DD1 has been turned down by all her choices and is taking a year out. How best to spend her year to increase her chance of success next year?

(52 Posts)
duchesse Sun 10-Mar-13 13:04:21

That's it really. DD1 has been turned down for medicine by all 4 of her choices. We've been advised by friends that she would do well to work as a HA for a year to gain some experience in a real medical setting and some maturity before reapplying. Any advice gratefully received.

duchesse Sun 10-Mar-13 13:04:54

Sorry, HA= Healthcare assistant

Faxthatpam Sun 10-Mar-13 13:10:39

Can she get feedback on why she's been turned down? And advice from uni she really wants to go to? Can't hurt to ask them. Sorry she's had no luck - hope she succeeds in the end.

LIZS Sun 10-Mar-13 13:12:22

Fundamentally is she predicted to get the right level of grades in standard subjects? Does she have any related work experience yet.

NewFerry Sun 10-Mar-13 13:44:02

Sorry to hear that duchesse sad such a competitive course to get on to.

duchesse Sun 10-Mar-13 13:47:48

She has 9 A*s and 1 A at GCSE and is predicted all 6s and 7s at IB (equivalent of As and A*s). She's been volunteering at a day centre for the elderly & disabled in the village for 18 months which she loves.

After the IB and 1 A level she's doing she's actually really looking forward to a year out tbh. She needs the rest.

fraktion Sun 10-Mar-13 13:50:35

I agree to make sure that there isn't an obvious reason (grades etc) and work to fix that as a priority before next year.

She could do HA work or she could look at voluntary work overseas or au pairing if she were interested in paeds later. We had a prospective med student apply for our job but the needing to go to interviews just didn't work at the time although it would be feasible now.

hmm she didn't get the places she wanted.

duchesse Sun 10-Mar-13 13:51:42

Apparently about 60% don't...

samuelwhiskers Sun 10-Mar-13 13:56:49

At my DD's independent school, none of her year group got into Medicine, all A grade and A* students, work experience etc. Yet, at uni she met a few state school students who had got into medicine with A levels ranging from ABB to BBC. They re-applied the following year after travelling/HA work experience and got into their first or second choice medical schools. Maybe she shouldn't worry and just take a year out to work and reapply.

samuelwhiskers Sun 10-Mar-13 14:02:03

Oh yes, should add that a friend's DS from an international school got into medical school with 34 points at IB. He got four offers, some very low (31). He had a good amount of work experience - every holiday he worked in an old people's home, voluntary work abroad, with children etc etc. Presume your DD got good marks at MCAT? He got all the books and revised constantly at doing the tests so he could get the best possible marks.

Percephone Sun 10-Mar-13 14:07:42

Agree working as a healthcare assistant might help. Could also try contacting the clinical skills tutor at a local teaching hospital. Some of them can arrange work experience for a level students. She should keep a log of all the experience gained and write some reflective notes on what she saw and learned for showing at interview. Could approach a health centre and ask to spend time with a health visitor or practice nurse. I think her problem is lack of relevant experience or evidence of commitment to medicine. It's highly competitive now and many candidates will have done all this and more. Hope that helps.

Percephone Sun 10-Mar-13 14:11:29

Most of all it helps to have done some less glamorous work - old peoples home, volunteer at a special school, samaritans, befriender. You get the idea!

Copthallresident Sun 10-Mar-13 14:55:23

Amongst DDs peers it does seem as though the evidence of a vocation and empathy and emotional intelligence is now becoming more important than straight A/A*s. They seem to have been really successful in identifying the ones who want to do it for the right reasons, not necessarily the A* students. A year spent accumulating evidence of that would be well spent, and writing a personal statement focused not just on what she has done but what she has gained from it.

boomting Sun 10-Mar-13 16:25:06

The thing that really stands out to me is the lack of any work experience in a healthcare setting, so working as an HCA would be a good option for her.

creamteas Sun 10-Mar-13 16:55:45

Getting work at as HCA in a hospital can be quite difficult now, but is worth looking into. Domiciliary care work is also a possibility if she has access to a car.

Re-applications also show a real commitment to a career in medicine which will help as well.

getmeaginandtonicnow Sun 10-Mar-13 17:22:56

Make sure she gets work experience dealing directly with doctors, though appreciate that's harder to set up than care work etc. Maybe join St John Ambulance or something too. Also, in the PS, essential to show lots of reflection on everything, med schools love that. Sign up to online UKCAT practice sites. Get lots of interview practice - when all candidates have straight A grades, I think it can come down to how confidently they come across at (sometimes really tough) interviews.

Actually she doesn't need work experience directly with doctors.. sorry to contradict getmeagin but she doesn't.. it's much more important to have W.E at a ground level.. and if possible in different settings, whether she volunteers to hand out the teas in a nursing home, or helps on a special needs play scheme.. variety is good as long as some time is spend in each area.

Did she get to the interview stage? this is important. If she was flat out rejected without any interviews then her personal statement is likely to be letting her down.. it needs to be not only well written and passionate, but it also needs to be fresh..not full of ' why I want to be a doctor 'cliches. Did she sell herself enough? DId she talk about what she had learn from her work experience and how it will help her be a doctor?

My DD2 is at med school, and while she was lucky first time, a lot of her fellow students were reapplicants; as you said, 60% are unlucky first time round, but plenty get in second time and to be honest, looking at how hard it is, a year out and year of extra maturity isn't a bad thing!

duchesse Sun 10-Mar-13 19:08:34

Yes, she went for two interviews, one at Cambridge, one at Bristol. I think her PS is good. Obviously she ought to have more to say next time around!

alreadytaken Sun 10-Mar-13 20:44:05

Sorry to hear it, duchesse, but a lot of good students do get turned down. If you have 10 or 20 applicants per place you do - to quote one admission tutor - look for anything to rule them out. Assuming she gets the predicted results it is worth phoning Bristol on results day to check they have no places. Medical schools do not go into clearing but have been known to take people in August that they turned down earlier. I don't think Bristol do that but it does no harm to ask. Or she could consider applying in Extra to one of the places that have courses allowing transfer to medicine. I'm afraid I'm not very knowledgeable about those but the student room website may have information.

NHS jobs website www.jobs.nhs.uk/ Consider not just health care assistant but phlebotomist, ambulance care assistant and other such posts. If you search for jobs under 20k you'll find all the entry level posts. If they say temporary or bank she may have more chance of success and bank posts can involve full time work filling in while they go through the recruitment process. She should start applying before she wants the job as it can be a slow process. If she can't get an NHS job then look for nursing home jobs but any job working with people is helpful.

Apart from the PS the other thing to consider is if the reference said the right things. A medical reference needs to say slightly different things to the standard school reference.

While all medical schools say experience in health care settings isn't essential reapplicants are commonly told to get more experience hmm

If she wants to try again for Cambridge and Bristol she will need to check they will reconsider her as some schools do not accept reapplicants who were interviewed. Generally reapplicants with good grades are popular with medical schools as they have demonstrated real commitment, maturity and proven academic ability, she is likely to be snapped up next time.

glaurung Sun 10-Mar-13 22:36:50

A friend's ds was in a similar situation last year ie: excellent grades, strong ps, 4 rejections (2 after interview).

He worked hard, achieved great A levels, got a full time HA job this year, did lots of UKCAT practice and improved his score considerably and he now has 2 offers and is waiting to hear from the other two (both have interviewed). It worked for him! I think the extra maturity is valuable and the universities do seem to prefer achieved grades to predicted ones too.

Yellowtip Mon 11-Mar-13 08:42:09

I'm sorry to hear about four rejections too duchesse, that's very tough. Her grades are clearly very good but the places she succeeded in getting interviews at suggests her UKCAT (which you mentioned on a previous thread) might be the obvious problem. Was the BMAT ok? She needs to crack the UKCAT first to give her clear pointers on where to apply and if it's not great again the second time round concentrate on the few non UKCAT unis and the BMAT ones for 2014. The work experience stuff has all been said.

samuel I think you may be overplaying the prejudice-against-indieschoolstudents card smile

Yellowtip Mon 11-Mar-13 09:36:13

Another thing to think about is the interviews, since she interviewed at two places. How did she think they went? Getting experience of proper interviews is invaluable for next year: how did she feel they went and would she approach them differently?

impecuniousmarmoset Mon 11-Mar-13 09:51:43

"state school students who had got into medicine with A levels ranging from ABB to BBC"

BBC? hmm

Of course, it must be that famous antagonism against private schools. Did you know, less than 40% of Cambridge offers went to public school pupils last year? shock

alreadytaken Mon 11-Mar-13 11:11:38

one of the reasons medical schools like reapplicants is that they have shown they can deal with stress and adversity. All doctors make mistakes and when they do they need to have confidence in themselves to carry on. Reapplying is pretty strong proof they already have that ability.

No-one has yet mentioned doing any teaching. As all doctors need to pass on their skills doing some form of tutoring with younger pupils ticks another box.

References don't always reflect fully what a student has done, especially outside school, and external activities may provide better examples of some skills. It can be useful to encourage feedback to the referee. There is provision for one or two supporting letters e.g from employers to be sent with applications (check the UCAS site, few people seem to be aware it's possible) but it may be better if letters go to the referee and they include some choice comments.

creamteas Mon 11-Mar-13 11:19:19

impecunious Getting into medicine with BBC at A level is possible. But usually you would need to take a foundation course. So you have to pass this with good results before being accepted onto a medicine degree.

Foundation courses are often only open to applicants who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

impecuniousmarmoset Mon 11-Mar-13 11:26:18

Yes I'm sure that's right creamteas, it was the implication that all it took was to be a 'state school applicant' to get in with BBC that irritated me! As you say, you'd need very exceptional circumstances and an extra foundation course. In the usual run of things, you do not get to medical school with BBC at A-level.

Yellowtip Mon 11-Mar-13 11:45:21

impecunious there seems to be a certain amount of chippiness about at the moment in certain less good quarters of the independent school sector, a blame culture even.

You have to be seriously clever and motivated to get into the top med schools from whatever the sector.

Scrazy Mon 11-Mar-13 11:45:29

Some state school pupils will have got onto medicine courses with ABB - BBC but this is only in exceptional circumstances after completing either extra work alongside A levels or after passing and being put through their paces on a foundation year. Again this is only open to 'disadvantaged' pupils, the competition for the places are immense i.e 1 place to every 30 applicants and usually they have attended a state school in a non grammar area, where getting 3 A's at A level never happens.

SCOTCHandWRY Mon 11-Mar-13 13:18:41

Work experience, in some kind of health setting (old people home, hospital portering etc), from now unroll her next application.

DS is a current medical student and I know more than 60% of medical applicant don't receive a single offer. Many people now apply over 2 or 3 cycles to get a place - reapplication is easier than graduate application which people are often advised, wrongly IMO, to do if they are turned down on first application.

What was her ukcat score? With work, this can be improved a lot! It is far, far more important than you would think from the guidance the medical schools give - it is often the only differentiator between applicants who have fantastic grades and good PS!

SCOTCHandWRY Mon 11-Mar-13 13:19:16


Moominsarehippos Mon 11-Mar-13 13:19:59

Duke of Edinburgh award maybe?

SCOTCHandWRY Mon 11-Mar-13 13:26:00

At this point Moonin, probably not worth it unless she has a half finished one she could finish before next application cycle (which starts in only 7 months).

duchesse Mon 11-Mar-13 14:12:15

She's finished her Gold DofE! Completed this summer with a 5 week expedition to the Amazonian jungle.

SCOTCHandWRY Mon 11-Mar-13 14:39:55

Well that's good OP, as that's something new to add to her next application... Completed gold dofE.

Both my eldest 2 DS did mention "3 sections complete, hoping to achieve gold award soon", on ucas, but hardly impressive as actually having the award. Remember tho its any team work component that's valuable for talking about in interview or writing about... If it is in anyway medical, so much the better!
DS1 got s great interview tale out of his silver expedition, in driving rain one team member started to display hypothermia signs, which DS recognised, and the team then set about warming him in a tent while 2 team members went ahead to the next rendezvous point to get help - it all turned out ok thankfully, but there was much joking between from the team members about how kind their friend had been to get just sick enough to provide a great interview storyshocksmile. Great for all those "tell me about how you overcome a difficult situation type questions!

MariscallRoad Mon 11-Mar-13 14:54:41

I was thinking that Yellow is right - and wonder how do med schools find who is seriously motivated? duchesse do you have a B plan? Some people consider graduate route.

SCOTCHandWRY Mon 11-Mar-13 15:07:29

Graduate route is possible but even stiffer competition than undergraduate application... Thestudentroom threads and wiki on med school application are well worth reading.

samuelwhiskers Mon 11-Mar-13 15:18:12

Yellowtip - samuel I think you may be overplaying the prejudice-against-indieschoolstudents card

Actually it was the opposite - I was trying to make the point that just because duchesse's DD is an A grade student, it isn't enough these days to get into medical school. As others have said, you need to be so well rounded, confident, high UKCAT, brilliant PS, references, eloquent, wide ranging work experience. If a state school student can get into med sch with a BBC, then they rightly show incredible potential - they must have done well at interview too. I am all for it - I have DCs at indy and state schools so see both sides.

duchesse Mon 11-Mar-13 17:28:51

It's all pretty academic- DD1 is at a state FE college but was at an independent school until she was 16. I don't know which she would assigned to to be honest- her current school, or the one where she received most of her secondary schooling?

Yellowtip Mon 11-Mar-13 21:37:38

duchesse the point about perceived prejudice may be academic to your DD but it's a wider debate elsewhere, which some think is hollow.

Your DD's GCSEs will be contextualised against her old school which is as it should be.

No doubt your DD chose to join the state sector for valid reasons but the whole idea of affluent parents jumping ship to gain an advantage is absurd. University admissions processes are smarter than that.

duchesse Mon 11-Mar-13 21:48:07

Yet again, she left her previous school because we could not afford to keep her there. No game, no plan. Simple economics.

Yellowtip Mon 11-Mar-13 22:00:25

Sure, I think you said that at the time. There has been stuff in the press about loaded parents thinking they could dupe the system that's all.

duchesse she's got really good grades even against her indie school: top of the year. She's clearly motivated. I reckon look at upping the UKCAT and if that doesn't work then home in on non UKCAT schools and relatively more BMAT ones. And of course do whatever she can on the work front pending interviews.

It must be very demoralising for such a high achieving hard working student but tell her to hang on in there and once she gets a decent offer as I'm sure she will then she can have her well deserved rest before starting up over again.

Jojobump1986 Mon 11-Mar-13 22:01:42

Could she do a different degree & then do medicine as a post-grad? I've heard that's an increasingly common route now. I know someone who's hoping to do that. She also looked into volunteering abroad in medical settings for her gap year but decided she didn't really want to leave home!

alreadytaken Mon 11-Mar-13 22:57:00

postgraduate medicine is even more competitive than undergraduate medicine. It's so competitive that some people with degrees still apply for the 5 year undergraduate courses. The funding arrangements could also be an issue. As she will have a good chance of a place next year a gap year seems the better option.

MariscallRoad Tue 12-Mar-13 00:35:39

duchesse your DD had an interview at Cambridge and Bristol which is heartening. She might have interviewed very well and prob she had a good PS but consider that there are quite a few candidates competing for each place. This means it is worth she tries again next year.

alreadytaken Tue 12-Mar-13 09:22:38

There are still some substantial barriers in the recruitment process for disadvantaged young people. It's much easier to find out where to apply and to get details of the course if you visit. I don't think there is prejudice against independent schools but their students might have to work a little harder to show that they fully understand the implications of a medical career. The applicant has to show they understand that medicine is not glamorous but involves anti-social hours, continuous learning, too much paperwork, having to spend time in some places miles from your friends, periods of boredom and dealing with a lot of mess. Questions are sometimes asked about how the student would occupy themselves in a strange hospital miles from the medical school (and in places the interviewer clearly thinks are undesirable).

funnyperson Thu 28-Mar-13 19:09:49

I'm sorry I just saw this but wanted to say please don't doom your dd1 to phlebotomy.
Here is my opinion:
There is nothing wrong with phlebotomy or being a health assistant or being a hospital porter but these are good summer jobs or short term jobs for a would be medic, not jobs to take up a whole gap year because no leadership skills are involved and very little medicine as such. They are as good prep for nursing as they are for being a doctor iyswim. Also dd1 is a young person. What she does should be enjoyable, not just some dreary stepping stone.
Hence look at spending time in a hospital abroad or volunteering abroad, or indeed with a voluntary group in the UK . Make it a time which she can look back on and speak about with pleasure and with pride.
Some science work wont go amiss. Try the Wellcome or Nuffield for internships.
Obtain a copy of her reference from UCAS (small fee payable) and if it leaves out her strengths, go and see her main referee with what you perceive her strengths at school to have been. Explain about the gap year to school and get school support and obviously keep in touch with a contact person there all through next year.
I agree with the person who suggested contacting Bristol about a waiting list but it may be better to get her reference first and ask school to send in some extra positive info to the admissions tutor for medicine and for school to recommend that she goes on a waiting list there.
Hope this helps.

eatyourveg Thu 28-Mar-13 19:54:18

our school gave all the students a copy of their ucas reference - ask the school if they'll give you a copy before paying anything to ucas

stressyBessy22 Tue 02-Apr-13 10:13:47

My DS1 is in U6 at a state (grammar) school and lots have got accepted to medicine , most are people who are good at everything they turn their hand to , as well as being good with everyone.Some however you really couldn't describe as having either emotional intelligence or maturity.One has been suspended more than once for bullying younger children.Maybe some admissions tutors mistake arrogance for confidence.

pipsqueak Wed 03-Apr-13 22:22:13

Dd1 has relieved offers x3 for medicine - she did a Kaplan ukcat course plus an interview prep course both of which I think helped a lot ... But it is all a bit of a mystery . Good luck to yr dd whatever she decides

stressyBessy22 Fri 05-Apr-13 04:15:22

what were her as grades (and ums he you can remember them)

funnyperson Fri 05-Apr-13 23:40:46

stressybessy if a person was suspended or bullying and the school left that out of the UCAS reference that might not be so great and the offer might be withdrawn.

Is it worth doing a St Johns Ambulance first aid course, and/or volunteer with the Red Cross?

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