Sunday, August 31, 2014

And so it begins...

So this last week I had my first three whole days of veterinary school. I'm officially a BUCKEYE!     [O-H! and you say?... I-O!!]   My lovely sister at OH so Blessed! suggested that I blog about my first few days... and that's a good idea because if I wait any longer I'll forget what it was like!

Wednesday, August 27th was our first day as the class of 2018.  It was overwhelming.  When I first walked into the auditorium and saw my 161 other classmates getting out their laptops, books, notebooks, and binders... it's the first time I really realized: "This will be my life for the next four years"... and that's an amazing, but overwhelming feeling.  The people I'm surrounded by will one day soon become my colleagues. We WILL be veterinary professionals, and it won't take as long as it seems at this moment.  While I've only been a veterinary student for less than a week, there's already a lot I've learned about both vet. med. and the logistics of navigating veterinary school. They are as follows:

  • Leave earlier than you think is necessary; parking is not fun. 
  • Walk the dog before you leave, and then walk directly to the dog park after class. It gives both you and your puppy a break before dinner/study time. 
  • Be open to conversation with anyone, at any time. You have A LOT of new people to meet. Not just in your own class, but clubs/organizations, upperclassmen, and professors.
  • Upperclassmen are one of your greatest resource for study tips/advice on how to balance school and fun. (If you are given a "big sib," take advantage of that. They are a great resource, and want to help you adjust quickly to your new surroundings and they know how scary it can be. 
  • Your professors all want to see you succeed. They WANT you to ask questions and learn from everything they have to offer. Take advantage of that. 
  • Study often, but take breaks and know your limitations. I will most likely study every night.. just for an hour or two to go over what we talked about that day and will talk about the next. It makes a difference without becoming overwhelming. 
  • Study in groups.
  • There are 162 people and 162 seats.
  • Some people get mad if you try to sit in the seat they have "claimed."
  • If you don't get to class on time, the only open seat will inevitably be right in the middle of the auditorium. You will have to trip over 1,000 backpacks, lunch bins, and peoples' feet to get there, and you will distract absolutely everyone when you trip and curse your way to that seat... please don't.
  • If at lunch time you're worried about sitting in a bathroom stall like Lindsey Lohan on Mean Girls because you don't fit in... Just stop. Everyone in your class has one thing in common: They love animals. Just go ask to sit with someone and ask if they have any pets -----> Perfect conversation starter for vet school. 
  • As a first year student, we will perpetually have the wafting aroma of formaldehyde. It's how the upperclassmen can identify us as first years. [Yay?]
  • Even if you wash all exposed skin in the sink after anatomy lab, change your clothes, and febreeze yourself, you'll probably still smell like formaldehyde.
  • Your notes packet for first semester will consist of somewhere near 1,000 pages.
  • You will want to join every club or organization.. limit yourself. I've been told 7-8 is a good number.
  • Lastly, BUCKEYES RULE!!! Our class had 162 spots. 1,417 people applied for those spots.  Everyone wants to be a buckeye ;)

Look, I'm not an english major. I'm sure there's some rule about having a blog post mostly made up of bulleted lists....(I've never followed rules, sorry). 

This semester will be great, and so will every semester after. [Because I have the power to make it so!] I'm so proud to be a part of this amazing class of 2018. Wish me luck, Let's do this!!!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Application Basics

Hey everyone!! Sorry I haven't posted in quite a while, things have been crazy with graduation and my crazy personal life.. that's something for a different kind of blog [the kind no one wants to read!]. Anyway, I've been thinking about all the students that are currently applying to veterinary school this cycle and how much they are looking for advice online- I know I did, anyway!  I spent hours typing into the search bar "How to get into vet school," "How to be competitive on a vet school application," and asking more questions than anyone could ever answer. So, I thought I might give my advice on applying and hopefully help one nervous student feel better! 

When I sat down to write this I couldn't even remember what I put on my application because it took me about three weeks to make sure I had everything on there and then check it over about 1,000 times before I clicked submit. This was a problem... so I utilized the re-application feature on the VMCAS portal to take a peek at what I submitted last year. [Shhhhh!... I'm sure that's not what they intended that feature for.] So, to help keep my thoughts organized I'll break it down like they have done on the application page.  As far as your personal info and other things, they're all going to be concrete; the more important questions are pertaining to the Experiences section, so that's what I'll focus on.

Veterinary Experience:

This category is considered any work you did under the direct supervision or direction of a veterinarian. This includes if you shadowed in a clinic (it helps if you get hands-on), and if you went to any functions where you learned from a veterinarian. For example, I was able to put Dr. Nicholas Bacon, an amazing veterinarian who teaches oncology at the University of Florida CVM under my veterinary experience because he taught the lab on suture technique during the APVMA conference at UF.  Things like that count, so list them!  (If you're a pre-vet student looking for some advice, join APVMA, even if your school doesn't have a pre-vet club {like my school didn't} because they provide some AMAZING opportunities to get to know lots of fields and many vet professionals as well as students from around the country.)  

I know that didn't sound like a lot of advice, but veterinary experience is pretty straight forward- if a veterinarian is present, put it under veterinary experience, and the more diverse the better. You need to appear well-rounded.  Honestly, I had minimal large animal veterinary experience and I still got accepted, but there has to be diversity somewhere. I think my interest and experience with wildlife veterinary medicine showed the diversity I lacked in large animal, but try to get hours in different fields as well as with different veterinarians.

Animal Experience:

This seems to be the category everyone is most nervous about- including me when I was applying.  The reason for all the nervousness is the expected quantity of hours put in here... but I'm here to tell you that quality is better than quantity! I didn't have that many animal experience hours relative to those that worked a lot in those fields, but the quality of the hours I had was pretty great, so I believe that made up some of the difference. In fact, that's one thing Ohio State really stressed: Quality over quantity.

So what counts as animal experience? I put things from helping to take care of cows for a couple days while my friend was out of town, to pet-sitting, training my dog (pet ownership), to being in the equestrian club for two semesters, and volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation facility.  As much as things like "pet ownership" seem trivial they can prove to be useful if you learn something about animal interaction during those times.


This category I believe is a BIG DEAL.  The interest in research needs to be there because it shows the students' ability to ask questions in a scientific way, and those questions can only come from a good educational background and the passion to search for those answers whether in literature or in the laboratory.  If you're still in undergrad, take the opportunities presented to you to conduct your own research, or even do projects under professors in your department. You pay a lot of money for your education, so utilize those resources you have in this category! For example, one research project I did was only literature based and was a review of Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia, which was a case I experienced during some of my veterinary experience hours. While it was literature based, I learned a lot about the disease and about how research is conducted in the veterinary field. 

Community Activities:

There isn't much I can say about this category other than: put everything you have done within your community from high school to present.  I put things like Vacation Bible School Aid from 9th grade on, to Pep Band, All Ohio State Fair Band, and all of the clubs and organizations I participated in during undergrad. These organizations also had some volunteer activities that were required of us, and I listed those as well!  I ended up with a lot in this section, and I also included things like CPR/First Aid Certification. So, don't be afraid to include a lot in this section, as much as you have done.

Rhetoric Matters:

The way you word your experiences is really important to the context in which they're viewed.  It's important to always be answering the question: "What did I learn from this experience?" If you word it to sound unimportant or boring, that is how the admissions committee will read it as well.  Always keep in mind that your goal is show how you learned something, and why it is important for your application.

Phew! After all that I'll leave you with one more tip: DO NOT LIE ON YOUR APPLICATION.  If you feel like you don't have enough of something, don't panic!  I guarantee that everyone was lacking in one area or another when they applied, so lying about it will not help you. Those topics will come up in your interview, especially if they seem a little fantastic, and then you'll definitely panic! They look for what you're passionate about, and if you add other things to look more well-rounded than you are, it will tarnish what might stand out about you. Stay true to who you are and what you're passionate about, put down as much as you can without fabricating experiences.

I hope this helps! If you have any specific questions you would like to see answered, feel free to comment! 

Thanks for reading, God Bless!

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Best Advice

     I had requests recently to talk about applications, to answer questions like:  How many hours should you have? How do you present competitive applications? What do the schools care about most?  Well before I even begin to answer those questions, I want to share with you some of the best advice I ever received when it came to filling out my application. I wanted to do this first because if you're anything like me this one takes quite a while to sink in! This golden advice is simple, and you've probably been told this before but it is extremely important. Give yourself credit for the things you've done and the work you've put in!  Being humble is a great virtue, but now is not the time to show that off. I am not much for talking about myself, so sometimes even the idea of blogging about my experiences seems to be a daunting task, but during the application process your goal is pretty much to show off everything you've done from high school to undergrad.  There are a lot of competitive applicants out there and the only person who is going to prove you are just as amazing as any of them is YOU.

     In fact, the best way I have to prove this to you is through my own experience in my interview.  One of my questions was: Is there anything on your application you are extremely proud of, or anything you want us to be especially aware of that sets you apart? My initial reaction was to shy away from the question and shake my head 'no.'  I quickly recognized my mistake and started talking. So, I told them I was proud of graduating from undergrad in three years and I was proud of my maturity despite my young age [20].  I also added that while they may be looking for "more mature" students, that I was ready to be in veterinary school. They seemed to respond well to my answer and I kicked myself later for almost not saying anything at all!  Now, with that I must add that you need to sell yourself without denying you have any faults at all.  I met one girl after our interviews who did what I would consider "taking confidence too far."  Her question was: What do you consider failure, and have you ever failed?  Her response was that she has 'never failed at anything.'  To me, that was a problem because everyone has failed at one point or another and that's perfectly fine as long as we recognize and learn from them.  Colleges know you're not perfect, so don't pretend to be!  Instead, you need to sell your attributes and work, while also recognizing your failures and show that you are willing to learn from them. This is what needs to sink in before you begin your application at all. Know that you are unique, talented, smart, and hardworking- then show it off!

Through the next days and weeks I plan on answering more questions about applications, and I will be posting more even through the VMCAS portal opening in June.  Feel free to comment with feedback or any specific questions you have and I'll address them in later posts!

Thanks for reading and God Bless!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In the Beginning...

      So here it is, my first blog post! I've noticed that a lot of prospective veterinary students are worried that they aren't doing enough, and that the odds of getting into veterinary school is not unlike jumping into a pool of hungry sharks and praying enough of you will remain intact to drag yourself out of their jaws and onto shore.  This is exactly how I felt about it too, and to be honest, EVERYONE feels this way. It's natural to be nervous! Recently, I was accepted to The Ohio State University CVM, and my anxiety about applying was replaced with anxiety about the transition from undergrad to DVM.  I think it's part of the Type A vet personality. Can't escape it. My purpose in writing this blog is to help prospective veterinary students on their journey to vet school.  I hope by writing about what I did, and what I did WRONG, I'll ease someones mind and make their path a little bit clearer and easier to follow. I would also like to write about some of my experiences on my way into vet school: the stresses, struggles, and things I learn about myself along the way.  Stay tuned for more!
Thank you for reading and God Bless!