Name: Eleanor Drabble
Vet School: Cambridge
Year: 4 (of Six)
How did you get into vet school?
I applied in my final year of school and was fortunate enough to gain a place, so I started as a school leaver. I had wanted to be a vet for a long time and so although I applied to Cambridge, Liverpool, Bristol and Nottingham, I believe I would have enjoyed the course and university life wherever I gained an offer. I applied to these universities because on the open days I had felt that the students really enjoyed their course, whilst also maintaining a good work-life balance and this was very important for me.
Being keen from a young age I gained a lot of work experience (amounting to 21 weeks). This is not at all necessary; I did it purely because I enjoyed it and plenty of my colleagues had far less. It is also important to remember that the amount of work experience required very much depends upon the University to which you are applying.
In terms of study I achieved A*s at GCSE and A-Level, but this is by no means a requisite to becoming a vet – if you are passionate then follow through and go for it! I had some other qualifications such as Grade 8 on the sax/piano and a scuba diving certificate. It does not matter which hobbies you choose to invest your time in, as long as you can show you are good at juggling your time. I was fortunate in gaining interviews and offers from Cambridge, Liverpool and Bristol although I did not get invited to interview at Nottingham. I found it hard choosing between these three fantastic vet schools, but in the end chose Cambridge for the opportunity to intercalate and the especially small year groups.
I’ll be the first to admit that the golden question: “why do you want to be a vet” is a hard one to answer, however try to avoid answering with the overused response of wanting to combine your love of science with your passion of animals. Be original and think about you personally, what inspired you as an individual?
What was the most demanding aspect of the application process?
The personal statement took a lot of time and energy and even by the end I never felt happy with it, however I’m sure most people are more nervous about interviews. Don’t be! Look over your A-Level notes and any interesting cases that you have come across in practice, but most importantly think! You will be able to work out the answer (unless you’ve answered everything correctly and now they really want to push you – in which case you’re onto a winner anyway!) so stay calm and work through it. Use the process in a positive way to learn more about that particular vet school and gain experience for the next interview that will be winging its way towards you.
What do you feel most prepared you for vet school?
Friends and hobbies! Everyone at vet school is intelligent and good at working hard when necessary, but 5 (or 6 years) is a long time of intense study and it is important to continue doing the things you love to stay happy and enjoy it along the way.
What advice would you give to applicants?
Do see practice and make sure that, to the best of your knowledge, this is the career you want to invest in. Consider the variation between universities; do you want to study for an extra year, do certain universities offer more attractive intercalation opportunities then others, do you want to spend a year abroad, do you want a small or large year group, do you want to get the AVMA accreditation…etc! But most importantly talk to students about their experiences and gain a feel for what would suit you. Work hard but also enjoy life outside of work – it is an excellent skill to have when you receive your offer and begin. Good luck!