I was recently asked about blogging by a prospective vet student and whether it is something that is advised to do in the lead-up to an application to vet school. A number of students, for whom I have been reviewing UCAS statements for vet school applications, have included a link to a blog of their experiences during work experience placements and their thoughts on a variety of matters relevant to their application. The questions that instantly spring to mind are:
1. Will it increase your chances of successfully being called for interview?
2. How can you go about contributing to ‘the blogosphere?’
The answer to the first question is, in my opinion, NO. I do not for a second believe that including a link or address to an online blog about anything in your UCAS statement will impact in any way on your being selected by the admissions tutor to attend an interview or be offered a place. This is for two main reasons:
a) The vast majority of admissions tutors that I know barely have enough time to stop for loo breaks between reading one statement after another, especially as they all come streaming in towards the October 15th deadline, and so the notion that they are going to have the time to indulge in clicking through or otherwise navigating to and reading additional material not directly included in your statement is hugely optimistic. All you are likely to achieve is to waste your precious character limit when you could use it to reflect on a lesson learned during one of your experiences. It is this sort of information that vet schools want to see in statements; not hyperlinks and computer code. Incidentally, the UCAS website makes no reference to including hyperlinks in your statement in their guide to writing yours. I suggest that this is because it is not worth doing so and in fact the system may even inactivate hyperlinks before statements are sent out to universities as a security precaution, again rendering an inclusion of one pointless.
b) Although the universities access your submitted statements electronically, many admissions tutors will choose to read yours in printed form. Can you imagine spending hours per day staring at a screen and reading page after page of small text? It would wreck your eyes! You can see, therefore, why the admissions tutors would be more likely to want to read printed statements. The immediate problem with this of course is that your fantastically well written link to your wonderfully interesting and insightful blog is, well, just a line of inactive text. It is very very unlikely in this situation that a tutor would then manually type out your link to view its contents.
The take home message here is that if you are under the impression that starting, writing and then providing a link or reference to a blog is going to give you an edge over other applicants then I suggest you think again and instead focus on writing a really strong, reflective, well structured and grammatically correct statement that does not rely on external content to support it.
If, of course, you just want to start a blog for your own interest and those who are likely to view it, then by all means go ahead and get blogging. The fact is that blogging is great fun and a really effective way of communicating ideas and sharing content with others. As a means of recording your experiences whilst on veterinary placements then it is, I guess, the modern day equivalent of the classic diary, albeit with the ability of the world to peer into its pages. One note of caution, however, on recording the details of your various experiences on placements: be certain that you are not going to be compromising data protection or the trust of the vets, nurses and clients that you are gaining privileged access to by publishing information online. This could get you into hot water and, in all seriousness, wreck any chance you have of being offered that coveted place at vet school that you want. If you apply careful thought, however, then blogging can be an awesome activity so go for it.
How do I start blogging?
Good question. There are numerous blogging options available to you from simply writing and sharing notes on, say, Facebook, to signing up for a ‘proper’ blog, such as WordPress, which is free to use*. Other services include Tumblr, Blogger, TypePad, and many many more – a simple search for ‘blogging services’ reveals the plethora of options.
Happy blogging and I hope you have found this post helpful. Feel free to leave any comments below (another advantage of blogging) 🙂
* WordPress.com is where you can get yourself a free, hosted blog, meaning that you do not have to worry about paying for, hosting and setting up the software on a dedicated domain (eg ‘i want to be a vet.com’). The alternative option is to go to WordPress.org, where you can download the software for free, but you will then have to put your hand in your pocket to get yourself a domain, as described above. This blog, for example, runs on WordPress hosted on my own dedicated domain, which I pay for each year.