Some advice re university - thank you so much

(25 Posts)
fussychica England Sat 23-Mar-13 13:25:30

If you are in England here's your starting point and includes a calculator so you can work out what the position might be.
https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/overview

You can have a loan for fees and living costs which are only repayable when the graduate reaches a certain level of salary. The student can also apply for a maintenance grant which is means tested but isn't repayable.
In addition, most Universities offer bursaries and/or scholarships and/or discounts on accommodation by making them your firm choice.

MUM2BLESS Fri 22-Mar-13 21:51:42

NICE ONE EVERYONE.

Where do you start regarding getting a grant for all of this or is it a loan?

Thanks again grin

alreadytaken Thu 14-Mar-13 10:11:17

encourage him to get some work experience related to any course he might consider, he might want to try and do more than one lot in various different areas to help him decide. Nuffield bursaries are worth a close look www.nuffieldfoundation.org/nuffield-research-placements.

Funnyperson and fussychia's advice on how to choose was good - he needs one or two "aspirational" choices that he can go to if he gets the grades his teachers predict, two or three that match his grade predictions and one or two that are grades he is confident he can get. Exactly what you go for depends on whether he thinks his teachers have been realistic or optimistic with predicted grades. Nationally teachers tend to be over-optimistic. He'll have a better idea after he gets some AS grades.

MUM2BLESS Wed 13-Mar-13 11:17:09

LRD... Thanks for suggesting Leeds will get son to check it out. Will get him to think of a second choice to study too.

Alreadytaken I think he got As (GCSE) in maths, chem and Geography. Thinking of dropping socialogy in upper sixth. Will put the courses you mentioned to my son. Very interesting!! Thanks

MagratGarlik Will put pharmacy to him. Thanks

Funny person thanks for the suggestion

BoomtingThanks for your advice. Made notes and will discuss with my son and husband. Some awesome tips ie uni halls.

Sunnyday123 Nice one. Your wise advice is appreciated.

sunnyday123 Sun 10-Mar-13 22:36:52

My main bit of advice is to choose a course which has good job prospects, not just for interest or because he enjoys it. For example I graduated with a first class degree in biology and couldn't get a job for years and now work in IT!

Lucking I completed just as the fees came in so only left owing about 5k. I have kids now and honestly would only recommend uni for courses leading to a job I.e. teaching, health, physio, pharmacist etc as the debt and job prospects don't match IMO.

Most of my friends are in jobs which are fine but would agree are not worth getting into 50k of debt for (IMO guessing that's the amount most graduates leave with now?)

Any course which ensures graduates entry into a profession would be best. I have friends with good degrees in psychology, media, biomedical sciences etc but as pure subject degrees they are one of many. There were 100 people on my course (and that was just in one uni) so that's a lot of biology graduates going for jobs!

Not trying to be negative! It's just the worst advice I ever got was to pick a course I enjoy without thinking of job prospects. Also be careful looking at info relating to how many people are employed after graduation. Often those figures inc any employment, for example part time bar work!

boomting Sat 09-Mar-13 12:11:11

>>He enjoys sports and is good with people. Very outgoing and works as a sports coach. Any courses to consider?<<

He might like to have a look at what extra-curricular sports societies are on offer. There will always be coaching opportunities within those sports societies, and I happen to know someone who has gone onto an international coaching career as a direct result of his involvement in a uni sports society. If he wants to find out how good that uni is for sports overall / for a particular sport then have a look at the BUCS Leagues.

Could consider physiotherapy, though I understand that there is an oversupply of physio grads.

boomting Sat 09-Mar-13 12:04:48

1. How do you choose the university?

Start by working out what you want to study (or at least narrow it down to two / three subjects by the time open days roll around). Then run a course search on www.ucas.ac.uk and see what universities offer that course. Then start looking at what grade requirements they have (obviously anything with grade requirements too far above what your DC is likely to get is out, and chances are that you don't want to go somewhere asking for CCC if you're predicted AAA, though you do want a little bit of range in what they're asking for). Have a look at what modules are on offer - do these correspond with your DC's interests?

2. When do you start visiting?

Normally open days are towards the end of Y12 / beginning of Y13. However, it's also common to have some sort of student led guided tour (though this will lack any subject specific elements) weekly and some will offer subject-specific open days after offers have been handed out.

As far as is possible, I would suggest going to open days prior to applying so that you can make sure he's not applying anywhere he's going to hate. If he's then struggling to decide between 1/2 universities then it can be a good option to go back and do a subject specific open day if they're on offer.

3. What about where to stay.

University owned halls are almost always the best option for first year. They're of a universally good standard (no damp!), they're with lots of other freshers and if they (heaven forbid) drop out then they're not usually liable for the rest of the year's rent. Plus, if they don't like that hall, they will almost certainly be able to move to another uni-owned hall.

I know the sticker price of shared houses is often substantially lower, but once you've taken into account the fact that lettings are 52 and not 40 weeks long, and that you have to pay bills on top of rent, they often work out more expensive.

funnyperson Sat 09-Mar-13 10:52:02

Yes thats a good point, and its a good point about work experience too- can be a great time to apply for a summer job at the local pharmacist.

MagratGarlik Sat 09-Mar-13 09:58:11

Just to follow on from funny's post. Don't confuse pharmacology with pharmacy. Pharmacy is a professionally accredited degree which will allow registration as a pharmacist, pharmacology is not.

A pharmacy degree can be a very good option as it allows to both work as a pharmacist (in community or hospital work for example) or in research (as a chemistry or pharmacology degree will enable to do).

It is certainly a good option, but the entry requirements are high and students have to demonstrate a lot of knowledge and interest in the career prior to application e.g. relevant work experience etc.

funnyperson Sat 09-Mar-13 09:38:23

Dear OP
I think its great you are supporting him.
-Which university depends on your sons predicted grades. If he is predicted at least AAB he should go for a top uni and also consider universities which offer a sandwich course (such as Bath) because job prospects and teaching will be better.
Nottingham is a great university. Warwick is nice. So is Brunel. Choose 2 top, 2 middling and one sure to get in but pleasant. That way he is sure to get at least one offer.
It can be fun going to open days which tend to be in the summer but he can always go with friends and you can go when he gets an offer to help decide whether to take it up.
As for subject, he could do Pharmacology (v good career) or another health science based degree for which there are often bursaries so the level of debt is less
The earlier the application is sent in, the better because some (not all) universities send out offers as the applications come in.

Dont waste your money and his time on a bad university (ie rubbish library rubbish accommodation terrible teaching poor results poor job prospects) and there are plenty of those in the UK. It would be better to go for a school leavers apprenticeship with a firm such as Price Waterhouse or IBM.

MagratGarlik Fri 08-Mar-13 18:47:22

I can comment on 2 of those places, but will not do so publically.

For chemistry also look at Stathclyde if not too far north to be considered as they also offer a course focused on analytical chemistry, not just organic (which is what most offer).

Loughborough not only has good sports facilities, it also has a decent reputation for chemistry. You might look at Manchester too.

alreadytaken Fri 08-Mar-13 12:38:48

Maths, chemistry and geography are all good academic subjects, sociology not as well regarded so if his GSCE/AS results are good he'll have a lot of choice. For a maths degree (one of the ones most likely to help him earn well) he'd need to be doing further maths for some universities. He would need to be heading for 3As for Sheffield, Leeds or Nottingham.

As he likes sport he could look at things like Exercise and Sports sciences or Psychology to do sports psychology (they like maths and science subjects) or physiotherapy. He could take a maths or chemistry degree and consider teaching and help with sporting activities at school.

Loughborough and Bath have very good sporting facilities but Bath has very high entry requirements.

What sort of grades does he have/ what course was he considering?

I've heard really good things about all three of those places you mention. I knew a few people who went to Leeds and really enjoyed it - it's a great student city, not too expensive, and they all seemed to get good support from the university.

I expect school have already told him, but ideally he wants to check out the average offer each place makes for his course, and then he wants to make sure he's got a couple of universities that offer a little bit lower than his predicted grades - so if he messes up (hope not, but it happens!), he can take up his second offer.

MUM2BLESS Fri 08-Mar-13 11:17:22

Hello Everyone so sorry for the delay in coming back to this. Mum of four and a childminder. I like to be prepared and try to plan ahead. I am so amazed at the comments and response to this. Thank you so much.

GreenShadow. My son has an idea of what he want to do. Its our first time applying and its new to us. I think we are the ones who need some guidance on what to do. We will start looking now as you suggested.

NewFerry. The school is helping my son. We want to do our part in knowing what to expect at an early stage. He attended some type of university careers fair the other day. Came home with lots of info.
At present he is doing maths, chemisty, sociology and geography.

secretswirrels thanks for the links.

alreadytaken (love the name). Really appreciate your advice and links. He is very good at maths. He enjoys sports and is good with people. Very outgoing and works as a sports coach. Any courses to consider?

domesticgoodlessThank you so much for your comments. ie employment in the area he is interested in He attended a UCAs visit day not too long ago. Parents look at different things to their children.

Fussychica "Pick the best Unis for his subject interest and start from there" thanks for that much appreciated!!! Thanks for your kind support!!

LRD.. Thank you for the advice about the admission tutors etc. your support is very welcomed.

MagratGarlik thanks for your comments. I guess some places can look good but aren't some may not look too good but are. We will check the warmth of the staff. We are in Hertfordshire. My son has mentioned places like Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham to mention a few. We have family in Nottinhgamshire.

Thanks again to you all. You have made this process so much easier.

Any more advice is appreciated!!!!!! grin

alreadytaken Thu 07-Mar-13 11:48:37

MUM2BLESS if you want to say anything about GSCE and AS results people might help suggest interesting universities for your son/ giving more specific advice on where to look. Going to university doesn't always mean a well paid job (see www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8721526/When-GCSEs-are-as-good-as-a-degree.html ) but it does increase his chances.

There is no good reason why students at one university should be more or less likely to say whether they are in jobs. Student surveys aren't perfect as most tend to like wherever they go. If they say, for example, that lecturers aren't providing feedback when they should I'd ask questions about it.

MagratGarlik Wed 06-Mar-13 21:55:06

An ex-lecturer here.

I would say that don't just think RG universities are the best, particularly for undergraduate degrees. These are leading research universities and consequently staff will be very research focused. At some of the less research intensive universities, staff will have more time available for teaching. Different things suit different people.

Also, some of the very good old institutions are not RG. St. Andrews would be one such example, Leicester too.

Visit lots of places, try not to get too swayed by fancy buildings, check you warm to the staff.

I see fussychica's point and I am not disagreeing, but just wanted to say:

There are a lot of myths and scare-stories out there about universities. There are most about Oxford and Cambridge. Some people will tell you all sorts of rumours and half-truths and could make him feel he wouldn't be welcome. This is pretty much bollocks. You get the same myths about the 'Russell Group' (that just means a group of universities who got together to lobby for various issues - but it's become a byword for universities that are quite good quality, although lots of good quality universities aren't in this group).

Despite all the rumours, the people who can tell you most accurately about what he'd need to do to get in, are the admissions tutors. Every university will have an admissions office with an email, which you can find on their website. They will all be very used to people emailing or ringing up with queries, so if he's wondering about anything and can't seem to find the answer easily, get him to email - this is some people's full-time job and they ought to be really glad to help him out.

Hope that makes sense. I just hate seeing people feel they might be unwelcome somewhere before they've started looking. I know that's not what chica was saying, but it does get said - not too much on MN! - so I thought I'd get in there to pre-empt.

Best of luck to him wherever he decides to apply. smile

fussychica England Wed 06-Mar-13 16:56:38

You need to consider his ability level and interests/personality to make the right match - with the best will in the world not all MNetters DCs can get in to Oxbridgegrin or even a Russell Group Uni. Pick the best Unis for his subject interest and start from there. Be aspirational in at least one or two of the five he can choose but be realistic too. I'm sure your school will provide plenty of help - it was something DS missed out on coming from abroad so he had to make do with researching the internet, ploughing through the prospectus, mum poking her nose in on a regular basis smile and visiting his choices before committing to them. It's a minefield but you'll be fine.

domesticgodless Wed 06-Mar-13 16:13:01

alreadytaken makes good points but as a lecturer I would say be VERY careful of student satisfaction ratings. Students are often understandably more concerned with things being nice and comfy and easy and stuff like the prices in the bars than with the actual courses on offer and their quality. You are indeed better of looking at employability in the area he is interested in. But also take that with a pinch of salt if you remember that students have no obligation to tell universities where they have ended up employed, etc., although many do.

I would say UCAS Visit Days are your best bet. At ours we have staff available for one to one talks with student and parent about anything they want to know. Also you get to see the campus etc., get a feel for it.

alreadytaken Wed 06-Mar-13 16:09:36

oops - I took it you meant where to stay when attending open days. If you mean live while at university it's normally university owned accommodation first year and shared house afterwards. Universities will give talks about this at open days and show you accommodation.

alreadytaken Wed 06-Mar-13 16:07:11

1. How do you choose the university?

Often by reputation but look at student satisfaction rates, how many get decent jobs afterwards , how much it will cost (accommodation costs and bursaries vary a lot) and what sort of place he'd like to live. Start with the ucas site already mentioned, they have parent newsletters.

2. When do you start visiting?

As soon as you can. Don't visit many before he has an idea of the course he would like to study but visiting one university may help him if he's undecided. Check if your school arrange any visits

3. What about where to stay.

depends on your budget. Inexpensive places would include YHA www.yha.org.uk/ and hostels, travelodges www.travelodge.co.uk/ and ibis hotels ibisbudgethotel.ibis.com/gb/united-kingdom/index.shtml premier inns www.premierinn.com/ or look here www.hotels.com/ A lot of people get up early and travel there and back in a day Sometimes there is university accommodation available for a fee. If he travels by train look at a railcard www.16-25railcard.co.uk/

If you'd like to give his subjects and interests people will suggest things to consider.

I have a son in first year of 6th form. First he needs to decide his subject, then look at what courses are offered. If he has taken some AS modules in January he will be getting results this week, that might give an indication of what grades he might be able to get.
This website gives details of forthcoming open days.
The student room is a really useful source as well.

NewFerry Wed 06-Mar-13 14:54:35

Your sons school should be helping him with general talks about all options after 6th form. Usually there will also be someone at the school, eg careers advisor, who should have lots of uni info.
Definitely worth checking with the head of 6th form.

What subjects is your son studying? And does he have any ideas about the type of thing he might like to do at uni?

GreenShadow England Wed 06-Mar-13 14:52:53

Where to start!

Does he know what course he would like to do yet?
UCAS has course search option which we have used in the past here
Alternatively there is ukcoursefinder

For more information about univsersities you could try The complete University guide or the Times and Guardian have uni guides

Then once you have got an idea where to start, look at the individual university websites which give more details on each course plus accomodation etc.

You are starting at the right time - Open Days are starting up about now - try to visit some before the summer as you have to start the application process in the autumn.

MUM2BLESS Wed 06-Mar-13 14:37:34

My son is in his ifrst year of the sixth form

He would like to go to university. Please tell me

1. How do you choose the university?
2. When do you start visiting?
3. What about where to stay.

Would appreciate any advice on what you have done or you are doing re university.

He's our oldest so we are new to this grin

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