The appropriate adage is ”the elephant in the room,” but in the veterinary profession people would actually be talking about and poking at the elephant. Instead, the majority see a chicken and back away slowly. This chicken is green and white, is collected from students every semester, and always gets larger. You guessed it: the tuition chicken.
There are so very many angles to view this problem from. We can talk about who is at fault, who needs to fix it, who needs to get away from fixing it, and what the rest of our lives look like because of it. However, given the current state of our federal government, lack of support from state governments, and highly controversial status of the job market upon graduation; let us chat about the individuals. I am mostly writing this post to the people who will start signing their acceptance letters.
More days than not, I look at my bank account, shake my head, and ask what were you thinking? I signed my acceptance letter without hesitation. At CSU we also sign this cute little letter saying we understand we will be paying non-sponsored or out-of-state tuition for the entire four years (which increases). Sure! I am going to vet-school. Who cares?! Actually, I do care. I am very grateful to be attending school and getting an education. I could have done my research a lot better. I could have applied to schools that allow students to gain resident status after year one. I could have moved to a state that had a veterinary school for a year and gained residency. Taking that year would have been a much smarter financial decision. Granted, at some universities there is barely a difference between resident and non-resident tuition.
This sounds silly, but make sure you genuinely want to go to vet school. The majority really do want this. There are those few who leave because their heart is not in it. Well, your heart may not be but your wallet definitely is. If you take out loans, you still have to pay them back whether or not you complete the program.
Ask yourself questions. Talk to your family. Talk to someone other than family about what this looks like for you. Do you want to become specialized and boarded? Factor that into tuition. You may only make $20-30,000 as an intern/resident, but you will be paying back loans once you have that D.V.M. Do you have a significant other or dependents? How cheap are you willing to get your cost of living while in school? How heavy is your undergraduate debt?
The reality is 99% of us who are accepted do not think twice about actually going. Personal accountability is truly the only way to address the chicken at this point. The schools are trying to educate us about the problem. I use trying very lightly- but that is an entirely different blog post. Have a realistic perspective. I have accepted the fact that I will most likely be working two jobs (hopefully one of them is in my field) and living like a student long after I graduate. For those of you who are number oriented, I have a $275,000 chicken.