Supporting Your Child at University Open Days
University is an important time that will shape your child’s personality and influence their transition into adulthood. Callum Dawson from The Student Housing Company shares some ideas for supporting your kids in choosing the university that's right for them...
The years spent at university are a pivotol time in young people's lives. In the space of just three or four years, they’ll meet lifelong friends, build connections and get the opportunity to explore a new city. It’s a lot for them to take on, so it’s vital that they make the right decision early on. That’s what open-days are for: your child can learn about the courses they’re interested in and get a feel for the campus and surrounding area.
Your mere presence on the day is a massive help. With the right support, your child will be prepared for what university has to offer. But what constitutes the ‘right support’? It's important to strike a balance between supportive and overbearing (after all, nobody wants to be a pushy parent). Our tips will help:
1. Provide transport
We’ll start with the practical stuff. If their prospective university is far away, driving your son or daughter there will prepare you for more of the same. Almost every ex-student who lived away for uni remembers the long road-trips with their parents, and it’s a brilliant opportunity to bond.
With a playlist of their favourite tunes (and maybe one or two of yours), some snacks, and good conversation, what at first seems a laborious task can become a fun journey for the both of you.
If they’re getting the train, accompany them. You can use the journey to reassure your child. They’ll probably be a bit nervous about the (metaphorical) road ahead, so you’ll have plenty of time to calm their nerves.
2. Take notes of your own
In the excitement of the day, your son or daughter might miss certain details here and there, so it’s a good idea to take notes of your own. Afterwards, you can both compare: you might be surprised by what your child picked up on too.
3. Give them space
Again, you don’t want to be too overbearing. Give your child the space to stroll around the campus, the library, the canteen, or anywhere else they want to check out.
They need to visualise themselves spending a prolonged amount of time in these spaces, so it’s a good idea to do your own thing for a little while.
4. Seek out parent-based lectures
Many universities will host sessions for parents, where you can go and ask questions about your child’s time at uni. These sessions are prime opportunities for you to learn what you can, and they give your son or daughter the space to explore the campus by themselves.
You can also speak to fellow parents and get their take on the university. Unless you’ve gone to open-days before, this is a first for you too. Make the most of it, and ask questions.
5. What questions should you ask?
You and your child should ask at least a few questions while you’re there, so do a bit of prep beforehand and have your best questions ready. You’ll want to think about tutor contact time, the quality of social life, and any opportunities there are to study abroad.
Don’t forget about the course, either. Your child needs to know how the course is assessed because they might prefer exams to essays (or vice versa).
Ultimately, this is your child’s choice and all you can do is support them. Your role is to facilitate their decision and ensure that it’s as informed as possible.
What’s important to them? If it’s a healthy social life, keep an eye out for well-managed student unions, nearby bars, and good places to eat. You’ll want robust security, high-quality tuition, and suitable housing too.
Don’t forget to have fun, either! This is a bonding experience between the two of you, and it will likely set the tone for your relationship over the next few years. Between the homesickness and the deadline stress, your ongoing support will be invaluable.
Callum Dawson is a writer for The Student Housing Company, a provider of high-quality, private student halls in diverse locations across the UK.