DS needs Feb half term off from uni

(58 Posts)
roseka78 Thu 07-Nov-13 19:45:34

Last January we booked a family ski holiday for next Feb half term. Eldest DS was in Yr 13 at the time. What idiots, being parents new to this uni lark we didn't consider the fact that universities do not have half terms! DS he is a cautious type and will not rock the boat by asking his personal tutor or any other support staff if he can have a week off. He says he cannot miss a week of lectures and lab work (lectures are put online though) although he says obviously he would still love to come with us. Cancelling his place will cost us a lot because of losing the deposit and paying extra supplements plus amendment charges - not to mention that we would love him to come with us. My question is, should I contact the uni myself to see how the land lies, at the risk of looking like a helicopter parent, or should I bite the bullet and leave him to make the decision which in all likelihood will mean him not coming. We have to pay by 24th Nov and if we are cancelling his place then we need to give them as much notice as poss. Any advice gratefully accepted

Sirzy Thu 07-Nov-13 19:47:11

I think if he is old enough to be at uni he is old enough to make his own decisions.

Unless he is massively struggling with the course or falling behind then realistically there is no reason he can't miss a week.

TheFallenNinja Thu 07-Nov-13 19:47:44

He says he cannot miss a week of lectures.

Seems it's his decision really.

GaryTheTankEngine England Thu 07-Nov-13 19:49:51

Don't call the uni!!

This is for him to sort out, not you. I say this in the nicest possible way, but leave him to it.

As previously said, it's his decision. He's said he can't miss lectures, so he can't go.

Stravy Thu 07-Nov-13 19:51:58

It's a long time since I was at uni but there was no way I could have missed a week. Lab work counted towards your final mark (iirc, every lab was 5% of your final mark for that module)

Gingersnap88 Thu 07-Nov-13 19:52:43

Does he have a reading week? Lots of universities have reading weeks which match half terms but as you've mentioned lab work I'm going to guess not.

It's his decision and he doesn't sound like he wants to miss anything. I wouldn't call the uni, it's not school.

roseka78 Thu 07-Nov-13 19:53:59

thanks for replies. Well it looks like we should leave him to it - I certainly don't want to be an interfering parent and if it wasn't for the wasted money I wouldn't even be considering the issue but I can't help feeling that he should at least ask the question - especially as he seems quite happy to miss 2 days next week to go on a course connected with one of his outside interests!

DoctorDoctor Thu 07-Nov-13 19:56:25

Hello, university lecturer here. First off, you may be worrying for nothing since many institutions have a reading week (where there are no lectures but you are expected to study independently go home and catch up with your mates )midway through the term, and this often coincides with half term where the institution is - it makes sense to do that to accommodate both staff and students who have children in school. So the first step is to check whether that is the case - look for the institution's term dates, academic calendar or whatever they call it.

Secondly, your son really should be able to ask any questions about the danger of him missing a week's lectures himself. Part of growing up and being at university is learning to deal with tutors - he will need to do this when he is in work o he may as well start now. My personal view would be that a student who generally works hard, keeps up to date with things via the virtual learning environment and is motivated can make up a week of missed lectures. It's really about how you do all year round, not just in any given week - unless of course there is an exam or class test in that week.

Last thing - you've probably learned this now but be careful with booking holidays in the future around spring/summer in particular. My institution has designated exam weeks and I have often had students come to me and say 'my mum/boyfriend has booked a holiday for exam week, what can I do?' The answer is 'Nothing, you'll have to do it as a resit in the summer and will end up with a lower mark'. So get your DS to check on that in particular for the future.

Have written an essay of my own so will stop there. Can you tell I have marking to do? wink

Greenandcabbagelooking Thu 07-Nov-13 19:58:17

The way it works at my uni, in subjects with labs, is that you can miss lectures for up to a week without a doctor's note, but if you miss a lab session you need to have a doctor's note. Missing the lab means you can't do the write-up, and thus don't get the marks for that piece of work, which might be 10% of the module mark.

The Undergrads do however have a Reading Week. He needs to find out if and when he has one first, really.

DoctorDoctor Thu 07-Nov-13 20:00:50

I'll add one thing - if he won't even make enquiries about whether he could work around this, or what the consequences might be in terms of marks, I don't think it's unreasonable to point out that it is costing you quite a bit to cancel so he ill have to accept that you will have less money to give him by way of living expenses. This is assuming he was perfectly happy to book the holiday at the time - he is an adult now so can share in the consequences of a last-minute cancellation.

Indith Thu 07-Nov-13 20:16:07

He doesn't 'need' half term off uni, you want him to have it off and he probably quite wants to go skiing too.

He is an adult who has chosen to enrol himself in an adult place of higher education. It isn't about asking the head teacher if you can have a family holiday under exceptional circumstances.

missing lectures means missing information. Yes slides get put online but most lecturers talk around those slides, do examples, give additional info using the slides as a base.I'm on degree number 2 now and yes in my first degree when I was young I skipped the odd 9am class due to hang over but it meant more catch up than it was worth most of the time. Since you've mentioned lab work I assume he is doing a science based degree so would miss lots of contact time and practicals cannot be missed, they just can't be. I've seen a heck of a lot of science students run themselves to the ground trying to catch up with lab hours after illness. missing a whole week would be lunacy. I know in most institutions you only need to pass year 1 and it doesn't count to your final classification but dismissing the importance of it is daft, how well you do in year one is a very good indication of how you will do overall, no matter how much you tell yourself you will work harder and take it more seriously next year. At this level missing a week could mean missing one of the most important foundations for the coming years and while his lecturers will be more than happy to help a struggling student get to grips with a topic they will not be so sympathetic towards a student who went skiing.

Also, many uni have limits on how long you can be absent before your loan payments get stopped.

Can I ask, how on earth did you mess up.? I can understand thinking uni had a half term, it is a reasonable assumption but given that half term varies from school to school did you not think to check the date? You'll be b bloody kicking yourself if there is a reading week the week after you've booked.

roseka78 Thu 07-Nov-13 20:27:17

Thanks DoctorDoctor, agreed, yes we did ask him if he was sure when we booked it and he said yes. If he asked and told us they had said lab work was compulsory then we'd take the hit, I'll get him to check about reading week, thanks.

roseka78 Thu 07-Nov-13 20:27:37

I take your point Indith. And agreed he doesn't 'need' it off (but it was shorter to say that than go into the whole thing on the title!). I guess I was a bit naive what with not being familiar with higher ed and listening to people tell us first year would be less demanding. And we booked it last January, he hadn't even sat his A levels or narrowed his choices down so I guess it seemed so far away. Lessons learned!

ElizabethJonesMartin Thu 07-Nov-13 20:44:24

What a sensible son and what disorganised parents not knowing universities have no half terms! Of course he cannot miss lectures. Would you really put skiing ahead of his academic work? I can't believe it.

roseka78 Thu 07-Nov-13 21:28:40

oh Elizabeth if you only knew how much we had put into supporting both our sons, education, of course we don't put skiing ahead of his academic work, what a bald statement. You seem to have me pegged as some sort of feckless parent who would prefer to drag her son to the slopes than see him working (we have a younger son so have to go at half term). If he can't come he can't come, I was just trying to find out the best way of finding out the facts of the matter as my son seems reluctant to even ask, even though he is quite happy to miss lectures next week to go on a training course with the military reserve unit he has just joined. Plus, he said he wanted to go when I booked it. I imagine there are plenty of parents who like me had no experience of higher education themselves who assumed that half terms were pretty much universal in education, and I admit to being human and taking my eye off the ball with this one, I'm obviously not as organised and switched on as you! I thought mumsnet were supposed to be a supportive bunch. I was hoping for some general advice, which for the most part I have received from other posts. I hope you never make a mistake and then ask for advice, for fear you may be shot down in flames by someone as judgemental as yourself!

optimusic Thu 07-Nov-13 21:38:43

It's an easy mistake to make. Until you have experience of uni, you don't realise the academic year is completely different.

holidaysarenice Thu 07-Nov-13 23:40:32

I'm on my second degree both science and I could take a week no problem.

I wudnt ask for a ski trip. Lecture wud be unnoticed and a lab I wud just say I was ill. It wouldn't be a big deal and definitely would not need a doctors note for one lab. Infact the doctors would just laugh if I tried that.

Tbh in first year and most first yrs are just scared of getting in trouble. Next year he'll be begging to go.

holidaysarenice Thu 07-Nov-13 23:41:23

Also we are trying to book a holiday so can I hijack and ask when half term in feb is? We are trying to avoid it!!

joanofarchitrave Thu 07-Nov-13 23:48:08

Give him a couple of days, check again and then take a friend/cousin for your younger ds on the holiday.

I had to miss some of my heavily taught degree due to my husband's illness. It was an absolutely royal pain catching up tbh. Afraid I think this is one of those things you just have to chalk up to experience.

BeckAndCall Fri 08-Nov-13 07:15:34

I suggest you find out of one of your DS2s friends can come instead?

My DS has a science degree - he had labs 4 days a week ( depends presumably on the modules currently being studied). If he'd missed a week he would never have caught up. But my DD is doing a humanities degree and it would depend on the week - if there were deadlines, she couldn't miss the week, but if it were lectures she could ( but wouldn't want to).

And if its one of the unis with incredibly short terms, don't even think about it - if it's a 10 week term, missing one week is 10%!

Waswondering Fri 08-Nov-13 07:26:18

Is there a compromise? Can he come for part of the week, but easy jet back to uni the night before his labs, missing only 2 or 3 days?

mummytime Belgium Fri 08-Nov-13 07:43:40

I couldn't have missed a week during my (Science) degree, we never got reading weeks either. Terms are shorter at University and intense.

I would take one of your other children's friends. And maybe your DS doesn't want to go on holiday with you anymore?

chemenger Costa Rica Fri 08-Nov-13 08:05:11

My feeling is that the students who take a week off in a 10 week term to go on holiday are not the ones I'm accompanying to black tie award ceremonies when they get to final year. More often I'm seeing them in difficult progression interviews saying " I have seen the error of my ways". Sounds like your son understands which type of student he wants to be; don't derail him. His priorities are clear - what are yours?

JeanSeberg Fri 08-Nov-13 08:11:12

Stop pushing him to ask if it's possible, he's given you his decision. Now leave it.

mumeeee Fri 08-Nov-13 10:09:36

DD3 wouldn't be able to have a week off in Feb she doesn't get. a reading week and she would find it very hard to catch up missed lectures. Although people say rhat the. first year doesn't count towards the actual degree all students still have to pass the first year to get on to the second year so do have to work hard. I would ask your DS to check if he has a reading week that week and then just leave him to it.

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