If you ask a majority of the people in the field of veterinary medicine, I would bet you money that growing up, they were one of those kids that had an immense love for animals. Everyone knows a kid like this—they spend their free time learning about animals, caring for their pets, collecting wildlife specimens, and maybe even “play doctor.” A family member of mine has an almost teenage girl who is one of these special kids. We all know and have known that she has a special bond with animals, and wants to be a vet. I have some advice for parents of these young kids, to share with them someday and to help guide them.
Spend the least amount of money in undergrad as possible: Vet school is expensive and you should be aware of the debt that comes with it. The average student is graduating with six-figure debt. I can only assume if things do not change, that this will only continue to increase. So my advice is to find any way that works for you to spend less money. Some of my peers took fewer classes but worked in the field to pay off their undergraduate loans. Others take Gen. Ed. classes at community college since it is significantly cheaper. Scholarships are helpful as well, but they can be difficult to rely on completely with so much competition. Get creative and learn to save money now!
It’s okay if you don’t fit the mold: As a non-traditional student, I can tell you that there is nothing wrong with not following everyone else’s path. Everyone tells you if you want to go to vet school you need to get good grades in high school, graduate with all A’s from a university and go to vet school. That’s just not the case. I was a pretty average student in high school—I just wanted to have fun with my friends and vet school wasn’t on my radar. If this is you, that is perfectly fine. On the other hand, if you can do really well and high school and get a scholarship for college, then that’s great too! There is no one perfect way to get to that goal of vet school. I would advise taking time off to travel and work and see if veterinary medicine is truly the field that you want to be in. It’s okay to slow down and enjoy life a little because you’re going to be working for the rest of your life! Enjoy yourself.
There are a lot of options out there: a lot of kids start taking college classes with the intention of going to vet school, but soon realize that it’s just not for them. The rigor of classes along with the pressure of getting good grades, and being away from home for the first time and a multitude of other factors lead people to decide vet school isn’t for them. Great! No problem, there are still plenty of career choices that involve animals. You can be a technician, or get involved in the business side of veterinary medicine. You can be a zookeeper, a wildlife biologist, or a plethora of other professions that you can pursue.
Ambitions of attending vet school will require some exploration and in-depth research, and for those young souls who are destined for a career in animal care, these are just a few ideas to think about. I am always available for questions, so feel free to reach out to me!