Applying to vet school: myths, marathons and must-haves
Have you dreamed of a career in the veterinary profession for as long as you can remember? Summer holidays spent saving exhausted bees, rescuing wildlife and with a menagerie of pets at home to care for as well. Or maybe your veterinary career aspirations have surfaced later on, as you start to think about university applications. Either way, applying to vet school and being offered a much-coveted place might seem like a big mountain to climb, especially if you don’t feel like you fit the typical image of a veterinary surgeon. Well, guess what? Times have changed….there is no ‘typical’ vet.
Not convinced? Let’s bust some myths…..
Myth 1 – I need to be an A*student
There was a time when a raft of top grades was a must-have for vet school entry. While it’s certainly true that an A* or two won’t hold you back, for some universities, the standard offer is AAB.
Still feel a place is out of your reach? Keep studying and aim high, but remember that several UK vet schools also offer schemes aimed at students with the potential to become vets who haven’t quite got the academic results needed for ‘standard entry’. The Veterinary Schools Council publish the entry requirements for all the UK vet schools so it’s a great place for checking out all your options.
Myth 2 – Veterinary medicine is the hardest course to get into
Ever had a teacher say, ‘It’s too difficult, you won’t get in’ or, ‘Why don’t you apply for biology/ nutrition/ geography/ flower arranging (delete as applicable) instead?’ Or how about well-meaning relatives who take delight in reminding you ‘it’s harder to become a vet than a doctor.’
Well, according to figures from the Vet Schools Council, every year there are about 2400 applicants for 1200 places1 so that’s a 50 percent chance of getting in. Not so bad after all. Yes it’s competitive, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful and if you don’t apply, you’ll never know.
Myth 3 – I haven’t done enough work experience
If you caught the veterinary bug later in your school career, you may worry that you haven’t clocked up enough work experience hours to meet the entry requirements. While it’s true that most universities have a minimum requirement it probably isn’t as high as you might think – six weeks in total, with two of those in a veterinary practice for example. It varies between courses though, so It’s best to check with your chosen university.
So, will you be at a disadvantage compared to applicants who have been helping out at the local stables since they were knee high to a grasshopper? Not necessarily.
Of course, work experience gives you insight into the profession, so take any opportunities that are available. And if you are struggling to find placements, you may have more luck if you call in at local practices rather than emailing – turning up with a smile on your face shows initiative. And another thing……bring cake, trust me you’ll be popular.
Myth 4 – I won’t fit in
You live in the town, don’t know anyone who has become a vet and the last time you set foot on a farm was on a school trip in primary. As if that’s not enough, no one from your school has ever applied to vet school, let alone been offered a place. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. The veterinary profession is a friendly place and there are lots of initiatives at the moment to improve diversity. The profession needs people like you.
Myth 5 – I won’t manage to keep up with the workload
There’s no doubt that there’s a lot to learn on a veterinary course, but remember everyone is in the same boat. You will have to work hard, but it’s doable. And there’s still time for the fun stuff too. In fact it’s really important to manage your work-life balance as none of us can run on empty. A bit of downtime hanging out with friends, or spending time playing sport, singing in a choir or whatever else floats your boat, is so important.
Myth 6 – I didn’t get in first time round so that’s it
It’s a marathon (in a good way) not a sprint. Showing resilience is just what vet schools are looking for, so whether you have applied and been unsuccessful, or not got the grades that you hoped for, don’t give up. There are more routes into veterinary medicine than ever before. Some universities have foundation ‘gateway’ courses aimed at students who might not otherwise meet the entry requirements. They involve an additional year at the start of the course, and typical entry offers are lower than on the standard entry route – CCC at A level for example.1
So what are you waiting for? A career in the veterinary profession has so much to offer and while most vets work in a veterinary practice, it opens lots of other doors too. From academic research, industry or consultancy, to government vet work and the army, with a veterinary degree under your belt, the world really is your oyster.
Go for it and don’t let anything hold you back.
- Admissions-processes-and-entry-requirements-for-UK-veterinary-schools-2022-applications.pdf (vetschoolscouncil.ac.uk)
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