A bit worried about DS2 (2016 application)

(70 Posts)
EmmaWoodlouse Sun 04-Oct-15 09:30:25

Having 2 kids only 1 year apart has its advantages but having to go through all the uni application process 2 years in a row isn't one of them!

DS2 didn't do all that well in his AS levels but is aiming for three Bs at A level, which we think he can probably manage if he makes an effort. My concern is that he says he wants to do a subject that he's never particularly shown an interest in in the past - I think at some level he just thinks it's the most attainable with the subjects and grades he's likely to get. I don't think he's going to be able to write a particularly good personal statement though, as he's not going to have much to say about why he's interested in this subject, or how he's been pursuing this interest. (DS1 had done a few activities outside school that tied in with his chosen subject, DS2 hasn't really done any.) I think they'll be able to tell that he's not passionate about it, and with the not amazing predicted grades, he's not going to get many offers.

If I had the right to tell him what to do (which I don't believe I do) I would probably strongly urge him to take a year out so he has longer to work out what he really wants to do. I don't think DH is particularly keen on this idea, but it doesn't really matter because DS isn't either. He is adamant he just wants to go to uni even though he doesn't give any impression of really being very interested in it. He's supposed to be researching courses but never does much about it unless DH is breathing down his neck - so far he's signed up for one open day very close to home.

What, if anything, would you be saying to him him these circumstances?

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homebythesea Sun 04-Oct-15 09:50:11

I think you need to spell out the reality as per your OP. And a good start is employability figures for the course and the (frankly) lower rank institutions he is likely to be able to get in to. I strongly believe that it is a waste of time applying half heartedly for courses that are not going to lead anywhere- there are twice as many graduates as there are graduate level jobs! Have you looked into alternatives such as school leaver schemes? Many big companies and accohntancy practices have great schemes for post A level students.

And actually I think you do have a right to advise very strongly On the basis that to some degree you will be financing this.

Headofthehive55 Sun 04-Oct-15 10:11:50

He might gain enthusiasm when he attends an open day. My DD wasn't sure what she wanted to do until I took her to an open day at a uni near us. I dragged her round lots of courses, made her sit through lots of talks, until she said oh that's what I want to do. He could always apply late or go through clearing. With three B's people have been getting into good RG's through clearing.

EmmaWoodlouse Sun 04-Oct-15 10:36:57

Good point about the open day, maybe we should try to sneak into some other departments while we're there. I could see him ending up going through clearing, either in the first place or if he doesn't quite get the grades. One of my best friends only got her place through clearing and is now a deputy head teacher so I certainly wouldn't knock it.

homebythesea we've talked about college or apprenticeships but he just keeps saying he wants to go to uni. It's a fair point about us supporting him though. With two DC at uni we really won't want to be paying for one who doesn't really want to be there and I think that's something he should be made to consider.

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homebythesea Sun 04-Oct-15 10:57:09

Does he articulate exactly why he wants to go to Uni, or is it just that everyone else is? He needs to think what it will lead to (if anything)

He could aspire a bit higher than an apprenticeship

Look here for example - careers.marksandspencer.com/school-leavers

There are loads of top companies that offer these types of schemes. Schools don't push this route sadly.

homebythesea Sun 04-Oct-15 10:58:28

Another good resource

EmmaWoodlouse Sun 04-Oct-15 11:10:28


I don't know exactly why he wants to go, I suspect it's partly that he thinks the lifestyle would be fun, and partly that it gives him a bit longer to decide what he really wants to do.

I have been very careful to let both DC know that they don't have to go that route, as my own parents didn't really discuss any other options and although I did enjoy my uni experience, I kind of wish I had positively chosen it rather than just going with the flow.

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Headofthehive55 Sun 04-Oct-15 11:18:35

Try and find out what type if career he's interested in. The wrong course can be quite a mistake. My niece did biology "to keep her options open" but ended up wanting to do roles that nurses find relatively easy to get but would be almost impossible with a biology degree. A bit of serious thought early on as I am sure you will know pays benefits.

My DD didn't really get the hang of booking for open days until I took her to one, early sixth form then she did the rest herself and interviews.

homebythesea Sun 04-Oct-15 11:30:48

Has he done any work experience? It wasn't until my DS did a couple of placements that he crystallised his thinking about careers and choices etc and is now just about to submit the UCAS form! Prior to that he was wobbling about why exactly he should go to Uni (he's very money motivated so the prospect of earning straight away appealed) hence my research on school leaver schemes. As it turns out he now has a reasonably clear idea of what a degree in his chosen subject might lead to so it makes sense to him and I think it will allow a bit of growing up

EmmaWoodlouse Sun 04-Oct-15 11:36:21

Work experience is something that I would very much like him to pursue. His school doesn't seem to be in the habit of sending them all out at the same time, it's something people have to sort out for themselves. We don't really have any contacts in the area he currently thinks he's interested in, but it could be time for him or me to start ringing around. There's still time for it to make a difference (assuming the deadline is the same as last year).

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EmmaWoodlouse Sun 04-Oct-15 11:38:01

Actually it's his parents' evening next week so although his school doesn't automatically send people on work experience, we could ask if they know of any local employers that might be willing to have him, and also make an appointment with the careers person to talk about the implications of doing this subject.

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Headofthehive55 Sun 04-Oct-15 11:50:58

I think work experience is very valuable. It might confirm a choice, or just as important rule it out.

My DD wrote to lots of companies in her chosen field, ( at my insistence) one offered her a couple of hours? Work experience or was is a coup,e of days? Anyway they then offered her a work placement in the summer (paid) offered her for one next year...and have suggested they will interview her for a training contract when she finishes her degree.

You don't know where work experience might lead.

Perhaps put a post on Facebook, someone's partner, aunt etc might be in that field and can help.

What field is he hoping to go into?

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Oct-15 11:55:29

Get him to read this thread www.mumsnet.com/Talk/employment_issues/2479835-Venting-my-honours-degree-seems-worthless

It's a tough job market out there and if he doesn't have a clear plan about how his uni degree is going to help him into employment, then he might as well throw money out of the window. Meandering into a mediocre university course because he can't think of anything better could prove to be an expensive mistake.

Headofthehive55 Sun 04-Oct-15 12:01:43

Totally second what noble said.

EmmaWoodlouse Sun 04-Oct-15 12:09:59

hive I'm slightly afraid this might out me, but it's a form of engineering.

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2rebecca Sun 04-Oct-15 13:44:56

If he goes for a general engineering degree then the first year allows you to explore the different areas and narrow it down later. Engineering graduates have lower unemployment than others. My son is doing engineering and several close relatives are engineers.
On the downside it's an intensive degree if he's not sure about it. It's not like your 3 optional lectures a week arts degrees. There are a lot of assignments group work and practical work as well as the lectures and lots of maths. My son loves it but was sure he wanted to be an engineer.

Decorhate Sun 04-Oct-15 16:22:24

I did engineering in the dark ages. It is actually a good stem degree to do if you are not really sure what sort of work you want to do. For me, I liked the fact that there was a clear career path at the end if I stayed in engineering. But many classmates never actually worked as engineers or went on to do something different eventually.
There were a lot of contact hours, as previously stated. And you definitely have to be good at maths.
Depending on what type he wants to do, there are usually places in clearing at the non-RG unis.

MoonSandwich Sun 04-Oct-15 16:28:34

Not knowing quite what you want to do and not being passionate about a subject isn't exactly unusual.

I visited some lower tariff universities with DD2 and was very impressed with some of them. I didn't find them mediocre at all. hmm BBB might get you into places like Swansea, Keele, Sheffield Hallam or Nottingham Trent etc. It depends on the course. If you are looking at BBB level universities then you really have to look at the courses and the statistics. There are some cracking courses if you look hard enough.

It's a bit like choosing a hotel room - if you are booking a five star hotel then you can be fairly certain that it will be great but if you are looking at a three star hotel then you need to do your research.

I'd encourage your son to visit a good few open days. It should hopefully inspire him and get him thinking about exactly what he wants to do.

Subjects like engineering are so wide ranging that work experience might not be that useful. I wouldn't worry about not having work experience on his PS - I don't think it would make much difference if the rest of his PS is ok.

My DD2 ended up choosing a RG uni in the end as her grades were good but she would have been happy going to the mid ranking uni that she had chosen as her insurance choice.

A friends son goes to Lincoln and raves about his course and the town. It's a post 92 Uni.

I'm going from a sketchy recollection but isn't Coventry good for engineering? (I really can't remember but maybe you could look it up)

MoonSandwich Sun 04-Oct-15 16:36:27

Don't forget that he doesn't have to put in all his Ucas choices down before sending off his UCAS application so he could start off only applying for three courses and then can add choices later in the year just in case he changes his mind. It's also useful to hold off making all 5 choices if he is not sure how well he is going to do at his A levels. By xmas time he should have a better idea than he does now.

Headofthehive55 Sun 04-Oct-15 16:42:21

I think engineering is an excellent choice in terms of options later emma. As Decohate said, you can use it vocationally or just as a degree.

Try local industrial firms. If they make anything (even food) they will have engineers working for them.
I used to work for a well known food company and they had engineers on site.

EmmaWoodlouse Sun 04-Oct-15 16:58:34

Thank you all for your thoughts and suggestions.

Moon good top about not applying for 5 unis. DS1 did the same for a different reason. He was very sure what subject he wanted to do (a modern, technology-related subject that is not even offered at some of the more "prestigious" universities), but his head of 6th form kept trying to talk him out of it on the grounds that he might be "selling himself short" by not doing something more traditionally academic. In the end he compromised by removing 2 choices from his form, assuring his teacher he would give it some more thought and maybe add another more traditional subject - and then quickly accepted offers for his preferred subject, when there was nothing more his teacher could do about it!

Using the same system in a situation where you don't quite know what to do sounds perfectly sensible, I'll suggest that.

2rebecca, thank you also for the mention of general engineering. The one DS has suggested is a bit more specific but it definitely feels as if it would be a good idea for him to keep his options open at this stage.

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EmmaWoodlouse Sun 04-Oct-15 17:10:52

tip, not top!

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2rebecca Sun 04-Oct-15 17:19:32

He could always do a mix of general and specific on the form.
Heriot Watt which is highly regarded for engineering in Scotland do a 1 year general engineering course which is BBB entry. You then choose which discipline you prefer and go to year 2 of the BEng and either do an MSc afterwards to become chartered or if you're good in the BEng they'll usually let you go up to an MEng which has an extra year.

Millymollymama Mon 05-Oct-15 01:10:09

A 3 year general engineering course is "jack of all trades and master of none". I suspect a lot of small Industrial firms do not actually have Chartered Engineers working for them. This is the ultimate qualification for Engineers. They are not people who keep the factory machines working. Warwick is good for Engineering, not Coventry.

Look at the Council of Engineering Institutions web site to look at different disciplines within Engineering and see which one is of interest. Work experience definitely helps show the prospective student is interested in a vocational degree! Although many engineers never work as engineers, the universities still want students to be interested in the subject. The best experience would be with an employer working in the engineering field he wants, eg mechanical, automotive, civil, environmental, highways, chemical, electrical, computer etc. Getting out and getting motivated are good experience for university. BBB is low for a RG university, even for BEng. BEng to chartered engineer status takes a long, long, time which is why employers favour MEng courses. BEng leads, typically, to Incorporsted Engineer status, ie the old Technician. Still good employment prospects but less money.

MoonSandwich Mon 05-Oct-15 01:21:37

hmm Oh ffs MillyMolly we all know you look down on 'lesser' universities and students who aren't capable of a string of A*s but recommending Warwick when the thread is about a BBB student is a bit daft isn't it.

Are you just trying to make the OP feel bad?

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