switching unis

(51 Posts)
bluerosey Sat 06-Feb-16 15:37:32

My Ds is on a challenging, prestigious course in Engineering. If he does not do as he hopes at end of year and he changed to a lower down league table course, would it be easier? Anyone know about differing standards between unis?
Also how feasible are switches? we expect him to pass - grade not sure.

Just wanting to know about options. Have heard lots of people change courses.

He likes his uni - just really high standard so it seems.

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hellsbells99 Sat 06-Feb-16 18:27:28

Does he have any idea where he would want to switch to? Could he approach them about potentially switching at the end of his first year? I am not sure that I would tell them that his current course is too difficult though.
If he doesn't get a certain percentage will he follow the BEng syllabus rather than the MEng for his 2nd year?

bluerosey Sat 06-Feb-16 19:00:20

yes, interesting - I wonder what he would say if he switched.

Trouble is, no way of knowing if standards are different elsewhere.

he is on a BEng , will consider MEng at later date.

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hellsbells99 Sat 06-Feb-16 19:08:51

Blue - as entry requirements are so different then you would assume the level of the course must vary even though you end up with the same degree e.g. Salford Uni want CCC for Mechanical Engineering whereas Manchester Uni want AAA.

hellsbells99 Sat 06-Feb-16 19:11:51

Sorry Salford want 260 points rather than specifying exact grades

bluerosey Sat 06-Feb-16 19:22:19

I did ask admissions before DS firmed - is your course harder than say a uni who want an A and 2 B's but uni said they could not be sure.

I thought many near top - say top 20 would have to coincide with standards as it is a professional qualification.

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Andfaraway Sat 06-Feb-16 19:53:15

You really need to check what sort of employment is possible after each degree. An "easier" degree may not give him the qualification he needs to be a Chartered Engineer.

And look - learning is hard it is difficult. I'm not sure I'd be encouraging a child of mine to swap to an easier course because he found his course difficult. He needs to live with the possibility of lower marks, as long as he's passing. He will learn far far more at the tougher university.

Why go for easy?

The learning he does at university is for life and I think to swap out to an easy course at this point is not a great life lesson.


TheGoodEnoughWife Sat 06-Feb-16 20:50:13

Andfaraway - great post. I am currently studying for a degree through the OU and am finding it difficult- your words have helped me. I have felt that maybe a degree wasn't for me because of this difficulty but it sounds good that actually it is okay for it to be difficult!

Sorry to hijack OP. Is it only the course he is finding hard or could he be struggling to settle generally and focusing on the course as the reason?

Andfaraway Sun 07-Feb-16 11:28:43

grin GoodEnough I tend to do tough love - learning is difficult, but if you go with the process, you really do learn properly. And that lasts for the rest of your life.

Too many people focus on the marks. The marks are irrelevant.

hellsbells99 Sun 07-Feb-16 12:23:56

Bluerosey - he would be better to come out with an MEng if possible, if he wants to be a chartered engineer.

disquisitiones Sun 07-Feb-16 14:15:41

If he got the required A level grades, then he almost certainly has the ability to get a 2:i. If he isn't getting 2:i level marks, the issue is probably that he isn't studying enough (or he isn't studying effectively enough).

University is always a big culture shock for students who have done maths/physics at A level and gotten As. They are not used to studying much outside lessons. On the other hand, university courses are taught so that for every hour of lecture there should be at least one hour of independent study, preferably more. And independent study doesn't mean sitting with friends, half socialising: it means really working, going in detail through notes and examples. It would be unusual for an engineering student heading for a 2:i not to feel like they are working much harder than there were at A level: they should be, courses are meant to involve 35-45 hours of work per week.

Bear in mind that if he does change to a lower tariff university this won't look good on his CV. And indeed lower tariff universities don't have the same reputations with employers so he will be damaging his job prospects. Amongst similar tariff universities one would expect the standards to be similar, so he won't find a particularly easier course.

Andfaraway Sun 07-Feb-16 14:48:42

disquisitiones - agree absolutely.

Although in the humanities, we expect around 3-4 hours of independent study for every hour of contact time.

Sadly, many more students are unprepared for university. A Levels do not prepare them for the way they need to work, and parents seem caught up in the children's anxieties about not getting the high marks they're used to getting.

OP if your DS is getting 2, ii marks in his 1st year that is OK. It's to be hoped that he'll improve, but as disquisitiones says, he'll need to work smarter as well as harder.

But 1st year is generally seen as the adjustment year; in some/most degree programmes 1st year marks don't count (I suspect that's different in Engineering). However, whatever the marks scheme across the whole degree, his Final Year results will be worth proportionately more. There's usually a weighting for what we call "exit velocity."

disquisitiones Sun 07-Feb-16 14:52:46

Usually first year marks don't count for the final degree classification in Engineering.

Since engineers have many contact hours (with lectures, tutorials and lab work) they are all the more likely to forget that they are still expected to do a lot of work independently outside these hours too.

Andfaraway Sun 07-Feb-16 14:56:11

If he does not do as he hopes at end of year and he changed to a lower down league table course, would it be easier?

THis is the thinking that really worries me. Where's it coming from - you, his parent, or your DS?

Either way, it's not a great attitude towards learning. Unpick with him, or get him to reflect for himself what is meant by If he does not do as he hopes

What's he at university for? To get high marks or actually to learn his subject? Sometimes, when you're really learning, you don't get high marks. BUt if you're actively engaging with learning, not just doing things for the marks, it will come good in the end.

Andfaraway Sun 07-Feb-16 14:58:21

Yup, disquisitiones I assumed the lower contact:independent study ratio was because engineers have more contact hours, because of the nature of the work they're learning.

But what I learn from you is that a lot of the fundamentals re humanities v STEM are not really that different!

bluerosey Sun 07-Feb-16 17:25:50

My DS has A* at A level from a comp. It is true the extent of the independent study has come as a shock.

However, what I would like to hear from people out there is do you know of people who have changed unis and made a success of it? I think I do remember a thread some while ago that said many students switched from imperial because of this extreme high standard issue in Eng.

Have also heard that Eng. degrees just are hard.

Putting out feelers really to see others experience of Eng. degrees.

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disquisitiones Sun 07-Feb-16 18:13:03

Students who transfer to a lower tariff university course tend to do worse than average on the new course.... this is perhaps unsurprising, as students who transfer because they aren't doing as well as they wanted to won't do better on the new course unless the issues that caused them to do poorly are addressed.

I will try to find some publicly accessible statistics on this.

If a student has A stars (comp not really relevant) they can cope with any engineering course in the UK. I would suggest talking to academic tutor about study habits and study skills, and getting advice on how to improve in weaker areas.

The transfer rate/drop out rate from Imperial engineering is not high according to the figures I can see.

I wouldn't actually consider engineering harder than neighbouring subjects such as maths, physics or computer science. The opposite actually: maths has higher entry grades but gives a significantly lower proportion of firsts and 2:is. Engineering gives rather few low degrees, so as not to affect professional status.

bluerosey Sun 07-Feb-16 18:23:01

Not true in my DS's uni. Maths requires lower grade entry than engineering and was same in his second choice.

You sound very assured in your opinion, I think it is more open to debate.

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Andfaraway Sun 07-Feb-16 18:37:15

bluerosey do you want the expert opinion of a working academic? Who is giving you the benefit of her experience for free & gratis? Perhaps disquisitione's assurance is not just an "opinion," but comes from her expertise as a professor in the field, and her knowledge of the stats of student achievement.

Your DS needs to talk to his personal tutor about strengths and weaknesses so far. It's only about half way through his 1st year; still time to improve.

Learning is hard and takes time. He'll need a lot of resilience to make a good career as a professional, and trudging on, even when the going is hard, is one way of building up skills of determination, stickability, and hard work.

hellsbells99 Sun 07-Feb-16 18:39:39

Is he enjoying the course and university Bluerosey? Has he made many friends? I know my DD has taken a while to settle in

Decorhate Sun 07-Feb-16 18:41:54

A couple of things:

I think it's very common for students at the most prestigious unis (in this country at least) to have lots of self-doubt at the start. My dd's boyfriend is at Oxbridge & was seriously considering reapplying for the same course elsewhere. Not because he wasn't keeping up but because of the sheer workload in comparison to other unis.

I did engineering in the dark ages. Now back then I suspect there were not the same pressures to get high marks. Most people were relieved if they passed their exams each year & were able to progress to the next year. Only results in my 3rd & 4th years affected what grade of degree was awarded.
Some subjects, especially in the first two years when it was very theoretical rather than practical, were very hard. I still am a bit hmm about that as I've never needed to know that stuff in my working life. The only way through it sometimes is sheer slog, asking for help where necessary & doing past papers.
Obv your ds may be doing a very different type of engineering & it may be difficult all the way through but my gut feeling would be to see how the end of year exams go first.

Andfaraway Sun 07-Feb-16 18:54:40

Very sensible advice decorhate It's what I say to my students all the time (in a completely different area).

The problem is, that today's schooling practices don't encourage the resilience and determination that a tough university course needs.

bluerosey Sun 07-Feb-16 19:10:21

He is quite enjoying the course. He feels chuffed when he does well in something. However, I think he feels a bit of a knock to his confidence when he does below standard in other topics.

He seems to be settling pretty well to uni life but probably does need to adjust to workload. He was told on applicants day by a student on the course that his course was a lot more work or so it seemed than some other courses.

My concern is - if the steep learning curve is like this all the way through, he could become stressed. I want a balance for him between tough challenge and feeling like he can succeed. A little stress is good but not if he becomes overwhelmed and on an occasion that is how he felt. Overall, though, he really wants to try.

He feels very proud to have got onto this course. Definitely, we will wait to see how he does in summer but also we need to have plan Bs if it does not work out.

Getting it right at uni is really important - particularly these days with cost, you can only really do it once.

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Andfaraway Sun 07-Feb-16 19:14:30

However, I think he feels a bit of a knock to his confidence when he does below standard in other topics

What does he feel is "below standard"? Sometimes students feel anything less than a First is a "fail". As long as he's passing and getting marks between 47 and 55, I don't think you should worry.

bluerosey Sun 07-Feb-16 19:45:33

His results are varied - so that is why we worry. From 40% to 90%. We are awaiting January exams - two have gone well, the two hard ones we don't know yet.

Hopefully, it will be okay.

However, we need to monitor and he will need to seek advice if grades are not what he wants - he is reasonable in his expectations.

I take hope from up thread that 1st year results can be lower and students can improve. A friend on a Morse course ( Have I spelt that correctly?) is doing much better in Year 2. Mother's theory was: Maths based courses take a bit longer for students to get their heads around. Not sure if this is anecdotal.

We hope !

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