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University visits - helicopter parents?

(155 Posts)
higgle Sat 16-Mar-13 12:37:58

DS 2 is off to uni this year, hopefully. We discussed as a family which universities he might like to apply to, weighed up the pros and cons of various accommodation with him but the choices have been entirely his. He went to Leeds last week, which is his first choice and where he has an offer we think he will be able to meet, for an open day. I simply bought him some rail tickets and left him to it. He returned home quite shocked that all the other applicants had had at least one parent with them. As a result of this there was not much opportunity to talk to the others who would be on the course, though the tutors spent more time discussing various things.

When I was off on this sort of visit nearly 40 years ago I wouldn't have dreamed of inviting my parents along ( although they wre footing 100% of my expenses). We will take him if and when he starts, and of course visit fairly regularly. Am I very odd to be the only parent who didn't go or send spouse?
Does the fact that all the others wanting to do this course seem to be girls explain this?

tallulah Sat 16-Mar-13 16:31:28

There have been several threads on this very subject in the last 3 weeks, so I'm amazed you didn't know that parents generally go these days.

nagynolonger Sat 16-Mar-13 16:36:31

When my eldest went to university (1998 and 2000) it was the norm for parents to attend open days. There was a separate 'talk and tour' for the parents. I didn't go but DH went along. DD and DS1 were the first to go from our families and it was useful to find out how it all worked. Sometimes he just dropped them off and sometimes he went to the parents talk/tour.

It's not helicopter parenting at all. If they can cope with a 300+ per year state comp they can cope with university.

We were also invited along for a look round the training school when our other sons left home to do their apprentice training. We had a tour and lunch and then left them to it.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Mar-13 16:37:30

I was surprised to see yet another- there have been so many threads lately. I think it is a bit much for postgrad.

Lifeisontheup Sat 16-Mar-13 16:55:21

My DS didn't go to any open days with or without me.blush He's in his second year and we visit once a term mainly because it's Exeter and we like going there. We take him and his girlfriend out to dinner and slip him a few quid which he seems to appreciate and then leave him to it.

Next year he will be in Venice and we will be visiting him the city , I nagged him to choose a place I wanted to see so I would have an excuse for a nice long weekend.
My DD did go to open days but on her own as we couldn't get time off, we don't visit her as she's in the neighbouring city and comes home quite often, in fact is popping back this evening for a roast. smile

Copthallresident Sat 16-Mar-13 17:01:49

Tunip When I did my Masters in 2005 I received a letter at my home address (which is also my term address) addressed to my parents explaining the strategy the University were adopting towards industrial action. I don't think my parents are suddenly going to become helicopter parents now they are in their seventies grin

paulapantsdown Sat 16-Mar-13 17:14:04

I don't understand why you wouldn't go if your child wanted you to?
Its one of the biggest decisions of their life so far, and perhaps they might want your opinion or perspective?

I don't understand this attitude of "right, legally an adult now, of you go and live your life - nowt to do with me anymore". I find it a bit sad.

Cremolafoam Sat 16-Mar-13 17:21:06

For my interviews I was dropped off at the ferry or airport with 2 mahoosive art folders and a rucksack . On arrival in England I had to negotiate trains buses and crazy people. There was no booking in advance mobile phones Internet and I knew nobody in England except a distant cousin . I traipsed everywhere alone and oh made it home in one piece just( was robbed in the Arndale centre in Manchester but had £ 20 in my shoe to get to Liverpool and onto the boat)grin
I will be asking dd if she wants me at her open days. She is well able to do it on her own but if she wants morale support ill go gladly.grin

landofsoapandglory Sat 16-Mar-13 17:25:48

DS1 wanted me to go along so he had some to discuss the positives and negatives of each location and course, with. As I had seen the sites, listened about the differing course contents etc, I could give him an informed opinion on where/ what I thought suited him best. I couldn't have done that just from reading a prospectus and having a vague idea of the location.

DS1 and I have a very good relationship. He would have wanted my opinion if we weren't contributing finacially, too. I don't understand why anyone would think it is "helicopter parenting", is it a massive decsion, two pairs of eyes, two minds are often better than one.

Turniphead1 Sat 16-Mar-13 17:27:12

I must be really odd - but for some reason I didn't go and visit any of the universities I was considering. This was the start of the 90s. No one at my school did. Apart from the Art students or Oxbridge people who had to do actual interviews. Hmmm.

My eldest is only 9 but I think I'd quite like to go round & look at the universities when the time comes. Because I am generally nosey rather than a helicopter parent.

Jins Sat 16-Mar-13 17:27:45

Open days - fine

Interviews and post offer open days where they spend a day in the department -not so fine

Accompanying your child into the interview - helicoptering

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Sat 16-Mar-13 17:27:58

I think it's odd - wouldn't have dreamed of taking my parents not that they'd have been interested but then they weren't paying the fees.

I've taken DS to two of these recently; for the first, he sent the reply slip back for one person without mentioning it smile, so I took him and went shopping.
Next one was DH's alma mater, so he insisted was keen to go, although I went in the end as he was sick. It definitely is considered the norm these days I'm afraid.

I don't feel that my financial contribution should mean I get to influence DS's choice, but I suspect that's not the case for a lot of families. And there can be things a parent notices that the student wouldn't iyswim.

Mondrian Sat 16-Mar-13 17:29:36

My friend's 17 yr old son was offered a place at a top university in states upon attending the interview/open day. It came as a bit of a surprise as it was punching above his weight but the uni were impressed that he had flown all the way from Europe all on his own ... I rest my case.

MirandaWest Sat 16-Mar-13 17:32:37

How do parents go to so many? Would need a lot of taking time off work. I have a while for this to happen as DS and DD only 9 and 7 but I loved going off round the country on my own.

CabbageLeaves Sat 16-Mar-13 17:34:24

My DC organised all their own applications/visits and I provided transport. I didn't feel like a helicopter parent, more of an interested one. I didn't go to all open days and didn't go to interviews. Attendance was possibly nosy but not helicopter motivated.

OhYouBadBadKitten Sat 16-Mar-13 17:38:26

My parents would have cramped my style. I wanted to make my own decision.

When it comes to dd I guess it is entirely up to her whether she wants me or dh along or not. I'll go with the flow.

secretscwirrels Sat 16-Mar-13 17:39:28

I plan to go to initial open days and then he can go alone to departmental post offer days.
He has to live there for at least three years, it's a massive commitment not least financially. I will only be there for a second pair of eyes and ears and probably to drive half way up and down the country or pay the rail fare.
DS has just produced a list of those he plans to look at, it's like planning a military campaign. Many open days overlap and he will be up and down the country. Could we do Bath and Bristol on two consecutive days and save hundreds of miles of travel. Nope.

AtiaoftheJulii Sat 16-Mar-13 17:41:12

I went to 3 open days for myself last year - at one there were lots of mums, one had lots of mature students and a few mums, and the last and biggest one was mostly small groups of sixth formers and a few parents.

My parents certainly didn't come to any open days with me in the late 80s. My eldest is in y11 - I guess I'll just do whatever she wants. I know she can do it by herself if she wants, but I also know I will feel nosy about it!

Interviews - no. When I had my Oxford interview I had to stay a night or two - definitely not one to take your mum to!

BrianButterfield Sat 16-Mar-13 17:43:15

My parents came in 1997/98 and it wasn't that uncommon. I am very independent and lived abroad a year later so it was nothing to do with helicoptering, or finance either. It's just a big decision and it's nice to have some support.

DH's dad went to his too, at the same time, and he's generally a very hands-off parent when it comes to education. It's not new and it's not weird.

SwedishEdith Sat 16-Mar-13 17:44:19

I went to all of mine alone in the mid-80s. Didn't occur to anyone that I wouldn't go alone but I do accept that times have changed on this and that I'll be expected to go but with a teenager who will act embarrassed that I am there - can't win.

Perhaps they should lock all of the parents out when they give presentations to the students and have a separate talk for parents to raise any matters they're interested in.

On one of my open days, we separated into 4 groups and had to have an impromptu debate about something, voting for a spokesperson etc (me - hence remembering it!) That's no place for parents

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 16-Mar-13 17:51:01

Yes - I agree with the comments about sales pitch.

And that attending an open day does not a helicopter parent make.

Perhaps they should lock all of the parents out when they give presentations to the students and have a separate talk for parents to raise any matters they're interested in This is pretty much what they do. Well not lock you out obviously but offer separate talks. grin

Potterer Sat 16-Mar-13 17:52:08

I don't understand why you wouldn't want to know where your child is going. It doesn't matter if they are 18 or 20 wouldn't you still want to see what they were considering?

My children are below the age of 10 but my best mate has an 18 year old daughter and last year I accompanied them both to an open day. I went to uni in the 90's and my best mate never went (she is older than me, had an incredible gap year where she got to fly all over the world for her job so never went to uni)

I was asked to go as she wanted the opinion of someone who had been. When I went grants had been frozen and I took out a loan to top up my grant, my parents didn't help me out financially.

My mate will be part funding her daughter's living allowance so wanted to see what her money bought accommodation wise. She had also never been to the city so wanted to see what it had to offer. Plus it was good to see how good the canteen was on site considering that some of the accommodation offers part catered.

landofsoapandglory Sat 16-Mar-13 17:53:21

I've just been to the post offer open days. In the groups of 30-40 potential students, only 2 or 3 were alone. It really did seem like the norm that parents went along. I know, amongst DS1's friendship group the vast majority of them have taken a parent along.

SwedishEdith Sat 16-Mar-13 17:55:53

Glad to here there is some separation of parents and potential students.

ggirl Sat 16-Mar-13 18:01:43

My dd is in her 2nd yr , I drove her and two friends to the open day and left them to it and went shopping for the day, did another drop off for another uni and left her to it with a friend.
SHe went to see 2 other unis and arranged to meet dept heads to look around, I went with her to these as her chauffeur and to keep are company.

She wasn't bothered that I wasn't at the open days..much preferred having mates to look around with, but I imagine if none of her mates were going as well she would have appreciated some company.

Chopchopbusybusy Sat 16-Mar-13 18:03:26

I went with DD1 to a post offer day last week. I did see one young man on his own. Every other potential student was accompanied. The admissions tutor was talking to some of us about her visits to other universities with her DCs, so she obviously thinks it's normal.
DH and I will be making a significant contribution to DDs living expenses as she can only apply for the minimum loan. I'm interested to see how my money will be spent.

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