I have seen many veterinary students talking about the reasons that they chose their vet school. Since we are in the midst of the vet school application season, I thought I would tell you the reasons I chose my vet school, and what you might want to consider when applying. So make a list of what is important to you, and factor that into your decision.
This is not at the top of everyone’s list, but this is number one for me. As we all know and get bombarded with every year throughout our education, is that vet school is crazy expensive! There are only seven vet schools where 80% of the students receive aid, such as scholarships and grants. At my school, nearly 50% of students receive some sort of aid. I was able to receive a scholarship my 2nd through 4th years of school, which was important for me (every little bit helps!). In addition, in-state tuition at my school was much cheaper than any other school. I didn’t want over $200K in debt when I graduated, so this was the best option for me, especially since my home state has a vet school. If you have a dream school, I would try to get residency first before applying. Plus, most vet schools reserve more seats for in-state or contract state students, so this could benefit you in the end.
It was important for me to be close to family, especially for my children. My family is close enough to us that a couple hours’ drive can easily be done if I need help watching the kids so I could study for a test. I thought about applying out of state, but in the end, I’m so happy that I didn’t because I’m not sure I would have made it through without the support that I have gotten from family and friends that live close by. I know compared to some of my classmates and friends, I am so lucky that I am just a quick car ride away from family. During those extremely stressful times, an in-person chat with parents, siblings, cousins, and friends really helps keep me sane. Being able to give my mom a hug when I need comfort is something I try not to take for granted ever.
Different clubs, organizations, and clinicians have given me so many opportunities! Our avian club, for example, brought us to a local parrot rescue where we got to practice handling, physical exam skills, and nail trims, as well as learn about behavior. The club also gave me a leadership position as president which in turn has helped me gain scholarships, connections, friends, and externship opportunities. In addition to clubs, our clinicians want to help us succeed and many invite us down to the hospital to observe and help out. On several occasions, I reached out and was able to observe doctors and 4th-year students in action. It gave me a little taste of what clinical year is like, plus I got to assist with live animals, which is always a bonus in my eyes!
4. Life outside of school
Life outside of school is important to me. Being near the capital city, there is so much to do (yes, even in Iowa). In the early spring when it’s often still cold, there is a blues concert every weekend in the beautiful botanical garden. It makes it feel like I’m on a tropical island (without the ocean, but I’ll take what I can get). There is a lovely art center, tons of restaurants representing different ethnicities and cultures, and beautiful state parks to hike. You’d be surprised what you might find if you just look a little. Being smack dab in the middle of the state, a car ride is never long to get to different cities to explore for me.
So, think of what is important to you, make a list, and find what school fit’s for you. No matter where you go, you will get a great education and become an awesome veterinarian!