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?

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 16-Mar-13 12:42:23

Much more common for them to be accompanied these days. In fact most universities have parent centred sessions to talk about finance etc whilst the students go off to more course-related sessions for example.

That said, if he's happy to go off by himself let him go.

Hope he gets the offers he wants smile

JambalayaCodfishPie Sat 16-Mar-13 12:47:08

This doesn't surprise me at all. I was at a Uni interview last week to which all four other applicants had brought there mum. grin

iclaudius Sat 16-Mar-13 12:47:17

Yes and yes I think it's terrible helicoptering
Then the parents moan that the 25 year old moves back in and won't move out - we need to let our children grow up and fend for themselves a little ....
We are all for giving them independence and privacy at 24 and then seem to rake back in and be texting them every five minutes about if they've cleaned their teeth when they hit late teens
Universities cater for parents because they're FORCED to

barebranches Sat 16-Mar-13 12:51:31

I went to all my uni visits by myself.... I was late to every one, never been long distance on a train before and very inexperienced with map reading...

Its a wonder i didn't end up in france....

shhhgobacktosleep Sat 16-Mar-13 12:59:38

My mother came to the uni visits with me and dropped me off at the beginning of my 3 years with all my belongings. I was 18 and it was 24years ago. Everyone had a parent with them. However once I was there she never visited and I would travel back to see the family occasionally but always by train (or coach if I'd run low on cash).

JambalayaCodfishPie Sat 16-Mar-13 13:06:46

Their mum. I can spell. I deserve to go to Uni. grin

landofsoapandglory Sat 16-Mar-13 13:08:01

Oh well, I must be a helicopter parent then!hmm.

In the last few weeks I have been to Nottingham, Loughborough and Lincoln at DS1's request. The majority of youngster's were accompanied by their parents. At no point were the parents a hindrance to questions being asked. Infact, from the way the talks, and sessions were set out, particularly at Nottingham, I would say it was expected that the parents would be coming.

SarahLundKicksAss Sat 16-Mar-13 13:12:38

Either I or DH went with DS on his visits - the literature he had received from the unis beforehand seemed to encourage this. I think parents feel they have more of an input now, as they are most likely paying more for the experience (Ds has a loan for his fees, but we are partially funding his living costs).

As another poster upthread said, the well organised visits split parents from offspring for some of the day - at Lancaster parents were taken on a separate tour (which took in the laundry and on-site supermaarket), whilst DS's tour spent quite a long time in the bar and social areas!

SCOTCHandWRY Sat 16-Mar-13 13:30:22

We have 2 DC at uni, and both went unaccompanied to all uni visit days and interviews, despite both visits and interviews taking place when they were still only 16 and in the case of dc1, interview being in England, hundreds of miles away and with a complex interview over 2 days...

It depends on the child though, dc3 will not be going unattended to any visits or interviews when the time comes (next year), because he has particular needs.

Copthallresident Sat 16-Mar-13 13:43:05

There was a thread on this on higher education with some admissions tutors giving their perspective. grin I went to two of DDs visit because she asked me along as another pair of eyes and ears , she went to the others with her friends. I kept my mouth closed and I was very shocked at some fathers who liked the sound of their own voice dominated the questioning, clearly they were under the illusion they were entitled. Having said that in one session I became very concerned that the course tutor (it was a course being offered for the first time) didn't really have all the departments fully behind the course aims. I am not sure DD would have had the experience of organisational/uni politics to have spotted the warning signs. It was the only time I asked a question and the answer knocked that course off DDs list.

Copthallresident Sat 16-Mar-13 13:44:02

It was also a fascinating exercise in genetics, entertained myself matching the offspring to the parents grin

MirandaWest Sat 16-Mar-13 13:45:11

I had my university open days 19 years ago. There were very few parents around then. I was given a Young Persons Railcard, a train ticket, given a lift to the station and off I went smile

higgle Sat 16-Mar-13 13:47:45

iclaudius - pleased it is not just me who has these views. I didn't really feel very inclined to spend 8 hours travelling to have a tour of laundries and supermarkets. DS2 is quite blokey and used to travelling alone so I don't think having me along was something that had crossed his mind at all. My parents didn't visit me at uni but we visited DS1 once a term, he seemed to enjoy a free meal/drinks out!

Copthallresident Sat 16-Mar-13 13:48:38

On my uni visit I travelled the length of the country, missed my last train from King's Cross, had to wait 5 hours (thankfully had the sense not to go for a walk around the area grin ) and ended up on the 3am milk train stopping off at every town in England and still had to go into school when I finally arrived home at lunchtime grin Character building obviously....

Maat Sat 16-Mar-13 13:52:32

We went to the open days with DS1. He wanted us there because (believe it or not) he actually wanted to discuss it with us and valued our opinion.

Neither of us had gone to university so felt we needed to know a bit more about things.

I think there is a world of difference between going to an open day visit and helicopter parenting.

He has been there 3 years now and we have never got involved in his life at university at all. He is perfectly capable of looking after himself sometimes.

When I went to look round universities in the mid 90s, I went on my own. I wanted to make my own mind up about where to go. There were a handful of parents there then, but not many. Think there is a difference though between 'helicopter' parents and those who just take an interest...

Follyfoot Sat 16-Mar-13 14:57:56

I went to the open days with DD but dont think anyone would describe me as a helicopter parent grin DD was perfectly capable of getting from one end of the country to the other by bus or train, that didnt faze her, but like Maat, she wanted me there to share and discuss things. I didnt offer an opinion on each Uni until she asked, but interestingly we liked and disliked exactly the same things at each place. We didnt look at laundries or supermarkets but there was plenty of useful info about courses, entry requirements, mock lectures, the different types of accommodation and costs. In the end , the final decision on where to go was of course DD's.

Startail Sat 16-Mar-13 14:59:59

This baffles me.

You got on the train and went to the interview on your OWN.
OK DDad took me to one and dumped me at Reading for my London one because our trains would have taken all day, but both times he organised sales calls and worked all day.

No one had parents with them.

Parents were only seen at the beginning and end of term to pick people up. DDad came once or twice in term time because of said sales calls being nearby, but generally I went home for the odd weekend (I choose the one uni doable on the train).

DH lived 7 hrs away from uni, DSIL all day or the sleeper. She went to a Scottish uni and lived in Cornwall.

Lilymaid Sat 16-Mar-13 15:06:48

There was a similar thread on this recently and I posted there.
I have to admit that I took DSs to some universities - they went with friends to others. At one, fairly difficult to access by public transport, university, DS1 took a dislike to the place within minutes so the day was very short.
Again, back when I went to university I managed to get to interviews from London to various points in the country without any parental assistance (and I think I paid my own way). My only excuse for taking my DSs is that getting anywhere from where we are takes quite a time.

purplewithred Sat 16-Mar-13 15:07:09

First time round DD wanted me to come with her - she wasn't sure if she wanted to go to uni at all and wanted my opinion, and I was happy to go not least because it's my money she'd be spending and I could talk her off some of her fantasies about luxury accommodation. Talks were laid on for parents about finance everywhere and most had a parent with them.

She dropped out and reapplied for different courses to different universities, and went on her own that time.

But I can't remember even visiting universities when I went - i think I just stuck a pin in the map and went for it.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 15:08:14

It has changed out of all recognition and the change came between my DS1and DS3. DS1 did it all on his own, by train - he had to anyway because We had 2much younger children. We happened to take DS 3 because it was handy for visiting relatives. We intended to drop and melt away but everyone had a parent and some two. There were some on their own , but a tiny number. We went to a few more and you are expected. You get a hot drink voucher and they often have separate tours and talks for the parent. The talks are useful- the centre on the finances which I guess is why parents now go along - you want to know it is value for money.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 15:18:37

I am generally the first to criticise helicopter parenting but I think it is the money side. With tuition fees you want to get it right.

bunnybing Sat 16-Mar-13 15:20:13

Certainly in the 80s I went to interviews/open days on my own, although my mother then started whining about the places that were too far away and strongly suggesting I went to one of the 2 nearer unis hmm. I think things have obviously changed a lot.

DH recently had a new graduate come for a 'meet the workplace' visit for a professional job - accompanied by her father.

Maat Sat 16-Mar-13 15:20:57

I think you're right exotic

The open days did feel a bit like a sales pitch at times.

BIWI 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 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 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 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?"


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.

tallulah Sat 16-Mar-13 16:31:28

There have been several threads on this very subject in the last 3 weeks, so I'm amazed you didn't know that parents generally go these days.

nagynolonger Sat 16-Mar-13 16:36:31

When my eldest went to university (1998 and 2000) it was the norm for parents to attend open days. There was a separate 'talk and tour' for the parents. I didn't go but DH went along. DD and DS1 were the first to go from our families and it was useful to find out how it all worked. Sometimes he just dropped them off and sometimes he went to the parents talk/tour.

It's not helicopter parenting at all. If they can cope with a 300+ per year state comp they can cope with university.

We were also invited along for a look round the training school when our other sons left home to do their apprentice training. We had a tour and lunch and then left them to it.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 16:37:30

I was surprised to see yet another- there have been so many threads lately. I think it is a bit much for postgrad.

Lifeisontheup Sat 16-Mar-13 16:55:21

My DS didn't go to any open days with or without me.blush He's in his second year and we visit once a term mainly because it's Exeter and we like going there. We take him and his girlfriend out to dinner and slip him a few quid which he seems to appreciate and then leave him to it.

Next year he will be in Venice and we will be visiting him the city , I nagged him to choose a place I wanted to see so I would have an excuse for a nice long weekend.
My DD did go to open days but on her own as we couldn't get time off, we don't visit her as she's in the neighbouring city and comes home quite often, in fact is popping back this evening for a roast. smile

Copthallresident Sat 16-Mar-13 17:01:49

Tunip When I did my Masters in 2005 I received a letter at my home address (which is also my term address) addressed to my parents explaining the strategy the University were adopting towards industrial action. I don't think my parents are suddenly going to become helicopter parents now they are in their seventies grin

I don't understand why you wouldn't go if your child wanted you to?
Its one of the biggest decisions of their life so far, and perhaps they might want your opinion or perspective?

I don't understand this attitude of "right, legally an adult now, of you go and live your life - nowt to do with me anymore". I find it a bit sad.

Cremolafoam Sat 16-Mar-13 17:21:06

For my interviews I was dropped off at the ferry or airport with 2 mahoosive art folders and a rucksack . On arrival in England I had to negotiate trains buses and crazy people. There was no booking in advance mobile phones Internet and I knew nobody in England except a distant cousin . I traipsed everywhere alone and oh made it home in one piece just( was robbed in the Arndale centre in Manchester but had £ 20 in my shoe to get to Liverpool and onto the boat)grin
I will be asking dd if she wants me at her open days. She is well able to do it on her own but if she wants morale support ill go gladly.grin

landofsoapandglory Sat 16-Mar-13 17:25:48

DS1 wanted me to go along so he had some to discuss the positives and negatives of each location and course, with. As I had seen the sites, listened about the differing course contents etc, I could give him an informed opinion on where/ what I thought suited him best. I couldn't have done that just from reading a prospectus and having a vague idea of the location.

DS1 and I have a very good relationship. He would have wanted my opinion if we weren't contributing finacially, too. I don't understand why anyone would think it is "helicopter parenting", is it a massive decsion, two pairs of eyes, two minds are often better than one.

Turniphead1 Sat 16-Mar-13 17:27:12

I must be really odd - but for some reason I didn't go and visit any of the universities I was considering. This was the start of the 90s. No one at my school did. Apart from the Art students or Oxbridge people who had to do actual interviews. Hmmm.

My eldest is only 9 but I think I'd quite like to go round & look at the universities when the time comes. Because I am generally nosey rather than a helicopter parent.

Jins Sat 16-Mar-13 17:27:45

Open days - fine

Interviews and post offer open days where they spend a day in the department -not so fine

Accompanying your child into the interview - helicoptering

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Sat 16-Mar-13 17:27:58

I think it's odd - wouldn't have dreamed of taking my parents not that they'd have been interested but then they weren't paying the fees.

I've taken DS to two of these recently; for the first, he sent the reply slip back for one person without mentioning it smile, so I took him and went shopping.
Next one was DH's alma mater, so he insisted was keen to go, although I went in the end as he was sick. It definitely is considered the norm these days I'm afraid.

I don't feel that my financial contribution should mean I get to influence DS's choice, but I suspect that's not the case for a lot of families. And there can be things a parent notices that the student wouldn't iyswim.

Mondrian Sat 16-Mar-13 17:29:36

My friend's 17 yr old son was offered a place at a top university in states upon attending the interview/open day. It came as a bit of a surprise as it was punching above his weight but the uni were impressed that he had flown all the way from Europe all on his own ... I rest my case.

MirandaWest Sat 16-Mar-13 17:32:37

How do parents go to so many? Would need a lot of taking time off work. I have a while for this to happen as DS and DD only 9 and 7 but I loved going off round the country on my own.

CabbageLeaves Sat 16-Mar-13 17:34:24

My DC organised all their own applications/visits and I provided transport. I didn't feel like a helicopter parent, more of an interested one. I didn't go to all open days and didn't go to interviews. Attendance was possibly nosy but not helicopter motivated.

My parents would have cramped my style. I wanted to make my own decision.

When it comes to dd I guess it is entirely up to her whether she wants me or dh along or not. I'll go with the flow.

I plan to go to initial open days and then he can go alone to departmental post offer days.
He has to live there for at least three years, it's a massive commitment not least financially. I will only be there for a second pair of eyes and ears and probably to drive half way up and down the country or pay the rail fare.
DS has just produced a list of those he plans to look at, it's like planning a military campaign. Many open days overlap and he will be up and down the country. Could we do Bath and Bristol on two consecutive days and save hundreds of miles of travel. Nope.

AtiaoftheJulii Sat 16-Mar-13 17:41:12

I went to 3 open days for myself last year - at one there were lots of mums, one had lots of mature students and a few mums, and the last and biggest one was mostly small groups of sixth formers and a few parents.

My parents certainly didn't come to any open days with me in the late 80s. My eldest is in y11 - I guess I'll just do whatever she wants. I know she can do it by herself if she wants, but I also know I will feel nosy about it!

Interviews - no. When I had my Oxford interview I had to stay a night or two - definitely not one to take your mum to!

BrianButterfield Sat 16-Mar-13 17:43:15

My parents came in 1997/98 and it wasn't that uncommon. I am very independent and lived abroad a year later so it was nothing to do with helicoptering, or finance either. It's just a big decision and it's nice to have some support.

DH's dad went to his too, at the same time, and he's generally a very hands-off parent when it comes to education. It's not new and it's not weird.

SwedishEdith Sat 16-Mar-13 17:44:19

I went to all of mine alone in the mid-80s. Didn't occur to anyone that I wouldn't go alone but I do accept that times have changed on this and that I'll be expected to go but with a teenager who will act embarrassed that I am there - can't win.

Perhaps they should lock all of the parents out when they give presentations to the students and have a separate talk for parents to raise any matters they're interested in.

On one of my open days, we separated into 4 groups and had to have an impromptu debate about something, voting for a spokesperson etc (me - hence remembering it!) That's no place for parents

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 16-Mar-13 17:51:01

Yes - I agree with the comments about sales pitch.

And that attending an open day does not a helicopter parent make.

Perhaps they should lock all of the parents out when they give presentations to the students and have a separate talk for parents to raise any matters they're interested in This is pretty much what they do. Well not lock you out obviously but offer separate talks. grin

Potterer Sat 16-Mar-13 17:52:08

I don't understand why you wouldn't want to know where your child is going. It doesn't matter if they are 18 or 20 wouldn't you still want to see what they were considering?

My children are below the age of 10 but my best mate has an 18 year old daughter and last year I accompanied them both to an open day. I went to uni in the 90's and my best mate never went (she is older than me, had an incredible gap year where she got to fly all over the world for her job so never went to uni)

I was asked to go as she wanted the opinion of someone who had been. When I went grants had been frozen and I took out a loan to top up my grant, my parents didn't help me out financially.

My mate will be part funding her daughter's living allowance so wanted to see what her money bought accommodation wise. She had also never been to the city so wanted to see what it had to offer. Plus it was good to see how good the canteen was on site considering that some of the accommodation offers part catered.

landofsoapandglory Sat 16-Mar-13 17:53:21

I've just been to the post offer open days. In the groups of 30-40 potential students, only 2 or 3 were alone. It really did seem like the norm that parents went along. I know, amongst DS1's friendship group the vast majority of them have taken a parent along.

SwedishEdith Sat 16-Mar-13 17:55:53

Glad to here there is some separation of parents and potential students.

ggirl Sat 16-Mar-13 18:01:43

My dd is in her 2nd yr , I drove her and two friends to the open day and left them to it and went shopping for the day, did another drop off for another uni and left her to it with a friend.
SHe went to see 2 other unis and arranged to meet dept heads to look around, I went with her to these as her chauffeur and to keep are company.

She wasn't bothered that I wasn't at the open days..much preferred having mates to look around with, but I imagine if none of her mates were going as well she would have appreciated some company.

Chopchopbusybusy Sat 16-Mar-13 18:03:26

I went with DD1 to a post offer day last week. I did see one young man on his own. Every other potential student was accompanied. The admissions tutor was talking to some of us about her visits to other universities with her DCs, so she obviously thinks it's normal.
DH and I will be making a significant contribution to DDs living expenses as she can only apply for the minimum loan. I'm interested to see how my money will be spent.

wordfactory Sat 16-Mar-13 18:05:26

Well I accompanied my niece to a couple of open days and boy am I glad I did.

One tutor was full of BS about the course. Serious crap. But he was bloody slick and my never-been-out-of-her-small-town niece would have fallen for it hook line and sinker.

BackforGood Sat 16-Mar-13 18:06:19

Marking spot to read tomorrow.

I gave my DD1 the option of me coming or not. She wanted another opinion/ pair of eyes too. I left her to do her stuff with the subject lectures etc & I went to the fees /parental talks & sat in the cafe with a book while she got stuck in.

It was good to have 2 viewpoints to chew over on the way home, she did all the shortlisting, course choosing, venues etc herself. As I said to her she's the one who has to live there for 3/4 years, so it was her choice.

Really don't think that makes me a helicopter parent though, does it?

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 19:02:27

I think that you can see from the reactions on here that it has become the norm- going on your own is now unusual. It is not going to go back to what it was so you may as well take the opportunity of a day out! They are interesting.

Bonsoir Sat 16-Mar-13 19:06:35

I rather enjoy visiting schools and universities on their Open Days.

<should probably get a life>

lottie63 Sat 16-Mar-13 21:35:26

Ha! At 18, I was put on a train on my own to Cardiff uni. Parents waved me off. Didn't even have any accommodation at the other end. Just thought someone would sort me out. Funnily enough, they did.

Awks Sat 16-Mar-13 21:41:13

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.

^ Really? That sounds like bollocks to me

badguider Sat 16-Mar-13 21:53:44

I went with people from school to all mine but one where nobody else had applied and I went alone.
We just got together in groups and sorted ourselves out - spent the days with people I wasn't particularly friends with so that was interesting too. Came back and discussed each with my parents - they were aware of all my choices though as all were old/traditional/RG options. If my parents had never been to the cities/unis I was considering they might have been more inclined to come along.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Sat 16-Mar-13 21:57:33

If my parents had come to an open day or attended an interview with me I would have died of shock...

This was mid 90s though.

Horsemad Sat 16-Mar-13 23:07:17

Well I'm definitely going with my DC - if they want me to of course! I want to see where my money is going smile

iclaudius Sun 17-Mar-13 00:01:15

i'm hoping i always let my dcs go on their own but i may well change
ds went to an open day at a very high ranking university and parents were asked to 'leave the room' for the talk as there was no room for students

not keen on the 'i want to know where my monay is going' argument. We only pay accomodation and ds pays the rest. he should make the choice imo - not be turning to mummy and daddy - not at this stage. I think late teens should stand on their own feet and feel that expectation to do so.....

iclaudius Sun 17-Mar-13 00:01:35


iclaudius Sun 17-Mar-13 00:02:15


iclaudius Sun 17-Mar-13 00:02:46

('tis late - am hormonal!)

BestIsWest Sun 17-Mar-13 00:12:29

DD went to most on her own but we both went with her to one because it was an awkward place to get to and we fancied a day out

That was the one she chose.

nooka Sun 17-Mar-13 05:31:12

My parents didn't come with me, nor dh's with him. I don't recall any parents being there, but it was a long time ago (late 80's).

I went to some with a friend and most on my own, and as I applied twice got to travel to Scotland, Wales, East Anglia and a few places in between. It was a bit of an adventure to get to each university, meet new people, check out the towns and think about whether I wanted to live there. I don't think I would have had the same experience if I'd have been taken by my parents.

I wasn't eligible for a grant, so my parents paid a fair whack but I really don't think that came into the equation much. I don't recall discussing my options very much with my parents, although I remember my mother complaining that all my choices were a long way away and was that deliberate.

We don't live in the UK any more and our children might well study a long long way away from us (and it will cost a fortune), but I'd still prefer them to go to open days on their own. It's a bit sad if all the other applicants are with families and don't really get to talk to each other - knowing what sort of person is attracted to each university is surely one of the factors for your decision?

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 09:03:37

nooka There are literally thousands of people at these open days, talks are packed out. It really isn't a cosy look see with a chance to meet other students and academic staff. For that there are interviews (if they do interviews) and post offer days (when the unis give students they have made an offer too a chance to come back and investigate uni and course in more depth) or you could arrange an individual visit. DD definitely found the latter more useful. TBH if I were still an expat I'd give the former a miss, unis are empty of students and on their best behaviour, and there are too many people there (yes including mostly parents) to have much chance of getting a good idea of what it is really like. Think a town overrun with tourists. We even had to sit in a two hour traffic jam made up of prospective students and parents between the M4 and Bath University!

Actually one of the visits DD asked me to come along to as extra eyes and ears turned out to be a great fun day out, she ran into some friends and we ended up giving 5 of them a lift home, two 6ft Rugby players in the rear facing child seats at the back doing mooneys on the motorway <really should try and be proper helicopter responsible parent>

Eeeeeowwwfftz Sun 17-Mar-13 10:14:03

When I was working in a university dept in the early 00s I noticed groups of parents being taken round the building on UCAS days. The admissions tutor told me that 2 or 3 years previously parents had started showing up and the first time this happened they were left tapping their feet while the students were being attended to. They quickly realised that they needed a programme of events for the parents too. When I switched institution in the mid 00s, I found the new place going the same thing too, so I guess this is by now standard practice.

As for me I visited everywhere on my own. My parents wouldn't have been able to come anyway as they were schoolteachers and not able to take time off willy billy in term time like everyone else.

BoffinMum Sun 17-Mar-13 10:46:12

I've given up my weekends to give carefully crafted interactive talks and sample lectures to ignorant stoney faced parents who thought university was just another type of school, sitting by bored students examining their finger nails, oh yes. They would eventually defrost and their sluggish brains would slowly start to fire up, but it was a frustrating business. They wanted X-Factor, sixth form with more sex and booze, Facebooking all day and degrees with minimal input from themselves. We were selling adulthood and cognitive advancement. Roll on MOOCs,I say. Let's stop pretending learning is even relevant to the proceedings. (Most of my teaching is now online).

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 11:55:49

Maybe it is because DD is a Science geek but the talks I joined her for at Open Days were filled with engaged DCs and rather too engaged parents, as I said down thread, some fathers who liked the sound of their voices too much and had the illusion they were entitled to cross examine the lecturers based on a little scientific knowledge. My other DD is looking at a degree in Humanities but has the same drive to have a chance to study her subject in more depth. I think you are being unjustifiably cynical about a generation of prospective students who IME work harder and are more motivated than my generation ever were. We may not have had Facebook but there was certainly plenty of sex and booze at my 70s RG uni..............

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 11:57:00

Sorry post addressed to BoffinMum and I am also engaged in academia now.

iclaudius Sun 17-Mar-13 12:22:08

Boffin I find your post refreshing - so true

landofsoapandglory Sun 17-Mar-13 12:25:13

DS1, nor his friends, nor any of the students at the post offer open days we have been to in the last few weeks have fitted that description at all BoffinMum.

Maat Sun 17-Mar-13 12:31:53

On the contrary. I found the information about the universities / courses so exciting that I was only sorry I wasn't there to sign up for it myself.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Mar-13 12:37:05

Same here Maat!
And I didn't see anything like BoffinMum's example.

Howsaboutthat Sun 17-Mar-13 12:37:20

My dd is currently choosing where to study for 6th form - note my dd is choosing.

She's googled and got prospectuses and has made her short list. Her grandmother and I have attended open days with her for no reason other than a) we are downright nosey and b) she can then talk to someone about what she's encountered on the day, and bounce feedback off. She then decided where to apply to, applied and got her scholarships all I was required for was the signature on the bottom of the completed application form.

I fully expect Uni applications to be carried out in a very similar process, unless she chooses either to a) take a friend or partner with her instead. And then my only disappointment will be that I don't have the valid excuse to have a nose at all the universities, as it may/may not be frowned upon for parents to attend with children, I'm pretty certain it would be frowned upon for an adult who has no intention of attending the university just attending it to have a snoop!!!

exoticfruits Sun 17-Mar-13 12:39:11

I was somewhat disapproving of parents attending, but once I realised it was the norm I just enjoyed the whole experience. Since DS was too far to visit, once he started it was my only real look.

OneHandFlapping Sun 17-Mar-13 12:40:32

I went to all DS1's open days. He seemed to expect it, and I think he welcomed having someone else to discuss his choices with afterwards.

They were his choices though, and not mine,

Bunbaker Sun 17-Mar-13 12:49:24

Perhaps parents are more interested in their children's education these days?

I would want to visit universities simply out of interest but leave all the talking to DD.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 12:49:55

I do remember that when DD was seeking advice from me when choosing between her offers I did feel ill equipped to comment on those I didn't visit with her and so could only offer outdated prejudices and experiences of unis via drinking in the bars post match grin.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Mar-13 13:20:05

Perhaps parents are more interested in their children's education these days?

Not at all. It just wasn't the done thing. People would have died of embarrassment in my day. However there were no tuition fees, there were grants and there were plenty of jobs.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Mar-13 13:20:34

Plus the fact that a tiny minority went.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Mar-13 13:36:01

Sorry-not clear. Less than 10% went to university so there are far less parents involved.

BoffinMum Sun 17-Mar-13 13:37:27

Copthall, I find I am happiest in elite/high end institutions as there the students are more clued up and keen to engage. I also don't mind working with students at the other end of the spectrum who are trying to become clued up, as they really engage as well. It's the ones who are utterly wrapped up in themselves and don't want to extend their worlds but feel they are entitled to a degree who have little sympathy from me (and the parents who made them that way).

Everyone should read 'My Freshman Year' if they want to know more about how things are changing in academe. It's a US book but there are similarities with the system over here as we move more towards that model.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Mar-13 13:50:55

It is changing for the worse as parents try and extend childhood and exert control over their adult children. You hear all sorts of horror stories where parents try and treat it like a boarding school.
This is the very reason that you need to start giving responsibility and independence in a gradual, age appropriate way. If you have supervised homework, revision and all aspects of their life they are going to find it difficult to manage.
I don't think that some parents realise that the students are adults; you can phone the university but you can't get any information at all about the student without their express permission. You have no idea about grades, finances etc unless they care to tell you. I very much hope that this doesn't change, but I would imagine that universities are under constant pressure from parents-especially as they now hold the purse strings.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 14:03:35

exotic fruits You are quite right. I have heard horror stories from colleagues at university but they make full use of the fact students are legally adults and parents have no right to information about them without their permission, or any control over what happens at uni.

I don't think though that anyone should confuse parents accompanying DCs who want the benefit of their eyes and ears (though hopefully not mouths) on uni visits with that sort of control freakery.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Mar-13 14:06:17

I think it is different-but they could make good use of the time on initial visits to point out there is no point in contacting they will not be giving feedback etc and they don't care what time they go to bed!

Madlizzy Sun 17-Mar-13 14:10:35

I went with my son and I'm most certainly not a "helicopter" parent. It was useful to find out about the finance side. He's now coming to the end of his second year and is living happily away from home, with no intention of moving back. He's a confident and mature young man. He was the one who chose the course and uni too.

noddyholder Sun 17-Mar-13 14:14:34

My ds had an interview friday there were 5 of them and all parents were there. It wasn't helicopter at all. My ds and his mates all seem to expect it. I don't think university is now seen as the big 'leaving home' it used to be because of the fees and the job situation. All my mates with children who have finished their 3 years are back living at home.It does seem to be a 3 yr break

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Sun 17-Mar-13 14:20:44

I was dispatched to my open days alone, would have loved a parent to go with me, it felt like a big choice and I had no one to talk it through with.

So I opted to give my kids the choice of whether they went with us or went alone.

Do not assume only the parents want to be there, some kids like having parental input.

Welovegrapes Sun 17-Mar-13 14:23:15

I think this is a recent thing - something that has started over the last 10-15 years.

noddyholder Sun 17-Mar-13 14:25:58

Yes I went alone too it was horrible actually

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sun 17-Mar-13 15:04:55

As a parent to 3 at university, I totally understand that they are adults.

It's a damn shame that Student Finance don't see it the same way.

goinggetstough Sun 17-Mar-13 15:10:08

Dame so true!

Horsemad Sun 17-Mar-13 15:19:48

Well said Dame!

noddyholder Sun 17-Mar-13 15:25:16

Yes! Dame

landofsoapandglory Sun 17-Mar-13 15:25:43

Totally agree, Dame!

Milliways Sun 17-Mar-13 15:32:44

DH drove DS to all his visits/interviews, but dropped him off and collected him later. (DH travels a lot so arranged his meetings near to the relevant Uni.)

We did the same for DD. He stayed closer at hand for her Cambridge interview (in a nearby pub). We visited her about once a term (usually in DS's half term) and took her out for a meal which was appreciated - and often ended up getting some shopping in as well.

I think they appreciated the lifts and being able to talk about it on the journey home, but it was good they were able to be themselves at the actual visit.

noddyholder Sun 17-Mar-13 15:34:49

Yes we dropped off and sat in cafe

higgle Sun 17-Mar-13 16:23:51

We'll be selling up and downsizing (preferably somewhere chic and small)once he has graduated, so he'd better get a job!

noddyholder Sun 17-Mar-13 16:25:43

Don't hold your breath although obviously some sectors better than others! Most graduates I know are still working in bars and shops etc sad

Merrylegs Sun 17-Mar-13 16:45:07

DH is driving DS to an offer day at Exeter Uni next week. We live 8 hours away. It's a road trip for them. They like each other. They will have a good time. It's nice to be able to do something fairly companionable and civilized with your kids before they leave home for ever and become companionable and probably deeply uncivilized with a bunch of strangers.

Howsaboutthat Sun 17-Mar-13 17:13:26

Agree with Dame if the universities don't want any parental involvement, they should not rely on parents having to pay for it.

noddyholder Sun 17-Mar-13 17:14:19

I am amazed at all the leave home forever talk! Good luck with that it hasn't been my experience at all I think 25-28 is average age to leave home now

Horsemad Sun 17-Mar-13 17:30:55

shock noddy - I've got my heart set on DS1's room for Meeeeee! Can't wait another 10 years!

noddyholder Sun 17-Mar-13 17:31:48

grin I know Most of my mates have their kids back at home and all are 23 plus so I am going by that

Eeeeeowwwfftz Sun 17-Mar-13 17:45:32

Who said Unis didn't want parents' involvement at open/UCAS days? Thought we'd established they'd put on special talks for them etc in response to demand. And that was pre-fees.

badguider Sun 17-Mar-13 17:55:35

Depends where you live ime - if you live somewhere with no work prospects or social life for people in their 20s you will find they miraculously find a way to houseshare elsewhere smile whereas if you live somewhere cool and convenient then they 'can't possible afford to move out' hmm

noddyholder Sun 17-Mar-13 17:57:52

I agree badguider I think my ds mates who have dropped out did so because they have been living a very student type life here in Brighton and they were very disappointed with university. I feel sorry for them though as they have been there done it got the t shirt a bit.

ivykaty44 Sun 17-Mar-13 18:10:01

I shall let dd go of and have a look at where she wants to study etc, I will gladly listen to all she tells me on her return.

Plenty of my friends have dc who have looked for themselves and not taken parents

Milliways Sun 17-Mar-13 19:23:22

Noddy - I was amazed that DD never cam home after Uni. She got engaged at Uni, they both got jobs to start immediately after graduation so they got married and they rent their own house now.
It will be odd when DS goes too!

Maat Sun 17-Mar-13 19:28:34

Milliways will you be an empty nester when your DS goes?

I will.

It's going to feel very strange. I've only just got used to DS1 not being around but it will feel really different when there's just me and DH and we have to talk to each other grin

mumeeee Sun 17-Mar-13 19:53:23

DH or I went with all 3 of our DDs ( not at the same time) to varios open days. Parents are now actually actually encouaged to come and thier is often a parents talk. When I went with to UWE open day there was an oppetunity for DD3 to talk to students who were doing the couse and the prospective students were encoraged to ask thier own questions as well as parents,

chocoluvva Sun 17-Mar-13 19:53:50

Hah! I'll see your going to open days on your own and raise it to not attending open days at all as I lived in a remote area and couldn't afford it!.

I got the boat and train with my friends the day before the start of term and went home on the last day. My almost non-existent self-confidence was greatly helped by realising that I was much more independent than many of my peers (out of necessity).

Hope my DD wants me to go with her when her turn comes though.....

ISingSoprano Sun 17-Mar-13 19:57:59

Well I went to applicant open days with ds so that clearly makes me a 'helicopter' parent.

Or does it....?

Maybe those parents who don't go to open days with their children just can't be bothered or aren't interested. After all, it's their life, their money, their problem isn't it?

Horsemad Sun 17-Mar-13 20:09:47

I expect DS1 to work abroad but DS2 has already said he's going to the local uni. I'm not surprised really as he's a real homebird.

Nishky Sun 17-Mar-13 20:14:50

Or maybe they work Ising - which is why my parents did not come with me.

Awks Sun 17-Mar-13 20:21:00

When I was 12 my mum gave me an alarm clock and told me mornings were down to me from now on. Doesn't mean it was a fab idea grin

Milliways Sun 17-Mar-13 20:34:06

Maat - yes, empty nester here and DH is already planning weekends away!

iclaudius Sun 17-Mar-13 20:36:28

Isingsoprano not at all
I do believe a HUGE part of parenting a late teenager is to encourage independence - I don't think that the child rocking up back home at 23 is a good thing for anyone.
I may be old fashioned but I am a believer in children over 18 ish living away from their parents and independent of them and the whole university thing is a stepping stone
I want my kids to make that choice independent of me - as I and their daddy did- I will HELP but going along to an open day with them etc - cannot FAIL to sway them in my book

YokoUhOh Sun 17-Mar-13 20:41:01

My parents (both teachers) left me to my own devices on the Open Day/interviews front (late '90s) as they were at work during term time. Slightly resent the insinuation above that they didn't care; quite the opposite. And I moved to London for a boy job the minute I finished at Oxford and met a different boy my husband on the first day at said new job, so never moved back home smile

I think the fees element has been a real game-changer in terms of parental involvement.

ThedementedPenguin Sun 17-Mar-13 20:50:00

My mum came with me to two different university's, and my auntie came to another. I was going from Northern Ireland to England/Scotland. We booked flight first thing in morning and last thing at night and had a brilliant day shopping, checking out local area and around the university.

I'm 22 now, have a ds and my own house. So it's not always the case.

YokoUhOh Sun 17-Mar-13 21:04:28

Oh and I do remember seeing one person at an open day with a parent; the parent asked a ridiculous stealth-boasty question on behalf of her son and the rest of us cracked up, she made her son look utterly foolish. I do understand that it's different these days and parents want to know what they're getting for all those thousands of pounds.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 21:28:43

iclaudiusThat is all very well but you are totally out of touch with the job market. All of my friends with older DCs who have finished uni have them back home because they haven't yet managed to embark on careers, they may have jobs but not that pay well enough to fund an independent home. They may be building up a CV with relevant work experience but that is likely to be low paid or unpaid. The only ones who are not at home have sought work overseas or are travelling. This includes Oxbridge graduates. I know one Oxford graduate with a CV full of work experience she managed to get on merit at Sky, loacal radio etc etc etc. Doubtless once upon a time they would have marched into the BBC with a sense of entitlement, they are three years on.....

DD is in third year at elite uni, she will go on to do a master and PhD en route to a research job but none of her friends who are in their final year have jobs lined up, and for some going to live at home means a rural village in the middle of nowhere. The same applies to her peers from her very selective indie, just one has an internship lined up, arranged by Daddy.

Building a career is something they have to work long and hard at.

noddyholder Sun 17-Mar-13 21:35:14

Copthall you are describing what I have seen. Careers take years and sometimes working for free to establish Rent locally to me is about 450 a month plus bills.

ggirl Sun 17-Mar-13 22:32:17

I feel very sorry for youngsters these days..we had it easy compared to them.

ggirl Sun 17-Mar-13 22:33:16

That's a comment about graduates btw

exoticfruits Sun 17-Mar-13 22:36:44

We downsized while DS was at university- he is back with us. He can't afford to do anything else. He has a good degree and the interviews he has had have been good firms- unfortunately lots of others are chasing the same jobs. Each time they have gone to someone with experience and you can't get experience if you can't get the job. He is building up his CV with unpaid work.
If you are not in that position I don't think that you can have any idea about the graduate job market if you don't know any recent graduates. Copthallresident has the accurate picture.

Dadowado Sun 17-Mar-13 22:41:16

DD went to one tour with some friends. I gave her a lift to the others because it was cheaper for me than paying her train fare. Once there I was invited in and was surprised to find lots of other parents. I was interested to see round but left her to ask questions and she made her choices.

whois Mon 18-Mar-13 22:29:11

My mum went with me to all of the open days I attended, we had nice days out together and it was helpful to have someone to chat through the pros and cons of each course/uni with.

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