Today was the day that thousands of A-level students finally saw an end to two years of hard toil and anxious nail biting, with the publication of results and for those prospective vet students, either the fulfillment of a long-awaited dream of a place at their chosen university to train as a vet or the crushing realisation that they had missed out.
Hopefully, if you’re reading this and have applied to vet school then you’ll be in the former group, in which case massive congratulations and happy planning and preparing for some of the very best years of your young lives. If, however, you have had a shite day and are wondering what on earth you’re to do now that your world has just imploded then read on…. this blog post is for you.
Now I am going to try really hard not to be one of those annoying, patronising people who may be busy trying to tell you to “chin up” and that “things will be ok,” because although in the long run they are actually spot-on, the truth is that you’ll be raging inside at the moment and will probably be looking for anyone and anything to strike out at. Failing to achieve a big goal sucks! Period. I had a similar experience with my intercalated degree result and although I wouldn’t go so far as to say that was in any way on the same level as not getting into vet school – afterall, I was already at vet school – it was like a punch to the guts and felt really shitty. The emotions that I suspect you’ll be going through over the next few days will range from disbelief, anger, a feeling of having somehow been cheated, panic at what you will perhaps see as the end of all things, followed, hopefully, by a gradual acceptance of the facts, a measured period of reflection and self-appraisal and then, eventually, a sense of renewed purpose and determination to either change course – something that many people do without ever looking back – or focus on a renewed, stronger application the next year.
Now that you’ve raged and gotten the perfectly normal and acceptable reaction to devastating news out of your system, it is time to breathe deeply, take stock and assess your options. But what are these options? Well, you have a number of them you’ll be pleased to hear…
1. Call the vet schools anyway – hopefully you’ll have thought of doing this earlier today, or certainly first thing tomorrow, because at the end of the day stranger things do and have happened than you actually being accepted with lower than desired grades. You never know, especially if you don’t ask. You may have wowed the interview panel so much when they met you that the university simply couldn’t imagine NOT having you grace the hallowed halls of their esteemed institution in which case, hurrah, and wipe away those tears so that you can replace them with fresh joyous ones. However, don’t get your hopes up here as the chances of this happening are very very slim. The fact remains that vet schools are massively oversubscribed and if you miss out on the grade offer then there is likely to be someone who didn’t receive an offer but did achieve the grades who will swing on in there and take your place. Harsh but true I’m afraid. Worth a try though.
2.Consider studying veterinary overseas – this may sound like a very extreme measure, and I guess it sort of is – but a number of UK students are following their vet dreams at vet schools outside of the country, with one Vet School reader currently studying in Poland. Now, at the time of writing I have no idea what the practicalities are of contacting these vet schools to make such enquiries, but you’re all intelligent and resourceful enough to be able to seek out the necessary contact information and make the required calls or send emails. You’ll never know unless you ask.
3. Suck it up, assess the damage & focus on a different career, or a slightly longer, less direct path into vet school – life will go on after epic setbacks even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time. You will be ok in the long run. There, I’ve said it. Once the dust has settled, ascertain where things have gone awry. Was it one subject that let you down? Could you retake it and apply again next year? Maybe you’ll decide that you’d still be happy to go to university this year but do a different course, such as your ‘insurance’ course. You could then either look at applying to study vet as a graduate in a few years or, as many do, follow a different career path and live happily ever after. If you don’t have a non-vet university place lined up then you could join the Clearing process and hopefully get yourself onto a good degree course at a great uni. You can call the UCAS helpline on 0871 468 0 468 for more information.
3. Shrug it off and move on from education into the big, bad world of paid employment – you may very well decide that, on reflection, you’re no longer keen to stay on in further education in which case there are more and more options available to young people to help you gain a foot on the employment ladder. Many of the country’s top employers offer really great training programmes to school leavers, with the advantage being that you get paid, gain invaluable employment experience and learn new schools all at the same time. As such, not achieving your initial goals at A-level do not necessarily mean that you are resigned to a life of menial, poorly paid work. Quite the opposite. Some time spent searching online and talking to your school or college careers advisors will, in this case, prove valuable.
Although the above list of suggestions do not, I am sure, constitute an exhaustive set of options, I hope they offer some food for thought and go some way to highlight that even if things haven’t gone as planned for you today, you have options and it is not yet time to turn the lights off on your dream of a place at vet school. Good luck and all the very best.