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When to go to Open Days?(25 Posts)
OK. DS going into Year 12 in September. Wants to go to Uni, obsessive about modern history / politics so likely to be a degree in that field. He's going to have to work like a demon from day 1, and refine his exam technique a LOT to get the grades required.
He started doing some online research into possible universities the other day, simply because, for him, it will really matter exactly what modules a 'history' course covers. I wondered whether it might be sensible to arrange for him to go to a couple of Open Days in the first term of Y12 (when there seem to be quite a lot, presumably mostly aimed at Y13s in the run up to application). This would partly be to give him some idea of what 'university' looks like, but mainly because he is more likely to be motivated to work hard over the next couple of years if he has a really clear and concrete aim, rather than a fuzzy 'university somewhere' one.
Is this daft / premature? Will everyone else be in Y13?
We did actually it was for a graduate course but it made up my daughters mind and let her know the steps that would be required to actually get on the course.
You need to bear in mind that availability of specific modules in any one year can vary. Dd will be going to one or two open days in Autumn to find out more about her prospective subject then possibly find taster courses for next June.
Mine both did the open days in the summer term of Y13 but an early visit or two would have been a good idea.
The first visits are almost like a benchmark. Assuming they have looked at the course on offer then they want to think about city v campus uni, a closer look at the facilities and a general feel for the place.
DS found when looking at several places that seemed suitable on paper, he had a definite preference / unexpected dislike of some.
Agree about the specific modules. I suppose what I mean is that a course with a strong medieval / ancient history bias would not suit DS at all, whereas another course, equally named 'History' but with a strong 'post Industrial Revolution' bias would suit him much better. It doesn't mean that he wouldn't consider a course because it had some courses on older periods - indeed they're vital for balance and background - but there seem to be some courses that teach very, very little more modern history.
My ds will also be in Y12 in September & we are planning to visit a couple of local unis - mainly to help him find out a bit more about the type of courses he is thinking of applying to, but also because it's hard to fit in all the visits at the end of Y12/start of Y13 & there are usually several open days on the same date.
Dd is also about to start year 12 and we went to an open day last month. Mainly because she was having a wobble about A level choices and we wanted to get info from the course leader about whether her options would definitely be ok.
She didn't stand out at all. I'm sure the majority probably were a year older than Dd but nobody knew. We talked to the course leader who didn't seem surprised that she's only about to start year 12.
The main open day season starts in the summer term of LVI.
There is nothing wrong with going to some of the autumn ones. History & Politics courses can vary tremendously, so it pays to be prepared.
My DD is doing Politics at Royal Holloway. She had not considered it at all but we happened to be driving past on an autumn open day and popped in. She's going into her third year and on track for a first. You don't always know what is going to happen, and the more information you gather, good and bad, the better.
no issue with going to open days early in Y12, if nothing else he'll get an initial feel. Durham very well regarded for History usually has a September Open Day .
Had to at obsessive about modern history DS1 reading History currently. Heading into Y12 his obsession was probably at the other chronological end, and if anything he had a visceral dislike of Modern History (so 20th century from a school perspective). Once on his course, and now heading into his final year, he has a completely different view.
boys, that is very true. DS has been obsessive about modern history since the age of 7, so a little broadening in terms of period would definitely be a Good Thing...
I work in a 6th form as pastoral support and I guide about 350 kids each year through this process. Firstly I just want to say thank you! I wish half my students their parents were as conscientious as you guys in looking into this lol. Also it's going to give your DS a massive head start.
Anyway. By all means go to the autumn open days but they are typically "smaller" affairs. But if you're wanting to get an early jump then definitely go, just don't set your sights on anything definite as courses can and do change. I would say get a list of at least 10/15 courses/unis that your like and go from there. The main open days you NEED to go to are the ones that start end of Feb and go through to the summer in his Y12 year. These are the big ones with the definite courses your son will be applying for. If they only go to the ones in autumn y13 they are leaving it way too late to start.
Opendays.com is an ace site get yourself on there =] good luck!
DS's school still do ASs for all subjects, and as DS isn't the world's best exam taker (one of those 'very bright in class, poor exam marks' types), balancing work towards ASs and open days is going to get a little exciting later in the year. That's one of the reasons why I thought we might get a few 'sighting visits' in early, to maybe hone the field down a bit for summer Year 12.
Sounds like a really great plan! Good luck I really hope he finds somewhere he loves
My DD did creative degree and started visits in May of year 12 to their graduate degree shows.
She met the graduates, saw the work, as well as starting to get a feel for the university.
can'tkeepawayforever I get the point about motivating although pick your unis carefully if you want to motivate not demotivate.
I had a DS who (with a number of like minded friends) was fairly wild in Y11/start of Y12. They'd done all their GCSEs in Y10 so were unilaterally taking a 'year off' which the school didn't think much of. Anyhow, at the start of Y12 I took him and his younger brothers up to Durham to see the place, the History dept etc with a strong focus on the nicest colleges, prettiest part of the city, especially the rugby fields etc and things slotted back into place. I actually thought going to an official Open Day wouldn't be a great idea but each to their own. Anyhow, he got motivated and has just graduated from Oxford with a First in History so well worth the long drive and the cost of the overnight stay
Good luck, and others will know more than me about official Open Days and whether they show places to their best advantage or could risk being off-putting. I simply wanted to take DS when students were around because that changes the nature of small cities like Durham, for the better I think. I haven't been to an official Open Day anywhere myself.
This was my original plan, a couple of open days early on in the year so he would get himself into gear. He would not go and that was the end of that. It meant looking too far ahead, he was only just getting going with A levels and was in total denial that there was anything beyond that.
simply because, for him, it will really matter exactly what modules a 'history' course covers
I'd advise strongly that he doesn't get caught up in this. As others have said, no university can guarantee the existence of modules several years in advance.
Also, if it's a good degree course, well-taught, he will always get something he needs from whatever modules he studies. Often students think their whole degree depends on studying one specific thing (believe me, students have said this to me) - but learning, in a degree like History, is holistic, and they need to be open to studying things they'd never thought of.
At Open Days, he should pay attention to CORE modules, and also to methods of teaching and learning.
I would also suggest that young people can change their minds about options and it is important to keep a reasonably open mind. My DD was aghast at the idea of Medieval French at the age of 16, at the age of 21 it was a completely different story. The quality of the lecturer, small teaching group, growing confidence in taking on something new and maturity can change their views. They may even be good at something they never expected to be. I would also look at the highest quality university for History. It is a subject that does not have the highest employment rates so lots to consider.
can't keep - Ds likes modern history - most history degrees will make you study a range - Ds is focussing on Modern History . Which is what he likes ( going into 3rd year ) This is where reading the syllabus works. PM if you would like for current experience.
I think it's a good idea if they know what they would like to study. I thought that the yr12 summer term ones would be fine and enough. But they either took place on the same day as AS exams, or the same day as each other and before we knew it the open day season was over with unis still left to visit.
Problem with the autumn ones in yr 13 is that if they are looking at Oxbridge, the deadline is so soon that the school deadline for the ucas form is before some of the open days, While they can add to it after, from dds point of view, that's not ideal.
I don't think the issue of specific history modules is relevant since no history department is so limited that there isn't a huge variety of choice, although it's true that the Scottish unis can be a bit more Scots focussed than the English unis. It sounds as if OP wants to enthuse her DS more generally, in which case a trip to a specific 'aspirational' uni can be very worthwhile in my experience, whether on or outside the confines of an Open Day.
goodbyestranger the OP wrote that it will really matter exactly what modules a 'history' course covers
Those of us teaching at universities are advising that the OP's DS be encouraged to think more broadly. You're right - the specific modules taught should not be relevant, but the DS needs to understand that.
I took my DDs to an open day at the end of year 11. They had a lot of free time after GCSEs and it gave them a taster of what a university is. It also made them think about their A level choices.
To be clear - neither I, nor DS, are planning to get hung up at the 'module' level, and I managed to use the wrong terminology and thus created a straw man!
However, for example, it would be useful for him to see whether e.g. 'Modern History and Politics' might be a better fit for him than 'History'.
There do also - from the online research he has done so far - seem to be universities where the 'overall balance of the course', or 'the overall balance of the early years of the course' have a more or less 'modern' bias.
So it's not 'I want to go to University X because they have a module on 20th Century Japan' - we both understand that module may not be offered in future years. More 'I'm not so sure about University Y, because the first year is almost all compulsory courses, which are strongly focused on pre-18th century history.'
While DS knows that a good historian has knowledge of a good range of periods, the fact remains that he has been unusually obsessed by 19th / 20th century history for the last 10 years, and a course that offers very little of this in a given year of the course might well not suit him.
I was the same in reverse - I loved 'Science in the broad sense' (and suspected that my final interests would end up being at one of the joints between science subjects) and so applied to universities that did natural sciences. I was right in that choice.
DD2 is going into Y13 in September and has now got a few open days under her belt with more in the next couple of months. The first one was to her sister's university and was very much a dry run, a 'this is what university looks like' type of thing.
Doing plenty of open days with DD1 was also very useful. Helped her to focus on what was important to her. Made her realise that pushing herself to go to the right place was better than settling for any place.
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