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Helping them choose

(22 Posts)
Gillybobs Wed 27-Jan-16 23:10:18

My DS1 has just turned 17 and has unconditionals for both Glasgow and St Andrews for this September. If he goes to Glasgow he can live at home, keep his fantastic part time job and we will be able to buy him a car. If he chooses St Andrews he will need to live in student accommodation (paid for by us, we can just about manage it) , find a new job in a town where work is hard to come by, his income will need to go towards food rather than be spent on socialising and there won't be any car for the forseeable!

His heart is telling him St Andrews, it's been a long held dream but It will mean tougher times for both him and the rest of the family. ....he's led a reasonably charmed life up until now and I worry about the impact on him of being hard up, away from home and friends whilst still only 17. On the other hand it could all be the making of him...I guess my worry is his heart ruling his head.

How much influence did you have over your DS/DDs decision? Do I butt out here?

soapybox Wed 27-Jan-16 23:12:26

I think it is up to them to make their choice.

I went to Glasgow and stayed at home and I would not recommend it at all. You miss out on so much of the university experience as well as being able to practice being an independent young adult.

I would definitely be backing him in going to St A, if it were my child.

Gillybobs Wed 27-Jan-16 23:24:54

I was the same and remember feeling like maybe I was missing out...until I saw the digs my friends lived in smile

I've told him its 100% his decision but worry he's not ready for the realities and wonder should I be pointing out the negatives so his choice is informed rather than emotional?

soapybox Wed 27-Jan-16 23:32:01

grin My friends at St A and Edinburgh were in lovely halls and I was very envious!

I think it is fine to give some input but I would try very hard to be neutral and put the pros and cons of both options in an even handed way.

I think if they feel further down the line that they made the wrong choice, I would feel bad if I had influenced that choice rather than let them make up their own mind.

My DD is at the same stage but is applying for medicine so is still waiting for offers. She made it slightly easier by not applying to any London universities so no matter what she chooses she will be off on her own!

Are you sure you are not just trying to hang onto him a little bit longer wink

Gillybobs Wed 27-Jan-16 23:36:35

I'm trying so hard to avoid the clingy mum cliche.... grin

soapybox Wed 27-Jan-16 23:38:15

It is really hard though, isn't it! They all still seem so young!

VegasIsBest Wed 27-Jan-16 23:45:04

Moving away from home and learning to be independent is a big part if the University experience and growing up to be independent. If you can manage it I'd encourage your son to do that.

VegasIsBest Wed 27-Jan-16 23:45:42

Sorry - too many independents in that post!

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 28-Jan-16 00:06:01

I think his decisions should be more based on what the course is like, and what he thought of the university in general rather than whether or not he might have a car! Being skint is surely the essence of the student experience wink

BackforGood Thu 28-Jan-16 00:07:57

I too think the whole 'living away from home' is so much a part of "going to University". Not being able to buy himself a car isn't a big deal - most youngsters can't well can't afford to insure it. St Andrews is also such a fab place I'm led to believe.
If he can work through the holidays at home, then he can probably earn enough to scrape by through term time, even if he struggles to get a job there.

HocusCrocus Thu 28-Jan-16 01:18:26

If his heart - backed up by his head - says St Andrews , and it is manageable , then I would encourage that. DS could have gone to a city university close to home - he has gone to a different one and I'm so pleased he has. Agree with pps - plenty of time for cars later on in life smile

Oh and I could probably knock off your clingy mum crown grin

TendonQueen Thu 28-Jan-16 01:34:04

The beauty of St Andrews too is it's away but still close ish. Imagine how you'd feel if he wanted to go to Plymouth or Kent! I too think moving away is a critical part of the experience.

alreadytaken Thu 28-Jan-16 04:48:52

there are considerable problems with accommodation at St Andrews. so bad that students have been living miles away to find anywhere affordable. It's supposed to be improving as extra accommodation opens up www.thesaint-online.com/2013/12/report-highlights-substantial-housing-problems-in-st-andrews/

Unless the university places restrictions on those living within a certain distance it it possible to go to a local university and still live in hall. It is a different experience and if my child had wanted to go to a local university I'd have paid for them to live in hall the first year.

I believe parents should point out both the positives and negatives, then leave them to make their own choice.

lljkk Thu 28-Jan-16 10:16:24

I imagine of course I'd talk thru the drawbacks & benefits I could see, it's the role of friends to point out things you maybe didn't see, no different coming from adult relatives.

In my culture many people live at home during university so I'm not really sold that moving away is wonderful.

ttlshiwwya Thu 28-Jan-16 10:54:43

Agree with alreadytaken that you should point out the positives and negatives and leave them to make their own choice.

I have experience of both from a long time ago (stayed at home - Glasgow University) and lived in student accommodation and private lets (another university - not St Andrews). For me the difference was not so marked - there were definite downsides to living away - costs, filthy kitchens, food stealing, fire alarms in the early morning when you had an exam next day, noise, sharing with strangers you had nothing in common with.

I made an effort socially when I stayed at home - I didn't go home straight after lectures and was fortunate that I only lived 30 minutes away by train with last trains until midnight. The majority of people on my course at Glasgow stayed at home so socializing was earlier and there was always someone whose flat you could stay in or share a taxi or get a lift home from. I also liked the financial independence - not having to ask for money (I worked weekends and holidays) and knowing that my parents weren't having to miss out on things to pay for me. However my family weren't so well off and I had an elder sibling who went away to St Andrews university so I was very aware of the financial implications on my parents e.g. less holidays, older car etc.

Saying that St Andrews is lovely and for many courses is deemed better than Glasgow. My sister did find St Andrews a "bit rah for a Glasgow girl" - her words. This could have been her course (arts) and it was some time ago.

Gillybobs Thu 28-Jan-16 13:34:09

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts.

We are trying to help him explore the pros and cons of each without necessarily influencing the decision, the trouble is I see the information about him being on a tight budget/going without luxuries going in one ear and out the other.

He is definitely caught up in a romantic notion of life at St Andrews. I appreciate that if it went well it would be a fabulous, life enriching experience for him. Ultimately all I care about is that he has a positive Uni experience and comes out with the qualifications he deserves.

soapybox I suppose it would be easier if he absolutely had to leave home. He is studying AstroPhysics so not many options available and he is obviously staying within Scotland for funding reasons.

ttlsh that is exactly what is at the heart of my worries about St Andrews...he will be going from being a boy from a nice comfortable home & one of the better off kids to being at the bottom of the socio- economic scale (relatively speaking!) Will his ego cope? grin

ABetaDad1 Thu 28-Jan-16 13:48:21

"he will be going from being a boy from a nice comfortable home & one of the better off kids to being at the bottom of the socio- economic scale (relatively speaking!)"

He wont be the only one. That happens at Oxford and Cambridge too.

Question is what he wants to afterwards. St Andrews is one of the 'milk round' universities the top employers will always recruit from. Not sure about Glasgow. Employers rather look at where you came from as a judge of how good you will be as an employee.

However, if he is dead set on being an astrophysicist - which uni has the best reputation for Astrophysics?

In my view not having a car is not such a big deal as long as he can live near where he has to work and the centre of town. I have heard accommodation is extremely hard to get for St Andrews students and 'people in the know' go and get places to live lined up well before September and he should be looking at accommodation by May/June..

Gillybobs Thu 28-Jan-16 13:59:24

Thanks AbetaDad1 you're absolutely right of course, he wont be alone. And he will no doubt meet some interesting characters!

Both Universities appear to be highly regarded in the field of Astrophysics (from what I can gather) but I agree there is undoubtedly more clout with a St Andrews degree. Although conversely I have been told that Glasgow has better quality research projects on the go.

ttlshiwwya Thu 28-Jan-16 14:08:45

Is there an offer day for St Andrews? Perhaps your son could visit and she what he thinks. This proved useful for a friend's DD (Law - Edinburgh) - it wasn't an offer day just a subject information day but it was enough for her to know that it wasn't for her.

Gillybobs Thu 28-Jan-16 14:14:03

Yes we are planning a visit to an Open Day in early March. I have told him that DH and I see this as essential before committing to several years financial support. We know and love the town well as tourists but this is a different scenario altogether.

I have a friend who's daughter fancied St Andrews and was put off by the other potential undergraduates she met at the open day. He really needs to see it with his own eyes before making this huge decision

chemenger Thu 28-Jan-16 15:45:04

dd is in her first year at St Andrews and I teach at another Scottish University. I have found aspects of St Andrews very different from my university, but since my anonymity is questionable anyway (at least one mother said hello to me on an applicant visit last year), I'm not going to go in to these here. However, OP, if you want to message me privately I'm happy to chat about how we have found the St Andrews experience. I can say that she absolutely loves it and is having a great time, lots of friends, and has found a house for next year with no bother.

Gillybobs Thu 28-Jan-16 16:00:52

That's fantastic, will message you now

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