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Mar 17, 2018
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Howdy to everyone from your favorite struggling senior. I'll be taking a gap year, so this is for this coming application cycle ('20-'21).

I really love to make things difficult for myself and mess up everything I set up when I'm doing well, so I want to know if this is even possible. I know, let them tell you no, VAMD are more holistic with admissions now, yada yada. I just want to know if this is a huge reach or if I have a healthy chance so I can set my expectations where they need to be and possibly make some alternate career plans or get a Master's first to prove I can handle rigorous coursework through a higher grad GPA and whatever else.


Cumulative GPA: 3.19 :whistle:
science GPA: around the above, maybe a little lower. 2.8 at worst, 3.1 at best.
last 45: also around the above so far, and falling. Probably more like a 3.1 I guess.


Will graduate (probably) with an Animal Science degree from UMD in Spring 2020.

GRE results: Q/V/W
Not taking it, I'm only applying to VAMD (in state) and they don't accept.

Veterinary Experience:
- ~750 hours at a small animal hospital that also treats exotics/exotic pets, my area of interest (only staff there besides the vet when I'm working, and he lets me do a LOT, so I get a ton of experience from this).
-200 hours at a mobile shot clinic serving rural/low income areas
-350ish hours (2 years) at a spay/neuter internship as a prep tech. Recently started taking on some duties as a surgery tech (anesthesia monitoring, intubation/extubation, manual breathing, inducing and recovering, etc.)
-100ish hours at that same internship helping with shot clinics (drawing up a million vaccines and restraining a lot of very aggressive animals, hundreds per clinic)
-About 50 hours as a tech for a holistic veterinarian at her practice
-75-100ish hours assisting with lambing and doing independent medical exams on the ewe and her lambs during their first couple months of life

Animal Experience:
- Worked at an exotic pet shop caring for all animals, etc for ~400 hours (one summer)
- Worked family pet sitting company as soon as old enough to help out, then independently as a professional pet sitter for all types of animals, did some freelance (about '12-'18). I'd guess this would be ~2000 hours
-Volunteer at local dog rescue adoption events (~25 hours)
-Volunteer at local cat rescue caring for cats (~15 hours)
-Fostered guinea pigs for a rescue and a feral kitten for a different rescue to socialize (~100 hours)
-Instructed beginner horseback riding lessons, rode for 10 years, leased a horse for a few of those and showed some. Not sure how much this counts as, guessing at least 1000
-Volunteered at a local science center presenting on the resident animals (exotics/reptiles) to the general public during open houses, handled animals and educated (~50 hours)
-Many lab classes with livestock for my major, mostly hands-on (exams, handling, all that). Poultry, sheep, cattle, horses, you name it. 300+ hours
-Volunteered at a local farm animal sanctuary caring for animals (~20 hours)
-Pet ownership (I'm a herp hobbyist and own a bunch of different kinds of snakes + amphibians + have owned pretty much everything under the sun back in grade school, now just have the herps and a cat and crayfish). Trained my own dogs through obedience classes and positive reinforcement, etc.
Don't know how many hours I'm allowed to count this as.

Research Experience:
- ~1200 hours in high school doing independent cancer research projects in a lab at NIH/NCI. I presented a couple posters on this as the primary researcher, had my own cell culture lines, and was allowed to do everything in the lab pretty much on my own while reporting to a mentor once I got the hang of it.
-~500 hours in a neuroendocrinology undergraduate research lab as part of a program at my university. Worked with lab mice (was animal handler certified), worked in a team to complete a research project for awhile, used a pretty nifty microscope competently enough studying different shapes of neurons. Also completed a 3-semester research course in conjunction with this.
-25 hours rabbit behavioral research in a group for a class.

Awards/scholarships:
- Dean's list Spring '17
- came into college as Honors, then lost it later that year after my first semester tanked. Don't know if this counts.
-Completion of the aforementioned university research program
-Scholarship when I came into college (which I then lost that first year- again, don't really know if this counts)
-Lots and lots of high school awards and APs, very high standardized test scores in HS (99.9+ percentile in SAT, ACT, SAT II in Chem)

Extracurriculars:
-Varsity sport (field hockey) in high school
-Academic chair of a LGBT+ frat for a couple years, member of said frat from freshman-junior year in undergrad before it dissolved
-Equestrian club for a semester in college
-Pre-vet club all 4 years in college
-Hiking club on and off throughout undergrad
-I camp and hang out in nature a lot, do hike-in camping, lots of camping up and down the East coast alone, etc
-I'm artsy with watercolors and pen and ink in my free time (mixed media)

Employment:
-I'm a licensed CDL driver; ~1000 hours as a bus driver for my school's shuttle system (I partially pay my way through school this way)
-Pet sitting that I mentioned above
-Pet shop that I mentioned above
-Vet stuff that I mentioned above
-High school research was paid

CONCERNS:

I have quite a lot of these.

-I've been on Academic Probation before. My very first semester of college. I got 2 Fs that are still on my transcript. The Dean's list semester was the next one, which looks good, and I aced a class that I had failed the semester before. However, that notation stays on my transcript.

-I'm practically failing out of THIS semester. I have (documented, if the application asks) issues with mental health (think godawful depression that makes it impossible to do anything + ADHD + anxiety issues, all in a vicious cycle when things start to slip). Before anyone says anything, I've handled/managed heavy workloads all through undergrad (GPA rose from a 1.7 to my 3.2 since freshman year), it's just been this semester and my very first where it wasn't manageable. I'm looking to medically withdraw from 2/3 classes this semester.

Although it will be a medical withdrawal if it goes through, I'm aware that this looks absolutely terrible as one of my last semesters of undergrad and for a semester that's only 9 credits. I'll still graduate on time even if it's 2 F's and the medical withdrawal doesn't go through, but that'll look even worse.

Even if I scrape a high GPA (3.5+) for my last semester (15-ish credits), which is very possible considering my history and patterns, I'm dubious that this semester in combination with the freshman one is overlookable. My first semester could be an underdog story, but this being so recent kind of kills that and just makes me look bad.

-My research experience was mostly in high school and what was in college wrapped up in my sophomore year, besides the behavioral research class couple hours.

-Possible lack of diversity in veterinary experience.


Honestly at this point, I'm just trying to pass this semester and do my best for the next to graduate and try and get my GPA up a little. Any advice is more than welcome.

I plan on moving to a new city working full time as a vet tech/assistant to build experience in my area of interest, but I'd more than likely just be starting this job when I do my application, so it would only be a few hundred more hours at most.

Thanks so much for reading!
 
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EngrSC

VMCVM c/o 2024!
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I’m a first time applicant and received an interview invite to VMCVM (and some other schools) as an OOS student with a 3.06 cGPA. However, my science and last 45 GPAs are strong.

Anyway ... I used the explanation statement to talk about anxiety and disordered eating habits I had as a undergrad due to some pretty severe GI issues. I believe that’s the place to talk about your anxiety/depression/ADHD but only if you can say what you did about it and can demonstrate how they are no longer an issue. I obviously haven’t started vet school yet but I have noticed that many vet students/vets around here say that the stress of vet school can exacerbate anxiety and depression and I’m sure vet school adcoms realize that so want to make sure you’ve got it handled. My personal opinion is that you’ll need to put some distance between your anxiety/depression and when you apply and show concrete evidence that you no longer struggle with them. Not sure if that means getting a masters or retaking classes, etc.

Here’s what I did, which I realize will be different for your situation. I mentioned all of this is my explanation statement:
Graduated with my BS in engineering in 2010 and enrolled myself in cognitive behavioral therapy to work on my anxiety (food related). Also started working with a dietician to get my eating back on track. After a year, I reached a healthy weight, was released from CBT, and was later invited to talk about my experience in my therapist’s graduate level CBT course. I talked about putting self-care first to manage my stress, which for me is getting adequate sleep most nights, eating balanced, and daily exercise. Then pointed out that I’ve taken 84 science credits as a post-bacc student while managing an engineering career, a cross-country move, and a reconstructive hip surgery without resorting to my anxious tendencies. The kicker is that I was able to SHOW that my anxiety and disordered eating is behind me by earning a 3.87 GPA in my post-bacc classes despite the other stressful events going on in my life.

Do with that what you will. I don’t think vet school is out of the question for you but I think you may have some work to do ... which will probably benefit you in the long run anyway :)
 
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mmmdreamerz

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I have nothing but absolute empathy for your situation, and because of that, I want to suggest you step back and consider that vet school is trash for mental health, even for many people with no prior mental health issues. This isn’t to say you can’t do it, because I firmly believe in being able to make things happen if you really and truly want them. However, I truly worry about anyone who struggles with these things in undergrad prior to starting vet school.

Vet school is hard, and while mental health is slowly but surely becoming less of a voodoo topic, the expectations are still unbelievably high. Let alone what it actually takes to survive in the profession.

Just some thoughts, because I care:)
 
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Nov 27, 2019
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Hey there! I am a second-time applicant and MD resident. I did a file review after being rejected for the interview last year and I learned it was because my GPA was low and I was lacking a reference from a vet. I received an interview invite this year after addressing both issues.

First, I'd recommend calling the admissions coordinator, Ms. Shelby Jenkins. I sent her my resume and transcripts and we talked about what holes to fill before applying. She is very friendly and helpful, so she would be the best person to approach with any questions or concerns like these. She even offers to look over your essays!

Second, IMO, it would be worth retaking prereqs to improve your last 45 credit hour GPA and science GPA. At VA-MD, the science GPA is calculated just from prereqs, not all science classes. If you can improve these two GPAs, I think your cumulative would be less of an issue. You seem very well-rounded otherwise.
 

EngrSC

VMCVM c/o 2024!
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Second, IMO, it would be worth retaking prereqs to improve your last 45 credit hour GPA and science GPA. At VA-MD, the science GPA is calculated just from prereqs, not all science classes. If you can improve these two GPAs, I think your cumulative would be less of an issue. You seem very well-rounded otherwise.
Solid advice. I’m interviewing at VMCVM as a non-resident this cycle and my cGPA is only 3.06. I think having strong science and last 45 credit GPAs can go a long way! Would highly recommend talking to classmates that have been performing well to figure out how they study. And do a little self-reflection into your study habits, and don’t be afraid to try studying differently. I think vet school can definitely be a reality for you but you need to show them that you can succeed academically :)
 
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