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Which uni for my DS

(41 Posts)
Pixiepieface Tue 14-Jun-11 11:20:25

Hi, my 17 year old is about to apply for PPE or PPL degrees for 2012 entry. He wouldn't get into Oxbridge and is very keen on the course at Hull Uni. He is starting A2s in Politics Economics and History and if doesn't get to do PPE/PPL is very keen on History with Politics. Any thoughts pls? He got 100% in Politics AS in Jan and is predicted prob ABBC for the rest. (dropping Eng Lit) He wants to go into investment banking/finance. Any good recommendations as to which Unis - also is semi catered in halls better option for him? I am getting in a panic as we can't visit all the open days coming up as I can't get the time off work to take him and no one else he knows wants to go to Uni now so can't lift share etc. Thanks (new to this so cant find smiley face!)

EvelynBakerLang Tue 14-Jun-11 11:28:42

Hull has a great rep for its politics courses. The best thing is that they make a huge effort to help everyone get a good internship. No idea whether it would help him get into banking and finance, but I have a lot of respect for the Hull courses.

What about Southampton? The politics students have to do statistics courses which would look good on a banking/finance CV, I guess.

Halls are good for the first year.

Having said all that... are you getting too involved? Really he should be able to access open days by public transport. Can you drop him at a station and let him get the train? If he has a young person's railcard and books in advance it may not be prohibitively expensive... This is his decision to make - asking internet sprites for advice may not be the best way to help him make it (alhtough obviously all my advice is excellent grin).

Pixiepieface Tue 14-Jun-11 11:39:11

Thanks so much for such a quick response and such good info re Hull and Southampton. Yes I know I am getting involved, only because his school doesn't seem to be on the case. I am leaving it up to him and then just "guiding" him. Halls are either self catered or semi catered aren't they? just wondered if anyone knows what's the best option. Thanks again,

EvelynBakerLang Tue 14-Jun-11 11:46:35

Sorry - no idea about the type of halls. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable will be along in a minute. My guess is it's a personal preference thing...

Ephiny Tue 14-Jun-11 11:48:43

You say he wouldn't get into Oxbridge, but I think he needs to be looking at something not far behind them in the league tables if he wants to apply for an investment banking graduate scheme (especially if he'd be going for a front office role). The banks do tend to focus their recruitment efforts on the most 'prestigious' universities, which is not to say it's impossible to get in from somewhere like Hull, but I think it would be an extra obstacle to overcome.

What about UCL or LSE? Though they're probably not much easier to get into! Maybe Warwick, Bristol, Durham or Nottingham?

There's a lot to be said for doing the course you find most interesting though, and choosing the uni/town where you think you'll be happy - 3-4 years is a long time to live somewhere you hate and study something that doesn't inspire you.

EvelynBakerLang Tue 14-Jun-11 11:48:44

Also - the internships I was on about at Hull may only work for SOME politics courses. http://www2.hull.ac.uk/fass/politics/undergraduate-study/westminster-hull-internship-pr.aspx

DamselInDisarray Tue 14-Jun-11 12:04:06

You get fully catered halls too. It depends what he wants really, and how well he can cook.

I'd say that he (not you) should look at the prospectuses for as many universities as he's interested in, and that he should be going to open days on his own (although I realise that isn't necessarily practical if he's looking at Aberdeen and you're in the south west).

He needs to think about:

1. The degree course.
How is it organised, and how will it be taught? There can be a lot of variation in this and it may affect how he feels about the course.
How much flexibility is there to choose outside subjects and options? What are the specialist areas within the department? For example, a politics department may have particular expertise in American politics or European, or they may have a focus on community politics. This will all affect what topics will be offered/focused on within the degree.
What do the current students think of the course?
All universities participate in the national student satisfaction study every year, and you can find out the score by department.
How well regarded is the department in the particular field?

And, of course, check the entry requirements and how difficult it is to get a place. Some universities have ridiculous numbers of applicants per place, and some discipline are especially competitive. When he applies, he's probably best thinking about at least one back-up option, especially if he's applying to hard to get into courses.

2. Where the university is.
He'll have to live there for three years, so this matters. It's no good going to hull or Southampton (for example) if he's going to hate it there. It's worth finding out about how much it'll cost to rent a room in a flat after first year too, as this can be enormously variable and will affect his finances and experience.

3. extra curricular activities
Is there anything he'd like to do while at uni? Does he play a particular sport or participate in some kind of club? It's important that he finds out about the opportunities he'll have to pursue his interests, and to develop others. The uni websites will have information about sports facilities, clubs and societies and other things that aren't academic but still matter to how happy he'll be. This is really vital as miserable students do not do well.

4. The university more generally.
It's worth funding out about study support available and the personal support systems in place. Universities vary in the kinds of pastoral care provided, and this really matters.

But, as I have said, it's up to him to find all this out and decide for himself. You have to let him get on with it.

antshouse Tue 14-Jun-11 15:49:25

Hull is great for students. Look at the lawns ( halls in cottingham) for first year. Comparatively low cost of living which helps when they have to fend for themselves in second year.

Lilymaid Tue 14-Jun-11 16:48:03

Ultimately it will depend on his predicted A2 results - Hull has a particularly good politics department and offers will be 320-340. I'd imagine that most decent universities would have similar or higher offers.
DS2 is at Hull. Initially worried as it was his insurance choice, he now quite enjoys it. It is a relatively small university with a pleasant campus. The main halls of residence are in Cottingham - about 3 miles away and you can choose fully/semi/self catering options.
I think it is very important to visit universities - either on open days or at other times. 18 year olds aren't experienced in choosing where they want to live for 3 years and there's a great difference between say a campus university or a big city university. Other things to consider would be regional differences (does he want to be in the North, South, Midlands, Scotland, Wales etc) and appreciation of distance from home!

Pippaandpolly Tue 14-Jun-11 16:55:33

York is good for Politics etc - probably AAA at least though. What sort of grades is he likely to get?

Bear in mind most unis are open campus and won't mind if he wants to have a look around on a non-open day. (He should check first though!)

lazymumofteenagesons Tue 14-Jun-11 18:42:17

Just want to say don't worry about posters saying you should let him get on wih it. All kids are different and as long as the end decsion is his it makes no difference whether you researched the place or not. And if its easier if ypu take him to the open day go ahead. Better to help out than he doesn't get round to it and misses out.

A friends son is at Nottingham doing politics and very happy, his offer was AAB but this was in 2010. His insurance was Hull with ABB. I got the feeling that he liked the Hull course but didn't want to be quite so far away from home.

gingeroots Tue 14-Jun-11 19:16:43

Have you looked here
www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=3 ?

RosemaryandThyme Tue 14-Jun-11 19:28:25

Hello, could I offer the view similar to Ephiny that whilst Oxbridge might not be possible several of the more prestigious university's might be worth considering, LSE, Warick, Durham, Newcastle.

Hull, Southampton,Bournemouth,Keel etc just do not carry the CV leverage that the old red-bricks have, particularly in the tight-knit and highly competitive financial services sector.
Even more so given that an applicantion from a politics degree graduate would always be viewed as "non-relevant" ie not a business/accounting/finance subject.

Given that costs are so high across the board, and that approximately 40% of 18 year olds are now attending university, the progression to employment routes is vital.
I'm lecture in accountnacy at university and practice in one of the four large financial firms in London, we have over 200 applicants for every post (and we employ over 200 graduates every year) and I am regulalry amazed at the proportion of graduates who have non-relevant degrees and have at the time of selecting their degree course assumed (or been poorly advised) that simply having a good honours degree would open the doors to a commerce role. Perhaps some years ago it would have been the case but not now.

I would really urge your son (as with my own) to look beyond the end of the degree course to te role he wants and then to work backwards at how to gain exactly the qualifications and experiance that will truly open the world of oppotunity in the field he seeks.

natation Tue 14-Jun-11 19:30:52

How about the Netherlands? Maastricht..... it is mega cheap compared to the UK and very international. European law.

www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/web/Faculties/FL/TargetGroup/ProspectiveStudents/BachelorsProgrammes/EuropeanLawSchoolEnglishLanguageTrack.htm

Acinonyx Tue 14-Jun-11 19:45:47

Surely to goodness a 17 yr-old can get to an open day anywhere in the UK on their own confused. I did it - in the days when trains were reeeeaaaally slow. Go with him if you want - but if you can't - surely he can get himself there. If he 'can't get around to it' then he isn't really cut out for a high flying career like investment banking, is he?

You are welcome to beat me around the face with a wet fish if you catch me doing this for my dc. <<grumpy old woman emoticon>>

Hassled Tue 14-Jun-11 19:48:35

Semi-catered is definately the best bet assuming he's not someone who's completely competent with budgeting/cooking already (and few are, at 17/18). At least that way you know that if he runs out of money he'll still have a meal, which I found very reassuring.

teacherwith2kids Tue 14-Jun-11 19:53:57

I understand from friends who work in universities that it is now the norm for parents to attend with their children on open days - so whether or not we did it by ourselves (I remember trains to Durham and York and a teacher taking me to Oxford, my dad did take me to Cambridge but only because he was there for a business trip anyway) it is now the case that most universities gear their open days to parents + their child, not to the child alone.

Obviously if the OP can't take her child, then he should go on his own, but those posters saying 'going by themselves should be expected' do not reflect what is currently happening on the ground.

DamselInDisarray Tue 14-Jun-11 19:56:08

I'd argue that any DC who is unable to take it upon themselvez to research their own course and university (especially these days when all you have to do is google in the first instance) is frankly not ready to go to university. They won't 'miss out', they'll just wait until they're actually ready for the kind of independence that will be expected of them when they get there.

Yes, you can help them to think about the different options they find and to identify what questions to ask when they get there, but it's really important to let them get on with it themselves. Getting the train/bus to an open day is a useful experience for someone who is considering living there on their own for 3 years. Even if you feel that you need to drive them to an open day (presumably because it's an annoying to get to campus university or very far away), leave them to it once they get there. Do not helicopter around them all day and absolutely do not interrogate the staff on their behalf. It doesn't impress us, at all.

I'm not saying the OP will do any of this, but you'd be amazed at how many parents do treat it like their choosing a prep school for their pfb.

DamselInDisarray Tue 14-Jun-11 19:59:06

Teacher: yes loads come with their parents (who act like it's their decision) so universities have had to start catering to this. They didn't choose to and none of the staff are enormously impressed by it.

I went to uni at 16 and I went to the open days and interviews myself, even the ones that were hundreds of miles away from home. If I was going to live there, I had to be able to visit on my own first.

Lilymaid Tue 14-Jun-11 20:05:46

Yes, I went to open days with both DCs - somewhat against my own belief that they should get on with it themselves as I did back in the year dot. One DC did go to a couple of open days with friends who had cars, the other could scarcely be bothered ... knew it all!
Rosemary & Thyme - although there are some universities that are more prestigious than others, there are not unlimited places at them. If an applicant isn't going to get AAA or AA*A they will go to a university such as "Hull, Southampton,Bournemouth,Keel" (sic) and will get a job outside the Big 4/investment banking - there are such jobs and there is an existence outside that rarified level. (Southampton is a Russell Group university and in my ignorance, I believed it was well thought of for many subjects).

mrswoodentop Tue 14-Jun-11 20:07:14

My ds is looking at politics for 2012,we are taking to some open days,mostly because distance means overnight stay and he and dh are making a bit of a road trip of it,others he is going on the train.Get a railcard and book tickets in advance and you can get some good bargains on tickets .

He is thinking of Durham ,Leeds ,Sheffield ,York,Nottingham and Newcastle,at least thats todays selection hmm

We do not intend to attend "together " but i think dh might do a little research on costs and boring stuff whilst ds will concentrate on facilities,course etc and general feel .Definitely separately!

Out of interest how many open days do you think it is reasonable to attend,should they visit all the ones they are seriously thinking of applying to ?When i applied I don't think I went to any pre application days but that was in 1983sad

Acinonyx Tue 14-Jun-11 20:09:08

I know this teacher but I am frankly appalled all the same. I imagine the hike in fees will only make things worse - it really will be like choosing a prep school.

RustyBear Tue 14-Jun-11 20:11:33

DS did History and Politics at Warwick - he needed AAB, though, with one of the As in History. He went to all the open days by himself, or with friends and sorted it all out himself- I was allowed to proof-read his personal statement, but didn't have any other input.

Since graduating with a 2:1 he's has a lot of internships, some paid, some unpaid but proper jobs are few and far between -why pay a proper wage when you can get a continuous stream of cheap interns? DS had originally hoped to get into the civil service, but that possibility died with the election. Hopefully by the time the OP's DS is job-hunting, prospects will be better...

Acinonyx Tue 14-Jun-11 20:12:13

Lilymaid - as far as I'm aware Southampton is well thought of for many subjects confused

Waswondering Tue 14-Jun-11 20:15:38

R&T - your post surprised me. I work in a careers dept of a uni and recently met with the grad recruitment team from two of the "big four" who reiterated and reiterated that "any discipline" was acceptable as they provide on the job training: therefore they said candidates did not have to have a commercial/accounting/finance degree to gain entry onto the graduate schemes, but anthropology or zoology were acceptable too.

Anyway - op all the best to your son and I'd agree with him making some independent forays .... and perhaps taking you for a second visit.

Re halls - fully catered can be a good bet in first year - at least you'll know he's eating!!

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