We appreciate that as a parent you want the best for your child, especially when it comes to their education. For many students, university is the first proper taste of independence – and helping your child with their application is one of the last things you can do for them before they go it alone. It’s important to guide them through this process, ensuring that they make the best choices for both their education and wellbeing.
We’ve put together a list of ways you can help out with their uni application, from helping to choose their course to taking them to open days – you’ll be fully equipped to aid your child’s transition into higher education.
Choosing the Right Course
This isn’t a decision that you can make for them, in fact, you should probably take a step back when it comes to this because only your child will know the topic that they really want to study. There’s no point trying to convince them to sign up for a degree that isn’t suited to them, as this can lead to unhappiness in other areas of their life.
What you can do is help them choose the right course in their chosen area by researching what’s on offer. Remember, the aim is choosing the right path for your child to follow, so finding a course that satisfies their educational needs is the best way for you to help at this stage. Every student is different, and various courses cater for this. Some students perform better in coursework than exams, and others would benefit from a course with good industry links – it’s completely subjective, so find out what your child needs and base your research around this.
As a parent, you can offer guidance to your child if they aren’t too sure on the topic that they want to study. Taking a realistic attitude when approaching this is important; you can take a look at your child’s A-level choices and work out potential courses that are relevant to the subjects that they currently find interesting.
It is also important to assess your child’s skills. If they excel in a particular area, it may be wise for them to develop this at university level. If your child doesn’t know what they want their future career to be, think about their strengths, weaknesses and interests so that you can suggest potential career options that will suit them best, and from here you can put a plan in place to help them reach this goal.
Choosing the Right University
So you’ve found a few courses that meet your child’s educational needs, match their skills and give them some good career opportunities. The next step is finding which of these are ideal for them, and the best way to do this is by jumping in the car and going to see what it’s all about. Open days are a great way to get a feel for a city or town as well as the university and are a really important factor in deciding where your child will continue their education.
As your child is committing the next three years of their life to university (maybe more), the location of where they choose to study is ultimately their decision. As a parent, you should give them everything that they need to make that choice. Taking them to meet university tutors will help them to find out what they can expect from the course, and to see if it’s right for them. Look around the city or town, find out about the student areas, and generally soak in the atmosphere – all of this will help your child to decide if that university is right for them.
This is also a good time to take a look at accommodation options, to find out the type of housing where your child will feel most comfortable, and to explore what the city has to offer. The first year at university is often a transitionary period, and students need to have everything to hand as they are learning the ropes and finding out how to look after themselves. The best accommodation gives parents peace of mind, and it ensures you that your child is living somewhere that looks after the needs of the students.
Consider your child’s wellbeing when advising them on university choices – this is probably their first opportunity to leave home and take care of themselves, so it’s important that they can cope with university life. The ideal university is far away enough from home for your child to develop and become independent, while being close enough for you to help them if the pressures of university get too much.
The Application Process
There are a few elements that universities consider when looking at applications for their courses, but one of the most important is the personal statement. This is an opportunity for your child to really express their personality and persuade the university why they are right for that degree. UCAS recommends that there are two main areas to address: why you’re applying and what makes you suitable.
If your child’s personal statement covers these points, the next step is making sure it reads properly, as errors in spelling and grammar can be damaging to university applications. Read over their writing to make sure it flows, and ask others to take a look at it for them. After giving them feedback, your child will then be able to redraft their personal statement (UCAS recommends doing this a few times), in order to give themselves the best chance at gaining a place on that course.
It’s Ultimately Their Decision
University is the first step towards independence. It’s a time when your child will have to start making serious decisions for themselves. They have a lot to weigh up when deciding how they want to spend the next few years of their life, and as a parent your job is, of course, to give them the guidance that they need to make the choice that’s best for them.