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Friday, November 16, 2012

Plan B

Kayleigh emailed me with a follow-up to yesterday's post...

I read your post about vet school debt on the rise, and job offers declining, and it was a bit discouraging. I've always had such a passion for animals, and have dreamed of being a veterinarian, especially after working in a vet hospital. Working there made it feel just like it was the right fit, I can't imagine working in any other field. So here's where my question comes up, did you have a back up plan just in case? If so, what was it?

My journey is actually a bit atypical.  I started wanting to be a vet when I was nine years old and everything I did from then until college was to get into veterinary college.  However, I discovered by my senior year that I wouldn't be able to get in immediately after undergraduate college.  I had two classes required for admission that I wouldn't complete by the application deadline.  I was bummed and really fretted over what I would do.  I was left with basically two choices:  take a year off from school, work a job, and then apply, or I could take two years off and get further education. 

At the time I had taken an animal behavior class and found that I really liked the subject.  I started to think that maybe instead of a DVM I would try for a PhD.  So I elected to take the second route and went into graduate school for a Master's degree in ethology.  About half-way through I realized that a life of research was not my cup of tea and that I missed the idea of being around animals as a vet.  So I applied to vet school and was accepted, beginning after I left graduate school.

At that time I didn't have a backup plan.  In fact, deciding to go to vet school was sort of Plan B or Plan C.   Unlike many people I only applied to one school as I knew I wouldn't be able to afford out-of-state tuition.  So I had kind of placed all of my eggs in one basket.  If I hadn't gotten accepted at that point I probably would have gotten a job and tried again the following year. I didn't have other ideas or plans and couldn't imagine doing anything else.  

But the financial situation and job prospects at that time were much different than they are today.  If I was a high school or college student nowadays and was following this blog, I'm not sure what choice I would make.  It's not a great time to enter the profession.  But if someone still really, really wants to they should know full well what they're getting into and what their financial situation will likely be after graduation.