Am I Too OLD For Vet School?

This may be a question that many non-traditional and career-changing applicants face, but let me assure you are not too old for veterinary school!

Sure, the average age of incoming students at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis is more or less 23-24, but that may be offset by the students who are, in statistical terms, “outliers.” An outlier, according to Wikipedia, “is one that appears to deviate markedly from other members of the sample in which it occurs.” In other words, the few students who are markedly above average in age off-set the mean and make it seem artificially inflated. Most students enter vet school immediately or within a year or so after graduating from undergrad, making them 21-23 during their first year.

In my class of 130+ students at UC Davis there are multiple students in their 30s and one who started vet school at 40 years young. (I say that because everyone assumes she’s in her 20s!) You may be even older than some of these students and wonder whether that will make a difference or mean that you will be treated differently by your classmates. What I have seen with my own class is this: no one has been ostracized because of their age, relationship or family status. There are many people in the class who are married or engaged and quite a few with children and yet none of them get treated any differently. Surely they are not always able to engage in social activities with as much liberty as someone who is single without children, but they definitely stay connected with the class.

If you want an inspiring story, Dr. Johanna Greenberg (like me, an alum of one of the Claremont Colleges) was the first paraplegic to apply to veterinary school, get accepted and earn her degree. I had the pleasure of working aside Dr. Greenberg during my time at the Pasadena Humane Society (PHS). Though Dr. Greenberg has moved on from PHS, I can testify that she is a superb veterinarian and is not even mildly inhibited by being in a wheelchair. Although she was not 50 when she applied to vet school, Dr. Greenberg’s unyielding determination to become a veterinarian has inspired me as I am sure it will inspire many others.

In the end, my opinion is clear: if you want to become a veterinarian, do it! Take the prerequisite classes and apply — no matter what your age or situation! Don’t let a dream pass you by just because of something as insignificant as age.

Live life. Take Risks. No Regrets.