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Offers, firm and insurance

(89 Posts)
Isthiscorrect Fri 28-Feb-14 08:01:33

Ok I'm a little bit confused and need help to understand this.
Ds has 5 offers, very fortunate I know. Realistically he applied to one prestigious (not Oxbridge) uni not expecting to get accepted. However he did get accepted. The problem is because it's so respected everyone (not me and dh) expects him to automatically put that as his first choice. The issue, as we understand it from the uni website, student room etc, is it seems this uni doesn't offer the uni experience in the way most other unis do. Since before he even completed his UCAS he always wanted to go to uni B. But now he is swayed, partly by the opportunities uni A will offer and partly by the name on his CV.

The real problem though is uni B who gave him a lower offer than all the others, who all gave the same offer. So he has to put uni B as his insurance, which means, I think, the other uni will be his firm. However he is expected to achieve higher than even his firm. So if he does his best he doesn't get to go to the uni he wants?

I'm not sure I've explained this clearly but I really am struggling to articulate and feel I may have overlooked something obvious?

alreadytaken Sat 01-Mar-14 12:44:58

I dont often post on mumsnet now but follow the trials of the empty nest thread. The comment about Cambridge bothered me.

Cambridge doesn't care if GSCEs are less than stellar. It is very interested in AS levels and 95% would almost certainly have got your son an interview. I dont know the other unis and I'm not wasting time finding out - but I'd just like to throw into the mix that if he gets 3A*s he could take a gap year and have a good shot at Cambridge.

I have friends whose children have dropped out of London universities and of my child's friends this year one is happy and one seems to be lonely at weekends as people go home a lot. There is no doubt that accommodation there is much more expensive.

Take a good look at the employment statistics for the two universities and the type of employment graduates get.

Slipshodsibyl Sat 01-Mar-14 13:42:47

I second Alreadytaken's comment . If he has AS levels which average 95 UMS, he will likely need c/d grades at A2 to get AAB . Accidents can happen but I doubt that he will be troubled by any if the offers he is holding.

creamteas Sat 01-Mar-14 20:20:45

One thing to note, don't choose a uni based on doing one or two specific modules in second or final year.

Modules can be changed as the curriculum is updated, and specialized options can be subject to available staff.It is quite common for options to not run if staff leave or get a big grant so they are not teaching.

Isthiscorrect Sun 02-Mar-14 02:47:00

Thank you from ds and myself for all your help. I have gently mooted the possibility of a gap year if he gets the A*'s. He had already thought that he would work on the election campaign (he wants to study politics).

Regarding actual modules, he chose the unis he did because they offered the modules he wanted. We didn't think (stupidly) that they wouldn't offer them in years 2 and 3. Obvious I suppose when you think about it. I really hope they don't change significantly.

Educatingme Sun 02-Mar-14 08:15:17

Do, do be careful with choosing a Uni based on modules. They may very well not be on offer if they are niche options that depend on a specific staff member. More to the point, the description that is published is not always that good a guide. And his interests will evolve over the course.

Certainly worth going round again for Cambridge if he gets A*s but do bear in mind that GCSEs do matter as a tie breaker between strong candidates, it's a slight overstatement to say Cambridge isn't bothered at all.

Given he is studying politics, not economics, my advice would be even more that he should seriously consider University A. Getting a job matters too.

Educatingme Sun 02-Mar-14 08:19:10

Forgot to make the point that, if he actually wants to go into politics in some ways, Uni A he will meet more people with similar interests, it will be a more powerful network for him. And they are likely to have more interesting internship opportunities, external speakers, links for years abroad, etc, in that field.

drspouse Sun 02-Mar-14 08:26:24

If you have a higher and a lower offer and at results time you get the higher offer but have decided the second university is your real favourite, the first place should release you - happened to a couple of people we know. Uni 1 doesn't HAVE to release you but they'd be daft to insist on you going when you don't want to go there.

Shootingatpigeons Sun 02-Mar-14 13:24:19

Educatingme And once at uni they may also discover the academic delivering those modules is boring, overly stringent, given to organising breakfast time tutorials or mad wink

I do think the general nature of the modules offered is worth considering, if they match someone's particular interests, but agree on specifics.

SlowlorisIncognito Sun 02-Mar-14 19:05:05

drspouse I am sorry but you are misinformed. As soon as the firm choice confirms your offer, you lose the insurance place. You can ask to be released, but you would have to reapply to the insurance place via clearing and they may no longer have space for you. It is normally possible to drop your firm and firm your insurance before results day, but even this is not technically guarenteed by the UCAS system.

Any option that involves being released by your firm on clearing day is not a good one. It can take up to a week or even longer to get released, as the university will be very busy. This will cause you to miss out on places in clearing.

If he really wants uni B then he should firm it. If he is miserable at uni A for three years it is unlikely he will perform to the best of his ability.

drspouse Sun 02-Mar-14 20:25:10

In that case I'm guessing these are either people who didn't quite make their firm offer (so were just waiting for the firm Uni to see if they were going to be a bit lenient), or they did it before results day, but in August rather than March.

So a little bit longer to decide, in the latter case.

BeckAndCall Mon 03-Mar-14 06:58:29

I've just trawled through the other thread and I can really feel your problem, OP.

The prestigious uni is not one that you turn down lightly by any stretch of the imagination. Even if your DS had applied to Cambridge and got an offer, it would not be unheard of to turn them down in favour of this uni for this subject.

Your DS's preferred uni is lovely - and the student accommodation is my favourite of all the ones I've ever visited with my DC ( 3 of them) and was my DDs insurance so I know a student would be happy there.

But longer term, if your DS wants to work in politics,for instance, the difference between them is huge.

But I too would also have major reservations about my DD living there and as you say, the student experience is very different from a campus uni.

Just make sure your DS gets info from actual students about the life there before he turns them down. I'd say, turn down the prestigious one because he DOESNT like it, rather than accept the big campus one just because he DOES like it.

BeckAndCall Mon 03-Mar-14 07:21:34

Here's another thought ( I just had whilst in the shower) - and discard this if it won't apply but do you think your DS might do post grad work?

If so he could maybe go to the campus uni where he'll have the student experience he's looking for, get a first ( !) then go to the other uni for his post grad studies when he's older and wiser and you and he will both be happier with him living in the smoke? ( speaking as mum of a DS who is about to do just that) .

Slipshodsibyl Mon 03-Mar-14 10:42:48

This is a hard one. I would be interested to know where the other 3 offers are from. The prestigious university does have drawbacks for undergrads. It has a very high rep overseas (I know the school I think your son attends) so you are possibly getting more pressure to firm it than if you were at a UK school. A young relative of mine turned down an offer from there, reapplied the following year and is at Oxbridge. I thought he did the right thing.

Beck and Calls idea is a good one if his heart lies with choice B.

Slipshodsibyl Mon 03-Mar-14 10:53:15

I've re read the thread. If, as seems very possible, given his AS UMS ( sorry, don't want to jinx him by saying that) he might outperform his predictions in August. If so a gap year and a new application would be a good solution. He would also have moretime to visit different universities and decide.

Shootingatpigeons Mon 03-Mar-14 11:54:26

I haven't read the other thread but if uni A is the uni I think it is then it is hardly a small specialist institution and I really do not understand all this negativity. The big names in London do offer an amazing student experience, it isn't quite so much on a plate as in a campus uni, but they still have a huge range of extra curricular and the capital city offers so much more in the way of opportunities to get involved in culture and especially politics.

When small and specialist was mentioned I assumed somewhere like the Courtauld where the students get a bar and some yoga classes and that is about it grin or that hippy uni that is the academic worlds answer to the Gaza Strip / Kowloon where they get upset if they are stopped from smoking weed in the bar wink

My earlier comment that it will still be there for postgrad still stands but he must go and visit it and talk to current students. Find out where they live, what their costs are, what their lives are like. Lots of DDs peers have gone there and had a fantastic time.

London really isn't the big scary place for students some people seem to percieve it to be, I was far more concerned about my DDs being close to certain parts of Leeds and Nottingham I saw on visits than I am about where my DD has chosen to live in London. Obviously not Kensington and Chelsea but places like Camden, Shoreditch and Batterea are popular with students and there are plenty of student properties and plenty of shift work if finance is a problem. They tend to cluster in certain areas and support each other just like they do at other universities, the same students nights in clubs etc.

senua Mon 03-Mar-14 12:12:46

I haven't read the other thread but if uni A is the uni I think it is then it is hardly a small specialist institution and I really do not understand all this negativity.

Do they do Science? Do they do Engineering? Do they do History? Do they do Languages? That huge swathes of disciplines that he will not encounter.
It's not healthy for policy wonks to only mix with other policy wonks.

Shootingatpigeons Mon 03-Mar-14 12:40:35

It's not the institution I am thinking of then blush They definitely do History, rather well, and you will hear a lot of languages and mix with a lot of people passionate about the problems faced by their own countries, cultures and regions. No shortage of Scientists and Engineers in the vicinity either. My DD is a Scientist and has a lot of friends there. But it is second in the league tables for Politics? Hence my thinking it was the institution being discussed.

Educatingme Mon 03-Mar-14 12:56:12

shooting it may well be the one you have in mind. Uni A does history, geography, anthropology, law, philosophy, environmental studies, sociology and languages as well as the economics and politics which it is strong in. And all first years take a general course in social sciences.

I think one big issue is that Uni is a transition. So students often pick a Uni almost as if they were picking A level choice. Its not quite, "do I like the teacher and are my mates doing it?" but "do I like the module and whats the campus like?" is close. By the end of the course they are thinking as adults and looking more at employment and careers, so then they will be asking "what internships and placements did I get? what inspiring external speakers did I hear? where do I want to take this"

Anyone asking the second set of questions is likely to get a more compelling response on Uni A than on B. not that there is anything wrong with B,; it's just that A is so very strong.

Educatingme Mon 03-Mar-14 12:57:46

on the advice to do graduate study: be warned that there is very little funding out there for taught graduate study in the social sciences, so its potentially a very expensive way to do it.

Educatingme Mon 03-Mar-14 13:06:09

And I should just mention that Imperial doesnt do history, or languages apart from "French for science" with a science option, or indeed anything in the Humanities and Social Sciences: it just does STEM and medicine, but people dont usually see it as niche.

Uni A is small, of course. But I dont think it is as restricted as people are implying.

BTW I dont work there smile (I work at a rival Uni)

Shootingatpigeons Mon 03-Mar-14 13:25:05

The point is that the London unis do mix, especially where the specialism might very much skew the social circle. So at Imperial parties you are apparently very likely to encounter drama and music students from the nearby institutions.

On the political front at the moment they are all marching in tandem as well. Last time I crossed Russell Square there was a large procession under an LSE flag presumably marching to offer solidarity with UCL or SOAS or ULU ......

These sorts of activities .

venturabay Mon 03-Mar-14 14:22:48

Agree that this idea that those who miss out on a top uni for undergrad can always go for postgrad is overstated. Places for postgrad at Oxford and Cambridge etc are not ten a penny and good luck to those who think arts and humanities funding is easily procured or to those who think even one postgrad year is cheap, even for a home student.

I've also taken care to emphasize to my DC that a First is not something you should devote your undergrad years to obtaining or you could risk messing up completely.

Shootingatpigeons Mon 03-Mar-14 14:41:59

Ventura My comments come from having done a Masters recently. All of my peers were coming either straight from university, post a period of working or researching abroad, some had worked in the UK and none, I am pretty certain were doing it via the Bank of Mum and Dad (or maybe the couple who turned up for part of the first term and were never seen again were). I was the only one over 30, and it was no different when I did my first Masters aged 30. They were working part time, or had worked to save up, or had got funding (those mainly already had firm PhD plans). A lot of my friend's children are now doing the same, often going back to do Masters after a period in work to sharpen up their CVs to get into the careers they really want. Few of DDs' peers are emerging into any sort of firm graduate career path, almost all are embarking on building up CVs with internships, work experience or Masters and working to fund those activities (or travel)

I agree with Educatingme that with an eye on career prospects (and indeed the development of his political skills and beliefs) then Uni A seems a no brainer but that if Uni B is what he wants for now, he may in any case find himself seeing postgrad as a route to whatever his chosen career is.

Actually the one student I know carving out a career in politics, after various paid internships with US think tanks and political organisations, came from a law degree and is now on a scholarship doing a specialist Masters at a US uni. Again none of this funded by the Bank of Mum and Dad.

Educatingme Mon 03-Mar-14 15:07:31

Few of DDs' peers are emerging into any sort of firm graduate career path, almost all are embarking on building up CVs with internships, work experience or Masters and working to fund those activities (or travel)

This is a really key thing. The question is, is that how the world is now, with almost everyone needing a PGT degree on top of their first degree?

Or is it something that happens more to people graduating from some Unis and some subjects?

I think it's a bit of both, but it does seem to be far, far more common than when we were all at Uni (for those of us who did that) to do a master's year.

But as the numbers doing masters increase, so it is increasingly hard to find the funding to do it. If he goes with working PT, doing internships for a bit, etc etc and then funding a masters himself, that can be a long and frustrating road. But it's also a road that he might find easier starting out from Uni A, ironically, because of the quality of the work experience they are likely to offer him while he's there.

Needmoresleep Mon 03-Mar-14 16:49:25

DS is still waiting on University A, but would be delighted to get a place.

Partly because the course content, rigour and reputation mean that any post-grad application is likely to be well received.

London is different and it wont be a cosy campus life. However there is a hidden student world, with all sorts of discounts etc and amazing cultural and other opportunities. The world our children are growing up into is tough, competitive and international. Going to a highly ranked institution with a competitive international cohort in a major world city, can only help employability. I studied in London and we sort of knew we were more streetwise and ready for employment. Certainly if he is interested in politics, London is where it happens.

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