University visits - helicopter parents?

(155 Posts)
higgle Sat 16-Mar-13 12:37:58

DS 2 is off to uni this year, hopefully. We discussed as a family which universities he might like to apply to, weighed up the pros and cons of various accommodation with him but the choices have been entirely his. He went to Leeds last week, which is his first choice and where he has an offer we think he will be able to meet, for an open day. I simply bought him some rail tickets and left him to it. He returned home quite shocked that all the other applicants had had at least one parent with them. As a result of this there was not much opportunity to talk to the others who would be on the course, though the tutors spent more time discussing various things.

When I was off on this sort of visit nearly 40 years ago I wouldn't have dreamed of inviting my parents along ( although they wre footing 100% of my expenses). We will take him if and when he starts, and of course visit fairly regularly. Am I very odd to be the only parent who didn't go or send spouse?
Does the fact that all the others wanting to do this course seem to be girls explain this?

BIWI Cote D'Ivoire Sat 16-Mar-13 15:24:50

A friend's husband is a university vice-chancellor. He told me that it's not uncommon every year for them to have to evict mothers who are camping on the floor of their first year student son/daughter's room!

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 16-Mar-13 15:25:00

I went to uni in 1993 and my dad came with me to all visits. It never occurred to anyone for him not to take me. Most people had parents with them

Maat Sat 16-Mar-13 15:26:03

BIWI shock

University or not - I can't imagine even wanting to be in their pit room

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 15:28:12

I should also think it is very lonely on your own because DS had a very different choice to his friends and so would have been alone and everyone was in family groups so it isn't as if you get to chat to others. He went to one alone, one with his older brother and the rest with us. Train fares are also very expensive and they are not exactly reliable. DS1 reminded me that when he visited one that was over 200 miles away the train was cancelled and he had to come home and try again on the next available day.
I think that it was much better when they went alone, but those days are gone forever IMO and going with parents is the norm. Seeing as DS3 went north, south, east and west it was a good sample and they all expect parents.

Nishky England Sat 16-Mar-13 15:29:10

I went on my own in the 80's - I would have cringed if my parents came- and I don't understand the comments about wanting to get it right-its the childrens education not the parents.

Mind you I looked at the senior school children being collected by their parents at home time the other day and didn't understand how they could bear it.

Still18atheart Sat 16-Mar-13 15:30:34

I've said it before on here. I wanted to my dm and df to come look around unis with me as I vlaue their opinon and there's a lot of information to take in on open days and that extra pair of ears is v. helpful

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 15:31:08

Very much a sales pitch Maat - principally to the parents. It is all about money- I went to two graduations last year - both ended with a huge sales pitch!

onthemetro Sat 16-Mar-13 15:32:31

When I was applying to uni 4 years ago (aged 18) I took my mum on my open days. It wasn't that she was like 'I must come and see if this uni is suitable!', but it was because I get on well with her and wanted her there to talk to - I wasn't hiding behind her like I would've when I was a toddler or anything grin 4 years on I'm about to graduate and it's still nice that if I talk to her about where I've been, she knows it because we walked around the city lots on the open day.

TidyDancer England Sat 16-Mar-13 15:33:26

Parents attending on open days is absolutely normal and more common than students going alone. DP is a lecturer, the only time he has ever seen large amounts of students alone was when it was an organise trip from a sixth form college or school. He feels it's more sensible for a parent to accompany.

Different if it's for an interview. I don't think it's necessary for parents to go to those.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 15:34:11

I have to say that I enjoyed them- they were very interesting and included things like a bus tour of the area!

80sMum Sat 16-Mar-13 15:35:24

How odd! It never occurred to me or DH to accompany DS or DD when they went to uni interviews or open days. They didn't want us tagging along; I think it would have been a bit embarrassing for them.
That was in 1997 and 2001. Looks like things have changed since then. What do the parents actually do on these visits? Surely the uni is only interested in the students, so there would be no role for the parents, other than waiting around for the students to finish their tour or interview?

Maat Sat 16-Mar-13 15:36:55

DS2 is going to university this year so we have been to yet more open days.

Each and every one of them asked him how many "guests" he was bringing with him at the time of booking a spot on the open day. It is very much expected now I think.

No, interviews are different, of course.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 15:40:03

The university is very interested in the parent 80s mum- you need to read the whole thread. They lay on tours and talks just for the parent and there is plenty to do. There is no embarrassment- you would feel odd on your own. There are lots of younger children- even babies! However I do feel that people should get child care and leave them at home- I wouldn't have taken the youngest when the oldest was doing it. There is a huge change since 2001.

Bunbaker Sat 16-Mar-13 15:40:43

"He returned home quite shocked that all the other applicants had had at least one parent with them"

I don't think it is "helicopter parenting". I would class it as taking an interest and seeing things from another perspective. My sister went to all the open days with my niece, but didn't interfere at all.

By the time DD goes to university goodness knows what the fees will be like. I will want to know what I am paying for.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 15:44:43

I can't say that interviews are different- we took DS3 because it was too far for public transport to get him there on time. Everyone seemed to have a parent. It was the one that his brother took him to and we hadn't seen it. We didn't see DS, he had his interview and we had a parent's tour. They are asked how many guests when they register for the open day.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 15:49:32

I think that those of you that think it odd will just have to accept that it is now 'the done thing' - whether you agree or not it is here to stay and the universities accept it. (I have no idea what they think about it, but they certainly encourage it with drinks vouchers, bus tours, talks for parents etc) It is a huge sales pitch - and a sales pitch to the people with the money i.e. the parents and not the student!

80sMum Sat 16-Mar-13 15:57:34

I don't understand why the university would be interested in the parents at all. What has a person's choice of university got to do with their parents?

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 15:59:32

Yours were not paying tuition fees 80sMum!

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 16:00:23

Take my word for it- it is one huge sales pitch!

Isthiscorrect England Sat 16-Mar-13 16:02:57

We are flying in from overseas during the Easter break for ds to see 7 different universities, we cant attend open days as its too expensive for a number of short visits and too much time out of college. He has his head firmly screwed on and as he says he wouldn't buy a phone or a car without checking out at least a few alternatives. Why would he expect me to pay for something neither of us know anything about? Personally I have no intention of asking questions, ds is more than capable of that, but I would like to know where he will be, what the university, campus and town is like because I'm interested. And yes I'm paying full international fees and everything else.
The unis have been more than helpful but we are placing the onus on ds to make the right choice, we are merely the bank and opinion givers if asked.

Bonsoir Sat 16-Mar-13 16:05:56

DP and I have visited lots of universities and prépas in the past 18 months with DSS1. Frankly, DSS1 needed us there in order to have someone to talk about it all with. Choosing HE is a monumentous decision and, if I am honest, my parents were totally useless about it and no help at all. DSS1's mother isn't interested in the decisions he is making and his relationship with her is at an all time low because of it.

Bunbaker Sat 16-Mar-13 16:11:33

"I don't understand why the university would be interested in the parents at all. What has a person's choice of university got to do with their parents?"

Money

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 16:17:03

DS asked the questions and DS chose- but it was useful to have someone who really knew the options to discuss it with.
It is a whole different world - when I went there were no tuition fees, there were grants - and more importantly there were jobs.
The other point that people don't understand, until they get there, is that there are very few jobs! Over 100 are applying for every graduate job - you are lucky if you can get an internship and work for free. Our shops, bars, cafes etc are staffed by graduates with very good degrees! I know 2 at the moment with 2.1 science degrees from RG universities and one is working in M&S as a sales assistant and the other in a restaurant kitchen.
You need to question whether university is the best option in the first place.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 16:18:24

There is intense competition from universities to get the best students- and many of the best students opt to go abroad.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 16-Mar-13 16:31:16

I used to teach a vocational Masters course. We increasingly saw parents accompanying their graduate children to open days.
Those same parents would then be the ones you would see at graduation bemoaning the fact that their children hadn't got a job.

I don't think it's that unreasonable for parents to accompany the children for undergrad open days but for postgrad it's a bit much.

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