Oxbridge/ Medical school deferred entry

(28 Posts)
Stokesay Tue 05-Mar-13 12:11:04

I am new to mumsnet and hope someone can shed some light on this. My Yr 12 DS is hoping to apply for Medicine and is thinking the more traditional schools including possibly at Oxford or Cambridge London. He is keen to take a gap year to travel/ earn money. I think this would be a great idea as he is one of the youngest in his year and would like to apply this year for deferred entry in 2015 so that he is not constrained by interviews etc during his gap year (ideally- he may not get in anywhere of course).
There seems to be a lot of conflicting evidence about how Unis view deferred entry, e.g. Oxford states they are fine with gap years, but this years stats showed that none of the applications for deferred entry were successful. King's College stated during a webinar that they would not usually give out deferred offers, but did generally agree to defer a direct offer later on in the year, which is confusing. Lots of places say they are "neutral" about plans for gap years but I'm concerned he'll be putting himself at a big disadvantage and a lot of stress by applying for deferred entry.
Does anyone have any experience of this? Particularly for Medicine? Many thanks.

Stokesay Tue 05-Mar-13 12:15:40

King's college in my message= King's College London

titchy Tue 05-Mar-13 12:35:39

Can he not apply once he's got his results for direct entry the following year? Quite often this can yield offers where an application with just predicted grades would not. Particularly if his work experience and BMAT/UKMAY are strong.

Stokesay Tue 05-Mar-13 13:04:26

Hi Titchy- yes he could but that would mean restricting half of his gap year to staying in the UK as the Medical schools he's interested in interview anytime from October to March and BMAT would be in November. It would be ideal if he could get a deferred offer before his gap year. However, it may not be worth all the effort of applying this year if Unis don't make deferred offers in practice and just give lip service to them on their websites (like Oxford appeared to do for Medicine this year).

Sympathique Tue 05-Mar-13 13:22:30

Somewhere there's an account of the Cambridge application process, and someone doing a gap year with lots of medically related things got a big tick for them. As far as I remember, the academic said as he opened the file something like 'if he's going to sit on a beach in Thailand it's a no' - that stuck in my mind. That's just one opinion though, your son should ask around, email colleges, medical faculties, etc. Does anyone remember the article and where it was?

ISingSoprano Tue 05-Mar-13 17:36:38

I have no experience of applying for medical school but my applied this year for deferred entry in 2014. It was absolutely not an issue at all for any of the universities he applied to. Having applied, received offers, attended interviews and then accepted offers he has decided he doesn't want a gap year afterall and wants to go to university this year. Again, it has been very easy to email both his firm and insurance offer departments and they have both very quickly changed his application.

Yellowtip Tue 05-Mar-13 20:54:49

DS1 is an Oxford medic and almost no-one gets a deferred offer, as the stats on the website shows.

Is your DS a medic ISingSoprano? And if he is, did he get an offer for deferred entry from Cambridge or Oxford since I think it's that specifically which interests the OP.

I've heard the same (anecdotally, for Cambridge) as Sympathique has.

If the gap year is going to include some form of med-related work experience he'd be in a much stronger position to apply for deferred entry, but should still plan on having to apply the following year with grades in hand.

It's also worth bearing in mind that the step up from A-levels and a summer off to University is rather steep. Taking a year off from studying entirely will only add to that curve.

Stokesay Tue 05-Mar-13 22:51:24

Many thanks for your views. I've a feeling that deferred entry applications for Medicine may be less successful than for other subjects. Maybe it is due to the strict quota imposed. My Ds will contact the colleges and med schools but the only official response he has had so far was very woolly and not much help really.
He plans to work on a community healthcare project overseas during the first part of his gap year and hopefully as an HCA on his return so that should take care of the medical bit. It sounds like he'd better make it very clear to admissions tutors that he won't be on a beach all year! Maybe he could take a couple of OU or further maths modules (he loves Maths but will drop FM reluctantly at AS as it is no advantage to Medicine applications) . This should keep his brain ticking over if Universities want to see this.

INeverSaidThat Wed 06-Mar-13 00:13:27

Have checked out the info given on The Student Room website.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Mar-13 08:04:35

If it was my DS applying for Oxford or Cambridge and Medicine I would very strongly counsel him to apply in the usual round to see how it goes and if he gets an offer (by no means a done deal even for the apparently stellar) then ask to defer, giving very strong reasons. If he can't take a gap year then, he could always take one between the third and fourth years. That way, he's tested the water, can re-apply a second time if he's got a rejection and his heart is set on Oxford or Cambridge, and he may be far more likely to actually secure what he wants in terms of gap years than if he applies for that at the outset.

It really is very, very unusual to get a deferred offer. But I would be prepared for woolly answers from those two med schools and not expect much more.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Mar-13 08:08:04

When people say it's a help to pack a gap year with medical placements and voluntary work that may be true, but it's when an application is done in year after leaving Y13, not for a deferred offer, when it's all just plans, not yet executed. Those plans might always be ditched for a beach in Thailand as far as the tutors know.

alreadytaken Wed 06-Mar-13 08:09:41

My advice would be not to rely on anything stated on websites or even in e-mails from admission tutors. Go and visit the medical schools and watch how the admission tutor reacts when asked. They don't want to discourage good applicants but neither do they like assumptions about possible success at interview. The HCA experience - if he can get it, those jobs are in demand - would be more valuable than going overseas.

Is he aware that 60% of applicants get no offers at all and that this includes some with excellent grades? If he really wants to defer a year - and he would certainly benefit from extra maturity at interview - then he should plan to get the HCA job first and go travelling afterwards. He should also have an alternative plan when he doesn't get a HCA job, he might have more chance in the blood transfusion service, a nursing home or in another hospital job but some potential medics only find work in retail. Although medical schools don't formally state it on their websites some do have a tendency to interview those with known grades first, as you will see from the medicine stalking pages on the student room (check a past year too). He could have his interviews out of the way by January or February. Edinburgh and Southampton don't interview but have very high admission/place ratios. Presumably he does have work experience and volunteering organised already.

I remember the Cambridge paper too - search the mumsnet further education topic and you'll find a link somewhere. My memory is that it wasn't an application for deferred entry but from someone on a gap year applying with known grades but you should check that out.

Ask him how he will feel if he has a gap year and gets no offers and what he will do then. He needs to consider his options carefully.

Stokesay Wed 06-Mar-13 09:19:45

He is determined to be a doctor so would definitely re-apply if he did not get any offers first time round. We aren't a medical family and the degree of hoop-jumping required has been a revelation to us all. His age has been a problem but through incredible perseverance DS has managed to get 3 weeks varied work experience shadowing doctors and ongoing weekly medical volunteering. I will pass on your tips about HCA alternatives.

DS has a couple of open days booked already (his school will only allow two) so he'll look out for the admissions tutors responses then. You've all pretty much confirmed my suspicions though- that he probably has a better chance by applying for 2013 and trying to defer if/ when he has an offer in hand.

lyndie Wed 06-Mar-13 09:27:10

I don't know specifically about the gap year but I suspect if he got ANY offer for medicine he should take it and then enquire. It may be too much to hope for getting a place for medicine and a deferred offer. Quite a few years since I applied but since then there gave been many opportunities to work and travel both as a medical student and as a doctor! So reassure him if the gap year doesn't work out there will still be chances to do the things he wants to do (even more so perhaps!).

INeverSaidThat Wed 06-Mar-13 09:41:21

Good advice from yellowtip

I would also get everything in writing from the Uni's. They contradict themselves and are often ambiguous.

Also don't believe any l information on the Internet even MN Use it as a guide but not as a fact per say
The admission requirements for medicine change year by year (sometimes mid year confused ) You need to confirm things with the Uni's for the latest correct info.

alreadytaken Wed 06-Mar-13 10:06:02

many schools only "allow" two open day visits but there is very little they can do about you taking more. Of course you should plan to go on Saturdays where possible. The minimum requirements stated on medical school websites will rarely get you a place and you can easily waste an application. Schools generally give more useful information on visit days. If you can't visit your son needs to be on the Student Room applicant threads where he can talk to people who have done so. They will give him good advice on things like the actual UKCAT cut-offs in previous years/GSCE requirements. It's not totally reliable but a very good source of information.

There has been some erroneous information on mumsnet this year but people usually point that out. The admission process changed at several medical schools this year and will change again next year. Multiple mini interviews are becoming more popular and the UKCAT is changing, that may affect how medical schools use it. Medical school websites this year have not always reflected the changes in good time for applications.

He will have to do an elective later and these are usually overseas.

There is an NHS jobs website, that will give him an idea of what jobs become available. It takes the NHS quite a while to process applications, if he is looking for a job he will need to do so before his term ends.

INeverSaidThat Wed 06-Mar-13 13:45:53

We found (for 2011 entry) two Uni's where the official 'medical admissions policy' contradicted the general 'medicine admissions requirements' listed on the website. hmm My DD had an unusual educational background (no GCSEs and no equivilant qualifications) and we had to be extremely careful to ensure she applied to the right places.
We also got everything in writing. The advice given over the phone often contradicted the written advice. sad
Some Uni's were very helpful while others would only look at my DD's situation if she actually applied to them. bit late then Fortunately, there were enough Uni's who gave her a categoric yes (or no)
I think applying for deferred entry would be, umm, 'brave' hmm

unitarian Wed 06-Mar-13 18:31:49

(Waves at yellowtip)

My DD was going to be still aged 17 when she finished her A -levels and I was keen for her to take a gap year.

Quite honestly, navigating the whole process of applying to medical school was complicated enough without trying to factor in a deferral.

Also, she pointed out that she was doing a 6 year course so would be almost 24 by the time she finished so she said she just wanted to crack on with it.

It has turned out fine and she is debating where to go for her elective. She's done her growing up 'on the job, so to speak.

Stokesay Thu 07-Mar-13 08:51:57

My DS will be the same unitarian but it's good to hear that your DD coped fine. He will hopefully be a bit further along the path today if all goes well- he has some AS module results due (I'm keeping my fingers crossed for him).

Ineversaidthat I have looked at some med school web sites but have only managed to find two actual admissions policies. Thanks for the tip- I had not realised these even existed separately to the admissions requirements sections - were you able to find all the ones you were interested in online?

alreadytaken it took DS 5 months from applying for his volunteering at an NHS hospital to actually starting as he has to attend interviews, inductions, occupational health checks etc. so I think he's hoping that he might have a bit of a head start for future NHS jobs, although I'm not sure it works like that.

Yellowtip Thu 07-Mar-13 09:47:24

Stokesay, slight word of caution: there's a danger in overthinking the admissions process. Both in RL and to an even greater extent on MN there are parents who have foraged into every last document they can find (this seems to be at its worst with Oxford and Cambridge and Medicine) and they've thought through every nuance of work experience to demonstrate the DC's commitment and his propensity for team working etc. And then the prize isn't forthcoming and they get hostile and bitter, both about the system and towards those with a place. Of course I'm not saying you would be that way inclined at all and going in blind is probably too naïve but at the end of the day it's about grades and aptitude and your DS will either have those in the abundance required or he won't. My advice would be to apply to the places he thinks he would be happiest at and let the rest follow - it's a long, long course. Best of luck.

unitarian Thu 07-Mar-13 11:27:35

Stokesay - I speak with the benefit of hindsight!
I was worried that a 'country kid' barely 18 would come to grief in London on a pressurised and lengthy course and I'm not saying it couldn't all have gone pear-shaped. Some do come a cropper. Touching wood, she hasn't yet and she's nearing the half-way mark.

But the selection/interview process seems to sift for maturity and groundedness. The fact that DD made her way to three interviews and convinced each set of interviewers that she had the necessary attributes settled my mind. In those last two school terms she matured before my eyes.

I had qualms when we left her there the first day. Who wouldn't? But the med students seem to be a pretty close-knit and supportive group who get up to absolutely daft exploits and yet work tremendously hard.

I would also say that the amount of medically related work experience didn't count for a great deal in the selection process but they were hugely interested in her extra-curricular activities, musical in her case, and in her teaching related work experience. A gap year wouldn't have made any difference and might have worked against her given the quotas they work to each year.

alreadytaken Thu 07-Mar-13 11:36:59

Stokesay you can find not only admission policies but sometimes score sheets used by interviewers on the internet. The Student Room threads are a good way to find that sort of information. You may also find information on the characteristics of those actually admitted.

I'd have to disagree with yellowtip about preparation. You can certainly overprepare answers for interview questions but time spent finding out exactly what each medical school is looking for prevents an application to a school that would reject without interview. Applicants need to chose carefully and put effort into writing their personal statement because the competition is so steep. There are vast numbers of applicants with excellent grade predictions and many with strong aptitude for the job.

Looking for jobs at the same hospital may shorten the process a little as he's possibly already got his DBS but they have to advertise vacancies and allow time for applicants and interviews so it wouldn't make a vast difference unfortunately. It may increase his chance of getting a job if one comes up. If he does a gap year having a job first will show that he isn't planning to spend the year on a beach and he will also be around for interviews when needed, hence the recommendation to do it that way round.

unitarian Thu 07-Mar-13 12:09:28

It is about grades and the personal statement is vitally important.
It's also about not wasting any of the 4 choices of med school so it is necessary to do the research in order to choose the ones where he stands most chance of being considered - I forget which but I have seen some that specifically state that deferrals won't be allowed. (I'm 3 years out of date now so check for yourself.)
It's also about being comfortable in the place where you're going to spend 5 or 6 years so look at where the clinical work might be done. (He might fancy studying in York but how does he feel about working in Hull, for example?)
You can find out a lot of these things beforehand but, yellowtip has a point, don't over-think it, especially the interview. Anything might happen.

One last thing - check everything you are told. And check again nearer the time.

Stokesay Sat 09-Mar-13 14:29:25

Good advice from everyone- thanks. I'm sure I'll be back for more as time goes on! DS did well in his AS modules so that's another hurdle negotiated for the moment and we have a very cheerful DS this weekend.

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