First of all, this pretty much sums it up. I think I've said it before but it bears repeating that in undergrad, pre-vet students spend all of their time and energy being so focused on getting into vet school that we don't really ever stop to think about what will happen once we're there. No one stops to consider that just because you were accepted, it doesn't mean you'll stay. You can fail out of vet school. All of your hard work and thousands of dollars in student loans can go spiraling down the drain after a few bad exams.
I know I've talked before about vet school and mental health, but I get new readers all the time who may or may not have gone back and read old entries, and this is a very important topic. In our first semester we had a lecture on vet students and mental health, substance abuse, etc. It was good that the university acknowledged it, but I don't think it's a topic that's talked about enough before students are admitted to vet school. Pre-vet students have no idea what it's going to be like, unless they have a really honest friend already enrolled. And people applying to Ross are often so desperate just to get into vet school (I remember, I was one of them) that they haven't even considered the possibility of what it'll do to their emotional and mental health.
I've mentioned my own struggles here before. How I never expected to become clinically depressed in vet school, to the point where I considered seeking out professional help. I even made an appointment with Ross's counselor but I cancelled at the last minute. But I just wanted to provide a quick and dirty little summary as something to chew on for any potential pre-vets who might read this.
During the course of your time in vet school, you will:
- Be so tired from lack of sleep, pulling three all nighters in a row during finals week, studying for more information than seems humanely reasonable for one person to possibly memorize for a single class, that your physical health will be affected. You'll get ulcers, your whole body will hurt, you'll feel like death warmed over. I've actually thrown up the cup of coffee I just drank the morning of an exam because my stomach was so upset from anxiety that just brushing my tongue triggered my gag reflex. This happens every four months for Rossies as opposed to twice a year in the state schools, so be prepared. You don't get summers to relax and recoup here. You punish your body and brain continuously for 3 1/2 years straight.
- Cry. A lot. You'll feel stupid, inadequate and overwhelmed. You'll feel like everyone in your class finds all of this so much easier than you do. You'll take your last final and go home, physically and mentally depleted, unable to eat because your stomach is a rolling vat of battery acid, and just sob into your pillow because you're sure you just failed everything and you're going home.
- If your spouse/parent cosigned your student loans, or even if you're just married, this adds a whole new level of pressure to the experience. Because your debt is not simply your debt anymore. Whether you fail out and go home with $100+ K in debt and no job doesn't only effect you, but whomever is also attached to that debt. This makes the wait for final grades each semester even more nightmarish as you envision their disappointment and how your failure might ruin their life, too.
So before you apply to vet school and take on that first student loan check, ask yourself if this is really something you think you can handle or even want. If you have a good job that you enjoy right now and are happy and financially secure, it's something to consider that maybe vet school can wait a few years. Give yourself time to get your brain off of the "Must get in!" hamster wheel and consider the consequences of what happens if you do.