Q&A: Long Time to Complete Bachelor’s, When to Apply and Take the GREs

I was wondering if my situation would hinder me in any way application process. I started school at the University of Scranton as a biology/pre-vet major back in 2001 and switched to pre-med after much persuasion from friends and family. After putting in many of hours of volunteer at local hospitals and studying for the MCATS, I ended up burnt out at the start of my senior year and dropped out. I wasn’t happy. I took a few years off from finishing my biology degree try to figure out what it was I wanted. In that time, I took art, psychology, language, and pre-nursing classes to see if I could make a career out of any of those subjects. I then decided to go back to a university in 2010 and finish off my biology degree because at that point I just wanted to earn my BS and start the BS to BSN nursing program at my school. At the start of summer 2011, I told myself to start volunteer work at the animal shelter, as I kept putting it off these past few years. The whole experience reawakened me. I’ve loved learning about animals all my life, but I let others ruin that dream for me when I first started college. But now I know this is what I truly want to do. The last ten years I’ve struggled with finding a career that I would be in love with, a job where the first thing I want to do when I wake up in the morning is to look forward to going to work. Would it hinder me in any way that it’s taking me so long to complete a BS?

I plan on completing my bachelor’s degree in May 2012. At the University of Scranton I kept a 3.5 gpa and at my current school, my gpa is a 4.0 (and hopefully I can keep it that way!). I’ve only had several months of animal shelter experience and I’m currently working on finding a veterinarian to shadow. I’m also currently working on finding volunteer work where I can work with animals other than small animals. When do you think I should start applying for vet school? Also, should I take the GRE’s anytime soon or wait until I start the application process?

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to your response!




Thanks for writing, EL!

First of all, I want to commend you for taking some time to figure out what it was you want to do. It is far better to take some time to reflect than end up in a career you hate and regret rushing into it. So kudos to you for that!

I would say not to worry about how long it’s taken you to complete your Bachelor’s degree — you can always explain your thoughtful process in the explanation statement of the VMCAS application.

I wouldn’t be overly concerned about your GPA but definitely continue to get experience!

I would apply to veterinary school when you are qualified to do so (when you are within 9 months of having all of your pre-requisites completed have sufficient experience, and have the GREs under your belt).

Speaking of the GREs, I wouldn’t say that there is a “right” time to take them. Take them after you’ve had time to prepare for them. That may or may not be when you’re getting ready to apply. The main downfall to waiting until you’re applying is that there is little time to improve that aspect of your application whereas if you took the GREs sooner you would be able to retake them if necessary to improve your score. Of course, keep in mind that GRE scores are usually only good for 5 years, so don’t take the test too early!

Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions!

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