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University Open Days - do I stay ????

(67 Posts)
lookoveryourshouldernow Fri 22-Feb-13 19:55:00

Hi There

Was planning to drop my Son off over the next couple of weeks to look at some Unis - a drop off and pick up.... but I was wondering whether I should/need to stick around with him to look at Hall accommodation etc etc with him ?

Is this a "done thing" or not - or will I embarrass him ???

Chottie Fri 22-Feb-13 19:59:33

I did not stay with my DC (they were quite happy to look around by themselves and told me it was 'them not me' who was going). But this was about 10 years ago and things seem to have changed now and lots of parents like to go round too.

p.s. both DC got degrees and jobs, so chose ok without my input

Irishmammybread Fri 22-Feb-13 20:10:31

We stayed for the day with our DS, the University seemed to expect it and there were some talks for everyone and also separate talks for students /parents to discuss topics more relevant to each! Most of the students seemed to be accompanied by one or both parents.

Sympathique Fri 22-Feb-13 20:11:34

Depends on you and your DS. Your plan sounds good. I went to some open days, when a chauffeur service made it more do-able, and stayed for some – some universities made it clear they expected parents to scarper, but some laid on parents’ programme though you don’t have to stay. My DC said they were pleased to have a second pair of eyes and ears, someone with a different viewpoint, with experience of studying, living and working in various places. I didn’t ask any questions, awkward or otherwise, and generally behaved myself. One DC ended up somewhere I saw, the other somewhere I didn’t and both were happy. I don’t think me being there had any real effect, though they say I added ideas of what to look for and think about.

Sympathique Fri 22-Feb-13 20:12:38

PS There were always plenty of students there on their tod

sashh Sat 23-Feb-13 04:46:48

A friend went with her son this week. About 50% of students had one or both parents.

Her son asked for his mum to go, it is up to the individual.

BeckAndCall Sat 23-Feb-13 09:09:44

I've stayed fro most open days - I'm on DC 3 now!

But if things get busy, parents are often asked to leave a lecture to make room for the students, so you just wander about a bit for an hour.....

Some unis have specific sessions for the parents too

I go by the rule that if she wants me there, I'll go. If she wants to go with a friends, that's good too.

eatyourveg Sat 23-Feb-13 09:24:00

I went with ds1, there are often things on for parents. I also think that although it is the dc going, its me having to pay for some of it, so I wanted to know just what it was I was forking out for.

When it comes to choosing firm insurance and decline, having another head to remember things we saw or heard was useful. If not you, then maybe your ds could take a friend?

As other posters have said, its entirely the dc choice. At some places we visited, students on their own were in the minority by a long way, at other places it was completely the reverse.

Lilymaid Sat 23-Feb-13 09:37:19

Campus visit veteran here - not really through choice. My DCs visited some universities with friends, for others (especially if transport was going to be expensive) I drove them there. Then, after queueing to get on campus and eventually finding a parking place, I ended up joining the tours etc realising that I couldn't face a drive into the city centre after a 3-5 hour drive and I would do anything to get a coffee!
Some parents are scarey ... treat it like a school visit with an 11 year old. Others, like me, felt distinctly embarassed (in my day, parents didn't turn up on campus until graduation).
I do think it is worth visiting university towns during sixth form so that DCs get an idea what the town is like/quick look at campus. They can then have some idea what the places are like. One campus visit we made, DC loathed place immediately despite it being one of the most highly regarded universities for his subject. After a 90 minutes drive and half hour queue to get onto campus, DC was ready to leave after 15 minutes.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 23-Feb-13 09:37:29

IME (3 at university) the majority of students have parents with them for at least part of the day, certainly with my last one that was the case. Most universities put on different talks/tours for parents so you can leave them to it. But it's up to your son - if he wants to go it alone then let him do that.

I do think that you see different things/ask different questions about a place than they do which is useful when it comes to making the final decisions.

fussychica Sat 23-Feb-13 13:26:57

DS flew over for a couple of open days alone, including his first choice (where he is now) but we happened to be in the UK ourselves for one and it was so bloody hard to get to we took him and stayed. There were talks especially for parents and a nice lunch! I'd say about 80% of people had one or more parents with them. A bit different from when I went when 100% of people were on their own and most had made their own way there too.

creamteas Sat 23-Feb-13 13:30:18

Well if I had my way, I would ban parents from Open days grin.

I think parents started to stay as the cost of uni has increased, thus parents are paying, and this has increased an idea that it is an issue of shared decision making. From my perspective, the growing over-involvement of parents is not a good thing, and has led to a considerable increase on students doing the wrong degree for them or the right degree in the wrong place.

It also means that when it goes wrong, the students don't take responsibility for this, because they always say they followed their parents advice....

And from a purely selfish point of view, we now have to run three times as many open days to fit the parents in, Many of these extras are on Saturdays because this suits parents better so we have to go into work at more and more at weekends on top of the day job with no extra pay angry

(rant over)

Sympathique Sat 23-Feb-13 15:04:04

Creamteas, parents making choices is nothing new. (I was most certainly a case of that, and was threatened with dire consequences, from not getting into university, to being unemployed all my life and eventually to threat of withdrawal of parental contribution if I didn't tow the party line - though I'm not sure they'd have carried that out.) I'd like to think some at least of us are interested in our children making the best decisions for them. My DCs asked for advice for all sorts of things - still do, so it seemed natural to amble along to some open days. After all, if they ask someone to go along and help them choose a car, why shouldn't they ask advice about the far more expensive and significant decision of which university/course? If you are uncomfortable with that, you could do as Birmingham did, to name names; it was top of DC's list and remained so. Of course it was nice to be made welcome in some places but it didn't alter her (or my) view of Brum because parents were politely excluded.

I fear that the extra days you have to work are a side-effect of universities charging students so much money now. There were bound to be many repercussions. Working unpaid overtime has long been a fact of life outside universities. That doesn't make it right, and you have my sympathy.

Sympathique Sat 23-Feb-13 15:05:50

I wanted to do English, by the way!

creamteas Sat 23-Feb-13 18:06:05

sympathique it is true that some parents were always involved, but the extent has grown massively. When I started work as a lecturer, Open Days were mainly applicants with one or two parents. Now it is mainly parents, and sometimes parents come without the applicants. We distinctly state that only one extra person should come, but this is widely ignored and we have had as much as 6-7 people per applicant. I would dearly love to exclude them, but would not have my universities support to do so, as in doing so, as with the changing rules on university entry, the customer is always right!

We also now have parents ringing about their child's progress particularly about poor assessments, and some of them are extremely rude when we point out that it is none of their business (not that I put it in those terms on course grin.

I think it is part of a bigger issue though, that attainment is seen valued rather than education, but that is a different thread.

littleshebear Sat 23-Feb-13 19:46:36

I am a bit surprised at the number of people who do go to open days, so to redress the balance,I am on number 2 going through the process and I have not been to any open days. Neither child wanted a parent to go( I did offer but made it clear, I think, that I didn't actually want to go for myself) - I think it is better they see it is their choice alone and take responsibility for it. Having said that, every person is different and if my other two children wanted me to go, I would,(perhaps would try to persuade them they could manage alone!)The eldest two are very independent and also clear about the courses they had chosen, I could imagine my youngest daughter especially wanting some support.

I would also never dream of interfering at all when they are at university, they are adults, however funded and again it is their responsibility and nothing to do with me.

senua Sat 23-Feb-13 19:52:41

There are arguments for and against. It's nice for the student to have a companion so that they can talk over the Open Day in a meaningful way. The companion is also another pair of eyes and ears who might spot things that the applicant missed.
OTOH, if the applicant has to get there themselves by public transport it can sometimes make them realise that it is bad idea. One place DD looked at was 7 hours away: if she was popping home for a visit, she would have spent most of the weekend travelling!

I made a point of taking her to interviews though. Stressful enough without adding in public transport hiccups.

Happymum22 Sat 23-Feb-13 21:31:39

I went with my DC when I could and if they wanted me there. Working full time there were only a few I got to go to. DD said the other day though she was glad she went to some alone as it was a great experience travelling by train or driving to a far away city which she had never been before and navigating public transport, getting to explore yourself and then coming home and chatting it all through. But also said it was nice to have me with her for some as I often pointed out things she hadn't thought of and she said it was useful to chat to me throughout the day weighing up pros and cons. Loads of parents are there and at this stage unis aren't going to look badly on a parent attending.
DD had some big second thoughts post-open days and so in the summer we did a bit of a road trip (she was learning to drive...horrible memories!!) and went and explored some unis during the summer holidays ourselves.

Going along to your child's interview (and, one worse, sitting in on the interview as some unis allow(!)) is a no no. DD and DS went alone to their interviews, I think I dropped DS off at one then collected him later for one of the interviews, but it gives a very bad impression and looks like your DC has no independent skills if you are ushering them into the department entrance on their interview day! (Besides that DC would probably murder me for being so embarrassing!)

Happymum22 Sat 23-Feb-13 21:35:03

.. Just to add.. I, or my ex-DH, aren't able to fund our DC's university ourselves at all. They pay via working in holidays/student finance loan/bursary. Therefore it was very much up to my DC and I wasn't interested in going to see 'where my money would go' etc.
Although obviously I wanted DC to make the best choice for them.
I work in a school and hear lots of parents having much greater voice over their DC's choice as they are 'paying 9 grand a year it needs to be the absolute best choice!'

HarrietSchulenberg Sat 23-Feb-13 21:50:27

I work at a new-ish university and open days are full of pushy parents and gormless kids. It is almost always that parents ask questions and offspring lurk in the background looking sullen. When they eventually arrive in October they expect to be handheld through everything other than getting pissed and most of them are incapable of taking responsibility for their own wellbeing let alone their studies.

When my dses go to university (6 years away at least) I have no intention of going to open days unless they ask me to. I would rather have swallowed my own eyeballs than had my parents with me, and I think if someone is old enough to leave home and study then they're old enough to visit and choose their own place of study. If they can't do that they aren't ready to go to university.

My university puts on talks for parents to give the potential students time to ask their own questions without mummy and daddy prompting and listening as it's offputting.

Startail Sat 23-Feb-13 21:52:40

Parents at open days??!! The mind boggles.

One I went to by myself on the train.

One DF took me to Reading and let me sort out going to the other side of London by myself. I fucked up the zones and jumped the ticket barrier as I hadn't the faintest idea how to find someone to pay the extra to. I think I'd been on the central zone tube once.

Last one was Canterbury and DF managed to work a sales visit some where near by.

I come from the wilds of Wales, hence London not being somewhere I'd been often.

Happymum22 Sat 23-Feb-13 22:53:23

As Harriet said, at the ones I did go to I certainly would not be asking questions or prompting my DC. They were both pretty confident and applying for RG unis so knew they needed to make a good impression and how to. I'd walk away if DC wanted to ask a question or talk to someone, DC would have been mortified if I did the talking for them. I certainly wouldn't be asking questions at the end of talks, I sat and listened to parents literally speaking for their DC and it drove me crazy!!

Yellowtip Sat 23-Feb-13 23:20:27

Happymum I'm riveted by the idea that any university would allow any parent to sit in on an interview unless there were special circs. Do any? Go on, which? And for which subjects? How completely and utterly bizarre (I can only assume that they reject every single imterviewee who turns up with Mum).

Yellowtip Sat 23-Feb-13 23:21:25

interviewee, not imterviewee.

Still18atheart Sat 23-Feb-13 23:24:13

I always liked having my Mum & Dad with me when I was looking at unis. Just because I value their opinion and I found there was a lot to take in and found that if missed something mum would remember it. Also there were lectures to do with financies which i wanted them to go to as it would just all go over my head.

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