Monday, 24 July 2017

Next steps

Hello again! I hope the summer is good for you and that you have been able to think about some of the questions I posed in the first blog as well as ‘testing the waters’ by getting some voluntary work or work experience in your chosen field.
Keeping a journal in which to jot down thoughts from your work is invaluable.  Admissions departments for Medicine, Dentistry and Vet Science are keen to know not so much what you did in these times, but what you learned about the career and about yourself.  A good question to ask yourself after you come home each day is ‘how did that make me feel?’.  It’s good to be honest and acknowledge revulsion, fear and anxiety as well as the wow! that was fascinating/so interesting. Also, jot down the hours you’ve done and the location as some universities ask for these after application and may check-up that you have in fact done what you say you’ve done!
The journal is also a good place for recording interesting books, articles or documentaries that have made an impression on you. Hopefully, when you come to write the all-important personal statement on your application form, you will have a journal full of things to draw upon.  The Student BMJ  is a good source of articles and a great book to begin your reading on Medicine is ‘The other side’ by Kate Granger,  
Dentists might like to consider doing the free, on-line course on Dentistry hosted by Future Learn

and Vets – there is a Future of Farming Future Learn course 

Now to A level choices……..for Medicine, most universities require Chemistry and it seems odd (to me, at least) if you don’t do Biology, although not everywhere requires this A level.  Which leaves the third choice to consider.  If you are super-bright, ambitious and considering OxBridge, then you need to do Maths or Physics as these universities really want strong scientists.  Otherwise, pick a subject you like and in which you will be able to get a top grade of A or A*.  There’s a lot to be said for doing History, English, a Modern Foreign Language or similar as evidence shows these candidates tend to interview better than the traditional scientists.  For Dentistry, both Chemistry and Biology are required and the third subject could be anything – Psychology and Business Studies are two popular ones here.  Vets – Chemistry and Biology are given and the third should be Maths or Physics please.
A word of caution:  Further Maths is not advisable, many universities require three A levels to be achieved at the same sitting so doing Maths in a year is a disadvantage as you will then have to get three different A levels in your second year.  If you are keen on Maths, take four subjects in the first year to avoid this pitfall and leave your options open.

So, come September you will be enrolling into a sixth form somewhere and looking forward to a different kind of study and hopefully some privileges compared with the younger kids.  Please make sure you take advantage of the extra-curricular stuff offered by your provider.  The Duke of Edingburgh’s Award scheme, various sporting activities, music, drama, debate, MUN, subject societies, charities, to name but a few.  All these will show you are a well-rounded person and not just a hard worker in academic matters.  You will also gain confidence, meet new people and develop leadership skills.  All these things are important and have to be commented on by your referee.    It’s also good, of course, to continue with things you did before A levels and to have outside interests.  Music, sport, NCS, Scouts/Guides, community action and suchlike are all great things to add to your CV.  Don’t forget to continue with and broaden your voluntary work and work experience for your chosen career as well.  Universities like to see commitment to these; six months minimum shows this on your part and is really helpful to the organisation for whom you work.

Enough to be going on with…..I will chat again in September to see how you are getting on.  Please feel free to comment/ask questions and I can get back to you.