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 ???

Chottie Fri 22-Feb-13 19:59:33

I did not stay with my DC (they were quite happy to look around by themselves and told me it was 'them not me' who was going). But this was about 10 years ago and things seem to have changed now and lots of parents like to go round too.

p.s. both DC got degrees and jobs, so chose ok without my input

Irishmammybread Fri 22-Feb-13 20:10:31

We stayed for the day with our DS, the University seemed to expect it and there were some talks for everyone and also separate talks for students /parents to discuss topics more relevant to each! Most of the students seemed to be accompanied by one or both parents.

Sympathique Fri 22-Feb-13 20:11:34

Depends on you and your DS. Your plan sounds good. I went to some open days, when a chauffeur service made it more do-able, and stayed for some – some universities made it clear they expected parents to scarper, but some laid on parents’ programme though you don’t have to stay. My DC said they were pleased to have a second pair of eyes and ears, someone with a different viewpoint, with experience of studying, living and working in various places. I didn’t ask any questions, awkward or otherwise, and generally behaved myself. One DC ended up somewhere I saw, the other somewhere I didn’t and both were happy. I don’t think me being there had any real effect, though they say I added ideas of what to look for and think about.

Sympathique Fri 22-Feb-13 20:12:38

PS There were always plenty of students there on their tod

sashh Sat 23-Feb-13 04:46:48

A friend went with her son this week. About 50% of students had one or both parents.

Her son asked for his mum to go, it is up to the individual.

BeckAndCall Sat 23-Feb-13 09:09:44

I've stayed fro most open days - I'm on DC 3 now!

But if things get busy, parents are often asked to leave a lecture to make room for the students, so you just wander about a bit for an hour.....

Some unis have specific sessions for the parents too

I go by the rule that if she wants me there, I'll go. If she wants to go with a friends, that's good too.

eatyourveg Sat 23-Feb-13 09:24:00

I went with ds1, there are often things on for parents. I also think that although it is the dc going, its me having to pay for some of it, so I wanted to know just what it was I was forking out for.

When it comes to choosing firm insurance and decline, having another head to remember things we saw or heard was useful. If not you, then maybe your ds could take a friend?

As other posters have said, its entirely the dc choice. At some places we visited, students on their own were in the minority by a long way, at other places it was completely the reverse.

Lilymaid Sat 23-Feb-13 09:37:19

Campus visit veteran here - not really through choice. My DCs visited some universities with friends, for others (especially if transport was going to be expensive) I drove them there. Then, after queueing to get on campus and eventually finding a parking place, I ended up joining the tours etc realising that I couldn't face a drive into the city centre after a 3-5 hour drive and I would do anything to get a coffee!
Some parents are scarey ... treat it like a school visit with an 11 year old. Others, like me, felt distinctly embarassed (in my day, parents didn't turn up on campus until graduation).
I do think it is worth visiting university towns during sixth form so that DCs get an idea what the town is like/quick look at campus. They can then have some idea what the places are like. One campus visit we made, DC loathed place immediately despite it being one of the most highly regarded universities for his subject. After a 90 minutes drive and half hour queue to get onto campus, DC was ready to leave after 15 minutes.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 23-Feb-13 09:37:29

IME (3 at university) the majority of students have parents with them for at least part of the day, certainly with my last one that was the case. Most universities put on different talks/tours for parents so you can leave them to it. But it's up to your son - if he wants to go it alone then let him do that.

I do think that you see different things/ask different questions about a place than they do which is useful when it comes to making the final decisions.

fussychica Sat 23-Feb-13 13:26:57

DS flew over for a couple of open days alone, including his first choice (where he is now) but we happened to be in the UK ourselves for one and it was so bloody hard to get to we took him and stayed. There were talks especially for parents and a nice lunch! I'd say about 80% of people had one or more parents with them. A bit different from when I went when 100% of people were on their own and most had made their own way there too.

creamteas Sat 23-Feb-13 13:30:18

Well if I had my way, I would ban parents from Open days grin.

I think parents started to stay as the cost of uni has increased, thus parents are paying, and this has increased an idea that it is an issue of shared decision making. From my perspective, the growing over-involvement of parents is not a good thing, and has led to a considerable increase on students doing the wrong degree for them or the right degree in the wrong place.

It also means that when it goes wrong, the students don't take responsibility for this, because they always say they followed their parents advice....

And from a purely selfish point of view, we now have to run three times as many open days to fit the parents in, Many of these extras are on Saturdays because this suits parents better so we have to go into work at more and more at weekends on top of the day job with no extra pay angry

(rant over)

Sympathique Sat 23-Feb-13 15:04:04

Creamteas, parents making choices is nothing new. (I was most certainly a case of that, and was threatened with dire consequences, from not getting into university, to being unemployed all my life and eventually to threat of withdrawal of parental contribution if I didn't tow the party line - though I'm not sure they'd have carried that out.) I'd like to think some at least of us are interested in our children making the best decisions for them. My DCs asked for advice for all sorts of things - still do, so it seemed natural to amble along to some open days. After all, if they ask someone to go along and help them choose a car, why shouldn't they ask advice about the far more expensive and significant decision of which university/course? If you are uncomfortable with that, you could do as Birmingham did, to name names; it was top of DC's list and remained so. Of course it was nice to be made welcome in some places but it didn't alter her (or my) view of Brum because parents were politely excluded.

I fear that the extra days you have to work are a side-effect of universities charging students so much money now. There were bound to be many repercussions. Working unpaid overtime has long been a fact of life outside universities. That doesn't make it right, and you have my sympathy.

Sympathique Sat 23-Feb-13 15:05:50

I wanted to do English, by the way!

creamteas Sat 23-Feb-13 18:06:05

sympathique it is true that some parents were always involved, but the extent has grown massively. When I started work as a lecturer, Open Days were mainly applicants with one or two parents. Now it is mainly parents, and sometimes parents come without the applicants. We distinctly state that only one extra person should come, but this is widely ignored and we have had as much as 6-7 people per applicant. I would dearly love to exclude them, but would not have my universities support to do so, as in doing so, as with the changing rules on university entry, the customer is always right!

We also now have parents ringing about their child's progress particularly about poor assessments, and some of them are extremely rude when we point out that it is none of their business (not that I put it in those terms on course grin.

I think it is part of a bigger issue though, that attainment is seen valued rather than education, but that is a different thread.

littleshebear Sat 23-Feb-13 19:46:36

I am a bit surprised at the number of people who do go to open days, so to redress the balance,I am on number 2 going through the process and I have not been to any open days. Neither child wanted a parent to go( I did offer but made it clear, I think, that I didn't actually want to go for myself) - I think it is better they see it is their choice alone and take responsibility for it. Having said that, every person is different and if my other two children wanted me to go, I would,(perhaps would try to persuade them they could manage alone!)The eldest two are very independent and also clear about the courses they had chosen, I could imagine my youngest daughter especially wanting some support.

I would also never dream of interfering at all when they are at university, they are adults, however funded and again it is their responsibility and nothing to do with me.

senua Sat 23-Feb-13 19:52:41

There are arguments for and against. It's nice for the student to have a companion so that they can talk over the Open Day in a meaningful way. The companion is also another pair of eyes and ears who might spot things that the applicant missed.
OTOH, if the applicant has to get there themselves by public transport it can sometimes make them realise that it is bad idea. One place DD looked at was 7 hours away: if she was popping home for a visit, she would have spent most of the weekend travelling!

I made a point of taking her to interviews though. Stressful enough without adding in public transport hiccups.

Happymum22 Sat 23-Feb-13 21:31:39

I went with my DC when I could and if they wanted me there. Working full time there were only a few I got to go to. DD said the other day though she was glad she went to some alone as it was a great experience travelling by train or driving to a far away city which she had never been before and navigating public transport, getting to explore yourself and then coming home and chatting it all through. But also said it was nice to have me with her for some as I often pointed out things she hadn't thought of and she said it was useful to chat to me throughout the day weighing up pros and cons. Loads of parents are there and at this stage unis aren't going to look badly on a parent attending.
DD had some big second thoughts post-open days and so in the summer we did a bit of a road trip (she was learning to drive...horrible memories!!) and went and explored some unis during the summer holidays ourselves.

Going along to your child's interview (and, one worse, sitting in on the interview as some unis allow(!)) is a no no. DD and DS went alone to their interviews, I think I dropped DS off at one then collected him later for one of the interviews, but it gives a very bad impression and looks like your DC has no independent skills if you are ushering them into the department entrance on their interview day! (Besides that DC would probably murder me for being so embarrassing!)

Happymum22 Sat 23-Feb-13 21:35:03

.. Just to add.. I, or my ex-DH, aren't able to fund our DC's university ourselves at all. They pay via working in holidays/student finance loan/bursary. Therefore it was very much up to my DC and I wasn't interested in going to see 'where my money would go' etc.
Although obviously I wanted DC to make the best choice for them.
I work in a school and hear lots of parents having much greater voice over their DC's choice as they are 'paying 9 grand a year it needs to be the absolute best choice!'

HarrietSchulenberg Sat 23-Feb-13 21:50:27

I work at a new-ish university and open days are full of pushy parents and gormless kids. It is almost always that parents ask questions and offspring lurk in the background looking sullen. When they eventually arrive in October they expect to be handheld through everything other than getting pissed and most of them are incapable of taking responsibility for their own wellbeing let alone their studies.

When my dses go to university (6 years away at least) I have no intention of going to open days unless they ask me to. I would rather have swallowed my own eyeballs than had my parents with me, and I think if someone is old enough to leave home and study then they're old enough to visit and choose their own place of study. If they can't do that they aren't ready to go to university.

My university puts on talks for parents to give the potential students time to ask their own questions without mummy and daddy prompting and listening as it's offputting.

Startail Sat 23-Feb-13 21:52:40

Parents at open days??!! The mind boggles.

One I went to by myself on the train.

One DF took me to Reading and let me sort out going to the other side of London by myself. I fucked up the zones and jumped the ticket barrier as I hadn't the faintest idea how to find someone to pay the extra to. I think I'd been on the central zone tube once.

Last one was Canterbury and DF managed to work a sales visit some where near by.

I come from the wilds of Wales, hence London not being somewhere I'd been often.

Happymum22 Sat 23-Feb-13 22:53:23

As Harriet said, at the ones I did go to I certainly would not be asking questions or prompting my DC. They were both pretty confident and applying for RG unis so knew they needed to make a good impression and how to. I'd walk away if DC wanted to ask a question or talk to someone, DC would have been mortified if I did the talking for them. I certainly wouldn't be asking questions at the end of talks, I sat and listened to parents literally speaking for their DC and it drove me crazy!!

Yellowtip Sat 23-Feb-13 23:20:27

Happymum I'm riveted by the idea that any university would allow any parent to sit in on an interview unless there were special circs. Do any? Go on, which? And for which subjects? How completely and utterly bizarre (I can only assume that they reject every single imterviewee who turns up with Mum).

Yellowtip Sat 23-Feb-13 23:21:25

interviewee, not imterviewee.

Still18atheart Sat 23-Feb-13 23:24:13

I always liked having my Mum & Dad with me when I was looking at unis. Just because I value their opinion and I found there was a lot to take in and found that if missed something mum would remember it. Also there were lectures to do with financies which i wanted them to go to as it would just all go over my head.

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.

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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

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.....

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.

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.

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. ....

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.

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.

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!!

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?

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