Many of us have only just packed our little darlings back off to the classroom to begin another year, quietly glad to have survived the summer. Some of us however are already having to think about Next school year. Yes that’s right, its University Open Day season.
This is my third time so you would think that I am a bit of a dab hand at the entire operation, but I’m not, far from it. And this time is somewhat different as it’s my daughter Martha who will be flying the nest next year. My two eldest are boys, and whilst it was definitely hard saying good bye it also rather felt right and that they needed the freedom and possibilities that university would offer them.
I’m not so sure I feel the same about my first-born daughter. She is still in my mind a little dwt with a French bob in beautiful floral dresses clinging to my leg so I don’t leave her at nursery. In reality though she is a woman child towering over me with amazing eyebrows and legs up to my armpits DESPERATE to get away from me!
We have just returned from a wonderful weekend in Newcastle upon Tyne staying with family and where Martha is considering attending university. I went to Newcastle with her but not to the event. It’s her who will be going to the university not me, and I think we both knew that If I were to go I would’ve asked the questions I WANTED TO ASK and she wouldn’t have stood a chance. She actually went along with her cousin and I knew she would be fine, she’s clever, focused, strong and determined, and it will be her who has to spend the next 3 or so years there not me so it should be her making the decisions.
This may make some of ya’ll fall off your chair, the thought of NOT going along but it works for us. Truthfully there is so much information available on-line and you can make a call to the university yourself, out of earshot of your child and his or her beady eyed peers to assuage your fears as well as lessen their embarrassment.
Anyway, this is about open days and how to help your child yourself cope.
1. Prepare for pre-open day general visits from more local universities and colleges. These generally happen via the school your child attends and they will come home with tons, and I mean tons of recyclables brochures. This is a great opportunity to see what types of courses are available generally if you don’t really have a clue- its changed a lot since our days!
2. Prepare for your child to come home from a session at school where they looked at university possibilities and they are either wanting to stay worryingly close or go worryingly far. It seems that there really isn’t an in between.
3. Prepare to give up a lot of your time (and money) travelling- possibly the length and breadth of the country. Aberdeen and Sussex could just be your child’s two favourite.
4. Referring back to what I wrote earlier, this is their decision but that doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t discuss (influence subliminally) the things that they should ask /look out for / consider when looking around the campus and chatting to staff and or current students.
5. Get ready to rub shoulders with / share a coffee / glass of prosecco ( you deserve it) with other parents either looking totally lost / confused / excited / fed-up or jealous… Just being in a university town, especially when trying to make its best impression to take you back to your own misspent formative years as an undergraduate.
6. Cotton shopping bags. Never in my life have I been in possession of so many shoppers. Every university it seems gives them out promotionally-or lanyards, keychains and coasters. Perhaps save them for secret Santa gifts for a work colleague???
7. A huge amount of time spent thinking about how in the hell your child is old enough to go to university- or how YOU are old enough to have a child who is old enough to go to university.
8. Pride excitement and joy. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work. They have put in the effort and hard work to get the results that will take them to where they maybe had only dreamt. But be proud of yourself too, all those years of washing uniforms, parent’s nights and nativities, last minute finishing helping your child with a project and making bottomless cups of coffee and toast when they have pulled a late one revising. You’ve been there too and this is a milestone that you should both be proud of reaching.
9. Lastly, prepare yourself for time to fly at the most alarming of rates. Faster than the very best party or holiday. The countdown to your baby flying the nest has begun. Start buying single sheets and mugs, deodorant and body wash. Buy them the starter sets of cutlery and utensils when you see them on offer, and buy yourself tissues. Lots and lots of tissues. You’ll need them.
By Ashleigh Edwards, Mam Cymru.