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    University Choices/ Advice

    Just been to our sons 6th form school for a UCAS meeting, dos'nt seem 5 minutes since he started 6th form. I know some of you are at Uni or have been to university. Why did you want to go, How did you find the whole process ? How did your parents cope with it ? To me as a parent I feel its a minefield with what he has to do, picking of courses, applying,excepting offers etc etc, it seems so much to take in at the moment never being in this postion before, The school seems to be switched on & my lad dos'nt seem too phased by it all.

    One of the things that was mentioned that 80% of students that take a degree dont end up using it for thier future employment, I cant understand that ! why spend 3/4 years doing something that you might not use. Are you taking a degree that wont be used for future employment ?

    many thanks for any input.

    14 Comments

    make sure he chooses the right degree, i know at least 20 ppl who changed degrees after 1st year, some even dropped out

    micoo;8206710

    make sure he chooses the right degree, i know at least 20 ppl who changed … make sure he chooses the right degree, i know at least 20 ppl who changed degrees after 1st year, some even dropped out



    +1 or takes some time out to think about it more - volunteer somewhere that interests him etc.

    80 percent! jees-knew it was high but not that high! our oldest went to uni and the paperwork was just endless,applying for entry,grants blah blah etc etc-but Its worth it m8-if this is what they have their heart set on then you have to let them go for it.

    Our oldest did engineering,2 years at glasgow uni,then did his 3rd and 5th year at virginia tech in america where he met his wife and they are now living in aberdeen where he works on tech support for the rigs.

    My only advice would be to make sure he has a clear plan what he would do with the degree he is considering-what career path after uni? My wifes youngest brother did a degree in philosophy and now works as a town planner.

    As long as the boy has his head screwed on right,he will be fine,and tbh,even if it doesnt work out to plan,he will always thank you for supporting him.

    btw-its gonna cost you a fortune!

    Original Poster

    he really has'nt much idea at the mo what he wants to do later on in life, taking some time out is a possibility. Its fustrating for us, because i keep thinking & telling him this is what i would do blah blah, but at the end of the day i iknow It has to be his choice/s.

    I dont remember reading any of this in the Dummies guides to being a parent :-D

    "Essentially, you need to choose a course that you are capable of doing (from academic, financial and practical perspectives), in a location where you will be happy, which will give you a degree that will facilitate your future employment. For example, if you choose a university which is miles from home, you need to make sure you can handle that emotionally. Also, consider the cost of living since this varies enormously throughout the UK. Finally, make an effort to visit the university and reflect on your impression of the campus and staff (both teaching and administrative). You might want to compare the style of teaching (contact time, teaching hours and methods and the units offered). The facilities are equally important – how impressive is the library; will you have access to electronic materials; what are the opening hours of the library? The efficacy of the Student 's Union is also important – do they run the events/trips/competitions that you want and need, and how much do they cost? Of course, the last factor is also one of the most important: social life – if you aren’t happy at a given university,, you won’t achieve your full potential, and a decent social life is a key part of that.”That's the advice I gave last time someone asked me where to study. I think it still holds true. Of course the decision to study at all is one he has to make - if he doesn't want it, there's sod all point. There's also the consideration that many degrees don't lead anywhere at all - you want a solid degree in something that either leads to a job he knows he'll love, is related to his academic strengths, and or has broad commercial applicability.

    Not many degrees will lead you directly into a job related to your topic, and most of those are vocational courses such as medicine, law, etc. However, that is not to say a degree in another subject is not valuable. What is important, in my opinion anyway, is to do a good degree at a respected university, and most importantly to do well in it. Loads of degree can give you excellent skills which are widely useful in the jobs market- foreign languages, for example (wish I'd done more of them). If you go down the route of a popular, but not vocational, topic such as English or History, you need to make sure that not only do you get on a good course but also that you get good marks- so many people do courses like this you really need to distinguish yourself from the others.

    I think at the end of the day, if you get a 1st in anything, most employers will see that you have the potential to work hard and do well. This is the sort of thing employers are looking for when selecting candidates who haven't got a degree which is strictly relevant ie. your ability to consistenly produce good results. It doesn't so much matter what has been studied- although of course some subjects/degree courses/unis are better respected than others-but how well you have done.

    I did a degree which wasn't/hasn't been at all relevant to what I'm doing now, but that hasn't seemed to matter. I did something I enjoyed at a uni which I thought was nice. If your son hasn't got firm career plans at this stage it doesn't matter too much. But he should look into doing something he thinks he will enjoy for three years. Also, I have discovered that there are LOADS of things you can do at uni that schools don't always tell you about because they have not been part of the school curriculum, especially if he is interested in a degree with a more practical side, for example. Have a look online as see what is available; the UCAS website is also good and lists many 1000s of courses which have probably never crossed your mind before (I recently helped my brother changed course so we spent many hours searching this).

    Original Poster

    many thanks for all you input, much appriciated

    Have been through this many times. It is terrifying as a parent, totally new ground. Youngest son will graduate in a few weeks, not a clue what next, apart from travelling.

    A good grade at the end is far more important to employers than the actual subject matter of your degree. Mine was in law and I practised for a few years after leaving uni, but to be honest the business was so money-grabbing and bitchy that I trained as a driving instructor and havent looked back ! My degree got me jobs and opened doors that I wouldnt have had otherwise even when the jobs / doors bore no relationship to the law - people were simply impressed that I had a good "academic" degree. My daughter is studying ancient history and has no set idea what she will do after uni - and she only has 1 more year to go. She has a really broad spectrum of opportunities open to her - teaching, research, industry, etc, and will decide what she wants to do based on what jobs are available at the time she graduates - and if there's nothing then she can go travel for a year or two, get some experience of the world and then settle down when she is ready. There seems to be a lot of pressure on youngsters to say now what they are going to do in the future - how on earth can most of them even know that at this stage ?? I certainly didnt know what I wanted but I found my niche by working different jobs and getting to know the world outside.

    Leaving home to go to uni is one of the most important steps in a youngsters life - independence from family but with the back-up of uni accomodation, support staff - both academic and personal - and the opportunity to meet a myriad of different people with wildly different views, values and knowledge.

    I would give anything to have those years again hehe :-) !!!

    Original Poster

    iglimpse;8207541

    Have been through this many times. It is terrifying as a parent, totally … Have been through this many times. It is terrifying as a parent, totally new ground. Youngest son will graduate in a few weeks, not a clue what next, apart from travelling.



    I could'nt agree more ! all very new to me as i left school & went straight into work, apart for 3 years vehicle mechanics college.

    vraptorchick;8207563

    There seems to be a lot of pressure on youngsters to say now what they … There seems to be a lot of pressure on youngsters to say now what they are going to do in the future - how on earth can most of them even know that at this stage ??



    they do seem to be pushing them through pretty fast !

    Don't pick a "popular" degree ... think about what will lead to the best job opportunities. I did a HR Management degree because I had been working in HR before Uni and thought it would push me up the career ladder (HR generally pays well). The competition for jobs when I graduated was astounding - experience would have got me much further.

    A friend of mine did Criminology and I honestly found his course more interesting than mine.

    If I were to do it again, I would pick something which I found genuinely interesting and could lead to a unique career.

    Another consideration is location - think about somewhere fun, socialable and not too close to home (I grew up in Somerset but went to Uni in Newcastle!!).

    I wholly support the advice regarding doing a degree that you enjoy as much as one that you're good at and/or leads you into a preferred profession. Unless your son has his heart set on a definitive area professionally, doing something he enjoys will be a great benefit. Even if he does have some idea what he wants to do, it may still be viable to do a different degree first. In terms of legal careers, for example, a law degree is in no way a necessity, and many candidates are now doing the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) after a first degree, which is no disadvantage, and if anything is quite the opposite.

    In terms of the process, there should be plenty of information available to your son for every step. Just take it as it comes, note the various deadlines, and you'll both (recognising how stressful this must be for you as well) be fine.

    Choice of university is not as important as it may seem at this stage. Getting at least a 2:1 when you do the degree is far more important in the long term. So consider more than just reputation and strength academically when choosing a university; choose one that seems like a decent place to live as well. After all, he will be living there for at least three years. If you can't live somewhere and be happy you certainly can't study effectively there.

    "many candidates are now doing the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) after a first degree, which is no disadvantage, and if anything is quite the opposite. "
    Most firms do a 50/50 intake of law v non law now. The bar is a little less accepting of the GDL though, at around 68/32 law v non law by the QEDlaw stats. Plus the GDL means another what £8k? Worth considering that.
    Probably irrelevant though for the OP - law is a great degree, but it is incredibly competitive now, more so than ever before.

    seancampbell;8216890

    "many candidates are now doing the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) after a … "many candidates are now doing the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) after a first degree, which is no disadvantage, and if anything is quite the opposite. "Most firms do a 50/50 intake of law v non law now. The bar is a little less accepting of the GDL though, at around 68/32 law v non law by the QEDlaw stats.

    But those statistics don't tell the full story, as there are far fewer people who do the GDL compared to a law degree. Meaning that relatively speaking chances are strengthened with a GDL. Besides, no decision is going to be made by either a law firm or chambers solely on the law degree/GDL comparison, especially in the current climate, so such figures don't have the greatest relevance in general.

    Plus the GDL means another what £8k? Worth considering that

    True. And if a career in law is the ultimate aim another £10k+ will then be required to do the LPC/BVC.

    Probably irrelevant though for the OP - law is a great degree, but it is … Probably irrelevant though for the OP - law is a great degree, but it is incredibly competitive now, more so than ever before.

    Again, true. Without the proper desire for a career in law you'll really have your back against the wall in the current climate. It's amazing how many paralegals in the major law firms are LPC qualified now because they can't get training contracts, and on the barrister side of things the figures for pupillage after candidates have finished the BVC are shocking.
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