Going to university has always been an exciting yet stressful experience, and nowadays there are so many forms, procedures, and that is on top of having to pass those A-levels. Top-up fees, changes in admission procedures and student loans are all things which the hopeful student now applying to university has to contend with, and the fact is, parents have to contend with these things too.
‘What every parent should know…before their child goes to university’ was written when author Jane Bidder’s own eldest child went to university and she discovered that there was little information for parents on how to cope with sending their child into higher education.
The number of students taking degree courses in the UK has increased 300% since 1984, so if your child is applying to university, there is a very good chance that you have not been to a university, polytechnic or higher education college yourself. And, as Bidder points out, even if you have, things have changed a lot since your day!
For example, semantics have changed; with youthful inverted snobbery, everyone I knew who went to university described themselves as being at ‘college’, no matter how renowned the establishment they attended. Now, with the popularity of Australian daytime soaps, everyone goes to ‘Uni’.
Since the old polytechnics are all universities now, you apply to just six through UCAS (not UCCA any more) instead of having to hand write applications individually to each poly as well as doing your UCCA form.
No longer is your first glimpse of the University which you’ve applied to at your interview; most hold open days for prospective students. However, advises Bidder, with the amount of work required for AS and A Levels, it is worthwhile starting to go to these as soon as GCSEs are out of the way, otherwise you simply won’t have time.
Sending a child off to university is an emotional time for parents as well as their children, and Bidder describes how to handle the mixed emotions perfectly in this book. By using both her own experiences, talking to other parents and to students she is able to explain (if not excuse!) some of the strange behaviour that new students display. She describes how, when delivering her son for his first year he asked them to leave as soon as possible. I remember doing the same to my parents, not wanting them hanging around when I had all these new people to impress. At least now I know I wasn’t the only one……
‘What Every Parent Should Know...’ will guide you through all stages of the application procedure, from getting hold of those prospectuses and filling in the forms to what to do if they don’t get the grades and how to help your child through the second and third years.
Jane Bidder has written the book that she would have liked to read before she embarked on the experience. I expect there are plenty of students who wish that their parents had read this book too. When I went to university my parents, their information gleaned from ‘Brideshead Revisited’ and Enid Blyton’s school tales were quite convinced that I had to take all my belongings up in a trunk. I finally managed to persuade them to change their minds, as did a friend of mine whose parents took some convincing that she would be allowed on campus without a duffle coat.
If you want to avoid embarrassing your children and would like guiding through the maze of the university application procedure ‘What Every Parent Should Know...Before their Child goes to University’ by Jane Bidder is available at Amazon.co.uk. It includes information on the new fee system to be introduced for the 2006/2007 academic year.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.