So today, me and three other students from my college, attended a conference at a grammar school local to our college about applying to the TOP universities. I'm talking about universities like Cambridge, UCL, Oxford and Imperial College London. Bloody hell, when I got invited I was like "huh?" Why have I been invited? I'm nowhere near as good to apply to these universities especially after exams. I just simply didn't understand why I had been selected to go! But an opportunity is an opportunity so I might as well take it. It was a good day though, I enjoyed it so it was worth going because I learnt a lot! Other local grammar schools attended as well so being surrounded by more intelligent looking & sounding, articulate and well-spoken students intimidated me! From the moment I walked in, I knew they were just a small sample of the competition I was facing (and fighting) for a place in medical school.
First we had talks from people who represented the universities and they discussed what admissions tutors were looking for and how to get into the top universities. So Oxbridge have a collegiate system with colleges which I really like the sound of. I would love to aim for Oxbridge but its simply the case of the fear of my grades not being good enough and the fear of not fitting in. I mean, how could I, a state educated child from a school which is closing down fit in with students from better state schools and private schools! So Oxbridge gets a no from me, or is it the other way round? UCL you wouldn't be surprised gets an average of 10 applicants for every space. On an even competitive course it was 48 - Can you imagine 48 bloody applicants for 1 place?! As you could imagine, places for the other top universities would be the same! But, alas, UCL is my love, I'm willing to fight for a place!
In terms of what admissions tutors are looking for are:
- Passion and talent in subject - HARD WORK
- Likely success of the course
- How likely you are to succeed in reaching the offer made.
- Academic ability and deep interest of the subject
- Motivation and enthusiasm
Handy advice was given - "Show it, don't say it" Always show how passionate you are of the subject, not just saying that you are. The proof is in the pudding, mate. Also 75% of your personal statement should be about what you want to study and why. The remaining 25% on the extra-curricular.
Then it was a question and answer session with students who had received offers from Cambridge and Oxford or were at Oxbridge. It was a very interesting session. We then split off into groups according to the career path we wanted to go into. Obviously I was in the medicine group. We then discussed how to get into medicine.
A later session was detailing on what to put into our personal statements and did little mock interview questions. I hope I was good at them! Some questions were difficult, such as "Give an example of a time you were empathetic" and "Why do you want to do medicine?" but if you are really passionate about studying what you love then the interview should be quite easy although you'll be nervous! I think with more practice, I'll get more better with my answers and stutter less and be more fluid.
A previous student who went to that grammar school who had just finished their first year at Kings, even came in and answered our questions - although this was by accident! But I really learnt a lot from today's conference. I've learnt that the hard work hasn't finished now that exams were over. There was still more to go and I'm even more determined to reach that ultimate goal of becoming a doctor. This day has just refuelled my motivation tank and I'm ready to start working hard again!