My eldest daughter is coming to the end of her first year of study for her A levels and is looking around at universities. Until very recently, my wife and I were unsure that she was actually interested in a university education. She had this idea that even if she did pursue a degree, she would live at home, which drastically reduces the number of universities that can be considered.
Frankly, she needs to live away from home to help her become more independent and complete the maturing process (if anything she is far too mature in some areas and very immature in other areas – unlike her sister who is more rounded). We do not want to push her out into the world sooner than she can cope with. Tricky to know the right thing to do.
The school seems to push the view that by the time you get into the 6th form, you should have a pretty good idea of what sort of career you want to take up. Since the evidence shows that the vast majority of people follow a career that is not related to their degree, and increasingly the signs are that most people now entering the work force will follow multiple careers and need to retrain regularly, this is a somewhat strange and outdated view being pushed by the school in my view. Nevertheless, having no goals does make it difficult to motivate oneself, so there is some merit to the idea.
My daughter has only recently really come around to the view that she does need to get a degree. I think working in a not-so-great care home every Sunday has helped her come to see that she needs to create opportunities for herself. Seeing a few universities as also helped as has hearing students talk about their experiences. The first university we visited was Nottingham. As we drove onto the campus, my wife and I looked around thinking how nice and green and inviting the place looked. Meanwhile my daughter in the back of the car was in near apoplectic shock at the size of the place. It had escaped us that she had no concept of how big universities can be. She attends a relatively small state grammar school for girls and the only university near us that she is familiar with at all is a specialist agricultural university that is smaller than most modern comprehensives. Oops.
She has an interest in both geography and psychology so we went to sessions on both. The first was poorly presented in a too small, too hot classroom. The latter very well presented. We also visited halls and talked to the right people about food options (she is very fussy about healthy food, and is allergic to cheese and garlic). At first she didn’t like the place, but came around. Clearly, she needed a better idea of what universities are like before she could seriously consider them. We have many more to visit.