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View Full Version : Thinking of going to Vet School? Must read!



oldernewbie
Feb. 24, 2013, 08:54 AM
Scary but important article in the NYT this morning:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/business/high-debt-and-falling-demand-trap-new-veterinarians.html?hp

I have to say that the featured vet, with 312,000 in student loan debt, exhibits some serious magical thinking. Alas, she is probably not the only one....

LauraKY
Feb. 24, 2013, 09:30 AM
Quite the rip-off,isn't it? They sure trashed Ross.

clanter
Feb. 24, 2013, 09:47 AM
Quite the rip-off,isn't it? They sure trashed Ross.

actually they are no different than a US college/university offering degrees in a basket weaving type major that has no or very little economic value

MMacallister
Feb. 24, 2013, 09:58 AM
Double post

MMacallister
Feb. 24, 2013, 10:02 AM
I think anyone planning on going to college really needs to look at the economic factors involved. For years in this country the motto was "get a degree and you will make lots of money!" Thats just not the case anymore, the market is flooded with graduates, and the hiring is down.
I would say it would be tough to be coming out of high school right now. There are options like in state schools, community colleges for the first 2 years, technical schools or the GI Bill, but I don't think this is explained to high schoolers as well as it should be.
I also don't think basic life budgeting or financial skills are taught very well. The harsh reality of rent, utilities, insurances etc seem to take many people by suprise.
One of the things that I try to do with my children is to include them in the monthly budget planning so they can see where the money goes, and the places we sacrifice so we can do some of the things that we want.

supershorty628
Feb. 24, 2013, 10:02 AM
It is expensive just to apply to vet school.. I spent about $1200 total in applications and didn't even get an interview anywhere (although just barely missed it at my top choice and have a good feeling for next year).

Pony Fixer
Feb. 24, 2013, 11:07 AM
This is something a group I belong to discusses regularly (it's a group of veterinarians and practice managers trying to work on/debate these types of issues). There is this myth among vet students that educational debt is "good" debt. I would proffer there is no such thing. I graduated with almost $100K in school debt (although only half was vet school, the rest was undergrad). Had I not made a killing in the real estate market selling my house near DC at the height of the bubble (allowing me to pay off the whole thing), I'd be ferked!

My own alma matter, NCSU, is increasing their class from around 75 students to 100 students this year. When I graduated in 1999, only a small handful of my classmates didn't have jobs by JANUARY--5 months before graduation. This past year fully half of the NCSU class didn't have a job when they got their diploma.

As an aside, we had a group of Ross students every year finish their clinical rotations at NCSU (they do all the classwork at Ross, then their last year at a US school). Those students ROUTINELY made us look like ass-hats because they were SO knowledgeable. It must be one hell of a program. I will say for sure that they made me bring my "A" game out on more than one occasion (a good thing!).

LauraKY
Feb. 24, 2013, 11:08 AM
actually they are no different than a US college/university offering degrees in a basket weaving type major that has no or very little economic value

Did you miss the "for profit college" part?

Pony Fixer
Feb. 24, 2013, 11:33 AM
I think they are all "for profit", they just don't actually make one. ;)

pheasantknoll
Feb. 24, 2013, 11:46 AM
don't kid yourselves. "Non-profit" is remarkably profitable these days. Take a look at the endowments of many of the top universities in this country and ask yourself why they are charging the tuition they are. Look at their building plans and what they have built in the last 10 years. They are getting rich while America's youth are getting in huge debt.

( I am skipping, for now, the issue of why America's youth are spending 225,000 for a degree in puppetry or basket-weaving, etc.)

PKN

oldernewbie
Feb. 24, 2013, 12:01 PM
I think educational debt is good debt - but with one important caution: *Do Your Homework!* That's a step that's unfortunately lacking big time when I read some of these articles about college and professions. Take a look at what you think you're going to major in, look at the jobs data. It's all out there - either go to the library and let the librarian help you find it, or use Google fer cryin' out loud. If you are going to major in something, like education, where the average first year salary is $30K, for the love of dog, don't take out $150K of student loan debt - as one of our neighbors did.

And don't fall for the marketing hooey that there are only 10 good schools in the US. There are lots of articles from credible sources about the schools that deliver the best value.

My niece wants to be a vet, well and good, but she and I had some emotional discussions about school and how she absolutely could not come out of undergrad with any debt, or very little debt. She did manage to get a full scholarship for undergrad and so it's possible that she *will* be nearly debt free. I still question whether vet school is a good idea for her, but I guess we'll deal with it when she gets there. Lots of water to go under that bridge.

Besides the for-profit schools, which are bad enough - the professional groups bear some blame too. They keep accrediting schools and increasing class sizes without a whole lot of thought to the downstream impact.

Think, people, think!

hastyreply
Feb. 24, 2013, 12:13 PM
I always advise anyone who wants to be a vet to work for a vet clinic. It will open their eyes to what it is really like. I advise that for just about any job. What you think and what it is are often far apart. I've known people to go through vet school to only leave the field after they get out into a clinical situation.

supershorty628
Feb. 24, 2013, 12:28 PM
hastyreply, you can't even get a second look when applying to vet schools nowadays if you don't have thousands of clinical experience hours under your belt. I have well over 1000 clinical hours in various areas of vet med and was told by one of my schools that while I was a competitive applicant, they'd really like to see me have 2000+ hours.

mvp
Feb. 24, 2013, 12:29 PM
I just want to interject that the "investment" in a bachelor's degree and a professional degree like a DVM are quite different.

The debt burden for undergrad can be minimized while the person earns the same level of degree (excluding the reputation of the granting institution). And the earning gap between those with colleg e degrees and those without is huge. To me, this looks likes "forced debt" for many people.

The same is not true for professional degrees. They are not largely mandatory for everyone. The math involved-- what you will borrow against the increase in your earnings-- should be a primary consideration.

Oh, and the article mentioned that the "2X debt of the starting annual salary" surprised me. IIRC, the very old rule of thumb was "don't borrow more than 1X of what you'll make in your first year out." And folks are walking away with 5X the debt? Holy crapamole!

BasqueMom
Feb. 24, 2013, 01:50 PM
Didn't our Fat Palomino attend Ross and finish the last year at North Carolina?

As an oldster, I can't fathom the cost of college these days. Went to college in the sixties at a regional Missouri college, now Truman University, for something
like $500 or$600 a year for dorm with meals 3x a day 24/7 and about $140 in
tuition for 3 quarters. We were on a quarter system and most everyone went home for the summer quarter. Loans weren't much heard of,if at all. Everyone
seemed to have parents paying, working in the summers or scholarships. Few lived off-campus or had cars...mostly the guys.

Just took a look at Truman's current rates..now $7,000 for tuition and $8,000 for
dorm with meals.

Also back then, St. Louis at least, had two very large technical high schools that taught a wide range of trades.

mvp
Feb. 24, 2013, 02:10 PM
Quite the rip-off,isn't it? They sure trashed Ross.

Speaking about the non-finncial side, I don't think they trashed Ross. the old reputation of "off-shore" schools was that they were a place for those who could not cut it in the US or Western Europe. But PonyFixer said the Ross students were good-- and she had to bring her A-game to keep up. As an educational institution, that's succeeding.

faybe
Feb. 24, 2013, 02:24 PM
Speaking about the non-finncial side, I don't think they trashed Ross. the old reputation of "off-shore" schools was that they were a place for those who could not cut it in the US or Western Europe. But PonyFixer said the Ross students were good-- and she had to bring her A-game to keep up. As an educational institution, that's succeeding.

Yep... The standards of admission for island schools like Ross are (or were, at least) more lenient than most of the continental schools (meaning it could be easier to get in), but the retention rate was much lower (meaning that if once you got there you couldn't hack it, they dropped you). They have the same board passage rates as the continental schools and the Ross students that are doing their clinical year with me now are just like Pony Fixer said- top notch and definitely encourage me to bring my A game.

betonbill
Feb. 24, 2013, 02:52 PM
At our barn in Gainesville, FL we always have several vet students. One recently joined the Army as a way of paying off her vet school debt. (I believe she is in her 3rd year now) and she will be an Army vet for a certain number of years once she graduates.

Anyway, it's another possible way to not run up such an horrendous bill.

Justmyluck
Feb. 24, 2013, 04:29 PM
As I was recently accepted to vet school for the class of 2017, this scared the daylights out of me. I was blessed to be accepted into my instate as well as out of state schools. My issue is I rather dislike my instate as I've gone here for 5 years, 4 for a bachelors and 1 year for my masters. I want to go to the out of state school so much more as I love their program, atmosphere, town and everything. However after reading this article I'm 95% sure I'll be at my instate unless I win the lottery I'm already is debt from my masters, which wasn't a big deal when its just the debt from that but coupled with a couple hundred thousand from vet school, I think cheaper is the way to go.

Sadly with the quality of applicants apply to vet school on the rise and the sheer numbers of applicants each year. I found is necessary to obtain a masters to make myself unique and competitive. I feel like this will be on the rise shortly where you'll have to spend even more money to even be looked at as a candidate for professional school.

What I don't get is the fact that the government is doing on these loan repayment plans. That lose them money yet they have done zip to regulate the cost of education. Also with the elimination of subsidized loans they are shooting themselves in the foot. If you limit the interest gained while in school then people will be able to pay down the principle immediately. Making them able to pay off more of the debt in the long run. However now we are making it so people can only pay interest then just eliminating it in 25+ years? How well though out was that?

LexInVA
Feb. 24, 2013, 04:31 PM
So how many large animal vet schools are there left in the US? I know a lot of people go outside the US and I know of three or four in the US.

Justmyluck
Feb. 24, 2013, 04:33 PM
So how many large animal vet schools are there left in the US? I know a lot of people go outside the US and I know of three or four in the US.

What do you mean? Every vet school has both large and small animal education and clinicals.

LexInVA
Feb. 24, 2013, 04:38 PM
I thought they were focused on small animals these days since that's what most applicants want to do and I don't hear much about large animal vet programs except from a few universities.

starrunner
Feb. 24, 2013, 04:42 PM
This article is what I've been trying to articulate to people for a while now.

I was admitted to veterinary school and due to medical reasons, withdrew. Now, at a pass, I am sitting trying to evaluate whether or not to return.

I am carrying a decent amount of debt from my undergraduate and graduate loans and would add another 100k or so for the vet school loans.

However, I have kept in close touch with quite a few classmates and have heard and discussed their struggles. One graduated last May and found a job around Thanksgiving for almost what I make now.

I just don't know if I could subject my husband to that much more debt (and stress for 4 years, etc) for little financial benefit. Yes, I would love my job, but...

I am still contemplating. I am hoping that there ends up being some sort of financial break or realization soon. If I do go back, it's for lab medicine. Better hours, your clients pay their bills, and don't have people trying to guilt trip you into giving away free services every five minutes.

Lex--they all have LA programs. Some make you take both LA & SA coursework and rotations to graduate (more of a balance). Others let you specialize early on. Depends on the university & program.

MeghanDACVA
Feb. 24, 2013, 05:16 PM
Having been a vet now for almost 30 yrs and having done most every part of vet med there is to do. I have not only my DVM, but also completed a master's degree after that, did 2 residencies, and got board certified in one of those specialties. I have worked in 1 man rural mixed practices, in 5 different universities, in multi-veterinarian specialty referral practices. And everything in between. I have worked in rural towns of WV with only 1 stop light and downtown D.C, on both coasts, and in several countries. I don't think there is a species I haven't done, though there are now a lot I don't want to do any more. I have laid on my belly in the mud and the rain and pulled calves out or pushed uteruses back in cows. And have done cutting edge procedures.
I have been self employed in private practice (equine), done relief work, taught in 3 universities and 1 technician program, have been a "regular" employee in "regular" veterinary small animal practice with regular 8-5 hours, have worked nights at emergency practices, etc.

I did not have a huge debt by any means compared today's new grads. And it still took me what seemed like forever to pay it off.

I am obviously pretty well educated, probably better than your average practicing vet if I can be so bold as to make that statement about myself. Yet I make less per hour than any of us here pay for a 1 hr lesson (or even 45 min lesson).

I work, on average, 14-15 hour days. No lunch breaks. No paid vacation. No paid sick days. No 401K, etc. I do have a flexible schedule, which is the trade off. But the days I take off for my horse stuff, I do knowing I am not getting paid.

For a normal veterinarian to "earn their keep", ie earn their salary, they must generate at least 5 times what they are paid. Ie, if you get a $100 bill from your vet, less than $20 of that goes to the vet. The rest goes to pay overhead.

I love my job. But I don't know that if I had to do it again, knowing what I know now, that I would do it again.

animaldoc
Feb. 24, 2013, 05:25 PM
I thought they were focused on small animals these days since that's what most applicants want to do and I don't hear much about large animal vet programs except from a few universities.
All of the traditional veterinary schools have large and small animal medicine, but their caseloads in LA are way down with the economy. The DVM is still as of now a broad degree and students have to do a certain amount of LA and SA medicine to graduate and pass boards.

Students are choosing to go into SA because they might actually be able to make a living in SA and not have to be on call 24/7 since there are more and more emergency clinics popping up. Even people that want to be LA going to school often switch. And then there are students that graduate and want to do LA but can't find a job that will pay them enough to pay their loans, or can't find a job near where they want to live etc. The job market for LA vets is so bad right now that I know board certified specialists that have switched to doing SA or are not practicing medicine.

Ugh.

That article is a must read - I don't know that I can recommend vet school to students that would have to take out loans to pay for it. And that's sad to me, because I graduated almost 15 years ago and I love what I do....

Pony Fixer
Feb. 24, 2013, 05:36 PM
The waning LA caseloads as alluded to above is a real problem for many schools. My alma mater, NCSU, has circumvented that by their TAU (Teaching Animal Unit) herds--NCSU keeps a running herd of horses, beef and dairy cattle, goats (used to be diary, now only meat), sheep, pigs, and poultry. Students are involved in husbandry and veterinary care for these herds all through school, regardless if they plan to practice SA or LA medicine. AFAIK, it's the only school with a TAU like this.

Justmyluck
Feb. 24, 2013, 05:36 PM
That article is a must read - I don't know that I can recommend vet school to students that would have to take out loans to pay for it. And that's sad to me, because I graduated almost 15 years ago and I love what I do....


*sings* I'm not listening.