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A Supportive Parents’ Guide to University Choices

For students nearing the end of high school, some major life decisions are works in progress. Amidst the pressure of final year, many students are asking themselves what they want to study at university and where. While these challenging questions call for self-reflection and independent thought, there is of course a role for the supportive parent. Before dropping them to their new halls and saying a teary-eyed goodbye, here are a few ways parents can support the pathway to university.

Keep Communication Open

Open, honest and encouraging communication with your young person is the best place to start. This might be easier said than done (!), but simply relies on asking key questions and practicing active listening. What subjects stimulate their love for learning? Where do their personal interests overlap with their academic interests? Which universities fit within their UGPE or predicted grade range? Do they prefer the idea of living in a city or a leafy campus?

A collaborative, supportive approach to tackling these questions adds much-needed clarity to an often overwhelming decision-making process. For added support, discussions could involve your child’s teachers or Feynman Education’s academic specialists. These conversations will help to provide information on which better-informed decisions can be made.

Mind the inspiration and information gap

Many university students (with the benefit of hindsight) would’ve chosen a different course. In fact, 2 in 5 UK university students would have chosen differently if they were exposed to adequate information in high school. This ‘information gap’ inhibits many students from pursuing their best-fit degree programme. How, then, can this be addressed? A recent UCAS study recommends that improving student satisfaction with their courses and overall outcomes requires ‘earlier, broader, and more personalised information and advice.’ This suggests that parents should start supportive conversations early by encouraging students to look at a range of options based on their specific needs and interests.

Alongside this, students face a lack of exposure to the ever-growing number of degrees and associated career pathways. Not only are students understandably limited in their awareness of all these options, it’s expected that 85% of the jobs today’s students will do in 2030 don’t exist yet. This makes it all the more difficult to choose a degree programme. For students, the challenge here is an ‘inspiration gap’ which results from a limited view of existing and emerging fields.

To close these gaps, we need to provide today’s learners with personalised information about a wide range of fields. For instance, your child’s awareness could be broadened by connecting them with friends and family from different academic and professional backgrounds. Alternatively, a wander round a bookshop (or online retailer) might be equally revealing for students; they might be magnetised by works of physics, digital technology or philosophy.

To further help students select and pursue their perfect-fit programme, our Feynman Masterclasses seek to provide information and inspiration from a diversity of industry experts. This series of expert-led discussions aims to open students’ eyes to university choices and provide practical advice to help pave the way towards their greatest ambitions.


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