Helping ds in lower 6th choose open days

(83 Posts)
tobee Tue 29-Mar-16 16:06:39

After doing mock as levels my ds asked me about universities to apply to. He's not sure what course to do. I'm trying to help him but don't want to prejudice his thinking. There are just so many different places, courses and combinations that he could try for. My dd knew exactly which 5 unis to apply to so my input wasn't required. I wish there was some sort of quiz he could do that you put in the sort of things you were keen on for uni e.g quiet, loads of nightlife, campus, city etc, etc and grade variables and then, voila, try these! Any suggestions as to how to narrow things down? Or is it just a question of ploughing through ucas website and uni websites?

Temporaryanonymity Tue 29-Mar-16 16:10:15

I'd start with geography; are travel times an issue? Does he want to be able to travel home easily?

Most of the teens I know are surfers so don't want to be far from the coast, which narrows it down a bit.

Coffeewith1sugar Tue 29-Mar-16 16:22:40

I found this website www.bestcourse4me.com yesterday whilst perusing for some other info that might just be of help smile. Tells you careers he could go for with A levels he has taken, degrees at uni's he could apply for with his subjects plus a host of other statistics that might be useful. It's a app that can be downloaded so is handy. I stumbled on it by chance whilst been curious on some stats on another thread. Hope it's of help.

bojorojo Tue 29-Mar-16 16:33:16

Surfing is not really an issue for the majority of students! Really it is not. The few that surf go to Falmouth.

Surely you start looking for courses that are suitable for the subjects a young person likes best. Therefore, if it is sciences, look at pure science but also applied science such as Engineering. If he likes Geography you could consider the huge variety of Geography courses but there is also Planning and courses that are more about the environment.

He will also need to have some idea about which university is in reach. Is he likely to be AAA or CCC? This will hugely impact on where he can apply and what he can study. There are many choices for AAA but far fewer for CCC. Does he want a course leading directly to a job, eg nursing, or teaching? Is he happy to do a standard subject, eg English, History, Languages etc and see where life takes him? Does he want a research led university, or a more vocational course with a year in industry? The newer university are good for these. You presumably know that not all universities or courses are rated equally.

It would help to know what his interests are. He must also have some idea of whether he wants a big lively city, eg Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Bristol, or whether he wants quieter places and campus universitites, Loughborough, Bath, Surrey at Guildford for example. Travel home may be an issue if it is hundreds of miles from home but really this should not be a deciding factor above everything else. How often is he intending to come home? The students that tend to come home are the ones who do not settle and have chosen the wrong place. Student life should be more interesting than home for the weeks they have to be there.

I do know people who have prioritised certain universities, eg Newcastle for the nightlife, Loughborough for the sport etc and then checked what courses are on offer that they could do. His A level subjects will be a guiding factor but so are external interests. What does he do in his spare time? What can they lead to?

tobee Tue 29-Mar-16 17:04:41

Thanks for the (swift) replies. The subjects under consideration are English (available almost everywhere), or politics or maybe philosophy or both. We put in politics and over 100 places do it! He got A, B, C for his mock AS levels and school suggested everyone should apply for one "stretch" place 2 likely and 2 fall back options. He's not sporty or into drinking/clubbing but is interested in thinking, writing, comedy, music, performing and current affairs. I know a bit about the top and middle ranking unis but less about the ex poly type places. I agree that location doesn't matter that much distance wise. I think he would really benefit from seeing the huge range of interests catered for at uni and all the different types of people. I'm just hoping to encourage him so puts the effort in to give him as much choice as he wants. I think he could go up a grade in all subjects in A2.

tobee Tue 29-Mar-16 17:05:34

Ps meant to say put in politics in ucas course search.

bojorojo Tue 29-Mar-16 17:23:54

You may need to filter out all the AAA courses and perhaps not be too confident about ones that want an A* in the mix. Perhaps one AAA course would be the stretch one. For English, History and Politics, I would really stress that the university is important because none of these subjects lead directly to a job. Therefore his cv will be important and the best university possible is a major consideration. All three subjects are hugely competitive at the best universities so I would start to research where he might go with AAB, or ABB. This will cut out the very high flying universities. Not every student, by any means, improves on AS results.

I think comedy and music are best catered for in larger cities that have more venues. Nothing you have said implies an out of the way place. Lots of universities have options for performing (drama or music or both?) so that should not really be a problem wherever he goes.

Some of the old Polys are well thought of, eg Oxford Brookes and newer universities such as University of the West of England in Bristol may be worth a look.

Millipedewithherfeetup Tue 29-Mar-16 17:23:55

The student room has a wealth of information on it, you can also ask students directly questions regarding ccourses / cities /accomodation and rail links etc.

Millipedewithherfeetup Tue 29-Mar-16 17:26:42

www.thestudentroom.co.uk/

tobee Tue 29-Mar-16 17:36:41

Thanks for the replies. Actually the grades required are the least of our worries because they are there in black and white on the ucas website it's the pen picture of the place itself to narrow it down!

TranquilityofSolitude Tue 29-Mar-16 17:47:46

One of my DDs is interested in Philosophy so we have been to a number of places to look at the different courses on offer. I would say that there is huge variation in the topics available and the structure of different courses, so if there is something which particularly interests him it's worth having a good look to see if it's on offer and in what proportion to the rest of the topics, if you see what I mean.

It's not DD's first choice but I was really impressed by Lancaster. They encourage students to study any 3 subjects in their first year and they then choose which one (or two) to take forward at the end of the first year. It seemed like a really good choice for someone whose interests spanned a number of subjects. Also, DD's offer included General Studies, which gives her an extra opportunity to meet the grades. It doesn't really tick your boxes for comedy etc but it depends how important that is in the grand scheme of things, I suppose.

lljkk Tue 29-Mar-16 17:49:42

MN is a good place to ask about the physical provision, rent prices, night clubs & so on.
Does he care if it's campus university? How far does he want to go from home?
What does he want to do after his degree?

bojorojo Tue 29-Mar-16 17:58:11

This is the idea of open days! To get a view of the university and the city/town! Just looking at a few universities might narrow down the options. You will need to get a move on with booking though!

For example, Leeds. They offer Broadcast Journalism - AAB. History and Politics - AAA. History and Social Policy - AAB. English - AAA. Leeds would tick lots of boxes. Sheffield have similar grade requirements. I would check out Birmingham and Newcastle too.

Manchester. History and American Studies - AAB. Politics and Modern History - AAB. (A bit lower than similar course at Leeds, see above). This may be more of a "likely" course and less of a "stretch". Likewise a great university city.

Oxford Brookes. English Lit - BBB. History - BBB. Politics and International Relations - BBC. A good one for fallback?

Kent (at Canterbury). English and American Literature - ABB. History and Politics - ABB. More of a "likely" place. You could try UEA at Norwich. Exeter will want very high grades. I suspect York will too.

Canterbury is not the same as Sheffield, Leeds or Manchester in that is obviously a smaller place. Also, look for courses that are similar to the ones that want AAA but are not quite the same. Once you put Social Policy in or American Studies, the grades required can down but you still get the reputation of the university.

It is the Arch and Anth model to get to where you want to be.

lljkk Tue 29-Mar-16 18:03:12

I think OP needs some clues to even choose which ones would go on the possible Visit list (open days). If there are 100 courses to choose from, need to start with ways to narrow down which ones to visit. There are 11 to choose from in Bojorojo's post, and they may not be all the ones worth considering, but still too many to go to for Open days.

EricNorthmanSucks Tue 29-Mar-16 18:34:27

What are his predicted grades (if any)?

Those mock AS grades could easily bump up to AAA or AAB which will hugely incrase choice.

titchy Tue 29-Mar-16 18:58:34

Start with the subject league tables and work your way down till there's a shortlist of say 10 which covers his possible grades, has course details that appeal, meets his (eg) requirement not to be in London or Scotland, isn't in a field in the middle of nowhere etc. Then visit!

bojorojo Tue 29-Mar-16 18:59:09

Gosh ! Did I suggest 11? Just shows how difficult it is. It comes down to city, campus and or town town in the end. Have you never travelled in the UK, op? Likely places must spring to mind.

Temporaryanonymity Tue 29-Mar-16 19:26:03

The teens that I know most definitely do care about surfing, and Falmouth doesn't enter into their heads. Anyway, it was an example. It could easily have been clubbing or sailing or rock climbing.

Coffeewith1sugar Tue 29-Mar-16 19:48:51

He might be better off maybe taking a gap year if he's not entirely sure what he wants to study or what career path to take. There's so many who choose to go to uni for the sake of it because its the norm thing to do after A levels, it buys them 3 years of time to think about what to do with their life. I've seen a fair few drop out because they weren't ever sure whether furthering their academics was what they really wanted to persue but did it anyway or they felt pressured by 6th form tutors to go especially if they got good grades. I don't think there's a huge disadvantage applying to uni with actual grades.

tobee Tue 29-Mar-16 20:37:12

Gosh! These are very interesting and useful replies, thanks! Dd and I went to 5 open days which became her 5 choices and then 5 offers! The advantage of a child on the fringes of the aspergers spectrum she tells me. I know Britain quite well but don't want to influence ds' choices based on my ideas. I have to bite my tongue a bit. It's him going there not me, obviously. I just don't want him to do too few or too many open days.

bojorojo Tue 29-Mar-16 20:56:44

I think you have a guidance role though. You know him. You know his likes and dislikes. You know if he surfs like everyone else! You would know if he likes the buzz of a city or would prefer everything on a campus. Some universities have a high number of privately educated young people. Would he be happy mixing with everyone and anyone? What about accommodation costs? Some cities are more expensive than others. Does this matter? What about quality of student accommodation? Does he want all mod cons or is older accommodation ok?

What era of History might he study? English lit or would he like creative writing or some drama in the course? I think you could help filter out the places that are unsuitable at the top and bottom ends then look at suitable ones and courses in the middle group. Have you asked him what he might like? Where is his sister? Does he think somewhere similar is a good choice? Did she aim high or look at only likely ones?

senua Tue 29-Mar-16 21:19:11

Some of the old Polys are well thought of, eg Oxford Brookes ...

This comment prompted a thought. If you do a traditional subject at a traditional University then life tends to be straightforward and compact. When you get to the newer subjects/Universities then you need to have your wits about you. DNephew went to OB and thoroughly enjoyed it because his course was on the main campus. When DD looked she found that her course was off on a different site, a 40min bus-ride away, in what felt like a Finishing School for Young Ladies. It got binned (despite its good reputation) because DD wanted something a bit more 'happening' than that.
Oxford Brookes wasn't the only case like this that she found. A lot of the newer Universities are an amalgam of various Technical Colleges, subject-specific Schools, teacher-training Colleges, etc, etc. Because of this history, they can be scattered over several sites. Similarly, Halls of residence may be a fair distance from campus (no building sites available near the old, central college buildings).
Do your homework; the devil lies in the detail!

tobee Tue 29-Mar-16 21:25:59

Yes, bojo, that's true. You see, this is why I posted on mumsnet. Knew I'd get good replies that have made me think. All of them, even though ds is not (currently) a surfer!

2rebecca Tue 29-Mar-16 21:32:00

If he fancies Scotland Strathclyde's politics dept is highly thought of in Scotland. They have a variety of politics courses including one on Politics, Journalism and Creative writing. The halls are in the middle of Glasgow. My son (engineer) goes to a lot of the political debates they have. Also loads of other clubs. ABB typical entry if doing all 4 years (English students just pay tuition fees for 3)

HootOnTheBeach Tue 29-Mar-16 21:33:37

I would always recommend the University of Kent

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