university open days (am I supposed to go?)

(63 Posts)
AtYourCervix Mon 22-Apr-13 21:01:48

DD is off to Cardiff on wednesday.
She's being all independent and insisting I'm not supposed to go.

(apart from just working out the train will be £30 and getting stroppy about timings - all of which could have been bypassed if I was driving)

Anyway. Am I supposed to be going? Can I trust her to find out important stuff like money and halls and stuff)

I'm clueless. Help.

rubyrubyruby Mon 22-Apr-13 21:03:57

I went but general MN opinion is that you don't

AtYourCervix Mon 22-Apr-13 21:07:58

But she's blond and fitzy and only a baby i seriously need to get over this don't i?

If she prefers you not to, then you don't. Even if you think she'd be better off with you there. Don't worry too much about the practicalities, it's more about whether she likes the place and is impressed by it rather than the detail at this stage.

I went with DS and it was probably about even whether people were with family or not, so I don't think there's a single "normal" approach.

AtYourCervix Mon 22-Apr-13 21:16:04

It'd be bloody cheaper if i drove. And I could hold her hand.

RustyBear Mon 22-Apr-13 21:17:43

I didn't go to any of either DD or DS's - in fact DS went to one during the school day and didn't actually get round to telling me he'd been till a week or so later...

They both seemed perfectly capable of finding out all they needed to know about halls, they certainly knew which ones they wanted to get into when they applied for them - there's also a lot of info on the websites if you want to check up yourself.

olivertheoctopus Mon 22-Apr-13 21:21:20

My dad took me to mine (mum was a teacher so couldn't get time off). Some unis encouraged parents to stay, some encouraged them not to. I'd go and play it by ear.

AtYourCervix Mon 22-Apr-13 21:32:07

I can't do this one as I'm working. I'll volunteer to drive her to others.

Beamur Mon 22-Apr-13 21:35:12

I went alone (20+ years ago) and DSS went alone too. Giving a lift though if it's cheaper makes sense. I think quite a lot of parents go, but I'd say go by what your DD wants to do.

AuntySib Mon 22-Apr-13 21:40:50

Most of my son's friends parents went, and friends who work in universities tell me that lots of parents accompany their child. Finance etc is going to be something you can check out online, getting the vibe of the place is the important bit. bonus of you going is that you are in a better position to discuss pros and cons. Only you will know if she is responsible enough to check it all out for herself!

difficultpickle Mon 22-Apr-13 21:48:06

I went on my own. 30 years ago shock. Back in those days we were a bit hmm if someone turned up with their parents in tow.

Startail Mon 22-Apr-13 21:50:24

Strange modern idea, no way did parents go to open days 27 years ago.
DDad organised sales called within local train distance for my London one, dumped me at Reading I think.

He did take me at Canterbury because I couldn't do that in the day by train from wildest Wales.

Even country bumpkins can read train time tables and tube maps.

Our local station master couldn't. A couple of years after I started uni, I needed to get to the South coast in the holidays. The look of relief when I asked him just to pass the book was brilliant. I did it every lunch time in Student advice, he sent people to Swansea and Shrewsbury and very ovation ally in to London.

bruffin Mon 22-Apr-13 21:56:56

My ds is planning to go to Durham with his mates. 4 hour train journey and we spent Saturday morning trying to get an affordable fare.
He also has a huge spreadsheet of university open day dates, course requirement etc.
Its all too much for me to think my little boy cant wait to leave home sad

Caladria Mon 22-Apr-13 22:02:29


mindgone Mon 22-Apr-13 22:59:23

I went with DS last year, we had some nice days out!

boomting Tue 23-Apr-13 00:06:25

I work (very) part time in student recruitment, and it's more common to see applicants with parents than without, and becoming more so. However, it's far from uncommon to see applicants without parents. Not so many moons ago, I went both with parents and without to different open days, and neither did me any harm.

With regards to the train fare, consider buying a 16-25 railcard. They're £28, give a third off fares, and last for a year (so if you think she might spend more than £84 this year on fares, it's worth it).

With regards to you going to talks
- with finance, if you've heard one talk then you've heard them all. The only difference between unis is the bursary, details of which can be found on the website.
- accommodation is nothing to worry about - it will all be of a passable standard so long as it is owned by the university, and details can be found on the website
- for subject talks, only she really knows what she is / isn't interested in, so there's very little that you could get from those talks anyway. These are the only seriously important talks for her to go on
- there will probably be a guided walking tour, with some cheerful looking student pointing out different buildings around campus. These are quite useful, at least in part because it means that you can get the student away from their line manager, ask them questions on the way around and get (hopefully!) more brutally honest answers

And half the time with open days, people just get a gut feeling about a place for reasons that they can't quite place their finger on (I know I did, and my gut instinct was correct) and follow that.

AtYourCervix Tue 23-Apr-13 06:53:19

Thanks. Railcard is a good idea.

MrsHoarder Tue 23-Apr-13 07:02:06

Which course? I see sixth formers applying for maths most Weeks in my building, about half have parents with them. And there's a station right next to the student union, its not far to walk.

Assume you're not coming from England if the train is the expensive option? And yy to the railcard if she wants to get the train top more open days, it cuts the date right down. Is there any way she can start her journey after 10am (I think) - if you look on national rail ticket prices drop after the morning peak.

MrsHoarder Tue 23-Apr-13 07:02:34

Cuts the price right down...

MarjorieAntrobus Tue 23-Apr-13 07:05:46

I'm with bisjo and startail. I went solo to open days thirty+ years ago, so I expected that my DCs would go solo too, so they did. I felt I would cramp their style if I went along too. I would end up doing all the talking, and they'd feel like little tagalongs though I hear that, these days, many open days split the group into parents on the one side and potential students on the other, and give the two groups different tours and talks. Anyway my prehistoric experience of the process was that parents did not go.

Buy a railcard. V useful.

MarjorieAntrobus Tue 23-Apr-13 07:08:18

X posts with MrsH.

It's about encouraging independence I feel, letting them do this by themselves, I mean. The journey, the finding-of-the-campus, the surviving for a day with strangers. It is good for them to do this without help.

AtYourCervix Tue 23-Apr-13 07:12:04


tumbletumble Tue 23-Apr-13 07:13:49

Does she have any friends going to the same one? You might feel better if she's with someone, even if it's not you?

MrsHoarder Tue 23-Apr-13 07:18:57

Geography is way to find and if she's unsure every university building has a security guard/porter who is happy to give directions. Not that I have no sense of direction

And yrs its about independence. She might move there fairly soon, she should cope with a day trip.

noddyholder Tue 23-Apr-13 07:20:42

All parents I know went Our son is very independent but wanted us to come HTH

AtYourCervix Tue 23-Apr-13 07:25:41

It's very split yes/no. You aren't helping grin

She's going with friends and is perfectly capable and independent. I can get the info off the websites.

<<wibble>> that's my baby.

MarjorieAntrobus Tue 23-Apr-13 07:26:11

The money stuff is pretty much the same wherever they go, and you can find out online on the Student Finance website.

The "halls of residence thing" generally only gets sorted out at the very last minute, after the A2 results come out and it is disappointing to have your heart set on one particular hall only to find that you don't get a room in that one. Best not to plan too far ahead on that, ime.

What she should be getting from the day is whether she likes the city, the campus, the course, and the staff. In short, whether she can imagine herself living there for three or four years.

Chopchopbusybusy Tue 23-Apr-13 07:30:56

I went with DD to open days. The majority of potential students were accompanied by a parent. However, if she doesn't want you to go ishe will be fine on her own.
Loads of information on line about student accommodation. Cardiff is one of the cheapest cities for students.
Public transport is difficult from where we live. If I hadn't gone with DD it would have meant overnight stays and would have cost a fortune. DD visited three of her favourites again for either interview or UCAS days, so costs would have really mounted up.

MarjorieAntrobus Tue 23-Apr-13 07:31:28

Gosh, yes, I understand you saying "that's my baby". Yes yes, she is.[Flowers]

How about you wave her off on the train with her friends then when she returns take her out for dinner and ask her all about it?

MarjorieAntrobus Tue 23-Apr-13 07:32:02

Bah! flowers

ajandjjmum Tue 23-Apr-13 07:36:07

We went with DS, but made it into a trip during half term week - spent a lovely day in York, visited Durham and Sheffield and threw in a trip to the GPs. It seems everyone at uni years ago travelled alone, but the majority now seem to have someone with them - might be something to do with the fact that we're investing too!! grin

Eeeeeowwwfftz Tue 23-Apr-13 07:46:23

We had over 100 prospective students at our last UCAS day. I would say about half had parents in tow. So that might explain the 50/50 response here.

Ooh, I don't think I'll be able to resist going to these in a few years when it's my DC's turn (even though, back in the day, I remember going on my own - was a little lonely when I went up to Aberdeen for an overnight visit I remember, though I enjoyed the train trip and the actual visit to the department)

Anyway, good to know if I do go I won't be the only one ! And I guess you can always play the day by ear and slink off to a coffee shop for a bit if you're not needed, possibly with another parent ? (and you might even get your own tour with the other "can't let go's !")

MarjorieAntrobus Tue 23-Apr-13 07:55:23

Well, yes, to some extent aj but even in the 1970s my parents made a contribution to my grant. Some people got full grants. Others got a lower grant with the assumption that parents would make up the difference. Yes, tuition was free, but a parental contribution was still expected for maintenance in many cases. From experience I know that many parents pay serious money now, though. (Oh yes, three student DCs this year for whom we are paying accommodation/rent. shock )

Going back to why parents go to open days with their DCs, I think it is partly to do with parents contributing quite a lot financially towards university, and partly to do with a pervasive risk-aversity (that has developed over the last twenty years) that makes it hard for parents to let go.

ajandjjmum Tue 23-Apr-13 08:49:22

It's hard to balance really. I agree totally that our DC need to become independent and capable - I was happy (ish!!) to let both of mine travel to South Africa (on their own), negotiate J'burg airport for connecting flights, and stay on a two month school exchange. But I still liked looking around unis with them. I suppose it's because we could, and in all fairness, they were happy for us to tag along. Trying to analyse, I think we went from an interest point of view, rather than control.

duchesse Tue 23-Apr-13 09:00:59

We haven't been on any university visits I'm afraid. They're 16/17/18 years old, they can manage trains etc, so why drive them there?

We took them informally round a few universities when they were younger than that though- say 15 ish.

noddyholder Tue 23-Apr-13 09:07:20

I agree def not a control thing I went with what ds wanted I could have happily not gone but he wanted us to come. I do think university has become less of the end of living at home etc as it was in my day and more the next stage in education and independence. I also think families are closer now my mum was totally not interested in my university applications etc which was horrible but I wasn't alone in this at the time. I have said before I have about 5 or 6 friends with graduates back living at home and they are independent and contribute to the household and quite happy.

rubyrubyruby Tue 23-Apr-13 09:13:06

It's not about taking control, its about taking an interest.

DS1 valued my input and opinion and still does. I still value my Mums opinion and I'm almost 50.

Poledra Tue 23-Apr-13 09:17:10

Back in the dark ages, when I went to uni, it was unheard of for parents to come. I can still remember going to the open day for the uni I eventually attended - nobody else from my school went, and I got there on the train by myself and felt very proud! I met another girl there and, at the end of the day, we sat in the bar at the station having a drink together before our respective trains left. God, I thought we were the ultimate in sophistication!

With regards to finances, my parents paid a full parental contribution for me. So, any information that came in on finance I shared with them, and they helped me work out costs etc. However, the open days were more about deciding if you liked the look and feel of the dept and town rather than hard facts.

Anyway, I'd go with what your daughter wants - maybe after she's done one, she'll decide that it would be quite nice to have you there for the others?

senua Tue 23-Apr-13 09:23:42

It's not about taking control, its about taking an interest.

And it's fun to have a day out!

senua Tue 23-Apr-13 09:30:16

Back in the dark ages ...I got there on the train by myself and felt very proud!

Perhaps that's the difference. Back in the day, my visits to University were also my first solo ventures. These days, DC have gone on intercontinental trips with school or have organised their own post-GCSE holidays so a trip up the motorway is no big deal - nothing to prove so no need to go solo.
If the car is easier and cheaper than public transport, then why not do it?

Weegiemum Tue 23-Apr-13 09:35:32

OP, where is she applying for Geography <asks the Geog teacher> apart from Cardiff?

Poledra Tue 23-Apr-13 09:36:12

Good point, senua - we really had been nowhere solo before at that age!

noddyholder Tue 23-Apr-13 09:42:51

Sensua thats probably right My ds has been abroad with his mates skating and been to loads of festivals.

alreadytaken Tue 23-Apr-13 09:46:55

in the days when I went off - on my own, on the train - to open days they were relatively small and calm events. They are now complex, crowded events with lots of different talks.

I have taken my child to some open days/interviews, driven them to at least one where I dropped them off and went somewhere else for the day and let them go on entirely on their own. For some they have not wanted me there, others they have and on more than one occasion I've been told they'll go alone only for them to complain afterwards that everyone else had their parents with them.

The only thing you can be sure about is that a mother's place is in the wrong! Therefore my recommendation is to do what you would like to do. You will notice some things that your child misses but it doesn't justify the loss of a day unless you want to go.

AtYourCervix Tue 23-Apr-13 10:49:16

Weegie - she's thinking cardiff, exeter,, lancaster. Fancies Bristol but probably won't get the points for there (doing IB).

Where else can I guide her towards?

fussychica Tue 23-Apr-13 11:25:24

I went alone donkeys years ago.

We were living abroad when DS went. He flew over alone for a couple then we took him to one whilst we were in the UK for other reasons. You'll not be alone if you go but equally loads of kids will be on their own. If my DS can fly over on his own at 17 and stay over night in a B&B I'm sure your DD will be fine.

Other Uni's for Geography - Sheffield, Nottingham or Aberystwyth.

MarjorieAntrobus Tue 23-Apr-13 11:38:16

More universities for geog - Leeds, UCL, Durham

MarjorieAntrobus Tue 23-Apr-13 11:42:10
gazzalw Tue 23-Apr-13 11:48:23

I would definitely say that it should be a rite of passage - it's all part of the growing ready to go off to Uni process. If you can't get yourself to a Uni independently, however nervous you are, really you are not ready to spread your wings to one in six months time.

Harsh but fair. It is an anxiety inducing experience but really it is one that a 17/18 year old should be capable of managing alone.

We all did many moons ago and I think we were generally less savvy teens in those days too. I know that I had scarcely ventured out of my home county at 17 when I had to go off to Uni interviews.

However, I can see that now, with Uni no longer being free, parents are more involved in decision-making because they hold the purse-strings (to some extent) for fees etc.... So from that point of view can well see why parents wish to go if only to see what their hard-earned salaries will be spent on.

Nevertheless, at the most I would suggest accompanying your DC and then going off to look around the city/town and chill :-).

Exeter would be nice especially for geography I think as it's in such a pretty part of the world, with beaches and charming villages. I think Exeter came top in some recent poll for student satisfaction. - I did my PGCE there and went to some lovely village schools in Devon.

I also went to Bristol, including doing geography as one of my first year options. Is a good student city I think. (Am rapidly outing self but who cares !)

I'm trying to think widely about options and think Greenwich, Cambridge or other place in Cambridge, or Amsterdam could all be good ! Or move to Scotland for a few years and then go to one of theirs < cheapskate ! >

DS1's college is running quite a few trips. The cost by coach is only £10 so he is going on trips to Cambridge, Warwick, Durham and Leeds.
Other than that he will have to go by car or rail. Some places are so far I reckon an overnight stay might be necessary. (Actually I was rather hoping for a weekend in Durham).
I was thinking that when he has , hopefully, got offers, that I would go with him on the post application open days on the grounds that his choices have been narrowed down by then.

noddyholder Tue 23-Apr-13 15:04:54

My oldest friends daughter is doing geography at sussex. In yr 2 and loving it Is in LA atm on a 'field trip'!

JellicleCat Wed 24-Apr-13 00:25:18

DD went on her own, booked all the travel herself and an overnight stay in a Travellodge for one of the visits.

I think it is good experience, although I appreciate there are some who find it more difficult to cope than others.

She is 18 next month and has just booked her first holiday abroad with a friend. In other words, it gets worse!! (And she is still my baby too).

Weegiemum Wed 24-Apr-13 06:36:22

Southampton is good as well as the others mentioned, and Edinburgh is top-class (that's where I went) but if she's not going to get points for Bristol then it's unlikely she'd get in there.

Tell her to get used to people asking "so are you going to be a teacher, then?" For the next 4 years at least!

exoticfruits Wed 24-Apr-13 06:53:16

She will be fine on her own but open days have changed massively in the last 10 years and it is now the general thing that parents go too. So much so that they send you a hot drink voucher and have special talks for parents and sometimes even a separate tour.

AtYourCervix Wed 24-Apr-13 07:25:33

Thsnks all. Much appreciated.

Eeeeeowwwfftz Wed 24-Apr-13 07:50:30

Are we talking pre- or post-application open days here? There is a difference - the first is to encourage students to apply and the second is to interview them (if that is part of the decision making process - might be quite rare these days) and/or encourage students to accept their offers. Many more parents (and brothers and sisters for that matter) attend the former than the latter. Various reasons - tend to be more "drop-in" rather than planned events with a timetable; the visitors are a bit younger; it's more like casing the joint so two or three heads are better than one; if they are held at the weekend it makes for a nice family trip to a city.

At pre-application open days I'd say that 80% - maybe even more - of the visitors come with at least one other family member. At post-application maybe around 50% and usually only one parent.

AtYourCervix Wed 24-Apr-13 08:11:57

Pre. She's going with 3 friends. So i'm not the only lzx parent.

MrsHoarder Wed 24-Apr-13 14:23:04

Just in case you're worrying, there seemed to be more groups of teenagers wandering around the university this morning than teen+parent and there are hoards of people in university colours giving directions. They all looked happy too as they got in my way

AtYourCervix Wed 24-Apr-13 15:31:25

Thanks mrsH

mirry2 Wed 24-Apr-13 15:39:01

Parents are more likely to go these day because, unlike the old days, they will be making a significant financial investment (and I mean ££££) and so want to see where their money is going.

AtYourCervix Wed 24-Apr-13 18:01:23

She's back. Jumping up and down excited.

I'll be needing to remortgage the house then.....

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