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 ???

JellicleCat Tue 05-Mar-13 23:15:17

DD went to all her open days with friends. It was good practice in organising journeys, booking bus or train tickets and, in one case, booking an overnight stay. All I did was provide the credit card!
I did offer to go with her if she wanted, but was pleased she wanted to do it by herself.
I am so pleased we did it this way. If they are going to uni in just over a year they need to be able to organise themselves. I appreciate not all will be able to do so, but surely it's better to help them be independant rather than do everything for them?

snorris Tue 05-Mar-13 12:57:21

I went with DD1 but mainly because I'm nosey grin and as she was a learner/new driver it was an opportunity for her to do some longer distance driving and motorways. In general I kept my mouth shut and observed. The only question I asked out of 5 visits was about hoovers in halls - I still haven't been forgiven by her yet wink!!

PenelopePipPop Tue 05-Mar-13 12:35:54

"That experience of being in a strange place alone is a very good way of discovering how welcoming it really is."

That is a good point.

I can see this one from both angles. As a former student who went to all her open days alone I'd say there are advantages to going without a parent - if you cannot manage the Open Day you may find the degree a struggle.

But as a lecturer I think our students face a tougher world than I did 15 years ago. Fees are high and the financial crisis is all they have ever known. Most of our applicants have worked enormously hard and are hugely ambitious and they still face uncertain job prospects after graduation. I know when I teach them that they are more anxious and more vulnerable to serious mental health problem than ever before and therefore more likely to need pastoral support from their friends and family back home than I did. So welcoming the parents to Open Days and answering their questions too is not just mollycoddling, it is also important to help build a relationship and let the parents know what kind of support is on offer at Uni. So when their son rings halfway through the first term to say they feel like dropping out because the workload is so great they can say 'But that lecturer who gave the talk about what to expect in your first year said this could happen - have you gone to speak to your personal tutor?'

There are probably parents who take it to an extreme which is unhelpful but I haven't met one yet. In fact it is rare for parents to ask questions of academics directly, they usually suggest their son/daughter comes up to us and then hang back.

unitarian Mon 04-Mar-13 01:26:22

Make sure they're wearing comfy shoes and have emergency taxi money.

They have to grow up fast in Y13 and you can support a great deal by discussing the prospectus, sussing out the place in all sorts of ways, helping plan the journey and being a sounding-board. You can be a taxi driver too if necessary but let them go through the gates alone unless your DC asks otherwise.
That experience of being in a strange place alone is a very good way of discovering how welcoming it really is.

INeverSaidThat Mon 04-Mar-13 01:10:15

Of couse, one reason parents go is that it can be a lot cheaper and more convenient to drive rather than go by train or bus. ....

INeverSaidThat Mon 04-Mar-13 01:06:59

My eldest who is now in year two at Uni went to all his open days on his own. It then drove him to his interviews where I dropped him off and went shopping. He studies medicine and sometimes he was the only one in the medicine applicant lectures without parents shock. I never thought to stay and he never wanted me to. Some of the parents had thick files and took notes (!)
I did do behind the scenes research for him though, I looked into accomodation for him and sorted out finances.

DC 2 has applied this year and I have driven him to several open days and occasionally wandered around with him. I have never stayed with him during the lectures though. I go to a cafe or go off campus and explore the towns.
He has had several post offer days where the Uni's seem keen to sell themselves to the parents and provide seperate full day program's for the parents (including free lunches grin ). I haven't stayed for those either, confused although I did join him to look at the accomodation at his first choice Uni. Nearly ever other DC has been accompanied by one or two parents.

I think the DC's need to make their own decisions and they do that more easily when they are away from their parents.
It does depend on the DC though.
Both my DC's included a couple of Uni's that I wouldn't have chosen but I have kept my thoughts to myself as it really is their decision.

EllenParsons Mon 04-Mar-13 00:08:30

When looking around universities myself 10 years ago my parents never came with me. However I do have a twin sister so I went to a lot of the open days with her. I also did a couple with friends and my boyfriend so I never went to one completely alone. I do think it's nice to have someone with you to just talk it over with and share your opinions or impressions of the course and the place, whether that's a parent or a friend. I agree that it looks bad when parents are doing all the talking and being pushy though.

creamteas Tue 26-Feb-13 18:16:33

Generally speaking general pre-application open days (usually July and Sept) are focused on why students might want to study a particular subject as many students are still deciding what subjects to apply for. Post-application days (Feb-May) are focused on why the applicants should pick a particular course as their firm about all the others.

Ours tend to have the same staff and students available (we don't screen the undergraduates who help out. They get paid so the ones that come are pretty much the ones that need the money!).

In my opinion (and not just because I hate going into work on Saturdays grin), it is much better to attend open days on weekdays in term-time as you get a much better sense of what the university/dept feels like. If you go in on a vacation or on a Saturday, you only get to see what has been put on for applicants.....

Copthallresident Tue 26-Feb-13 18:08:55

DD also applying for Science but only at the place they interviewed her were we allowed to see the labs etc. hmm but then they are grade 1 listed

ISingSoprano Tue 26-Feb-13 17:38:59

Conversely all the post-applicant visit days we have been to have been in term time (some mid-week too). Ds is applying for a science course (marine biology) so there has been more to see in terms of lab facilities, boats, diving facilities etc as well as lots of under and post grad students to talk to.

Copthallresident Tue 26-Feb-13 17:02:18

sorry meant numbers of prospective students. Actually only one uni wheeled out current undergrads and that was the one where they interviewed her. Most days we attended were not in term time.

DS would really rather speak with the academic staff than under graduates,who, with the best will in the world are likely to be chosen for the task because of their enthusiasm and communication skills. He really only wants to talk Maths. Can you see why I feel I ought to tag along to try and find out about other stuff?grin

Copthallresident Tue 26-Feb-13 15:40:23

The pre application ones we attended all had course specific talks and a chance to meet the academic staff but there were a lot of students there maybe 30 students plus vocal entourage and several talks scheduled through the day so a limit on time. There weren't that many fewer at the post offer days and the talks not much more informative, though more academic staff spoke, but obviously the prospective students were a bit more focused on the decision and asking more detailed questions. Although why one tutor felt it necessary to inflict on us his homemade powerpoint on the local city through the seasons I'm not sure hmm I think giving the prospective students a chance of a personal interview with an academic is a really good idea, at the ones they attended that was only possible in the context of social mingling.

So on the general open day do they have much opportunity to find out about the detail of the course / subject and the teaching? He wants to do Pure Maths.

ISingSoprano Tue 26-Feb-13 15:11:24

There are general open days to go to before the UCAS application is done. Many universities then hold focused visit days for students who have applied to them - these have, in DS's experience been department and subject specific and two of them included an interview.

Copthallresident Tue 26-Feb-13 15:04:41

scwirrels DD went to a couple after receiving an offer, to help students make the decision whether to accept, agree she said found them the most useful visits. I went along to one but again only as eyes and ears. DD also had one interview before receiving an offer which turned out to be more of a charm offensive and that was actually the one that changed / made up her mind. She is now in her third year, has done well and loves the course.

I have flakey DD2 doing the whole thing next year, who can never make her mind up about anything, already driving me mad saying she has decided on course A and when I dig she says she hasn't actually been on the website to look at the course content "Do they actually tell you what modules they have on the course, really?" obviously a decision made on the course title alone hmm. When I asked if she had looked at the dates for open days and started to decide which ones and which sessions to attend I just got an "oof" and a flounce................... I am still going to leave it to her but only because I know a gap year might be a very good thing...........

ISingSoprano It's all new to me, do they go on the post-application visit before or after they have accepted an offer?

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.

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.............

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.

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)?

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.

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

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

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.

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

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