Q&A: Majors, Where to Go to College, Competition, Managing Debt, Standing Out and Personal Statements

Hi !!! My name is SH 🙂

I will try to keep this e-mail short since you are probably busy and reading other people’s comments-but I have SO many questions.

I had a few questions that I wanted to ask you. 

1) I know every article I find on google says “choose any major for undergraduate studies” -the thing with that is, EVERYONE starts choosing random majors that are un-related to veterinary medicine, then what happens to the phrase “You get noticed more if you choose a un-related major”? Everyone is choosing a different major so how do you make yourself more noticed NOW?

-Wouldn’t you think it would be more beneficial if you TOOK a animal-related major? Get a jump-start on your new career path? I personally would want to major in zoology or something. Because it sounds interesting AND it could expand your knowledge on animal-related studies.

You can choose whichever major you want! I always recommend that students study something that they are interested in, regardless of what they want to pursue as a career. After all, some students may be really passionate about medicine but would like to take a few years to study Art…it doesn’t mean they want to make a career out of Art, but college is an opportunity for students to expand their horizons. It is not imperative that every move you make be directed at your ultimate career goal.

2) I recently moved from Washington state, this past April, and I am currently attending a CC in the San Fernando Valley. I have been “researching” a WHOLE lot about different majors/careers/jobs etc. I wanted to get a good look on which jobs make the most money, which careers are most likely to hire, and different topics but I keep coming to a dead end where I want to become a Vet. It’s one of those feelings where no matter how hard you try to let it go, you just can’t. Sure, I want to become a vet, but like most people, the costs and time consuming fact scares me. I actually had plans to get married early, have kids early, live a almost stress-free life, but I also want to make money (I do not want to go into veterinary just to earn money). I truly have a passion for animals, when I look them in the eyes, I know that I this is meant for me. Sorry I seem to have sidetracked, my 2nd question is: is there any SMALL advantage whatsoever to attending UC Davis as a undergraduate and applying to the graduate school?

I do not personally see an advantage as you are in an undergraduate program with many of the students that will be competing with your for spots at the vet school. Not all of you will get in. In fact, just a fraction as it would be unwise for the vet school to show such extreme preference for one school’s applicants.

Part 2 to that question is, since UC Davis is a UC afterall, will it cost SIGNIFICANTLY more, ON TOP of the graduate school costs?

UC Davis is a UC, so it is a public school. However, tuition at UC Davis (like many of the UC’s) is not cheap. Tuition alone is over 30k/year and rising fast! There are many other schools in the US that are cheaper than UC Davis, so it might be worthwhile for applicants who are not particularly tied to any geographical region to look into those schools as possibilities.

3) I was looking at the Application Stats for all the years you posted and it looks like only 1-2 people in only a few years got accepted from CAL STATE U- NORTHRIDGE? I was wondering, is that because no one from CSUN really wanted to apply to vet school? or is it because CSUN isn’t considered highly like the others? I ask about CSUN because that is the closest 4 year univ. I MIGHT plan on transferring to CSUN for undergrad studies. The costs at CSUN are a bit less than the other schools I have looked into and also closer from where I am living now.

When looking at the admissions statistics that I have posted on this blog, be sure to look at the comparison between number of students who applied and the number of students who were accepted. Some schools don’t have many applicants to begin with and whether those applicants are competitive applicants is another issue entirely.

4) Everything I read online, always seems SUPER cookie-cutter, if you know what I mean- at least your posts were LESS cookie-cutter and helped me think about things differently, how do you personally manage the student debt right now? How have you been coping?

For the time being, I am not letting my student debt affect my mental state. I am in veterinary school and this is what I want to do, so I am not going to stress over every penny that is spent at the moment. I do not spend money frivolously but I do not deprive myself of certain luxuries simply because I am in debt. When I graduate, that mentality will change. Fortunately I am accustomed to living well-below my means so I am confident that I will be able to manage my money appropriately so that I can afford to pay back my loans while still paying rent and putting food on the table. There are other things for me to consider as well…for instance, with new legislation, my loans may be forgiven if I make payments for ten years while simultaneously working in the public sector (something that I was already planning to do).

My younger sister (junior in high school) wants to become a vet too and she seems very passionate yet she is worried about the cost, earlier today, I told her- who cares about the cost? if your passionate about it, YOU CAN DO IT! That’s how I think, if I really want to do something, no matter what the cost will be, things will turn out well in the end.

Though years ago I would probably have taken your mentality, at this point I wouldn’t necessarily say “who cares about the cost.” The fact is, veterinary school is a very expensive endeavor for most students and students should be thinking about how they plan to pay off their loans given the debt they should expect to accumulate before they decide that this is the career for them.

5) OKAY, so the numbers (stats) on your posts and other google searches, are relatively SMALL in consideration of all those who apply to UC Davis grad school- so are those people who apply- ALL super smart and STILL get rejected or are at least half of them, students who don’t really try in school and have rather low GPA’s and scores and apply for vet school- just for the sake of it

I want to know if I have a fair chance in getting accepted to UC Davis Vet School if those who applied are at least doing good in school? Sometimes, I just wonder if half of those stats are students who don’t try in school and just breeze by.

I don’t think it’s as simple as classifying whether or not students “try hard” in school. After all, there are many brilliant people out there who don’t need to “try” very hard to get the grades that others work their butts off to achieve. That being said, there are plenty of intelligent people out there who try very hard but just have difficulty with certain subjects. I know that during college the two courses that were most challenging to me were also the classes that I tried the hardest in (History and Religion classes) and yet I got the lowest grades of all the courses I ever took in college in those classes. Though the grade didn’t really matter, it’s often frustrating when the grade didn’t reflect my effort.

That being said, some of the students who apply to vet school look like a long shot on paper while others look like they are guaranteed admission and do not get offered a spot. The year before I applied to Davis, there was a girl who graduated from UC Berkeley with a 4.0 and wasn’t even offered an interview. I was perplexed, but that says something about the admissions process – even if you look good on paper, it won’t guarantee you an interview or an acceptance. Plenty of students are below average based upon the statistics that UC Davis releases each year and yet they get offered a spot. Clearly the admissions process is not solely based upon grades. Your entire application is taken into consideration.

6) Most articles say that admissions usually like to see students with interests in different things rather than just veterinary interests? So what are some things that might attract the admissions people without mentioning anything veterinary-related? What would you suggest?

All they want to see is that your life does not revolve 100% around veterinary medicine. Mention anything from sports you play, clubs you’re a part of, non-veterinary employment, hobbies, etc.

-As far as personal statements go, does it HURT to write about a story like you did about a past childhood experience with animals? It seems like everyone seems to do that, write about something that sparked their life to want to become a veterinarian? What would also attract the admissions on a personal statement with less veterinary-related topics?

I don’t agree that most people write about a childhood experience with animals. I’d say (based upon the dozens of personal statements that I’ve read) that most students write about something that is from high school or later. I chose to go back to childhood because of my change in careers so as to illustrate how animals have always been a huge facet of my life and I didn’t just wake up one day and decide that I wanted to leave my career and become a veterinarian. It was a well-thought out decision.

It’s hard to suggest what to write about, because it has to be relevant to you. Each person has unique experiences that help shape their values and decisions in life. Drawing upon one of those experiences may help you start the writing process.

7) Do you think it might be sort of smart to major in maybe your “back-up major”? For example, I plan on going into Hospitality Management as a back-up if I don’t get into UC Davis Vet School/ fail in school/ or simply give up because of stress. That way I would have a back-up and I would have a degree Bachelors in Hospitality Management and I could possibly move on to pursuing a Masters Degree in it? Of course, I don’t want to give up, I’m willing to try re-applying a 2nd time if I don’t make it, but if the 2nd time I don’t make it, 3rd time’s the charm right? (it’s actually my favorite and lucky number) although… it would be time-consuming and costs additionally. 

I wouldn’t necessarily suggest changing majors to your “back-up major” simply for fear that you won’t get accepted to vet school and you will be forced to pursue another profession. If you didn’t become a veterinarian, would you consider becoming a veterinary technician? That’s something to consider. Also, if you are worried about not being qualified to get a job in hospitality management, consider choosing it as a minor or at the least taking as many classes as you can in that field so that if you were applying to jobs in that field, you can indicate that though you majored in something unrelated, you have taken many courses that make you well qualified.

Okay, I apologize for overwhelming you with these lengthy questions, but since junior high, I had no one to ask these questions to and

I found your blog today, and was “touched” by your posts.

If I never get a reply back, that is okay too! It’s the thought that counts, that I could write up all these questions. It made me think a lot more about if I really want to pursue Veterinary School.