Many secondary school graduates or school leavers face a difficult decision; whether or not to attend university at some stage. If they do, they will have to make further choices about which uni to go to and which courses to study. It can be a difficult time. Although this decision should ultimately be your child’s, as parents, we want to support any decision-making & take a little of the pressure off if we can. So, here are 5 tips to help your teen decide on a university.
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Know Your Child’s Chosen Courses
Before you can really assist with any decision-making, you really need to know what your child’s chosen courses are. Or at least what courses they are thinking about taking. You might find some universities may not do the course your child’s looking for.
If your child has not yet made up their mind, it’s worth encouraging them to make that final decision well in advance of applying. Also, once they’ve made that decision, they want to be certain it’s the right course for them. Although some universities allow students to transfer to another course within the first term, they may still have to wait until the next academic year.
Know Your Universities
Research is key to finding the right university. Check the university rankings. Knowing how a university ranks, when compared with another, may lead you to sway one way or the other. The student to child ratio is very important. The lower the ratio the better. Smaller classes mean more one to one time. Make sure you’re familiar with the entrance criteria.
Having all of this information to hand when discussing university options with your child means you’ll be better prepared to address any questions that come your way and you will already have a clear understanding of what’s best for your child.
If you thought choosing a primary school was complex, you’ll find the choice of the university even bigger.
A good way to get your child excited about attending university is by researching and even visiting the location. For example, if you’re looking at London universities, there are London student tour packages you could look into. These tours are tailored for specific subjects and cover a large spectrum, including art & design, architecture, business & economics, cartoon & comic arts, computing, engineering and health & social care.
If possible, do this research alongside your child so that you can both learn about the many alternatives at the same time. This will offer them more control over their lives at a time when they may feel out of control.
The Money Issue
As a parent, you will always be concerned about money when your child is deciding which university to attend. You must be aware of the financial aid packages that are available should you need them. For example, you may be entitled to apply for a tuition fee loan and/or a maintenance loan that helps towards the living costs. A great way to check what financial help you can get is the Student Finance Calculator.
This can have a significant impact on the universities to which your child can apply, therefore it is critical that you get this information as quickly as possible. This way, you can ensure that you only look at universities that you can really afford and avoid disappointment.
Don’t Be Pushy
A very important point to note as a parent is not to push your child along any specific path – and to be as unbiased as possible when they ask for guidance. This is such a major choice, one that will affect your child’s life for the rest of their life. Pushing them in a direction that isn’t appropriate for them simply because you wanted to go to that college or know there is a fantastic degree programme there might be a huge mistake. Even if the institution is excellent, if your child did not choose it, they may not be happy & want to leave early or worse, they may even resent you for pushing them in that direction.
The same is true if your child expresses a desire not to attend college. If they change their minds later, they can apply to enrol as a mature student or study online part-time if that works much better for them. Or, they may choose not to attend university at all and be completely content with that option. They must do what is best for them, and although your advice is helpful, it should always be just that; advice.