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Best Education money can afford - from start to finish.

(121 Posts)
mirtzapine Fri 08-Nov-13 14:55:28

This isn't meant to be intense or anything, what I'm looking for is some direction, advice and information.

I was fortunate enough to have two very intelligent grandparents who helped me a lot. I went to a pretty bad (state) school that didn't help much. I also spent a lot of time bunking school, sitting in the local library where the Head Librarian was a former house-master of a well known boarding school in the west country. He took a lot of time with me knowing my grandparents and knowing the reasons I bunked school. I used my part-time job money to pay for 'o' levels at night school that got me into the grammar school sixth from. From there to university and on to post grad.

The downside of my "unconventional" education is that the basics of effective study, doing homework, mocks for exams &c.bypassed me, so its always been a real struggle for me to study and sit exams, by some means or other, I've passed them.

I have no intention of being a "Tiger Parent", but I would like my two dd's to have the best groundings possible from schooling, so that in the future the world will be their oyster - educationally speaking, the pick of the litter, so to speak when it comes to Universities and courses.

Financially, I've worked that bit out, projecting inflation, cost of living and ancillary costs over the next 23 years based on the three London Schools I'd like them to go to and the four RG Universities to doctoral level.

Sounds a bit harsh, eh! mapping out their lives like that. That's not the intention, the intention is to plan the best possible. if they choose to go on different paths - b'ezrat Hashem (shrugs shoulders).

My Question:
So from experience, knowledge and understanding, what do people consider necessary to ground them on the right paths to educational success?

wordfactory Thu 14-Nov-13 08:32:19

Oh acid whilst that's a slight risk, it really isn't that much of a problem. More middle class angst.

It's funny how if you're very poor and your parents do everything in their power to propel you out of poverty and into the middle classes, they're never seen as too pushy or damaging. They're legends.

aciddrops Thu 14-Nov-13 08:02:48

Yet at the school gates I meets loads of parents who are going; "Bajit IS going to be a Barrister", "D'nisha WILL be a Doctor", "Yosep IS going to be an accountant", "Sophie WILL be a vet" and then go on about it.

When bajit and D'nisha have a nervous breakdown at the age of 19 you will see how their ridiculous snobby parents have damaged them.

summerends Wed 13-Nov-13 16:06:28

Thanks Word, definitely think last one is very important.
There is a balance between persistence (hard work towards a set objective) and flexibility ie try another path or acquire a different skill set.
Striking the right balance must be a matter of instinct or good judgement which is also an important skill to acquire?

mirtzapine Wed 13-Nov-13 12:16:56

There are many jobs where PhD would be beneficial.
Policy advisor to the WHO, Analyst at the European Commission on Human Rights and Democracy, Quantitative Analyst, Scientist for Pharmaceuticals, Bio-technology, Field Archaeologist for the British Museum. There is quite a long list.

My first ever Boss has three Phd's because he wanted to work for NASA as an astronomer and he did before becoming the MD of the R&D arm of a technology company.

And as for business and Economics, DD1 has already tried that at 6, she'd seen a cartoon where they had a Lemonade Stand (y'know the American thing). So she set about making the lemonade, she and her four year old sister set up a little table, with glasses and a bowl and tried to sell her lemonade to passers by. Of course no one wanted to buy it, this being the UK and all and we don't have that tradition. Her little hopes were dashed, but a couple of weeks later she bounced back and had another try.

Again, there is no fixed goal, just a general provision that encompasses a broad spectrum.

wordfactory Wed 13-Nov-13 11:43:39

summer it is my firm belief that resilience and Flexibilty are two of the most important factors in leading a successful life. Too few people exhibit those characteeristics. But how to instil them? First, lead from the front. Show your DC how resilient and flexible you are. Let them see you getting out of your comfort zone. Second, let your DC experience failure. Too many parents try to protect their DC from any and all disappointment. Third, let your DC experience hard graft. A child's life doesn't have to be a non stop glitter fest of fun and magic. Hard graft never killed anyone. Fourth, teach your kids to laugh at themselves. People who take themselves too seriously will always find change difficult.

aciddrops Wed 13-Nov-13 11:40:16

Don't you think its better to provide for doctoral level, even if they don't use it. Than them wanting to go that far and I can't provide!

Can someone tell me what the point of having a PHD is? I understand it helps if you want to be a university lecturer but apart from that, is one demonstrably beneficial to have?

I do not understand the life plan you make for your kids. Don't you want to see what they are good at first? I don't think you should have such fixed aims for them.

wordfactory Wed 13-Nov-13 11:19:35

cory I agree t that pushing Dc in the wrong direction is wrong. But no one is suggesting that. Rather we are advocating opening pathways and the same way that we might introduce our DC to music and sport, why not business and economics?

mirtzapine Wed 13-Nov-13 10:24:44

The expectations are equally on the parents, we are expected to send them to "decent" schools, and the expectation to support them and just how do we meet these expectations? I'd like my children to get an education better than my own, I would like to have an expectation that educational standards have risen from my day.

"Just" sending them is one thing, but you're missed out something that's more important. Hope, hope for a better future, hope, that by giving them a leg up early on with education we will give them that better future. Hope that by encouraging them to explore things via education they will find a path in life. Hope that it will give them the confidence to not be afraid of trying and challenging.

But, bear this one thing in mind. There is little that I can control in life, I won't be able to control how my DD's respond to an education, I won't be able to control their life choices (some I'll disprove of but I'll keep that to myself). But, I can give them access to the best education possible - what that is I'm not sure of - and hope that they will make use of it.

Ubik1 Wed 13-Nov-13 09:23:38

It's tough for kids these days. All these expectations. Ticking boxes, performing so that adults can feel good about themselves.

Just send them to a decent school and support them and love them.

cory Wed 13-Nov-13 09:11:39

I have known people who were very unhappy because they were pushed into careers which did not match their natural abilities. Academics who hated teaching for instance. Or business people who did not have that natural risk taking characteristic. Or (lower down the scale) carpenters with two left hands.

Yes, you can be taught things but if you always do them less well than the people around you who have a natural flair, it is going to dent your self confidence. (and also be very irritating for your boss)

The reason my own sibling group have ended up so happy is that we are all doing things that we naturally do rather well.

I am a good teacher, I can go to work happily in the knowledge that if I only put in the right effort I will be doing a good day's work. I would be a hopeless business woman because I am not a risk taker and bloody hopeless not naturally comfortable with figures. I would work hard because I am that sort of person, but I would probably be the kind of person who ended up losing vital contracts because I did not see the possibilities.

My db otoh who started the business would have been very unhappy in any kind of academic career as he loathes having to explain things. He is not good at it and he absolutely does not enjoy it. He would probably also be unhappy in a business career of the type where you have to make presentations and engage closely with clients. He has done well because he has found himself a niche where he does not have to do that, but where his natural flair for business and opportunities as well as his talent for technological inventions come into their own.

summerends Tue 12-Nov-13 20:58:09

Just caught up with this thread, some interesting perspectives and I also thought corey's post was great, particularly with the longterm view. I suppose education and home life ideally open up possibilities together with supplying memories (hopefully good) and friendships. However to optimise chances of happiness and productivity longterm, installing resilience and flexibility (without damaging self esteem) must be valuable . How do others approach that and how much is actually under our control as parents?

losingtrust Tue 12-Nov-13 19:53:02

My dad persuaded me to work on his chicken selling run every Sat. Not the most glamorous part-time job but it gave me a good start at 15 and a bit of money in the pocket at sixth form. Any work experience will help.

losingtrust Tue 12-Nov-13 19:50:11

I am starting a little business on the side as an education for the DCs. I suspect Dd will be more into it than DS but it is part of their education to learn about money. I had one business that struggled and learnt more from that than any other job or any part of my degree apart from economics which is a basic. It will also give them some work experience and show them that despite all the exam passes in the World to get on in life you need to be able to muck in. Who know what they will do with it but the experience should help in most carers.

wordfactory Tue 12-Nov-13 19:39:52

I agree that many people are risk averse. In fact, I suspect ^most6 people are.

I wonder though, how much of this is a natural state of affairs for humans to protect themselves, and how much is people often not understanding the risks involved and thus often over thinking them?

losingtrust Tue 12-Nov-13 19:37:25

Completely agree Happy.

happygardening Tue 12-Nov-13 18:49:47

I sort of agree entrepreneurs are made not born but IME some people are natural risk takers and others risk adverse and that it is hard to overcome risk adverseness. To be a successful entrepreneur amongst other things you need need to be a risk taker.

NumptyNameChange Tue 12-Nov-13 15:52:24

i think you mean mine mirt. your comment preceding mine made me think this was a by stealth thread re: posting your partners views, getting us all to disagree and then using it as evidence you were right. apologies for getting that wrong.

i am baffled by the choice of a mispelling of an antidepressant as a username though.

mirtzapine Tue 12-Nov-13 15:07:52

Well put wordfactory, donkey's years ago I did a HND in Business and Finance after my degree. I won a prestigious national award from a High Street bank in Entrepreneurialism, I wrote a wonderful business plan to take a beachside cafe into being an European wide franchised chain. Wow, big pat on the back there, am I entrepreneurial? Not in the slightest.

To paraphrase von Molke, "No plan survives first contact..." whether its a business plan, a project plan or some trite design for my dd's lives based on hubris. My idealised notion of what I would like for them, isn't going to pass the first test. Thing is (and I already knew this when I wrote my OP), that plans only work, if they are revised, modified and adjusted to fit as time goes by.

'S'kay, SthingMustBeScaringThemAway, It wasn't alluding to you. Actually there was only one bitchy comment, which stood out like a sore thumb and was a bit boggling. I do agree that there needs to be some form of struggle that presents itself as a challenge. I hope the dd's get that, something that makes them determined to succeed.

wordfactory Tue 12-Nov-13 13:33:26

OP, I was reading an interview with Peter Jones in the Sunday Times this weekend, and he said something I'm conviced to be true; entrepreneurs are not born, they are made.

Business is a skill and can be taught.

And of course, like anyhting else in life, some people will have more natural apitude than others.

However, most people never come even close to finding out if they have any aptitude! Business is seen as something that other people do.

Consequently, I think one of the best things you can do for your DC is give them a good grounding in economics, finance and how money works and grows.

SthingMustBeScaringThemAway Tue 12-Nov-13 13:28:25

<Desperately hoping first post didn't read as "pointlessly bitchy....>

I didn't elaborate but I do strongly believe what I said about an element of struggle kind of helping things along and perhaps makes the journey sweeter.

When I think back to the stories my parents told of their childhoods and youth - very different to each other but similar in taking a leap in the dark - I always feel a complete failure. They gave me the full benefit of their wisdom, hard work and adventurous spirit; and the best education they could earn. But I've never emigrated, by myself, to an unknown country, never studied for a degree in middle age, never inspired countless people to strive harder. Because I didn't need to. And I know absolutely, now, that their lives have been finer than mine.

But of course, one can't impose artificial struggle.

mirtzapine Tue 12-Nov-13 13:08:24

Thank you cory for that well though-out and written piece. Much of what you said as guideline plan, is what we are already doing. If the dd's turn out the way yours have done I'd be more than content and happy.

My secret hope is that they would have the entrepreneurial flair that I never had and the gumption to make it happen. Or that they are open minded and enquiring with the aim that they get the grounding necessary to make the world their oyster. Both of those aspects, I think, would benefit from a bloody good education which would be an aid on their chosen paths.

wordfactory, I didn't think I'd got a particularly hard time, there was the odd pointless bitchy comment which says more about the poster, than anything. There were many valid points, I feel that my OP was taken more literally than I expected. It was only intended to express a concept, an idealization, a notion that over time as a parent I would have certain responsibilities and duties to perform, in regards to my children. Provisioning for education being one of them. Just in the same way I could take the data for the national shopping basket and cost of living increases over the past 25 years and map them, linearly, over the next 25 years. If I stuck to that plan I'd probably starve my family to death within three years.

wordfactory Tue 12-Nov-13 08:35:33

OP, you were alwaysbound to get a hard time here on MN grin.

The accepted orthodoxy here is that DC should be left to find their own way, that parents should want nothig more than their offspring to be happy.

It is a rather delicious mixture of hypocrisy, arrogance and complacancy wink.

However in RL, (and here on MN) there are plenty of parents who plan consciously for their DC's future. This does not mean we map it out, but that we ensure that every opportunity is given to our DC and that every door remains invitingly wide open.

It's all about ensuring your DC have choices. Meaningful choices.

cory Tue 12-Nov-13 08:04:48

This is how it panned out in our family of four (parents academic, one parent very musical and with musical ambitions for her children):

i) eldest child turned out to be less academically gifted than expected. He struggled and was very unhappy with parental expectations for many years but eventually found his own path through a manual job which enabled him to work his way up. He is now comfortably off and happy in a career his parents would never have thought of and which could not have been accessed through the education they had in mind for him. But his self esteem is not the best.

The money that turned out to be useful here was partly shared family memories (always good) and partly money for practical stuff like deposit on house.

ii) second child turned out to be academically gifted and interested in pretty well the ways expected.

Money spent on extra-curricular learning and residentials was welcome and useful for future career. Though to be fair, future career has not been particularly glamorous or remunerative.

iii) third child both musically and academically gifted. Worked hard on musical career, showed talent, and then suddenly had to give up due to unsuspected minor disability.

He wouldn't say that money was wasted- but it didn't lead to the expected result either. Money spent on his academic development (foreign language trips) came in handy for a Plan B.

iv) left university after one term and set up own business in a field parents would never have thought of. Easily the most successful family member from a financial pov and as far as I know happy with his choices.

The money that came in handy was not money that was spent on his formal education/musical instruments etc but money he was able to make by selling said items to buy what he realised was important instead. But again- shared family memories no doubt of lasting value.

cory Tue 12-Nov-13 07:51:55

On a more positive note, if I had money to spare this is what I'd do:

i) spend substantial sums on an interesting and educational home environment - this would include books and trips to the theatre for me and interesting outings for dhas well as quality children's books and toys. If I had an instrument I would play it, if I had an outside hobby I would cultivate it.

I would be working on the assumption that a household where everybody enjoyed learning would be likely to provide the best intellectual environment.

ii) look round for a generally all-round excellent primary school.

I would not primarily be thinking about private or state here: I would look at individual schools. The school I would hope to find would be well run by a head I trusted, the discipline would be good without being stifling, the children would look as if they genuinely enjoyed learning and enjoyed being busy, the school would be good at communicating with parents and their pastoral care system would be thought-out and practical.

iii) introduce dc to a range of possible hobbies and interests to stimulate their minds and stretch them sideways.

I would set particular store by activities that require a certain amount of discipline- such as learning an instrument or ballet dancing or studying a foreign language- but which also have a social and/or imaginative aspect. I would make sure there was enough on offer to let dc find something s/he enjoyed as an individual.

iv) keep money aside in case dc eventually showed a specific or unusual talent beyond what the school could supply.

To be able to say at a later date, "yes I can see that you need to work at a much higher level and the money's there for that: you can have lessons from the maestro or the Olympic coach or whatever"; "yes, you can spend the summer in a Russian family to become really fluent in Russian", "yes you can take part in the residential biology course".

v) make interesting trips and outings as a family

Shared memories and active holidays can be a great way of encouraging learning.

vi) when it came to secondaries/Sixth form I would discuss the choice very clearly with the dc and make sure our choice answered to their dreams and interests as well as my natural desire for overall academic quality.

No, dc, you can't decide all on your own to go to lax-standard school because you like their uniform, but equally I can't decide all on my own that you are not to go to the school with the extended science programme because I have already decided you are going to study economics.

vii) keep money aside for educational travel/interviews/auditions/summer programmes/unusual work experience/university visits etc at secondary/Sixth Form level.

This, I find, is where it becomes both expensive and important.

viii) I would then ideally have a substantial sum of money to help them start in the world, but I would be very flexible about how it is spent.

One dc might need help with paying for university accommodation/books/food, another dc might decide to start a business (two close relatives of mine have done this instead of going to uni and have both been very successful), a third may need to travel to perfect skills before uni, a fourth may need a deposit on a flat, a fifth may need private education that comes more expensive than even university.

Minifingers Mon 11-Nov-13 10:28:37


Or you could be really lucky and have a really bright dc like mine, who shone in primary and ever since has stuck two metaphorical fingers up at me, the education system, and the world, and for whom my hopes have now been whittled down from imagining an amazing career for her to simply wanting her not to be excluded from school, not to get into trouble with the law, and her staying un-pregnant until she's 18.

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