Fear of/ambivalence towards university?(29 Posts)
(I'm a Year 12 mum now, just not changed name --for a whole year--)
I'd be grateful for thoughts and advice please.
A bit of family background - DD1 never in any doubt about going to university, handled the whole process herself with school, arranged and attended open days on her own and basically told DH and I where she'd applied to once the UCAS form had been submitted. I only saw her Personal Statement when she cleared out her room last year and tossed over a copy she found in a pile of paper. She went to Oxford and graduated last year. Loved it and now doing an MA at UCL.
DS1 two years later again treated university as an obligatory next stage in his education, didn't go to any open days and was happy to choose universities which offered his preferred course, which was a fairly limited number. Because I insisted he did go to two post offer open days, albeit complaining bitterly. He has just completed his second year at Durham reading PPE and is very happy.
And now it is the turn of DD2. She has had a tougher time than DD1 and DS1 at school ( she has had CFS for the last four years). She goes to a different school than DD1 and DS1, and her school seems to take a much pushier approach towards the university application process, holding talks and sending emails and chasing up on open day plans. It is relentless.
DD2's CFS has brought with it anxiety issues as well as the overriding fatigue and "fogginess" which makes many challenges seem insurmountable. She doesn't share the same excitement of her friends at the thought of university and seems to want to bury her head in the sand and hope all the decisions she is expected to make will somehow go away. At the weekend she said "she knows she has to go" but doesn't want to think about it. I wondered if a Gap year would help, allowing her to concentrate on her A2s this coming academic year, lift the pressure of wider reading and aptitude tests and interviews and give her the chance to recover from her CFS before starting uni. She says she doesn't want to do this. I think the effort of opting out of the conveyor belt process is itself too much for her to contemplate.
Sorry this is long. Any thoughts or ideas?
Added to say, that in my experience, students who've had to fight to get to university, and particularly "mature-age" undergrads who've come back to university mid-life or mid-career, are generally fantastic students, a joy to teach, and what we're really here for.
I took a gap year (graduated last year) and I couldn't recommend it enough. I didn't even do anything particular in mine, just kept up my old Saturday job and a bit of part-time work here and there.
However, if I hadn't done it, I truly don't think I would have made it through university. I'd always done so well at school, worked so hard, but felt like I should go to uni, rather than really wanting to. The gap year made me really want to go, mainly because my Saturday job was so horrifically mind-numbing the thought of doing that for the rest of my days made me desperate to escape and actually do something.
It meant that I started uni really, really wanting to be there and has definitely not held me back in terms of being a year behind - I don't know anyone who has gained any real advantage by going a year earlier!
I'm just going into my 3rd year at uni and have a few friends in a similar situation to your DD.
Several of my friends wanted to do medicine at university, as I'm sure you know it is very competitive and despite all of them getting good grades and doing enough work experience only one of them got a place in the first year of applying. I think gap years are almost looked upon favourably when applying for medicine because it means that generally people have a lot more experience and a years more maturity.
Another friend of mine has anxiety and takes medication for it, she took a gap year before going to university, got a job and continued with her medication -I think having a year out and the job helped her a lot. She now gets on at uni fine and doesn't have any problems with her anxiety.
Several people I know have felt pushed into university, not necessarily by their parents, and as a result it's not what they really want to do. When they get to uni they lack the motivation to work and do well, because it was never their idea or ambition iyswim.
So, from these friend's experiences I would say to make it very clear to her she does not need to go to university - could she potentially do other non-uni courses? Encourage her to go to open days and get a feel for it, could she go and stay with one of her siblings to help her decide?
If she does decide that it is definitely what she wants to do then from what you said a gap year would probably be best for her as she can gain more experience and have more time to get her anxiety under control and get used to the idea of moving away from home.
I know how hard it is to try and work out what is best for someone when they are ambivalent - my sister is currently going through this at the moment and I think a lot of people do so you're definitely not alone with this.
Make sure she gets extensive (and I mean very extensive) work experience, both of general practice and hospital medicine before committing to medicine. Generally, across the board, morale is very low among doctors at the moment. It is not, in my view a good career choice any more, and I will not be encouraging my own DC to follow in my footsteps.
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