State comprehensive in Hampshire
I chose Cambridge because I like to know exactly what’s going on and understand fully the science underpinning the clinical work of a vet – and Cambridge is fantastic for that. I’m really excited to be starting the intercalated year (third year), which gives the opportunity to focus on an area of interest and choose either a dissertation or a research project, from which we earn a Bachelor’s degree at the end of the year. This helps develop a deep understanding of the scientific process behind medical advances that will come into play throughout our veterinary careers, and gives us a chance to try out research, working with some of the most influential scientists in their fields.
I’ve loved the course so far, and contrary to the rumours, you do get to work with live animals right from the start! One of the best things about the course is that it gives you a very broad understanding, encompassing everything from the evolution of the domestic animals to the application of biological concepts to humans – but it still enables you to gain a deep insight and focus on areas of interest, through intercalation and fantastic events organised by societies such as the university’s Veterinary Zoological Society.
Coming from a state comprehensive, I was initially nervous, but actually the whole university – and Clare in particular – is really friendly and I’ve never felt out of place. The people here are from all sorts of backgrounds, with an incredible range of interests and hobbies, but what we all have in common is that we love our subject. The traditions of the university really add to the experience, there are a plethora of societies to get involved in and the collegiate system ensures that you get to know people from lots of different subjects. I’m really glad to be studying here!
When I applied to Cambridge in 2009, I wasn’t really sure what to expect at interview – I’d heard that there might be one subject-related and one general interview, but actually the first interview was pure science, with the second being more clinical, each about 20 minutes long.
In the first, I was given graphs and data on unfamiliar topics, and asked to explain what was going on based on the science I’d learned so far at A-level and from background reading. I was also asked about the biology behind aspects of work experience I’d mentioned in my personal statement, and questioned on the extended project I’d done. My interviewers were really friendly and encouraging, and I really enjoyed it, which made it much less scary to go into the second interview!
For the second, I was asked more about the biology of domestic animals, working things out from first principles, and was helpfully nudged in the right direction when I got stuck (which was a lot!). I also had to think about clinical situations, and was given some really interesting scenarios, drawing on experience I’d gained while seeing practice. I really wasn’t sure how well or badly they’d gone, but had enjoyed the day and given my all, which was what counted – my main advice to applicants is to pay lots of attention in your work experience, revise plenty of science in preparation for the interview, and then when you get there just do your best, explain your thought processes and let your passion for the subject shine through!