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UCL- is it really that bad?

(127 Posts)
cornwall1900 Tue 21-Mar-17 16:20:47


Dd is considering UCL, the course suits her perfectly and excites her, so there's that aspect sorted.

All I've heard are negative things about UCL; "my ds dropped out", "anti social","hard to make friend as the student body is so dispersed", "internationals keep to themselves". Of course I fully accept that these are merely anecdotal and variying.

The cost really worries us, she'd likely have to work. I'd like her to enjoy her college experience like I did and not become in essence a working adult just yet. It just doesn't seem to be a lot of fun to me, compared to cheaper northern cities.

I'm also worried how a country girl like her will deal with city living in what to me as a rural girl seems a cold place to live.

How have your dc found UCL?

I do hope I'm worrying over nothing.

DaisyBlameless Tue 21-Mar-17 18:15:54

I haven't heard great things but have no experience, except to say if the course really excites her and she wants to go there I'm sure she'll be fine.

sendsummer Tue 21-Mar-17 19:46:09

From recent second hand experiences of friends' DCs at UCL, they all seem to be having a good time and finding it rather sociable. They are generally quite extrovert though. Has she been on a post offer day and if so what did she think of her potential course peers? Is she likely to want to join a club thus helping to make more friends?

Hullygully Tue 21-Mar-17 19:54:25

my ds is there and absolutely loves it, he has made loads of friends from all over the world and loves both the uni and being in london.

It is bloody expensive tho...

Antaresisastar Tue 21-Mar-17 20:28:40

Ds is a first year at UCL, we live rurally. He's loving London life and his course. He really made an effort to get out and meet people and now seems to have a solid group of friends.

maryso Wed 22-Mar-17 09:03:41

This is reminiscent of the "Imperial College/LSE is really bad" threads.

Of course all these top London colleges are 'awful socially and crippingly expensive and not even worth it degree-wise'... If we keep spreading the word they may be avoided by a handful of gullible types.

The fact is that UCL and the like are fiercely competitive; even those who completely do not want to apply out of London are advised by fiercely competitive schools that they really really should carefully consider including one non-London option in their UCAS choices. Sadly for said London children, UCL etc continue to be heavily populated by students from outside London despite the awful awful conditions and poor poor teaching they get. Do they not know that London children go there only because they are incapable of leaving their families? If only these ignorant competitors would get the facts beforehand and avoid. Let's however keep at it, every single person turned off is one less to compete with.

Oh, and the expense! Of course, London is where it is impossible to find any work, unlike everywhere else in the country... if only those students would stop telling everyone how easy it is to fit in paid work, at every taster and open day.

I unlike my offspring have a penchant for the great northern cities with more than a few highly respected universities. They however are young and less experienced and have different priorities and rankings. Perhaps your DD is also like that?

Hullygully Wed 22-Mar-17 09:24:55

Agreed. And as London is where all the jobs are, going to uni there gives a real headstart in friends, knowing the city and feeling at home there.

senua Wed 22-Mar-17 09:38:03

London is where all the jobs are

What? All of them?

Hullygully Wed 22-Mar-17 10:09:20

yes. every single one without exception.

Hullygully Wed 22-Mar-17 10:09:47

I believe there may be a dishwashing job in Hull, but that's it.

senua Wed 22-Mar-17 11:11:31

That job in Hull is an anomaly. They need someone to slave in the back of a PopUp Eaterie - all those Arty Types from London need somewhere to pose when they are visiting the City of Culture. I believe that it is only open to applicants from Hoxton, though, so they managed to avoid transgressing the rule.

BoonDucks Wed 22-Mar-17 11:30:09

My Northern born DC are under no illusion that all the jobs in the world are in London because everyone says so. That one in Hull was actually for an apprentice dishwasher.

Kennington Wed 22-Mar-17 11:31:59

I was at imperial and loved meeting up with people at UCL and they had a great time
UCL doesn't have the confined campus that many other places has but everyone I knew enjoyed it......20 years ago!!

Hullygully Wed 22-Mar-17 12:26:06

That one in Hull has gone now. They bought a dishwasher on the never never

senua Wed 22-Mar-17 13:01:02

The Jobs Police must have got wind of it. They will have told PopUpsRUs to instruct Consultants from the City who would have charged them a small fortune for the advice that - for a dishwasher that lasts five years and is needed for a one-year event - they should get a finance agreement over a ten year period. And buy futures, with hedging, in dishwasher tablets.

maryso Wed 22-Mar-17 13:23:07

hullo hullo there...
we is doing an essential job here, so less of the cheek, goddess or not

senua Wed 22-Mar-17 13:36:29

blush Sorry, miss.

She started it. <dobs in hully and runs>

ErrolTheDragon Wed 22-Mar-17 14:15:18

Guessing she's in yr 12 - has she been to their open day yet? Where else is she considering?

When she's in yr13, during the process there will be applicant/offer holders days too - there are quite a lot of opportunities to find out more about the realities. She might want to start browsing Student Room, if she hasn't already.

The course is hugely important, but so is whether its a place that will suit them. My own DD looked around Imperial when we were in London for something else, and despite its undoubted excellence for her subject she couldn't see herself living in London, maybe having to commute some distance ... exactly the same as I did many years earlier. But she has pals - many 'rural' - who are eagerly waiting to take up their offers in london.

bojorojo Wed 22-Mar-17 15:40:19

I do think you have to be realistic about university in London but of course there are positives and often the negatives won't apply. What is negative to one person doesn't bother another person.

The student body does spread out in y2. No doubt about that so making your friends in Y1 and getting a house with them in Y2 is important. Some areas of London are expensive so be very realistic about costs. If she values London as a place to work as a student and beyond, then it is excellent. If she does not see her future there she can look to move home for a job.

The London universities do attract overseas students in large numbers. Some will not socialise widely but there are lots of other students. Other students will live at home but that is happening everywhere.

Also consider the value of the degree in comparison to elsewhere. Is it more prestigious than the northern university equivalent? How does it rank for job opportunities?

Lastly, lots of students are excited by London. It can work out a bit pricy though. Do you, as a family, want this expense? The extra London grant doesn't go that far so do your sums honestly. She won't want to live like a hermit, probably! Is she frugal or will she struggle to make end meet and hate it? If it is really what she wants and nowhere else is as good, go for it.

goingmadinthecountry Thu 23-Mar-17 23:12:57

My very good friend's son is in his 2nd year at UCL and we live very much in the country - he's studying chemistry and has made loads of friends even though he's not the most outgoing boy in the world. Living in Camden now so not far away.

All universities are far more international and London is still a big, expensive city but a most fabulous place with amazing opportunities as a student. Dd1 is now doing a Masters at King's (my old university) and loving it, even though her boxroom in Brixton is costing me £520pcm. And I'm honestly jealous. Mind you, I was jealous of her shabby but chichi high ceilings in gorgeous Clifton when she was an undergraduate in Bristol.

What does your dd honestly think? London's a waste of time/money if you never go out and make the most of it.

My friend's son makes a decent amount of money tutoring rich kids up to GCSE/Alevel btw. Lots more cash/less time than stacking shelves!

As a cost thing, I'm currently paying out £1370 out of my monthly salary to my children. As a part time teacher, it's not good!

bojorojo Thu 23-Mar-17 23:25:05

You normally get lots of posters on London threads saying it is no more expensive than elsewhere! It is expensive! Make sure you budget for it realistically.

goingmadinthecountry Thu 23-Mar-17 23:48:20

It IS expensive - dd1's tiny room is damp and is in an ex council property in (albeit quite cool) Brixton. No sitting room but bills included - £520 pcm. Travel to WC2 to pay too. Not a fortune but not free. Loads of free stuff to do in London though.

Dd2 is soon to move into her 3rd year accommodation in trendy Jesmond in Newcastle - £350 for a big room, they have a sitting room plus a table tennis table in their conservatory. Dishwasher included. Bit like what dd1 was paying (well, me on her behalf) in Clifton when she was in Bristol as an undergraduate. As a country bumpkin (hate it hence name) I'm jealous of all of their flats, however basic!

hellsbells99 Fri 24-Mar-17 10:15:11

We are Northerners and my DCs have chosen northern universities so no direct experience. I get the impression from my DCs who have friends in London universities that it is a bit like marmite - they are either loving it or hating it, no inbetween.

Needmoresleep Fri 24-Mar-17 11:43:10

I always want to replace the word "overseas" in sentences like these

"The London universities do attract overseas students in large numbers. Some will not socialise widely but there are lots of other students"

with the word British and imagine we are posting on a website in Singapore.

Positives with London:

1. Just about every department at UCL is ranked top 5 in Britain, and most compete with top ranked departments across the world. If you are absorbed in your subject, and like the course, UCL can be terrific. Lots of research stuff going on, and because it is London there are lots of people passing through, with access to public lectures at places like LSE, Imperial and Kings, or various London based Institutes.

2. Fantastically international. Which often means hard working and motivated peers. Some will be cliquey, but no more than some Brits. There are nine in DS' seminar group (at LSE) and the make up is probably typical, 3 x Brits (one from uuup north), 2 x EU, 1 x Aussie, 2 x Singapore and one from HK. In their third year and with lots of shared lectures they are quite bonded, providing mutual support on dissertations, and a ritual visit to the pub after the weekly seminar. The pattern of friendships, based on shared interests, within the group really does not conform to stereotypes. Over half plan to stay on to take a Masters, and a couple of others have jobs in London, which suggests it can't be took bad.

3. London itself. Lots going on, much free. Great 24 hour transport. Because campuses are accessible, lots of social life is based at the University, so the fact some live at home matters less. (One trend is for London students to spend the first year in hall, and then decide they might as well move home as they won't miss out.) Individual societies will often run joint events with other London colleges, and student events elsewhere are often accessible.

4. Good access to part time paid work, often flexible, like tutoring or waiting at events. Access to Easter and summer internships, or simply sign up with an agency and get an entry level temp job in a sector that appeals. It probably helps to be frugal and be happy with basic accommodation and limited space, but that applies to living in London at any age. You might as well do it when you are young.

London is expensive, and offers a different experience. If your idea of student life is a heavy night in Jesmond (though various athletic unions do their best), or you can't live without a car, or an ensuite, then avoid London .

If your primary focus is your subject, you are happy in an urban and international environment, and have motivation and can self start, then it probably can't be beat.

bojorojo Fri 24-Mar-17 19:45:00

We are not in Singapore. Some people don't have an international outlook and want people like them at university. It is just the way it is! Don't the universities class the students as "overseas" or "international"? It is all the same really. Just be realistic about what your DD wants. Then compare and contrast with elsewhere. It is hardly a UCL experience living in Brixton (nothing wrong with Brixton) and shows students are literally spread out all over London. Some students like student areas close to the university. Consider what you can afford and what standard of living she would like. If the course trumps all - go for it.

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