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The appliance of science sets up Nshiw’s dental hygienist career

She may have switched from A Levels to a full-time science course, but Nshiw Abubaker’s career ambitions haven’t changed one bit. The 19-year-old who studies at Matthew Boulton College hopes to become a dental hygienist and therapist. She plans on going to university after completing her applied science course.

“I did some work experience at a dental practice after I’d finished my GCSEs two years ago and did the same thing again this summer,” said Nshiw. “I got to know the hygienist there and was inspired by her work. My college course is at Level 3, which is equivalent to A Levels, so this is a route into university and my chosen career.”

In 2015, Nshiw went from GCSEs into A Levels at a local sixth form, experiencing a change of heart during her studies.

“I realised I wasn’t learning things as well as I could,” she explained. “I also felt a bit too relaxed in my sixth form environment and didn’t know how to push myself.”

Things turned around for Nshiw when she transferred onto a BTEC Applied Science course at the college, achieving a double distinction grade (equivalent to grade A*s) at the end of her first year.

“As a vocational science student, I have more freedom in the way I learn, so I’m better at managing my time,” said Nshiw, who has just started year two of her course. “My teachers make it clear that every piece of work I hand in counts in some way towards my final grades and so I know I have to put the effort in.

“I’ve achieved good marks from early on in the course. This has motivated me to keep on doing better.

“With a vocational course, you’re assessed throughout each unit you study. This means you always have a pretty good idea of where you’re heading.”

Nshiw continued: “I enjoyed A Levels, but if I could go back to when I was 16, I would just go straight onto my vocational course. It’s a more direct route of entry onto my preferred university course.”

The Applied Science course is made up of a series of units in all scientific disciplines, along with research and employability skills from within the sector. There are assignments, case studies, practicals and projects to complete, along with exams which all make up the final grade from two years’ work.

“Vocational science is more about being hands-on than doing written exams but that doesn’t make the courses any easier than A Levels,” she said. “The problem-solving, research and analytical skills are very specific. You have to figure things out by yourself – the internet can’t help you!

“This is the type of study I really enjoy. It suits my way of learning, so I can find the right pathway for my future and gain the highest grades.”

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