Where to start when looking for a uni - dd feeling overwhelmed

(97 Posts)
Sadik Sun 26-May-19 22:05:45

DD (yr 11) needs to think about open days, but is feeling pretty overwhelmed and uncertain as to where to start.

She's interested in physics, so something that's offered pretty much everywhere. It's quite hard to predict her grades, but probably likely to be decent to very good. Knows she doesn't want to be in London, but otherwise struggling to narrow it down. Anyone else's dc in the same boat?

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BornInAThunderstorm Sun 26-May-19 22:10:33

Not in the same boat but I had the same issue. I narrowed down by the specific course I wanted, then had 3 choices. Personally I think its very important to visit and walk around the town and campus, as this could be the real decider. I was originally set on one place but when visiting I completely changed my mind due to distance between accommodation and lecture halls, the friendliness of people nearby, location of supermarkets etc

titchy Sun 26-May-19 22:10:43

She's got a year before she needs to think about open days!

Wait till she's got her GCSE results and you and she have a better idea of where she is academically.

Spend the first part of year 12 thinking about what she wants from a university - campus, spread out, town, city, countryside, London, Near home, train ride away. That should rule a lot out. Then compare offer grades with the grades she looks likely to get at A level. By Easter she should have an idea.

Then look at websites and visit!

Sadik Sun 26-May-19 22:11:06

Sorry, year 12!!!

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Pipandmum Sun 26-May-19 22:12:19

No my y11 is not going to uni. But loads of his friends are but few have actually started seriously looking, they’re just in the middle of GCSEs! Do you have a careers person at school? That’s where I’d start. And it is a bit early - wait til exam results come in and start researching in the fall.

titchy Sun 26-May-19 22:14:47

Year 12 now? Then she needs to start visiting - open days have already happened.

What grades is she expecting? Use my list of what she wants, then maybe look at league tables. There's actually only about 45 that do Physics, a lot in London so she can disregard these straight away. Can she also disregard NI and Scotland? Does she want to go north or south?

Sadik Sun 26-May-19 22:17:17

Her GCSE results are very good (all A*/A - Wales so letter grades). She definitely doesn't want to go to Aber / Bangor, will visit Swansea & Cardiff but would probably like to go somewhere into England for more of a change.

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thesandwich Sun 26-May-19 22:18:23

Go from her predicted grades and look at league tables- which, what uni, guardian, times to compare courses she could aim at.
Does she want campus or city? Book a range of open days in June to give a spread.
You can visit on non open days to get a feel of a place too.

Sadik Sun 26-May-19 22:21:44

Yes, NI / Scotland probably ruled out (and probably places like York / Newcastle unless there's some overwhelming reason to consider them).

I think the grade question is what makes it very tricky. She has ASD & found settling in college hard, plus her teacher for 2 out of 4 subjects was taken seriously ill just after xmas, & teaching was all over the place for most of the 2nd half of the year, so I suspect her AS results won't be great, but hard to be sure.

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titchy Sun 26-May-19 22:23:46

Ok so she is probably looking at high tariff places then - Russell group, league table top 10. Start there. Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Durham.

Manchester and Durham are very very different - maybe start with a visit to those two to find out what she likes/dislikes about both.

Sadik Sun 26-May-19 22:23:59

From my POV I'm inclined to encourage her to the classic west Wales option of working your way down the M4 corridor (partly because her ASD means I'd like to be able to be within reach if necessary). But equally I don't want to limit her options if there's a reason she should look farther afield.

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titchy Sun 26-May-19 22:24:37

Bath has very good reputation with ASD kids.

Sadik Sun 26-May-19 22:25:24

Manchester / Birmingham / Nottingham are all very reachable, I'll get her to have a look at those (plus Bristol of course).

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Sadik Sun 26-May-19 22:26:05

Bath also a good thought - she definitely is going to need to check out the SEN / support options.

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titchy Sun 26-May-19 22:26:16

Bath, Bristol, Exeter all great choices and near enough to escape back to home!

titchy Sun 26-May-19 22:26:47

Looks like you've got your open day shortlist then!

TranquilityofSolitude Sun 26-May-19 22:28:28

With DD1 we looked at the league tables for the subject she wanted, ruled out London and Scotland (at her insistence) and then she looked at the courses online for any in the top 20 that remained. From there, we visited about 7 for open days.

DD2 wanted to do a course that was only offered in a handful of places which made it all much more straightforward!

Petalflowers Sun 26-May-19 22:31:47

In year 12, we went to more local ones,. Ie. Within an hour or so of home, to get the feel of what a university was like. Also, went to a campus one and town/city one, to help decide what would suit dc best. We weren’t too fussy about the actual entry requirements at the time.

From there, we did more research about what dc wanted, and narrowed it down. Ie, how far from home (some friends had a two hour journey limit), large city/ town, campus/town etc, and looked at courses.

who uni

Also, looked on websites lot give us ideas of where to look.

TheFirstOHN Sun 26-May-19 22:32:46

We are in a similar position.
DS2 is in Y12, gets high grades, has ASD, wanting to study Physics; would prefer not study in London.

Sadik Sun 26-May-19 22:35:17

I think Titchy's shortlist plus Swansea (lower grade requirements + a very 'safe' option if dd feels it's all too much) might be a good starting point to visit.

Am I right in thinking there are more open days in September - that would let her have the summer to get her head around things, plus know what her AS results are & she could explore further then?

I'm actually keen for her to consider taking some time out - she's young for her age (even ignoring her ASD) but definitely becoming more confident & socially aware as she gets older. But if she goes to open days it'll help her make a more informed choice as to whether that's a better option for her or not.

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Sadik Sun 26-May-19 22:36:29

We often bump into each other on these threads First smile We have progressed to 'definitely not Aberystwyth' here! (and probably physics over engineering)

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Bouledeneige Sun 26-May-19 22:37:32

For my DS who's in year 12 I've looked at the best places to study his chosen subject - maths, and then looked at the points each set as entry requirements and then added up a fair guess at his predictions and worked down the list. I then made sure I looked for a variety of different types of university, city, campus, older, more modern , north and south.

For my DD, who is going to Manchester in September, her choice was very much on the basis of the course options, facilities and the feel of the place - she very much preferred the buzz of a city university and a larger city at that.

I wouldn't have bothered in year 11 though but would wait till you see her GCSE results and how she finds her A levels before looking at open days. There's a risk she might fix on an idea that she might not choose in a year's time. My DD very much changed her ideas - she thought she'd want to go to Bath or Brighton but didnt like them in the end.

mateysmum Sun 26-May-19 22:38:28

Ok, so in fact you already have a couple of criteria by which to narrow your search

1 Location
Draw a line round the distance you want. Maybe 2 hrs travel time? Easily accessible by public transport?
That will narrow it down a lot but there should still be plenty of options.

2 subject.
what are the offer grades and how is the uni rated for physics
Does the course appeal?
How is the course assessed - exams or continuous. All courses will have both but the balance may vary.

3 campus or city.
You may need to do a couple of visits to decide this. DS said he had no preference but it soon became clear he wanted campus.

4 Support for ASD and perhaps pastoral care

Perhaps get your DD to do a spread sheet with all the criteria then try and rank them to visit. It can be overwhelming but if you can try and be structured in the search it helps. There is so much info out there. The Times has some really good stuff.

titchy Sun 26-May-19 22:40:54

Yes there are open days in September. The summer ones get booked up early so check the websites today or tomorrow and try and book a few in June. (Although you can turn up even if you haven't booked...)

TheFirstOHN Sun 26-May-19 22:42:50

Ideally he would like to be at a campus university (or a small city) within 2 hours of home.

Using these criteria and his likely grade predictions, we were able to narrow it down to a shortlist of 6.

He emailed each of these, asking about the provision of quiet accommodation and whether they could offer accommodation on campus throughout the course. The responses varied, which has added an extra factor to consider.

He attended some open days last year, which helped less than you'd imagine. He is impressed by anywhere with university-level physics labs and physics lecturers who will chat with him about physics, so this hasn't really done much to narrow it down.

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