Saturday, 4 October 2014

University thoughts

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We haven't really got any plans for this weekend, which is quite unusual for us.  My 15 year old daughter said she just wanted to revise today.  She has some assessments next week and her mocks are approaching.  Apparently her mocks are quite important as it will reflect on her college application.  She wants to go to a college which is over subscribed and are quite picky about a students credentials.

It got me thinking about kids today.  Sometimes I look at my daughter and wish I had been a bit more like her; driven and focused on the bigger prize.  I was rather lazy and preferred the winging it at the last minute approach.  But sometimes I feel that her work load is too much.  Is there something valuable in having a 'good enough' approach to life?  Or is it just me?

I don't know.  I know she doesn't get too stressed about it all, I know she gets a huge boost when the good results come back her way to reward her, and I know that she has ambition.  As a parent it is a bit of a tricky one isn't it?  We have to balance taking an interest in their education with showing them there is more to life than study - grades - future.  It is OK to live in the present and just see what will happen. I hope I get the balance right.

'Education' to my parents was not important.  Leaving school at the earliest opportunity to get a job and learn a trade was their ambition for us.  Both me and my brother did that.  My sister was an anomaly, she was naturally academic and thrived on it.  She got herself through college and university on her own back, she did the work, she filled in the forms, she visited the Uni's on her own, she made her own course choices.  I remember the day she went to Uni, she bought herself a huge rucksack and her train tickets, a quick 'seeya later' and was off.  No tearful goodbyes, no helicopter parents 'settling' her for the weekend.   My parents were happy for her, but were very much bewildered by it all.  So sometimes I think maybe my daughter is more like my sister than like me, I should stop worrying about her constant swotting and let her get on with it. And see what happens.

And then there is the expense of it all.  This seems to be what all parents of teenage children are talking about.  The cost of university.  Who will pay? Is it worth it? I don't really want her to be burdened with £50k of debt at the start of her adult life and at the same time I don't want to hand it to her on a plate because I don't think it will teach her financial responsibilities.  It's a dilemma, and as usual something in the middle is probably the way forward. My plan, which will inevitably change, is to pay off the mortgage so I can at least pay her living expenses whilst she is there.  She may need to borrow money for her fees which she will pay back later.

Anyone else in the same situation?


  1. We are in the same boat, my son has applied for 5 universities, he has had some brochures come today actually, he is in the last year at college, he wants to get a student loan, we can help as we have money left from when we paid off our mortgage, but we wanted to keep that to help him on the housing ladder, he is determined to do things his way, which we will have to respect, but we will be moving next year so he can still live with us, it is a big thing for all of us, I have lived in Devon for all of my 46 years, but as long as we are as a family we are happy.

  2. We got two through college and one more to go. Both the older kids decided on more school, so despite our best efforts with their undergrad degrees, both have hefty student loans, and have chosen feast or famine type careers in film. I am hopeful they can both cobble together enough work, and live like they were brought up, to keep living expenses low and save significant amounts during their work periods to fill in gaps when work is leaner. I like the earlier comment about "as long as we are a family we are happy". The economy is so tough, that it is good to know you can help out adult kids if you have to, as that is what family is for, but have instilled a sense of responsibility and knowledge and work ethic in them that they'll figure it out for themselves most of the time.

  3. I worried about our eldest two, now aged 34 and 32 who were amongst the first to have to have a big loan for uni. They didn't seem worried at all! I'm not sure if their loans were as big as now. Our son will probably never pay his off and after several years it is written off anyway. They are both doing well in their chosen professions - fashion design and archaeology.
    Good luck to you all

  4. My elder daughter is now 26, did an undergrad degree, and then went back to do her PGCE so that she could teach. I went to uni to do an undergrad degree at the same time that she did. We both have tens of thousands of pounds of student debt. I will never pay a penny of mine as I was diagnosed with a debilitating heart condition at the beginning of my final year and so am unable to take paid employment - the debt will eventually be written off. She pays hers through her wages. My younger daughter has just started her second year at uni. Both daughters and myself received grants and loans through student finance, aswell as bursaries from our universities due to being on a low income. I also received a scholarship for being the top student in my faculty - not bad for a 41 year old Mum of 2 who was commuting 1000 miles per month for uni! Neither of our daughters received financial help from us during their time at uni - our income just wouldn't allow it - and that's what the student finance was for. Our younger daughter will have a much larger debt than me and her sister - fees increased from a maximum of 3k per year to 9k per year when she started!

  5. I've got my cynical hat on. It seems to me that universities are money grasping organisations these days and some of the courses on offer aren't worth the paper they're written on - as the oldies would say. Yes there are still ones that represent good value and will set our children up with the education that they need to pursue their dreams for later life. I'm wondering if the best thing that I can do for my son when he gets to university stage is help him sort the wheat from the chaff.

  6. I have been fortunate enough to help all my children pay off their student loans and it has given them a huge jump on things. It does help that they are all financially responsible and are very appreciative of what we have done for them. We went to college for "free", now that is not possible so we have no problem helping.
    I realize that not everyone is in a position to do that but everyone does what they can for their children.

  7. I think the balance between work and fun should be equal, but it's hard if you're in a school that pushes you to your best and nothing more. I got a C in my Science coursework, and it's my target, yet I still have to redo it. ;) I wish your daughter the best luck!