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Journey to Veterinary School

Posted by: James Bourne - 01 April 2021 - Celebration of Achievements - Read time: 3 Minutes

After Georgia underperformed in her GCSEs at a previous school, she started her A level study in non-science subjects as she was told there was no way she could pursue her dream of becoming a vet. After completing her AS exams, she made the decision to join MPW to study on a one-year GCSE programme, to improve her grades at this level before embarking on a new programme of A level study which would allow her to apply for Veterinary Medicine at university.

Things didn’t go to plan for Georgia, but she is now about to graduate from the world’s leading Veterinary School, the Royal Veterinary College, with a BSc in Bioveterinary Science and an offer to study on their Veterinary Medicine Programme. It’s not the route that she wanted to take, but when life threw her a (six-year long) curveball, she went along for the ride. Here, Georgia reflects on her journey to Veterinary School and the trials and tribulations that she has encountered along the way.

Georgia’s story is one of great perseverance and resilience, and shows that with determination and focus, you can always succeed. We wish Georgia the very best of luck as she commences her studies to become a vet!

“My journey to Veterinary Medicine over the past six years has been anything but ‘easy’. Like most Veterinary School applicants, I have wanted to become a vet for as long as I can remember. From the moment I began my first work experience placement at the age of 15, I knew this would be my dream job and I would do anything to achieve it.

The struggles I have faced on this journey, including getting the grades, UCAS applications, interviews and of course, global pandemics, have been perhaps some of the most difficult challenges of my academic life. If there has been anything that I have learnt from the past six years, it is that perseverance really does pay off and if you want it enough, it will happen!

My journey to pursuing my dreams started when I transferred to MPW from my existing secondary school. I decided to move after not achieving the GCSE grades I had hoped for, meaning I couldn’t study science at A level standard. So, I decided to leave that school, move into the city centre and get to work. I worked hard for 3 years, I lived away from my family for most of the academic year and consumed myself in my studies. I managed to secure an offer from RVC, my dream university, as well as two others. I was overjoyed! This was going to be my moment. When it finally came to me receiving my A level grades, you can imagine the shock of finding out I had narrowly missed out on the grades I needed for my offer. So… what now?

After all of that hard work and accumulating 28 weeks’ worth experience to not get a place at vet school, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel like giving up at that moment. My options were to leave everything I had worked towards right there or take up the offer of Bioveterinary Science at RVC, which I could use as a platform to apply for Veterinary Medicine as a graduate. Ultimately, the three-year course at my dream university was a no brainer and I had to at least try.

Choosing to move to a solely veterinary orientated university when you are not studying that degree, and it’s your lifelong passion, didn’t feel like my smartest choice – it was difficult to be surrounded by what could have been. Studying an academically rigorous undergraduate degree that is not your first choice can be incredibly hard at times, and it can be tough to motivate yourself to keep going.

There were definitely times when I thought I wouldn’t be able to get through it, but immersing myself into university life really helped. I made some really great friends which made the situation a lot easier. It was also great to be able to talk to them (as well as my tutors and my family) about how I was feeling when things were tough – I quickly realised that many people felt the same way as I did and I wasn’t on my own. I took part in many social events and joined sports teams and societies. Throwing myself into things taught me to appreciate the experience of university as a whole in my own development.

My journey to Veterinary School wasn’t a smooth ride, but looking back on my decision now, I am really happy with how everything turned out. There are so many benefits of studying as an undergraduate degree before pursuing Veterinary Medicine that are often overlooked. Some of these benefits are that you are able to get used to the universities way of running things, such as exams, in advance, as well as developing better study habits more aligned with the demands of higher-level study. I met some amazing people, including tutors, who led me into avenues of study that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise and found that I really enjoyed. In addition, when you come to apply again in the future, you will have an additional 3 years’ worth of experience to talk about, which is always a plus!

Preparing to apply again for Veterinary Medicine can be really daunting. You are filled with anxiety about missing out again, and you may worry that you are too old, but in all honesty, none of that matters in the slightest. Make sure you are well prepared and have a good range of work experience to talk about, and the rest will fall into place.

My top three tips for applying to Veterinary Medicine as a graduate are:

1. WORK EXPERIENCE: This can be really difficult to get whilst studying a full-time degree. You normally have 18 months prior to submitting your application to undertake the required amount of work experience. You really want to avoid doing this in your final year as you will have very little time, so I recommend at the end of your second year really cramming in as much as you can and maybe go lambing for a few weeks over Easter if it’s possible around exams.

2. HOBBIES: One thing I learnt from my endless talks and experience with Veterinary Medicine applications is that they really want to know who you are and what you enjoy outside of the scientific community. It’s great that you wrote a 35-page research article on the effects of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus on the expression of genes associated with pregnancy recognition in cattle, but they want to see who YOU are! Take up painting, go rock climbing – the world is your oyster!

3. UNIVERSITY LIFE: This point is an extension from the last, try and get involved in university clubs and social events as much as possible. Get to know the lecturers and become an active member of the university. It helps to show on your application that you have really taken advantage of being an undergraduate student and why they should want you to contribute to their university!

My one final piece of advice for any Bioveterinary Science undergraduate that wants to become a vet is that this degree is just a stepping stone to get you to where you want to be. It’s not forever, and it doesn’t mean you will be any less of an amazing vet! If anything, it will make you a lot more competent than most of the first-time degree vets, believe me! Applying to postgraduate Veterinary Medicine Is another challenge in itself, but it’s not impossible. The only thing you need is belief in yourself and a lot of determination. Work hard and you will reap the benefits!