‘Covid uncertainty’ is a term that we have all (regrettably) become used to hearing on the news and in our daily lives. When the pandemic first become apparent in the UK, I had just started Spring term of Year 12 studying my A-levels and little did I know that Covid-19 would change my university application process drastically. Like many people, I have wanted to be a vet for as long as I can remember, and the thought of applying to veterinary universities was equally exciting and nerve-wracking for me. Covid-19 did mean that many of the routine parts of the application process were changed- such as virtual open days and interviews.
For many of you reading this, your education/application may have been affected by Covid, but hopefully by taking you through how Covid changed my experience it will help you with your application!
Choosing The Right Universities
Choosing which university to apply to can be a difficult task, complicated further by the fact the with veterinary applications you are limited to just choosing 4 options! The main question to keep asking yourself is ‘Does this university suit me?’. The best way to find out the answer to this question is go to university open days and engage with the staff, students, and resources available. Unfortunately for me, all my open days were virtual, which did mean I had to do further research to work out my top 4 choices.
Contacting students from the universities on social platforms such as student rooms, Facebook/Instagram groups, or even seeing if your school is in contact with any ex-students who are studying veterinary medicine can be a great way to understand more about university life. Visiting universities is by far the best way to see if you can imagine yourself going there but if Covid restrictions limit your ability to visit don’t worry, you will be able to get all the information you need through websites and prospectuses.
Once restrictions allow you to, it is a great idea to visit the area around universities (even if it is not an open day); I did just that for the RVC and it helped me establish that I would choose it as my top choice!
Veterinary applications require several weeks of work experience, and this is another area which Covid has impacted – as many placements get cancelled last minute (including some of my own!). If your work experience placement does get cancelled, try not to panic. You will be able to find another placement if you look in the right places! Charities and kennels often love an extra helping hand and well as riding stables (the stables I went to even gave me a free riding lesson at the end of my week!). Building connections with the places you do work experience at can also be beneficial – as they may be able to recommend other places for you to get experience. For the past couple of years (including for the year I applied) universities reduced the number of weeks of experience required, as they understand the difficulty in finding work experience during Covid.
Remember it is the quality of work experience you obtain and what you have reflected and learnt from it rather than the quantity!
Over the last few years, we have all become used to Microsoft Teams or Zoom lessons, and for many of us this has been a less than ideal form of teaching. After studying roughly half of my A-levels from my bedroom desk my year group had ‘teacher assessed grades’ for A-Levels, which had its pros and cons but thankfully my grades allowed me to study here at the RVC!
Veterinary medicine does require high grades, so if you feel as though you are struggling talk to peers and teachers, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. After all, as a vet it is important to be able to recognise when you need help and have the confidence to ask.
Covid has affected everyone’s lives, and it is true that it will be around for much longer than we would like. But we are slowly but surely learning to live with Covid and hopefully by the time you apply there will be a return to some sense of normality. Good luck!
Written by: Sara Sami
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