Biochem degree with grades of B, C & D??

(53 Posts)
ChesterBelloc Mon 16-Dec-19 14:45:56

Long story... DD originally wanted to be a neurosurgeon. She is dyslexic, and was never going to get 3 As at A-level - particularly as she insisted on doing Biology, Chemistry and Physics (rather than something like Geography as a 3rd, in which she'd have stood a decent chance of an A grade confused..)

Anyhow, post-Mocks she's looking at predicted grades of B in Biology (possibly an A but unlikely), B/C in Chemistry and C/D in Physics. Which is gutting for her, as she works tremendously hard, but is slowly and painfully discovering that hard work is not necessarily enough. She now knows that Medicine is not an option, and is talking about Bioscience/Biochemistry degrees, with a view to a career in research. She's a bit of an Aspie, I reckon, and I think lab-work would suit her.

My real question, I suppose, is if a university degree is an appropriate next step for her, given her grades, and the fact that she doesn't really have a naturally 'academic' type of intelligence - and her dyslexia on top makes all reading/written tasks more difficult for her - surely that's what university is all about?!

She's very motivated, practical, hard-working, lots of self-discipline and drive... I don't really want her to struggle on for another three years in a very academic environment that's not best suited to her strengths.

Thoughts/advice? TIA.

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LIZS Mon 16-Dec-19 17:10:50

Could she look at courses with a foundation year option. She could apply for biochem , hope to get an offer and then maybe take foundation on results day.

SirTobyBelch Mon 16-Dec-19 17:38:13

It's important that she recognizes what her limitations are and accepts that she will take longer to do things than some of the people around her, but that doesn't mean she can't do them. She should declare dyslexia as a disability on her UCAS application and contact the university as soon as she has an offer confirmed (i.e. when the A-level results come out) to sort out what adjustments can be made (coloured paper or coloured glasses for viewing projector screens, etc., as well as extra time in exams). Most university courses have large numbers of students with specific learning disabilities, including dyslexia, and are used to dealing with them.

If she can achieve BCC or higher there will be plenty of universities that will accept her onto a biochemistry* course. Some of them are a bit less than transparent on their actual requirements: they might say the entry requirements are BBB but might routinely accept BCC, or even lower. This is one of the problems with pre-qualification applications, I'm afraid. With those grades she'd certainly get a place through Clearing, but that's not ideal as the choice of accommodation might be limited.

I think you should encourage her to do the best she can and to make at least one (preferably two) reasonably aspirational choices. Then you need to make sure she understands that there will be people around her at university who don't seem to need to work to pass, but that she will need to be disciplined and make sure she has time to get everything done at her slightly slower pace.

*For biochemistry, also consider cell & molecular biology, genetics, physiology, pharmacology, immunology, microbiology, biomedical science, clinical science, etc. If she does want a patient-facing role, has she considered pharmacy?

Newgirls Mon 16-Dec-19 17:40:42

There were quite a few biochem places in clearing last year so she may be able to ring around and get a place if her grades are reasonable then too

Needmoresleep Tue 17-Dec-19 11:53:18

Why biochem?

DD is dyslexic and almost did the reverse. Started with an interest in physiotherapy or games teaching, then realised at about 15 that she was really very good at maths and chemistry and so could get the grades for medicine. The basis was she wanted an active people facing career.

Why did your DD want to be a neurosurgeon? What other careers will offer similar satisfaction. Caring...maybe nursing or midwifery? Interest in the brain? Some sort of neuroscience? Operating theatre technician etc?

Someone once posted a list of medical careers. It may be worth considering whether she is best off with something vocational rather than a quite general academic degree.

Anotheronetwo Tue 17-Dec-19 12:27:23

I agree with SirToby. If you declare your dyslexia (will need a proper diagnosis) there is lots of help, like tech for reading and writing, available at university. Your daughter sounds hard-working and like she would do well on that type of course.

Deecaff Tue 17-Dec-19 13:47:46

I have a science background and have probably met more people with biochemistry degrees than any other - it is a very useful degree. I would also add that a number of those people did very well and had great careers having gone to polys that didn't require high entry grades.


RomaineCalm Tue 17-Dec-19 14:03:34

An alternative to consider might be a Level 6 degree apprenticeship in Laboratory Science.

If she thinks that she would enjoy the research side and is prepared to work and study at the same time it could be a great option.

A bit might depend on your location and where there are opportunities as many are linked to the big pharmaceutical firms.

justdeckingthehalls1 Tue 17-Dec-19 21:41:11

If she was initially interested in medicine, I would get her to look at allied medical careers first to see if she fancies any of those more. Something like radiography maybe, if she's interested in the brain?

mags2024 Tue 17-Dec-19 22:14:03

Why is medicine not an option? My son is dyslexic and a doctor. He did a degree in Biology. Half way through that decided he wanted to do medicine. Took the gateway exams ( Gamsat and ? ) Scored enough to apply to his choices of medical schools and had offers from all. Universities have been really helpful with "learning disability grants " was given laptops etc My son "flew" when he went to university. School was not helpful university is very different.

mags2024 Tue 17-Dec-19 22:18:03

Sorry - it reads as if he changed courses. He didn't of course but had to think about applying before he finished his first degree

ChesterBelloc Thu 19-Dec-19 11:30:19

Thank you all for your responses. Part of the problem is that she's extremely uncommunicative, and literally leaves the room when I try to have any kind of conversation about her future plans! So I don't know 'why biochem?'.

I think she liked the idea of neurosurgery because of the brain, and also the hands-on part but without having to deal with conscious patients... (as I said, I'm fairly sure she's on the Aspergers end of the autism spectrum...)

I have tried suggesting things like radiography - she has very good 3D/spatial awareness - and apprenticeships - which I think she'd really suit as she's v self-motivated and a v hard worker - but she just shuts every suggestion down.

I'm just worried that she will sink at Uni, as it's going to obviously be significantly harder than A-levels, which she is already finding more difficult than she expected.

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ChesterBelloc Thu 19-Dec-19 11:31:44

@mags2024 medicine is not an option because you need a minimum of 3 As, and she's likely to get BCC or BCD...

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ChesterBelloc Thu 19-Dec-19 11:34:39

Actually I think biochem might have been chosen because she still secretly harbours plans of doing a Medicine conversion course further down the line..? And that's the most common route for those who've failed to get straight onto a Med course... which is why BioChem degrees are even more over-subscribed and competitive than Medicine! And therefore maybe even more difficult to get onto...confused

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ChesterBelloc Thu 19-Dec-19 11:36:54

She looks insulted when I suggest courses with a foundation year - tho I'm going to insist on at least one as a back-up, and then a couple of more aspirational choices as per @SirTobyBelch's suggestion.

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SirTobyBelch Thu 19-Dec-19 11:45:09

@ChesterBelloc - To try to motivate her a bit, it might be worth getting her to look at some of the information presented by organizations like the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries about the kinds of graduates they are short of and what they could achieve through particular scientific career paths. For example:

It might also be worth her looking at some Youtube videos along the lines of a-day-in-the-life-of-a-medical-student, which might make her question whether she would actually enjoy the kinds of things medical students have to do (communication skills, medical ethics, group work, etc.)

PlumsGalore Thu 19-Dec-19 11:54:53

DD is radiographer and got ABB at Alevel, she found the degree really hard at times. Other universities accept lower grades than the one she studied at (Leeds) You absolutely have to have the calling for Radiography because once qualified it is for more about the patient care than Science.

Being screamed at by a violent alcoholic at 3am on a night shift is somewhat different to testing stool samples in a laboratory.

MoodLighting Thu 19-Dec-19 12:00:10

What about joining the NHS as a lab assistant and seeing if it's a good fit? I think there are apprenticeship routes to work up. Or is she keen to go directly to uni?

MarchingFrogs Thu 19-Dec-19 12:10:38

I think she liked the idea of neurosurgery because of the brain, and also the hands-on part but without having to deal with conscious patients..

Um... they're not meant to be permanently unconscious and someone has to talk to them, to explain the procedures, benefits and risks, etc to them, or to explain what went on, in the event that they were actually unconscious initially, through head injury or whatever. Definitely not a career for those who have a preference for avoiding interaction with patients, not to mention their relatives.

Plus, a number of procedures are actually undertaken with the patient awake, so that the surgeon can assess the effects in real time, so to speak.

If she genuinely doesn't relish patient interaction, that might make PAM such as Radiography a bit of a trial?

ChesterBelloc Thu 19-Dec-19 12:11:20

She said "but I like studying!' when I suggested a degree apprenticeship rather than a straight academic degree confused

That's interesting about radiography being more about the patients than the science: maybe not, then! She is definitely not a 'people person' (one of many reasons why I don't think she's actually at all suited to being a medic).

I'll try getting her to take a look at that, SirToby, thanks.

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ChesterBelloc Thu 19-Dec-19 12:11:53

X-post - quite!!

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Sammy867 Thu 19-Dec-19 12:17:59

Could she not consider an apprenticeship instead before embarking on a career than may not suit? Maybes ambulance technician or pharmacy? It may stand her in better stead for a course she wants to actually do, due to her experience, rather than rushing into a course she may not be able to complete (biomed in my university is the same course as medicine for the first 2 years and is pretty brutal on the coursework and exams which need to be independently passed to graduate)

ChloeDecker Thu 19-Dec-19 12:24:36

Hello OP,

Just another couple of options she might like to consider:
Optometry-3 Year course and still would get to work in a hospital, prescribe and perform some eye surgery. You don’t need 3As.

Degree apprenticeship from the NHS-courses such as Paramedics are an option too, with the bonus of a wage and not paying tuition fees.

ChesterBelloc Thu 19-Dec-19 12:28:04

"(biomed in my university is the same course as medicine for the first 2 years and is pretty brutal on the coursework and exams which need to be independently passed to graduate)"

This is what I'm afraid of. But so far she has proved ultra-stubborn, and very blinkered; she just puts metaphorical fingers in her ears whenever anyone tries to suggest any 'easier' more manageable (for her) alternatives. I'll keep trying tho... thank you for all the ideas.

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MoodLighting Thu 19-Dec-19 12:33:08

Perhaps that's ok for her to try and fail? (I've only got a 5 yo though so it's easy for me to say!!)

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