Touring the universities

Guiding your children through life after school is an educational process.

Higher education, degree

 

Negotiating the university application process is a long haul and young people need support to think it all through, particularly in a world of mounting costs. Writing the personal statement seems to begin before they have any idea what they actually want to do next, unless they are lucky enough to have a five-year plan. I don’t even think I have a five-year plan now.

Daughter three has been battling with the whole thing. She drafted her personal statement in the summer with no idea what the top line was – ie what she wanted to do or indeed if she wanted to do anything. Recently she has settled on something called liberal arts, a US import involving all manner of subjects from engineering to Spanish, which seems the perfect course for her as it avoids her having to specialise too much in a world where interdisciplinarity is key for new ideas and for embracing the complexity of the multiple challenges the world faces. The only problem is there are not many liberal arts courses in the UK.

So the other weekend we went to an open day at the one nearest home, something we hadn’t been able to do with daughter two due to Covid. It was beautiful and everything you needed seemed to be on campus. Only son spotted the Starbucks within seconds of entering the campus. The only fly in the ointment is, as I told daughter three, she will not be able to afford Starbucks when she is a student, but, on the upside, she might get a job there if enough of the others can. There was a supermarket too and a cafe. And the main building looked like something out of Harry Potter. The students all seemed very approachable and the lecturers were reassuring. I wanted to go there.

Everything you needed seemed to be on campus, including accommodation, which also made it seem quite safe, speaking as a parent. But daughter three thought it might be better to be in a city with people other than students. I see her point. We went to an introductory presentation, talked to some student ambassadors and daughter three attended a taster session on existentialism. She was impressed, but wants to shop around.

Only son was perhaps more impressed, mainly by the Starbucks and the availability of sockets. He had brought all his tech gear with him for the afternoon. I asked if he wanted to go there. ‘I’m way too young for university, mum,’ he replied.

Daughter three is now investigating other universities. She wants to take a year out in any event to explore different jobs and is busy organising that. Daughter three is very good at research and is very together about all things organisational. Unlike her sister, daughter two, who rang me the other day to ask how to get to our old house in Walthamstow. It turned out she had no idea where on Earth Walthamstow was in London, despite having lived there for four years of her life and visited many, many times, although not on the tube.

Now daughter three only has to come up with four other choices to put on the Ucas form – and, of course, pass the A Levels…



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