I had to take a long route in to vet school as I changed my mind after originally getting into architecture. I didn't have the Highers (I’m Scottish) required for Veterinary so had to start by going back to college and getting my higher chemistry and biology Highers. Unfortunately this still wasn't enough so I found an access to medical studies course designed for mature students (25+) who had been out of education for years wanting to apply for medicine, vet medicine, dentistry and pharmacology. They allowed me and a few other under 25s (I was only 19) onto the course. While I was doing this I was also building up my work experience portfolio in my free time. Unfortunately immediately after I finished this course I was rejected from all of my vet school applications, even with two interviews, however after another year to gain even more experience I was accepted by an English university. Other than doing the medical access course, I could have probably gone onto advanced higher sciences and this would still be accepted by English universities.
The message from me is that if you know this is what you want to do – don’t take no for an answer!
Sam, from Liverpool Veterinary School, shares his experience of the Access Course Entry route.
."Anyone who devotes their life to improving the health and welfare of animals (and people) have always had my deepest respect and admiration. Unfortunately I was not in a position to apply to veterinary direct from school. The main reason was due to family circumstances, but the second was through a slightly lacking support network during my school years – the whole “you’ll never get into veterinary” spiel. That’s right, it does happen. Upon leaving education, I was extremely lucky to be offered employment with the charity, Dogs Trust. It was whilst working here my thirst to learn more about the ‘normal’ animal, how they worked and what to do when they deviate from the ‘norm’. I convinced myself to return to education and apply to study veterinary. After looking for guidance on The Student Room’s website, I read a couple of success stories from people who had obtained offers from vet school via an access course. I immediately searched for local access courses on the Access to HE website and found it relatively straightforward as you could conduct a search to find those closest. I then contacted the various vet schools to obtain their requirements for Access courses (certain access courses don’t meet the academic content required for vet schools so be certain to check if your access course is suitable!) and ultimately based my choice on one highly recommended by Liverpool – even though it meant two hours travelling per day to attend! I was interviewed and then accepted onto my Access to HE Diploma at Leeds City College. My access year was incredible. I was placed into an environment where everyone had a common goal (to get into university), with the most supportive of tutors. The academic content was comprehensive, intense but always engaging. Admittedly, it was overwhelming returning to education within the first month but that feeling soon diminished the more I revelled in the course. The course follows a credit based system, with a major emphasis on plagiarism and deadlines which matches that of the veterinary course. The only difficulty I encountered was applying for the early UCAS deadline (15th October) when I’d only done 2-3 weeks on the course itself as it was quite difficult to explain what the course entailed, which areas I were enjoying the most etc. but you do feel more relieved when the application out of the way early, whilst other students are completing it on the verge of taking exams! Ultimately, I felt very prepared for university on completion of my access course and have left with friends for life from different backgrounds who still keep in touch or come visit me at university. It’s extremely hard to put my first year of vet school into words. I could probably use many words out of a dictionary that would sum up my experience so far, e.g. challenging, enjoyable, stressful, and social. The thing I love the most is that here at Liverpool, we are like one big family and everyone supports one another and you are actively encouraged to get involved in as much as possible. The teaching is exceptional as are the facilities. You are in an environment where you can thrive, take control of your own learning, organise your own placements that works round you but have that safety net there if required – and that is what every student wishes for during their academic career. Final words of wisdom… Don’t rush into doing an access course. There’s a lot to prepare for – is it the right course for you? Correct amount of academic content? Make sure you meet the work experience requirements BEFORE you send off your UCAS application – with lacking evidence of experience in the various fields, you stand little chance of your application progressing further. Start planning/writing your personal statement for your UCAS early to meet the early deadline – you will only have to finalise it with the tutors then! Don’t let people squash your aspirations. If you have the determination and passion – you have a great chance at succeeding!"