University Open Days - do I stay ????

(67 Posts)
lookoveryourshouldernow Fri 22-Feb-13 19:55:00

Hi There

Was planning to drop my Son off over the next couple of weeks to look at some Unis - a drop off and pick up.... but I was wondering whether I should/need to stick around with him to look at Hall accommodation etc etc with him ?

Is this a "done thing" or not - or will I embarrass him ???

bubbles1231 Sat 23-Feb-13 23:26:18

No! I went by myself to all open days on various combinations of public transport.
In a few short months they will be living pretty much independently and should have enough wherewithall to ask the relevent questions .
If they have to have a lift to get there, drop them off, do some shopping and pick them up later!

I took my DD, (at her request) we split up & she did subject specific stuff, I went to parents lecture or ones by the Dean/ Burser.

We both went to talks by the students union rep or other students & went in tours together of dorms/halls just because 2 pairs of eyes better than one.

I took a book & when she was off doing her stuff I found a coffee shop & waited & people watched, very interesting!!

She did all the selection process & narrowed down the shortlist & applied for visits, I was just Mums Taxi really!

weegiemum Sat 23-Feb-13 23:35:21

I went to all mine on my own on the bus, no parents came. I was not-quite-17 at this point (I didn't turn 18 till the end if my first term there) but it seemed like no biggie. But that was 25 years ago, I got a full grant of £1985 I think, and had money left over at the end of the year!!

Happymum22 Sun 24-Feb-13 12:40:14

Yellowtip- when my DS was applying for medicine we had numerous letters from his universities advising while parents have a right to sit in, it is not advised or other comments generally discouraging it. DS said at almost every interview he saw one or two parents going in with their DC and sitting at the back. Really shocking and how off-putting!!

Happymum22 Sun 24-Feb-13 12:41:02

PS this was 4 years ago and so I hope policy has been changed by now and no parents are doing this to their DC anymore and making their interview 100% more stressful no doubt.

Happymum22 Sun 24-Feb-13 12:43:28

Another thought (sorry! and sorry this is slightly off topic from the thread title) on your driving test you can have a parent sit in the back. I cannot imagine anything so off putting.

Floralnomad Sun 24-Feb-13 12:51:37

One of us went when our son was looking round (2 years ago) , we tended to skulk at the back and definitely didnt say anything . At one there was a particularly embarrassing mother who gave everybody else a good few hours of entertainment.

TheCollieDog Sun 24-Feb-13 13:03:04

I am so pleased there are other university bods, and some parents, who don't go to Open Days.

While I can understand the impulse, it os often from the wrong -- or less than useful -- questions, based around "We're paying for this." Which fundamentally devalues what people think they're paying for by turning it into a consumer transaction. Not the most productive way to think about a really significant chunk of a person's education, IMO.

And as parents demand more (and I've had some rather demanding to the point of rude parents to deal with in this respect) we have to divert scarce resources of cash & staff time to deal with parents, rather than focus on the applicants. And the applicants' siblings and grandparents at times! So that, for example, one department I was in where we had additional specialist facilities off-campus, and we hired coaches to tak applicants the 5 minutes' drive (15 mins walk) to see them, each year we had to hire another coach to transport all the applicants' families as well. And if we couldn't fit them in the coaches, and asked for applicants plus one accompanying person only, gosh did we receive some rude responses. I wonder if people knew they were shouting at a distinguished professor when they said what they said to one of my colleagues ... Entitled doesn't even start to describe the parents.

Sorry to all you reasonable parents but ...

The thing that makes me worry about this is that if it's the parents asking the questions, then it's their concerns, not those of the actual applicants. I can understand parents feeling that their children aren't asking the necessary & pragmatic questions, but I really find it uncomfortable -- and pedagogically unsound -- to be having a conversation with a parent about module choices, theoretical approaches, styles of teaching & examining with a parent, rather than the actual person considering my course. Or those 3-way conversations, when the parent asks me the question, and I answer directly to the applicant.

So perhaps what parents could do is spend time at home discussing with their DCs what sorts of things they're (the DCs) are looking for, and then maybe they could develop a check sheet of questions, But let your DC do the talking! Step back -- physically & emotionally -- at least when you're on campus.

Because otherwise, I'm afraid you are NOT helping your DCs prepare for university. And you make senior academics like me who then have to teach your DCs a bit grumpy! Because your DCs seem unable to take responsibility for their own actions or choices.

These are obviously a minority, but it's that minority on whom we expend the majority of our scarce resources, and who take up our time & energy, rather than mature-for-age and well-supported, but not handheld DCs.

Oh dear, a rant. Can you tell I've been in the middle of admissions? And chasing up a handful of recalcitrant Freshers, who frankly, need a lesson in manners about how they address a professor ...

Pagwatch Sun 24-Feb-13 13:08:20

DS1 went to all his open days alone. He chose his unis, his courses, arranged his trains and went off. The only visit where we dropped him off was Oxford because my mum lives nearby.

It's his life, his choice. We would have helped and supported him to whatever extent he wanted but I was impressed that he was so self sufficient.
He is very happy at uni smile

TheCollieDog Sun 24-Feb-13 13:10:45

I mean university bods who don't like to have parents there! Not who don't go to Open Days! AS creamteas says, these are generally on Saturdays, and while admin staff get a day off in lieu or overtime, no such thing for academics.

But the concern really is for the DCs. They have to get a sense of how they'll fend for themselves. University is not just school with added drinking ...

webwiz Sun 24-Feb-13 13:22:31

I have been to open days with both DD's but tend to sneak off for a coffee on my own at the first opportunity. I have my own ranking of universities based on the quality of their Americanos.

I had forgotten about the "family outing" aspect and was quite surprised to see siblings and grandparents who had come along for the occasion as well (someone's little brother asked a lot of questions at one of the maths open days and I did admire the academics patience!).

Sympathique Sun 24-Feb-13 15:10:14

TheCollieDog: "AS creamteas says, these are generally on Saturdays, and while admin staff get a day off in lieu or overtime, no such thing for academics."

I note that you are a senior academic, probably a professor? I'm surprised you even expect overtime/time in lieu. None of the academics I work with expect to work a five day week (next door, OH is working away, having returned from a three-week overseas trip last night; I would say that is the norm for professionals including academics). You aren't going to get sympathy by complaining; you will merely encourage the view that academics work short hours compared to the rest of the world.

But to return to the topic... why not just exclude everyone but the students? Yes the family can come along, but they fend for themselves until the students have finished with the open day. If your university won't do that, your real problem is with the university and not with the families that turn up. I wonder why the university feels the need to be so accommodating?

creamteas Sun 24-Feb-13 15:41:53

sympathique to me, there is a world of difference between working at weekends and having to go into work at weekends. The former is normal, and it is relatively easy to fit the work that needs doing around my family. Going into work, however, involves travelling, childcare and not actually being able to get any 'real' work done....

As was explained above, unfortunately parents often attend whether we like it or not, and are abusive when we try to suggest otherwise. I'd be up for for using security as bouncers on the doors grin, because that would be what it would take, but not sure my university would like the publicity that is bound to follow.....

tallulah Sun 24-Feb-13 15:58:41

We went to all of the eldest 3's open days. Mostly because they were all so far away that they needed an overnight stay and a very long journey. Most seemed to hold a general welcome/ introduction event for everyone then take the students off separately with the parents in another room to talk about money and pastoral care.

We spent many hours wandering around university towns so presumably we didn't spend much time getting in the way at any of the places we went to, and most of the other parents were the same.

DC1 and DC2 made their own decisions without our input, and DC3 had got it down to 2 and just needed to discuss it with us to decide between the 2. It much much easier having been there to be able to remind him what each had to offer.

TheCollieDog Sun 24-Feb-13 18:10:12

Sympathique, I already work pretty much a 7 day week. That is the work load expected of me. So in many ways having to do a Saturday 9 to 5pm Open day is an easy day. But then I'm a day behind. It is extra work on a 60 hour working week.

Teahouse Sun 24-Feb-13 18:21:30

I too am a senior lecturer and welcome parents if they wish to come, and increasing they do with all their children. Often though they stay quiet and just are there for moral support. I have not had any aggressive parents and the worst question appears to be employability related... A concern when your DC is about to commit to probably 50k of debt.

University has altered in the last few years and whilst I don't think the sector should be pandering to parents, they are now expected to help support their children...the student finance forms calls them sponsors and grants and loans are decided on how much student finance think parents can contribute to their child's living expenses (incorrectly I might add as they don't look at disposable income or how many children you might have at Uni at any one time).

I suggest anyone takes a lead from their DC. Be a taxi and be there for support if they ask, but don't be pushy in talks as it can intimidate other prospective students. It is useful for children to have another eye or ear during open days as there is such a lot to take in.

Yellowtip Sun 24-Feb-13 22:17:52

Teahouse I have had DC at uni in consecutive years for some years now and that fact is taken into account.

lookoveryourshouldernow Sun 24-Feb-13 22:18:47

Goodness Me - a lot to digest here - thank you..

I was just hoping for a NO NO NO - go for a coffee, wait for the pick up and just pay the bills !!

Will see how next weekend pans out then - the following weekend will be my Partners turn - we shall compare notes..

I will (if I attend anything) just meld into the background - years of being a wallflower will help - and I shall make sure that if I come into contact with Professors/Professionals - I shall thank them for their time...

To be honest I don't particular want to go but I have the option of driving us - or letting my son (who has only passed his test a month ago) drive on the motorway (4 hours) for the first time on his own to get to the Open Day - and I am still at the very precious first stage of "letting go". I understand that there are more stages to go.......

Thanks for all your input - I will report back and no doubt start another topic about realistic living allowances and other banal related topics.

Thanks again

exoticfruits Sun 24-Feb-13 22:29:48

It is the done thing now. I have a 10yr gap. DS1 went by himself by train, he had to, as the others were very young. We took DS3 because it was a tricky train trip, taking too long. We intended to melt away but about 80% had a parent, many had two so he was happy for us to stay. We went to them all after that- in all different parts of the country- it was the norm. I imagine it is even more so theses days.
A lot of it is due to the fees- parents want to make sure that it is money well spent.

exoticfruits Sun 24-Feb-13 22:31:05

Report back - I bet you nearly all the parents will be there!

noddyholder Sun 24-Feb-13 22:39:12

Yes we went but we only were involved in parent stuff and ds went off fr a few hours looking at various studios ad talking to students. He wanted us there and there were loads of parents ad no sense that it wassn't ok. I think families are a lot closer now than years ago as finances dictate they live together longer and I know lots of teenagers and 20 something's who get on well with their parents and welcome the input.

Interesting thread. DS1 is about to start this phase and he asked me whether parents normally went along. His feeling seemed to be that he would like me to go but didn't want to be the only one with mum along.
I've seen threads from earlier years on UCAS and empty nest, it doesn't seem long since I was on the GCSE 2012 thread. I actually find it really valuable comparing notes with other parents whose DC are at going through the same process.
Perhaps we should have an "open day" thread.(Followed by a UCAS applications thread)?

exoticfruits Mon 25-Feb-13 16:46:54

Universities actually cater for parents on the visit. They generally give you a hot drink token and many split the visit so that the student goes one way and the parents another and you meet up at the end. I have to say that it is useful - the parents get a lot about finances - I learnt a lot from it.

Copthallresident Tue 26-Feb-13 00:01:03

I can see this issue from both sides.

I did accompany my DD to the Open Days that she asked me to, three all together, and she went to three with friends. She was happy to go with friends, but where hers would be the only eyes and ears she asked if I would go along to give her the benefit of a different perspective, especially as I am myself an academic, thankfully not involved in open days grin. However it was always her decision which course and which uni, and she had to organise the days and what talks we went to and what we saw.

I was shocked at the number of parents, these were weekday events and yet both parents were attending in a lot of cases. Maybe it was that DD was applying for Science but I was even more shocked at the forensic, entitled, frequently ignorant, and patronising questioning coming from, and I am sorry but there was a gender bias, almost exclusively the fathers.

I absolutely agree with those above that it was on the whole a waste of the prospective students and staff's time

Having said that, at one university that was running the interdisciplinary course DD was applying for the first time, I became increasingly suspicious of just how far they were going to be able to deliver what they were promising, and as the result of the answer to the one question I did feel I had to ask in the whole process, because DD would have been very frustrated if the course had not delivered in one respect, she did knock that course of her list.

I would also say that there weren't as you would expect, that many questions, let alone ones that would elicit useful information, coming from the prospective students. That was as it always was, I suppose, but I doubt my DD was equipped to have spotted and confirmed that deal breaker, and might have ended up on a course she found disappointing and frustrating.............

ISingSoprano Tue 26-Feb-13 14:24:55

Between us DH and I have been to all the open days with DS. DS asked us to go as an extra pair of ears and eyes and to add another perspective. Where possible we split up and went to parent specific talks etc while he went to student specific talks. The general open days were helpful to a certain extent but DS found the post-application visit days much more useful in terms of opportunities to talk to teaching staff and students in depth about the course.

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