Welcome first-year vet students! This journey you are about to embark on is one that will include some of the best and worst times of your lives. You will make lifelong friends. You might cry from exhaustion. You will find out how strong you truly are. And most importantly, you will finish these 4 years and become something you have probably always dreamed about—a veterinarian. Here are just a few tips that I think could benefit you while you navigate your first year of vet school.
Find an upperclassman
This one I wish I would have done sooner. After my first year, I made strong relationships with upperclassmen and these people have been nothing short of a miracle to my schooling. They have given me valuable advice on different classes, priceless study material (can’t stress this enough), and even opportunities outside of the classroom for practical, hands-on learning. I know several incoming freshmen at my own school—and I will be taking them under my wing and passing on all of the information that I have been given. Let’s help each other succeed!
Don’t overdo the clubs
You already know that vet school is expensive—but you will find as you go through your first year that there are a ton of outside activities to participate in, plenty of club fundraisers and new and exciting nightlife facilities to check out (also known as bars). I know some people who went a little overboard with the clubs their first year and it somewhat backfired on them. We have a huge variety of clubs and they all host lunch and dinner meetings, as well as wet labs and field trips. Sometimes these events collide with each other as well as school. Don’t spread yourself too thin—try maybe 1-3 clubs your first year and branch out from there. Some clubs offer membership by semester, so keep that in mind.
Get on a routine sleeping schedule
Repeat—get yourself on a healthy routine sleep schedule. This can become dangerous if you start staying up all night studying, which turns into sleeping all day and missing class. I have seen it happen and it can be a hard habit to break. I believe being in class is important. Your professors will get to know who you are (and believe me, you might need them for summer internship references!). The classroom is also where you meet friends, and in my opinion, having good friends in vet school is important. Vet school is hard to explain to other people, and they truly just don’t understand what you’re going through. Having that support system of friends has been critical to my mental health and well-being during school.
Get to know your advisor
If your school assigns you an advisor, I advise you to get to know them. Often times you will be paired with a veterinarian who has similar interests as you. I am lucky in that my advisor had also been my mentor years before vet school. These people want to help you and see you succeed. Many times they are happy to have you come and observe them in the hospital. Take those opportunities if you can! It will be a while before you get to learn on live animals and real patients. Your advisors can also become important as references if you need it for summer jobs or internships after graduation (see above tip).
As a first-year vet student, you will get a ton of advice–just use what works best for you. Good luck to all of you—you’ve got this!