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Advice re choosing a Uni help re accommodation

(26 Posts)
Newtothisunichoosinggame Thu 05-Feb-15 17:53:42

Username hopefully says it all.
Two questions:
DS is bright top 5% but has moderate to severe dyslexia which effects his organisational abilities, processing speeds very significantly, working memory badly and his confidence so needs TLC, he has looked at two universities. Uni A was very friendly, it was very organised all we spoke to staff students etc seemed very friendly and helpful, the staff for his chosen subject were very approachable, the students who act as welfare officers in the accommodation were really amazing, over seeing students, organising lots of activities, things DS1 would need, we all came away feeling this is the one, we nearly didn't bother to look at Uni B as it's wasn't a good day for us to go but as we booked it we went. He also has a good friend going there.
Uni B (requiring the same grades) was definitely more academic, the course was significantly more interesting, more specialised, the area DS is particularly interested in, DS loved it immediately but the staff in particular the staff in his chosen subject were defiantly less approachable, less friendly, the day was less organised, the welfare officers in the accommodation weren't as good we felt. But DS made it his first choice because he was so excited by the course. We're fine with this. Now he's beginning to wobble would Uni A "be more supportive and better for me personally?" Any thoughtS welcome.
Now I've Question about the choosing accommodation. Uni B have never stopped emailing him since he sent in UCAS form, we're going to the post offer open day at half term to have another look. We're also going back to Uni A for their post offer open day so obviously he hasn't accepted a place at either, this morning he received an email about accommodation from Uni B you can choose you accommodation next week, but how can we if we have met accepted a place? What happens if we leave it do you end up in a broom cupboard 5 miles away or the pent house flat at £300 per week? He's also still waiting to here from 1 Uni I thought perhaps erroneously that you didn't accept any offer until you'd heard from all of them.
Any help advise would be gratefully received.

BackforGood Thu 05-Feb-15 18:52:20

I guess it will depend on the individual university, but my ds could have applied for accomm from Feb, but didn't until May, and he still got his first choice of accomm. if that's any reassurance. They do (at many universities) give an assurance all 1st yrs who put it as their first choice will get accomm.

Difficult to answer your first Q, tbh, without knowing him, but I think his interest and enthusiasm would be the deciding factor.

MillyMollyMama Thu 05-Feb-15 19:26:31

You don't have to wait for all offers if you like the ones you have for firm and insurance choices . If you firm one now you will get a choice of accommodation . It is a type of bribe of course !!! I am not aware of my DDs unis having a welfare officer in the halls. Maybe we weren't looking . Post offer days give u a good opportunity to look in detail and I don't see why you can't rank the two after that. My DD hadn't heard from one of her choices by the end of April so you can be in for a long wait. She ceased to be interested in them! If the one you have not heard from was the favourite, I would hang on until the end of March. That is the normal deadline . Don't forget universities want to fill courses so they hassle and however friendly lecturers might seem at an open day, that may not be reality when they are really busy. You will just have to weigh up what is best . Course contents change if lecturers leave so sometimes choice is down to gut feeling.

Newtothisunichoosinggame Thu 05-Feb-15 20:01:23

Thanks very helpful. The reason why Uni B's course was more interesting is because it's ancient history rather than just plain history so hopefully lectures leaving etc won't be an issues.
I'm interested in the comment about welfare officer in halls, a few friends I've spoken too with DC's at university seemed to think this is normal so I just assumed it was. Uni B had welfare offices (2nd year students like Uni A) they were very pleasant but they just didn't seem so organised or organising.
We felt Uni A was just more caring all round the students we spoke to seemed to back this up.
Poor DS is really fretting about deciding. It's a big step for him he finds new environments difficult because of his poor processing.

FishWithABicycle Thu 05-Feb-15 20:08:46

Yes a lot of unis do open up accommodation choices to students who accept their offer (as firm choice) and yes this can mean that those who either are left with broom cupboards - so yes your ds needs to get his skates on and make a choice.

I'd stick with uni A if it was me. There's no point being on a more exciting course if the support structures to get through it aren't there. I'd rather graduate successfully from a slightly more pedestrian course than be a dropout from a whizzy course.

TheWoollybacksWife Thu 05-Feb-15 20:24:15

Would you be happy saying which universities your DS is choosing between? There is bound to be an MNer with first hand experience of the pastoral care and possibly even the course.

I can understand your DS's enthusiasm. My DD is an Ancient History student and loves her course/Uni.

Newtothisunichoosinggame Thu 05-Feb-15 20:34:36

DS is reluctant for me to name the uni's so I promised I wouldn't!!
Fish I thought this is what DS thought up until 1/2 an hour ago but he's just spent 20 mins telling me how exciting Ancient history is, this level of animation from my slightly monosyllabic DS to his parents about anything associated with anything academia is rather out of character grin.

TheWoollybacksWife Thu 05-Feb-15 21:04:30

Perfectly understandable smile

OP I have sent you a PM

FishWithABicycle Thu 05-Feb-15 21:06:29

Sorry only just realised dither came out as either up above.

Sammy3 Thu 05-Feb-15 21:13:23

Woolly, which uni is your daughter at? DS has been set on studying ancient history for years. He's now looking at where as he's in year 12 so it's early days, but he noticed there aren't that many unis that offer the course.

Sorry, I can't offer any advice,OP, but I'll be watching this to see how what your DS decides & if he lets you say what the choices were.

TheWoollybacksWife Thu 05-Feb-15 21:22:44

Sammy she's at Leicester. I don't think they offer a straight Ancient History course - I know they do Ancient History and History and also Ancient History and Archaeology. She had an offer from Liverpool too.

Sammy3 Thu 05-Feb-15 22:27:04

Thanks, Woolly. He did mention some do ancient history & history. I suppose he'd consider that too. I'll let him know that your daughter is enjoying that at Leicester. Personal experience is always better than just reading a prospectus when making up a short list for open days.

senua Thu 05-Feb-15 22:35:15

Have you spoken to Support Services at the two Universities. It may be that the Department doesn't appear, on the surface, so good at welfare but has it 'enforced' / 'imposed' (IYSWIM) from central administration.

senua Thu 05-Feb-15 22:43:28

Also, was University A actually more caring or just better at PR/marketing? <cynical>

ishouldcocoa Thu 05-Feb-15 22:47:52

Can you go back and see them on non open days? That might give you a better idea.

poisonedbypen Thu 05-Feb-15 23:06:28

Can I jump in on this thread& ask a question? DD has had 4 offers and has an interview at her fifth. She has decided to accept two of the offers so doesn't want to go to the interview. She's having trouble finding out how to cancel the interview & when she tried to accept the offers on the UCAS site it said she couldn't do so unless she had heard from all give. Is this correct or has she misunderstood?

FishWithABicycle Fri 06-Feb-15 04:56:19

I think she's got to formally withdraw the application to university #5 - but it's been a long time since I was involved in the practicalities of ucas stuff and I don't know what the mechanism is for doing that (and especially how to make sure that she doesn't inadvertently withdraw her whole ucas application!).

it's certainly possible but ucas just have this mechanism in place so that university admissions people don't waste time assessing applications of people who have already settled on somewhere else.

But if she's certain then there's no point waiting - first year accommodation could be filling up fast at her preferred uni!

SecretSquirrels Fri 06-Feb-15 10:05:19

I may be cynical here but I suspect that a lot is down to the enthusiasm of those on duty on the open days. When it comes to the crunch there is no guarantee that the support will be as promised. What exactly was he hoping for in the way of actual practical help?
I think he should choose the course he wants and aim for getting accommodation on site.

MillyMollyMama Fri 06-Feb-15 20:47:31

Newtothisuni. Are you saying the welfare officers are 2nd year students who live in the Halls? If so, my DDs hall did have a couple of 2nd year students but they mostly organised freshers week for the hall and were there if you had a question in the early days but that was it. As they are students you cannot expect much! I agree that friendliness on open days is not what you will necessarily encounter because these students are not your flatmates!

As I said earlier, by the end of April, DD2 had still not heard from Brighton despite having an interview in February. She probably withdrew but accepted the two she wanted at that point so she could apply for halls on the first day applications opened, (1 May) Saved a lazy, unprofessional, university department from bothering with the formalities of UCAS.

Have you checked that Ancient History does not require Greek and Latin competence if this is a recent idea? Some courses do and a friend's DD found this impossible!

UptheChimney Fri 06-Feb-15 21:02:35

Uni B (requiring the same grades) was definitely more academic, the course was significantly more interesting, more specialised, the area DS is particularly interested in, DS loved it immediately but the staff in particular the staff in his chosen subject were defiantly less approachable, less friendly, the day was less organised, the welfare officers in the accommodation weren't as good we felt.

University B.

It's a no-brainer. Unless your DS wants a degree in people being nice to him. The possibly harsh fact is that in the working world, he is going to have to adjust & cope.

poisonedbypen Sun 08-Feb-15 18:00:33

Funnily enough it is Brighton! Will have a look at ucas tonight. Thanks & sorry for hijacking.

MillyMollyMama Mon 09-Feb-15 00:13:27

I wouldn't bother with Brighton unless it was her first choice. On my DDs course, it was still open for applications in late April, but they missed the UCAS deadline for decisions for existing applicants by a month. My DD was looking for their response from mid February until 30 April when she gave up. She decided she didn't want to go there at the interview but did want to know if she was going to get an offer. At the time of the Brighton interview she did hold two offers but obviously hadn't accepted either of them. They also made it clear, at the interview, that they wanted students to have done an Art Foundation but their prospectus said A level students were welcome and gave the UCAS score usually required in an offer. Utterly hopeless so avoid if it is the Art Department!

Newtothisunichoosinggame Thu 12-Feb-15 09:33:21

Hi I'd thought I'd update you. First if all thanks for all you thoughts. My DS and I have spent the last few day analysing in micro detail the two universities, we've read everything about every different module, we've read every possible review about the two universities, the formal and the informal, we've read about accommodation, lectures interests qualification you name it we've read it.
Both get very positive reviews from students but having read 500+ reviews of both, I'm beginning to think I know more about the universities than they do themselves, for Uni A the words "friendly, helpful, caring approachable staff" are repeated over and over again. DS lacks confidence and has in the past not exactly been treated sympathetically by members of the teaching profession who seem to think that dyslexia only affects reading and comprehension (these are both normal for him) so he struggles to ask for help. He is highly articulate with a photographic memory for detail and passionate about history. But he is super perceptive to others emotions, and reflects these back so if your unfriendly he becomes unfriendly etc, he has auditory problems and cannot filter out some noises e.g, clicking pens heals walking on hard surfaces, and super sensitive hearing harsh sounds in particular are magnified (he never plays loud music!) and he has a "massive discrepancy between his IQ and his processing" all this is "quite rare" until people get know him they don't understand why he looks very normal, can appear very able and knowledgable one minute and then frankly hopeless and distracted the next, he's so inconsistent and teachers have been quite unkind and intolerant in the past. When this happens his confidence plummets and he becomes afraid to ask for help and he retreats into himself. So he has decided to go with Uni A.
Good luck to all your DC's with their Uni choices.

Newtothisunichoosinggame Thu 12-Feb-15 09:52:47

Sorry meant to say about welfare officers. We went to look at the universities at the end of October so well after freshens week. The welfare officers were regularly organising activities so for example there was an inter house football match going on later that day, and a day of showing Disney films on the Sunday, the next Sunday it was a BBQ with fireworks and a day of Bond movies nothing of course was compulsory but for a child like my DS who wants to be part of things but can easily get lost in the crowd we felt these things would be beneficial.
I too am cynical about open days; cut my in half and Ive got cynic written through me caused by 15 years of DS struggling in education being ignored or blamed for something he can't help, over the years we've been promised so much but received so little. Obviously the student who showed us around were unlikely to be the ones who hated the place but I also talked to other students, those just flopping around in the accommodation, watched all the different staff etc and the general feeling of friendliness and the positive vibes given off by all the students was surprisingly consistent. The actual staff in the dept were just so friendly, they seemed very approachable, genuinely interested in DS, chatting to him for over 40 mins about the particular periods of history that interested him, the dept talk was excellent, yes it was a well organised impressive performance but DS felt the vibes between the individual staff was very good, they seemed to really like each other and were proud of their course. For him these things matter. Can fake this on such a grand scale? I suppose you can. But ultimately the only way to find out is to try it and see.

senua Thu 12-Feb-15 11:28:12

I was talking about a different sort of Support Services - making sure that he gets extra time in exams, non-medical helpers, that he gets Disabled Student Allowance, that he buys helpful hardware/software, etc.
Your description sounds more like help with organising their social life.

But he's made his decision so that's good. Hope he enjoys University

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