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Is anyone else guilty of feeling like this
144

AmyWhiteshead · 04/01/2022 15:13

www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=7148929

(first post)
Came across this thread on The Student Room. This hit a bit differently. Basically DS has gotten offers from Glasgow and Cardiff (insurance) for Maths but he was aiming for Cambridge Warwick or Imperial. I know that these are all Russell Groups and good unis but it feels anticlimactic after a lot of late nights studying, anxiety and
sacrifice from mum and dad'.

This isn't a traditional is uni x good enough thread, I just feel conflicted about whether it's okay to have such high expectations of our child. I appreciate that the pandemic has made everything harder and more competitive but I am a bit disappointed.

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Moominmammacat · 04/01/2022 17:03

It's a terrible thing ... and perpetuated by parents who feel they only want the best for their children but are often going for the headline of "top uni" whatever that means. Oxbridge is by no means the best place for several subjects, not to mention many students. It's where you end up afterwards that matters and also how you feel about yourself.

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irregularegular · 04/01/2022 17:14

I think it is misguided and rather sad to sacrifice a lot or generate anxiety (by parents or kids) around places at Oxbridge etc.

First, whatever you sacrifice and however much you study there is no certain route to these places. Second, a degree at a top university is by no means a certain route to a happy, fulfilling and useful life. And there are plenty of other routes to that life. An atmosphere of sacrifice and anxiety is positively unhelpful.

I teach at Oxbridge and attended myself. It's a great experience in some ways for some people but not for everyone. The admissions process inevitably is partly about luck. One of my children is at Oxbridge, one will be going somewhere less "prestigious". I think at this point they have pretty equal chance of being happy and fulfilled and useful. In fact if anything I'd put my money on the non-Oxbridge one. None of us attended private schools.

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CMhater · 04/01/2022 17:23

Having such high expectations isn't healthy and no matter how hard you hide it your dc WILL feel the pressure radiating from you.
What if they go to Oxbridge but don't like it?
What if they drop out?
What if their future doesn't go as you want it to?
Will your dc feel able to come to you and talk things over or will they feel they have let you down, feel like a failure etc?
I'd rather a happy child who can communicate with me and who doesn't feel the pressure to live up to expectations and who doesn't bottle things up in fear of letting me down.

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LIZS · 04/01/2022 17:25

Has he actually received rejections from the others yet?

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RampantIvy · 04/01/2022 17:26

Glasgow is a very highly regarded university BTW, and a fantastic city.

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Peppapigforlife · 04/01/2022 17:41

When I was about 20 İ hadn't been to university yet, as İ got offers from a top university but messed about travelling a lot and therefore didn't get the grades İ needed, and only wanted to go to a good university. İ started applying for jobs with my A levels- ACD; maths, biology, chemistry and ended up with a recruitment agency in the city for finance jobs. The guy told me İ had more chance of getting employed with my maths A-level than a maths university graduate because İ had left school and gotten work experience, rather than spent three years at university, and employers preferred that. İ never followed it through, because İ still wanted to study and eventually did go to a lower points university, had a great time, and realised İ wanted to work doing something creative anyway!
İ also took a year off after GCSEs as İ didn't enjoy the sixth form İ was at and did the same thing, applied for finance jobs through recruitment agencies. İ went to interviews for top companies and would always get through to the last two candidates and then İ decided to go back to get A levels, as İ wanted to 'complete' my studying.
I'm not boasting or gloating, my point is, in terms of getting a job, it's not the be all and end all to go to a university that has a better reputation.

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PacificState · 04/01/2022 17:45

'having high expectations' can mean different things in practice. If a child/young adult feels oppressed, or feels they have to apply to Uni X because parents will throw a strop if they don't, or feels like a proper failure if they don't happen to get in, then something's gone badly wrong somewhere.

But it's pretty normal (especially in certain social groups - middle class families for one) to want your children to achieve highly in education. I don't beat myself up for wanting that for my kids. I'm glad they are themselves pretty ambitious too. I don't, by a very long way, think it's the most important thing about them, but there's no point pretending that getting a good degree (or a good Masters, these days) isn't a good start on the road to a fulfilled life.

I wonder if the real problem here is having Oxbridge in the system. I do think the UK, and maybe England in particular, has got a screwed-up approach to higher ed. Far too much focus on about ten unis, and not enough prestige in training for skilled occupations. In some ways we're lucky to have Oxbridge but I wonder if our HE system would have developed in a more balanced way if we didn't, and whether our metrics for 'success' would be different

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dingit · 04/01/2022 17:46

My dd has a newly graduated boyfriend from Oxford, her a non Russell group and is earning 10k more than him, both stem degrees

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ClerkMaxwell · 04/01/2022 18:51

I think it is quite common. DD says half the freshers at her halls feel a failure in their parents eyes at ending up in Edinburgh. Not exactly the best start.

Out of interest (as I am a Glasgow maths graduate and sometimes interview new maths graduates) what is it about the Glasgow/Cardiff maths degrees that makes them second rate? Is it pace of learning or depth or choice of modules?

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RampantIvy · 04/01/2022 18:59

DD says half the freshers at her halls feel a failure in their parents eyes at ending up in Edinburgh

That is so sad. Edinburgh is so highly regarded. What were their parents thinking?

I do think the UK, and maybe England in particular, has got a screwed-up approach to higher ed. Far too much focus on about ten unis, and not enough prestige in training for skilled occupations.

I agree. Some posters on MN have several DC at or have been to Oxbridge universities and they are insufferable snobs.

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MarchingFrogs · 05/01/2022 07:03

Hmm...
Here I was, thinking I was buying lifelong advantage for my prized possession, and now look what's happened - ?

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Lightstoobright · 05/01/2022 07:07

Glasgow would be an amazing experience from for uni. It's one of my favourite cities. I wish I had gone somewhere like that. I went to a Russell group uni in a small city and it was dull.

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heidbuttsupper · 05/01/2022 07:21

Places at Glasgow Uni are extremely sought after. It is the 4th oldest Uni in the UK and is an 'ancient'. They are also 10th in the THE ranking.

Not sure what's anticlimactic about that

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AmyWhiteshead · 05/01/2022 09:50

I thought i'd reply in one post... thank you for all replies received so far

@Moominmammacat This is a fair point. But Cambridge Warwick and Imperial are in the top 4-5 unis for maths according to my research. Would you mind elaborating your thoughts on why it's a terrible thing as that is what I was looking for more thoughts on. Thank you for your reply

@irregularegular Thank you for your reply. This gave me a lot of comfort. Ultimately it's the destination that matters and there is no guarantee of anything. I just think that DS would be happier in an environment of his peers where he is being challenged rather than a uni where most maths students are less 'keen' or 'on it' if that makes any sense. Obviously long term fulfilment etc are v difficult to predict.

@CMhater Thank you. These are great points. I think that DH and I need to sit down and discuss these because ultimately the 'harm' is done and I dont want this to tower over my relationship with DH going forward. Thank you again.

@LIZS Yes unfortunately pre-interview rejection from Cambridge and more recent rejections from W/I

@Peppapigforlife Thank you for sharing this. Unfortunately as you can tell we would prefer DS to have a more 'streamlined' path to uni and a graduate job if possible - we don't see the benefit in re-doing A-levels for example so we have tried to persuade DS to not take a gap year and have already been pushing him to get work experience to build up a CV for jobs later down the line. But obviously a year or two in the grand scheme of things is nothing!

@PacificState Thank you for your nuanced and kind view. I think you get it a lot more than the other comments. DH and I come from fairly 'academic' backgrounds (both from top unis, with master's etc) so I would be lying if I said that we didn't expect the same from DS. I can't comment on the Oxbridge point as my understanding is that many countries have elite universities that disproportionately produce leaders/scientists etc?

@dingit Thank you for this - it's always a good reminder that averages in salary and graduate prospects are averages and are not determinative. This knowledge will keep DS on his toes no doubt - complacency and arrogance is dangerous

@ClerkMaxwell + @RampantIvy I also think that this attitude is quite common at unis with lots of privately educated students? I remember us going to a school event with other parents where people were discussing offers. Whenever you heard 'my oldest is at ' or 'my youngest has an interview at ' you'd get oohs and ahhs and several minutes of discussion. By contrast when we were discussing Glasgow you'd get curt 'Ohs' and the conversation would change quite quickly. Felt like a slap in the face.

@MarchingFrogs - I think that this comment is in bad faith. Nowhere did we discuss buying a lifetime advantage. Nor is DS a "prized possession" nor do we treat him like this. But it is disappointing that one of the main reasons for going to a private school is getting into the best uni possible and therefore continuing an already strong education for another 3 or 4 yrs. I don't expect that the benefits of private school will continue from that point because there is a lot of luck and personal choice involved

With regard to the comments about why Glasgow isn't good enough, I'm sure it's a fine uni, but there just isn't much to get excited about. I'm not a maths graduate so I don't know the ins and outs of the course and faculty but my understanding is that C-W-I are seen as more prestigious in the field and are more challenging courses that will turn you into a better mathematician and candidate for postgraduate study and research if you want that route. I imagine that there may also be some 'prestige' benefits for elite jobs that require maths degrees but I don't know. DS has given me indications that he would like to explore the researcher route so academics do matter it's not just about how old the buildings are or how 'fun' the town is (I'm sure every student town has opportunities for fun).

But as I said in the OP I didn't really want to focus on that, this is more about whether I'm justified in feeling disappointed because my DS hasn't gotten into the best. The thread I linked above has a good list of reasons that resonate with me. That's what triggered this post. Also, I regret not apologising in the OP if this post feels like a personal attack on any other mums on this forum, it's not meant to be :/

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LIZS · 05/01/2022 10:05

Presumably those were typically above his predicted grades to have been rejected so early on. You need to manage your and his expectations.

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Seeline · 05/01/2022 10:05

Your pos.t sounds very much about what you want rather than what your son wants.

Private school does not guarantee Oxbridge. Hopefully it gets the best out of your child and allows them to choose what is best for them. You sound bitter that this hasn't happened. Please don't let your DS know how disappointed you are in him, although I fear that it is probably too late.

As others have said, even if of the academic standard required by Oxbridge, it is not for everyone. It is important that students are happy in their place of study, and their wider environment if they are to do well. I know of someone who turned down a Cambridge offer to go to drama school and is loving it.

Has your son got plans for what he wants to do after his degree?

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chopc · 05/01/2022 10:58

@AmyWhiteshead I don't know if you are justified to feel the way you do. However I can tell you there is a whole thread on mumsnet started by me and going on for almost a year as it was so so difficult to get over my DC Post interview Cambridge rejection.

I personally did not think that going to a private school was a shoo in anywhere - it was for the experience and everything it would offer in terms of giving tools for DC to go forward. However I felt he was also a brilliant student and deserved a place at Cambridge. But actually going to the school he did, put things in perspective as there are so many brilliant students.

In any case it's old news but just saying I understand how you feel. Now he is at Durham with a lot of the other people who were unsuccessful for Oxbridge and having a great time

University is still on a path - it is not the destination. For me it was the destination which is why it was particularly hard to take

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nolanscrack · 05/01/2022 11:04

Cambridge usually interview somewhere around 75-80% of candidates,so if he was rejected before interview then he wasnt a very realistic candidate,an exception would be if he applied to Trinity.
To be blunt,if he wasnt a realistic candidate for Cambridge then it follows he wasnt one for Imperial or Warwick,did the school advise him that he should apply to those Unis,what input did the school have?

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CloudberryMess · 05/01/2022 11:17

I mean this kindly. I understand that you have made sacrifices for your DS's education but that was your choice not his and it is not fair to him for you to be expecting a specific return on investment. It sounds like he has given his applications his best shot - you talk about late nights studying and anxiety. You should be proud of this rather than being negative about the offers not reflecting your expectations. Just because you studied at a 'top' university doesn't mean that he needs to and he could actually end up achieving more than his parents with his degree from a 'lesser' University. When I did my first degree I had offers from the traditional 'top' choices and opted for a less traditional University which was further down the rankings but much more cutting edge. My parents wholeheartedly supported me and respected my decision although they didn't quite understand it. My gut instinct was right and my choice led to much greater opportunities than I would ever have had going the traditional route. I believe the unwavering faith and pride my parents always had in me were always key to my career success but more importantly self-esteem and happiness. You will serve your son much better by just getting behind his final choice. Any awkward conversations with other parents will be over in five minutes whilst your relationship with your DS will last your lifetime.

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RampantIvy · 05/01/2022 11:29

Not sure why you are getting your knickers in a twist about getting an offer from Glasgow TBH.

It is still top 10 for maths.

www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/rankings/mathematics

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MangosteenSoda · 05/01/2022 11:30

I really think you need to take a step back, be proud of your son and stop trying to live his life for him. There’s no way the feelings you describe are not going to affect his relationship with you in the long run. Even if you try to keep it to yourself, he will pick up on it.

You should want him to thrive at whichever uni he ends up at and to feel happy to come home for holidays and to not want to avoid his overbearing parents. People go into all kinds of careers from all kinds of educational backgrounds. There are a lot of opportunities out there for your DS whether he goes to Glasgow or elsewhere and it’s madness to look at it any differently.

I teach at an RG uni which has statistically good employment outcomes. However, it depends so much more on the candidate than the uni. Inner confidence, a good attitude, self motivated etc etc that comes from being well supported at home in many cases.

Well done for reflecting on this and for realising how ridiculous it all is. Hope your DS has a wonderful time at uni.

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Pinkdelight3 · 05/01/2022 12:07

I'm sure it's a fine uni, but there just isn't much to get excited about

I hardly think the point of a DC's life journey is for the parent to get excited about it. They're doing well so that's something to be grateful for, but even if they weren't, anyone with an ounce of insight knows that dealing with adversity and even - perish the thought - failure, are the things that make a person.

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Woodlandwater · 05/01/2022 12:17

I've taught at a prestigious Russell group and a few other newer universities. The graduate outcomes are 99% down to the students' own proactivity. Russell group has more money to throw students in the path of employers, but proactive students who seek out summer internships etc get better employment regardless of institution.

Thinking very early on what he wants to do with the degree is very important. The most successful students have secured graduate employment at the start of year 3, were actively applying in year 2, and attending internships and extra courses in years 1 and 2. The least successful students employment wise say they don't know what they want to do and then leave job applications for the summer after their final exams.

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Peppapigforlife · 05/01/2022 12:24

You don't have to re do a levels if you take a gap year. You only retake a levels if you get bad grades.

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Revengeofthepangolins · 05/01/2022 12:39

@LIZS

Presumably those were typically above his predicted grades to have been rejected so early on. You need to manage your and his expectations.

@LIZS. No, for these sorts of universities many applicants with excellent grades will be rejected. And it is sometimes hard to process - when perfect grades are asked for and achieved and then a rejection it comes, it can be hard for applicants to process “what should I have done better” thoughts.
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