From time to time I will receive a private message from a reader with a specific question regarding veterinary medicine. Chances are that reader isn’t the only one wondering. Check out this response to a concerned high school student:
Q: I have a slight (or major, depending on your perspective) dilemma. I’m a sophomore in high school, and I’m taking an honors Chemistry class. I really want to get into veterinary school because I know veterinary medicine is the field I want to spend my life in. Unfortunately, I’m horrible at Chemistry. Anyway, I’m wondering if you could help me with this little problem. I actually have been wondering if I should start really pushing to learn this on my own, or if I should just take a remedial course before college.
A: Congratulations on making a decision to enter the veterinary profession! I’m impressed with your forethought and concern over understanding chemistry and your courage to face the challenge. As a sophomore in high school, I know there is a lot of pressure to earn good grades. Those grades meter acceptance into colleges and determine scholarship awards.
Your success in a high school level chemistry course is not necessarily an indicator of how you might perform in college and then veterinary school. There are many extraneous factors at work: The quality of your chemistry teacher, the way the course is taught, and the way your brain processes this new subject. All three of these factors change as you enter college. My best advice for you is to try your best. This sounds cliché but it is the most important factor. That might mean extra study and self teaching or even hiring a tutor. I would not go so far as to take a remedial course before college for the same reasons I mentioned above.
Let me tell you a little story: I was one of those kids in high school who never needed to study and still graduated toward the top of my class. My freshman year of college was no different – or so I thought. I barely studied for my first freshman biology exam which I realized was a huge mistake as soon I started trying to answer the questions. I was rewarded with a 64% – I was a Biology Major! Student career services told me to rethink my career path and consider dropping biology and changing majors. No way! I learned how to study and how to fill the gaps in my knowledge. I never could have done that in high school. The way you learn, study, and adjust to new material changes as you age. A couple of years make all the difference. I finished that semester with a “B” in my major and I’m still a veterinarian today!
If my math is right you are close to 16 years old. You have 10 years until you become a veterinarian! It’s important to keep perspective that you are still young and have the world in your grasp! You need to embrace your youth and limit your worry. You will have ample time to grasp chemistry: general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry (in both undergraduate and vet school). It will come to you, I promise.