Parent Blog: Lauren – Information Stage
Lauren has four children, three of which have attended University and the fourth is considering a degree or degree apprenticeship to start in 2019.
So… your son or daughter thinks they want to go to uni… What do you, as parent(s) need to know?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that this is your young person’s experience, and if they are serious about making a go of it, then it’s wise to stand back a little, and let them lead on most of the research. This approach can give vital insights and show how motivated they really are. For example, it helped me realise that one of my children had her heart set on a gap year first before going to uni.
That said, there will be things you absolutely need to research for yourself. You can find out a lot of accurate information online, on UCAS.com and the individual university sites. Attending uni open days can become expensive but, in my opinion, is really well worth the investment of money and time for all the information and guidance you will take home with you. If you attend an open day at a University, you may be able to talk with a Parent Ambassador. I also recommend talking with other parents you know who’ve have had children go to uni, but not every family knows other uni families.
The first big area to research is which course and university is a good choice for your son or daughter. It is absolutely worthwhile talking with teachers and careers advisors at their current school or college. Regarding the course, you may want to ask about career opportunities after the degree. As for which university, I believe open days are a vital part of the process of choosing a city and an institution.
The next big area to understand fully is what’s needed to get onto the preferred course, regards grades and application deadlines. This is so important while you still have time to support your son or daughter. For example, it may make the difference in you offering vital support with their UCAS statement or deciding a tutor or extra placement experience is needed to get them over the line and onto a specific course. I have learned it’s vital to start planning early, and stay ahead of the game all the way through.
Financial planning is another big area to understand fully. I researched all the basics about course fees and student loans and tried to find out as much as I could about extra costs. These can include books, equipment, visits, and if your son or daughter is on a degree with placement blocks, may also mean additional travel and accommodation costs. Every university has a team of specialists who deal with student finances, and if finances look like they may be a concern, it’s worth asking about extra bursaries and support, well in advance.
My final big area to find out about is what communication you will receive from the university while your son or daughter is there. I learned quite quickly that they will be treated as an adult, and barring health emergencies, updates on everything, from accommodation niggles to academic progress will come from your student not their university. So talk with your son or daughter and ask the most important question of all, how are we going to keep each other updated while you are at uni?