of pre-reqs... And this is assuming you start vet school in the next year or two. Tuition has been skyrocketing each year so who knows how high it will be by the time you get there. Unless you go to a cheap school, you're looking at like 400k plus in loans by the time you graduate. Just the monthly interest on that is like >2,000 per month! And add to that your age (at least a little older than the fresh out of college kids), which is however many years you don't have to earn a doctors salary. Just thinking about your situation makes me want to puke tbh.
My situation makes me want to puke too, haha! Seriously does though. I don't even have an IS school here in NJ, so that's out the window. As much as I love veterinary medicine, all of your very valid points have fully dissuaded me. The idea of potentially $400k in debt makes me want to throw myself off a roof, so I'm not going to do it. The thing law school has going for it (besides that I do like the law) is the fact that I could very likely get a full (or almost full) ride to my in state school.
Thank you for your honesty!
 
Oct 23, 2013
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Thank you everyone for all of your advice! I really appreciate you taking the time. It provided a much-needed reality check. As much as I love veterinary medicine, I'm going to cross it off the list of "what the hell to do when I grow up". Thanks again!
 
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I guess my questions would be...

Are you still in the process of completing your Master's or are you planning on withdrawing to pursue your new interest?
Have you completed any of your science pre-requisites for vet school?
Have you thought about ways in which you could incorporate your current education into a veterinary career?
I didn't finish my masters - it's a long story of the school basically screwing me over (and the fact that I discovered that the are ZERO criminal justice jobs out there for new grads). I did complete some of the prereqs, but would still have to take some more. I'm going to try to figure something else out. Thank you though!
 

Minnerbelle

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My situation makes me want to puke too, haha! Seriously does though. I don't even have an IS school here in NJ, so that's out the window. As much as I love veterinary medicine, all of your very valid points have fully dissuaded me. The idea of potentially $400k in debt makes me want to throw myself off a roof, so I'm not going to do it. The thing law school has going for it (besides that I do like the law) is the fact that I could very likely get a full (or almost full) ride to my in state school.
Thank you for your honesty!
You are wiser than 99% of us on this forum.
 

pinkpuppy9

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Innerspeaker

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The thing law school has going for it (besides that I do like the law) is the fact that I could very likely get a full (or almost full) ride to my in state school.
In that case, I wouldn't even question it!
 

missdarjeeling

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For what a few anecdotes are worth, I have a few friends who've recently graduated from your in-state law school and from schools in the NJ/NY area, and they're working legal jobs as actual lawyers. People who graduated a few years prior had a bit of a harder time. The market for lawyers is still worse than it is for vets, overall, but in some places, it's been picking up. Enrollments at law schools have gone down, too, and if you can get a full ride or even a good chunk of tuition remission/scholarships, it may be a safer bet for you.
 
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