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  • FIRST POST
    • lyniced
    • By lyniced 4th Mar 05, 6:15 PM
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    lyniced
    Mother of student needs help
    • #1
    • 4th Mar 05, 6:15 PM
    Mother of student needs help 4th Mar 05 at 6:15 PM
    My son is in his final year of A levels and hoping to go to uni in the autumn. Hes has narrowed down his two choices ready to be submitted. After that, what happens? This is all new to us - do we have to wait for the results and will he still get his place even if he doesn't get the required grades? Also what happens about accomodation - do we start looking down or wait? I thought it might be better to go into halls for the first year, then he can sort out future digs with other uni friends. Basically, because I'm so organised, I want to sort stuff out now (fussy, interferring mother I can hear you say) and not leave it til the last minute. What should we be doing?
Page 1
  • Clareo
    • #2
    • 4th Mar 05, 6:24 PM
    • #2
    • 4th Mar 05, 6:24 PM
    What should you be doing? Basically nothing! Now that he has the two choices, he'll have one as his first choice and one as insurance. If he gets the grades to go to the first choice then he'll be accepted but if he doesn't get the grades he'll have to ring and see if they'll accept the grades he has which they often do if he only misses it by a grade. If they won't accept him then providing he has the grades for his insurance choice then he'll go there. Regarding accomodation, *thinks back* yoiur son's first choice University will send you application forms to apply for accomadation in halls before he gets his results so you could get that fairly shortly. You can then apply for the halls of his choice, get your application in a.s.a.p as some tend to oversubscribed to and it's first come first served.

    Obviously different Uni's will send accomodation info out at different times probably depending how organised they are! I'm sure a quick call to them would be able to determine when you should get the details. If you wanted to be super organised and have a look before you get the forms I'm sure they'd let you but you may have already viewed on visit days?

    If your son can't go to his first choice due to not getting the grades it's a bit of a mad rush after results day to sort the accomodation out but there's usually no problem to get halls or if there is a problem the Uni tend to sort out a student house where he could share with other first years.
  • stuwilky
    • #3
    • 4th Mar 05, 7:06 PM
    • #3
    • 4th Mar 05, 7:06 PM
    Hi there

    Its understandable to feel worried at this stage, loads of parents do (I deal with 20/30 every week at work).

    Presuming the two offers you speak of are held with UCAS as a firm conditional and an insurance conditional there is nothing to do in terms of a place at University apart from a certain someone passing a few exams.

    Accomodation works slightly differently at each University so this may not be exactly correct for his chosen Universities - if you let me know which two they are I can try and find out. At some point between December and May your son will be sent application forms for student halls, they need completing and returning as soon as you get them back. More often than not there is more students than spaces in halls so best to apply early.

    The only thing that you have to do is wait for the LEA funding application to arrive (this lovely form dictates how much assistance towards tuition fees and the amount of student loan the student will get) again this needs completing as quickly as you can (some of the info may take a while to locate). Some LEA's get terrible backlogs towards the summer.

    I am led to believe that some LEA's are sending the forms out now, although mine havnt received them yet. If it hasnt arrived by the end of March give them a ring to make sure one has been sent.

    This info is pretty general, but if there is anything else I, or anyone else on the board, can help with please feel free to post.
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 5th Mar 05, 1:33 AM
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    Savvy_Sue
    • #4
    • 5th Mar 05, 1:33 AM
    • #4
    • 5th Mar 05, 1:33 AM
    As a mother in the same position, when I ask my son about anything to do with his coursework or his applications, he says "You worry too much." So here are several other suggestions:

    1. Allow your son to take responsibility. There is a date, I believe, by which he has to firmly accept the offers, but my son says it's a way off just yet. And at the risk of having him at home for another year, I believe him! I am also sure the school will be on his case, so you and I can sit back and stop worrying. Honest. If you really can't stop, check the UCAS website (but personally I think life's too short!)

    2. Most universities guarantee accommodation in hall to all first years who apply at the right time, so get your son to check his choices are in that number. If you would feel happier doing it yourself, you can look at the university websites yourself: it will be www.nameofuniversity.ac.uk (although the nameofuniversity may be abbreviated!) And I agree with you, halls are the best place in their first year: they can make friends and then find some grotty flat together for year 2.

    3. Now is the time to make sure your son knows how and when to use a washing machine (ie the day before he puts on his last clean pair of pants!), how and when to shop for a meal (ie planning ahead, checking he has all ingredients etc), how to cook a few simple meals (and wash up afterwards!), and how to budget. If he hasn't already been to buy his own shoes, clothes and haircuts, now is also the time for him to do that. Make sure he can read a bus / train timetable, and work out where to catch buses and trains. If he needs regular medication, make sure he knows the importance and the mechanics of getting repeat prescriptions. Optician? Dentist? Let's face it, if he flunks all his 'A' levels he still needs to know how to do all that lot!

    4. Knowing how to use a vacuum cleaner (including emptying it when it's full!), duster and damp cloth are also vital skills for the young man away from home. We have also covered putting out the rubbish on the right night, and I suspect the next skill should be "How to clean a toilet." I would teach him to sew on a button if he ever wore shirts these days (and there is also the consideration that maybe I should leave him something he needs to look helplessly at a girl for if I ever want grandchildren!)

    5. Consider going away and leaving your son at home for a weekend if he hasn't had that experience yet. Obviously not everyone can do that, but over this half-term we went off and left him for a few days, and I hadn't even managed to do any shopping before we went! So he had to find his own way to Sainsbury's, on the train, and to Reading for a university open day on the train, and as he's mostly a bus person that did him a lot of good.

    Hope you don't think the last points are too obvious. At the start of 6th form, it dawned on me that it really wasn't helpful for my son to come to me for cash every time he needed to buy a new bus ticket. Apart from anything else, I didn't always have 20 to spare him! So he gets an allowance paid into his bank, and then it's up to him to notice he needs a new ticket, and go and get the cash for it when he needs it. He is also now responsible for doing his own laundry: I figured that showing him once "you put the washing in there and the powder there then press these buttons" wasn't going to do it for him!

    Maybe all we can aim for is the knowledge that while we can't keep them safe from the evils of drink, drugs and loose women, they should at least be in clean underpants!

    Don't know about you, but I'm going to miss mine when he goes!
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 2 hats, 2 balaclavas for seamen, 1 balaclava for myself, multiple poppies, 3 peony flowers, 4 butterflies ...
    Current projects: ready to decrease / decreasing on all parts of the mohair cardigan pattern!
  • stuwilky
    • #5
    • 5th Mar 05, 10:33 AM
    • #5
    • 5th Mar 05, 10:33 AM
    The earliest UCAS response deadline is 28th April. It depends when offers are received.

    And re accomodation, most Universities have moved away from the "guarantee a place in halls" line to the "guarantee to help you find accomodation" situation.

    of course it does depend on the University, and how many bed spaces they have in halls. We are down to 1300 bed spaces, but have 4500 new first years each year.
    • nearlyrich
    • By nearlyrich 5th Mar 05, 2:36 PM
    • 13,335 Posts
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    nearlyrich
    • #6
    • 5th Mar 05, 2:36 PM
    • #6
    • 5th Mar 05, 2:36 PM
    QUOTE=lyniced] . Basically, because I'm so organised, I want to sort stuff out now (fussy, interferring mother I can hear you say) and not leave it til the last minute. What should we be doing?[/QUOTE]

    My son went to uni last September so I know exactly what you mean, it's a new experience and whilst you want them to get a decent place to live etc it is really up to them and it does them no harm to take responsibility for sorting things out.


    Before you can fill in the finance forms you need your P60(s) for the tax year which ends in April 2005, the figure they use is your gross taxable income which includes things like company car benefit and any other benfits in kind from your employer, you will also need his birth cert. Make sure you check it because if they send it back to query anything they put it back in the end of the queue if you do it right your son should get his first cheque or bacs payment in the first few days of term.

    If I tell you some of the things that made me think "I should have thought/asked about that" it might help you to prepare for September a little better.


    As Savvy_Sue posted it's a good time to make sure he is cabable of looking after himself, cooking, washing etc, my two have been used to this from being quite young so I have no worries about them starving or smelling offensive. Another skill which is vastly underrated is understanding what a budget is and how to make the money go as far as possible. To be honest the student loan will almost all be taken up by the cost of the accommodation and whilst banks and credit card companies all offer great deals to students it all has to be paid back at some point so if the idea of paying for your student drinks age 28 or 30 doesn't appeal it's a good idea to work out where the money is coming from.

    I sat down with my son and used the budget spreadsheet here to work out a realistic money plan. He gets a basic student loan of 3070 and I have to pay 1150 fees, I also give him the money I gave him at 6th form for busfares, dinners etc and this year I have been able to top up the loan to the amount he would have got if it wasn't means tested, next year the amount may be less when I have to spread the support out to two of them. He has a job in a bar which helps.

    The thing that almost caught me out was that the accommodation needs to be paid for before the loan cheque arrives, at least a term in advance in most halls. We also got a discount for paying for the whole year in one lump sum, I ended up parting with almost all the years agreed support in one weekend last September, thank goodness for 0% deals on credit cards. At least you have the advantage of saving up for this eventuallity now...

    Also what happens about accomodation - do we start looking down or wait? I thought it might be better to go into halls for the first year, then he can sort out future digs with other uni friends.
    by lyniced
    My son turned down the uni offered place in halls because it was a complete pit even by student standards, and he found a room in the student village which has the advantage of being right next to the building where he goes to lectures and labs. My daughter is waiting for accommodation forms from her first choice for this September and she has decided which one she wants to live in, if she doesn't get in she will find a room independantly too. My son and some friends have just contracted to rent a house next year and the rent is considerably cheaper than halls or the student village, they will have to sort out utilities and internet services and pay bills on top, in halls most of this is included in the rent.

    In some places there are more rooms than potential student and in others it is the opposite, the uni accommodation offices are pretty good for advice. Also in my experience, there are standards which private landlords have to meet to be on the accommodations offices books, in terms of security, fire safety checks and just general amenities like kitchens and bathrooms and other equipment provided. Hopefully this will give you a little more peace of mind.

    Tuition fees, if you have to pay them, are payable in 3 installments by DD in December, February & May. It might be different where your son is going, have a look at the uni website for the information.

    All they have to do now is get the right letter on those certificates in August, I hope it all goes well for your son, and for anyone else who is in the same position. I am sure he appreciates your concerns and will be grateful for your help and advice. Hope this helps too....
    Last edited by nearlyrich; 05-03-2005 at 2:39 PM. Reason: Spelling could do better! Fingers go faster than brain
    Free impartial debt advice from: National Debtline or Stepchange[/CENTER]
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 5th Mar 05, 4:12 PM
    • 39,182 Posts
    • 36,096 Thanks
    Savvy_Sue
    • #7
    • 5th Mar 05, 4:12 PM
    • #7
    • 5th Mar 05, 4:12 PM
    The earliest UCAS response deadline is 28th April. It depends when offers are received.
    by stuwilky
    Thanks for that. In my son's book, that's 'ages away'. But then so is his coursework deadline ... and he is finally getting on with that!

    And re accomodation, most Universities have moved away from the "guarantee a place in halls" line to the "guarantee to help you find accomodation" situation.
    by stuwilky
    I stand corrected, and apologise for misleading anyone. What I've heard when I've gone to talks on open days has been "get your forms in on time and you'll be OK" but I am getting rather deaf these days, and of course the universities are selling themselves for all they're worth!

    And I did say "apply at the right time", and that is key!

    BTW, you may find that universities with large numbers of off-site first years have special societies etc to encourage and enable them to socialise. I picked up the student newspaper at Birmingham where they seem to have a fair few local and off-site students, and they certainly do.

    of course it does depend on the University, and how many bed spaces they have in halls. We are down to 1300 bed spaces, but have 4500 new first years each year.
    by stuwilky
    Crikey! Still I guess that's what happens when you try to get whatever percentage of the population it is into university ... even though they might make more money as plumbers!
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 2 hats, 2 balaclavas for seamen, 1 balaclava for myself, multiple poppies, 3 peony flowers, 4 butterflies ...
    Current projects: ready to decrease / decreasing on all parts of the mohair cardigan pattern!
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 5th Mar 05, 4:26 PM
    • 39,182 Posts
    • 36,096 Thanks
    Savvy_Sue
    • #8
    • 5th Mar 05, 4:26 PM
    • #8
    • 5th Mar 05, 4:26 PM
    If I tell you some of the things that made me think "I should have thought/asked about that" it might help you to prepare for September a little better.
    by nearlyrich
    nearlyrich, you are a star! The fact that you have scared the pants off me is a minor detail!

    The thing that almost caught me out was that the accommodation needs to be paid for before the loan cheque arrives, at least a term in advance in most halls. We also got a discount for paying for the whole year in one lump sum, I ended up parting with almost all the years agreed support in one weekend last September, thank goodness for 0% deals on credit cards. At least you have the advantage of saving up for this eventuallity now...
    by nearlyrich
    I never thought of that before we decided to buy a new car! As you say, thank goodness for 0% credit cards, and I must go and find out how much money my son has got already (he's been working in the local cinema, and doesn't spend a lot on himself!)

    My son and some friends have just contracted to rent a house next year and the rent is considerably cheaper than halls or the student village, they will have to sort out utilities and internet services and pay bills on top, in halls most of this is included in the rent.
    by nearlyrich
    And if they go for catered halls, which are even more expensive, at least you know they needn't starve once they've paid that huge bill. Living out may well be cheaper, but the living in may be a gentler introduction to the harsh reality of living away from home!

    Also in my experience, there are standards which private landlords have to meet to be on the accommodations offices books, in terms of security, fire safety checks and just general amenities like kitchens and bathrooms and other equipment provided. Hopefully this will give you a little more peace of mind.
    by nearlyrich
    Yes, that's true, so starting with what's on the accommodation office's books is a good plan as they do - or should - weed out the worst places!

    Tuition fees, if you have to pay them, are payable in 3 installments by DD in December, February & May. It might be different where your son is going, have a look at the uni website for the information.
    by nearlyrich
    Gosh, you mean there's something we DON'T have to start paying for up-front? What a relief!
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 2 hats, 2 balaclavas for seamen, 1 balaclava for myself, multiple poppies, 3 peony flowers, 4 butterflies ...
    Current projects: ready to decrease / decreasing on all parts of the mohair cardigan pattern!
    • lyniced
    • By lyniced 5th Mar 05, 5:58 PM
    • 1,847 Posts
    • 604 Thanks
    lyniced
    • #9
    • 5th Mar 05, 5:58 PM
    • #9
    • 5th Mar 05, 5:58 PM
    wow! Thanks for this response - so much to mull over. I'm glad that other people want to share their experiences - it certainly helps. Much appreciated.
    • Chadsman
    • By Chadsman 5th Mar 05, 6:27 PM
    • 1,036 Posts
    • 384 Thanks
    Chadsman
    Get him to open a bank account if he hasnt got one already. Point him in the direction of whichever bank offers the largest interest free overdraft. The banks dont usually publish their offerings for new freshers until around July so I would wait until then. Dont be swayed by the bank that offers the nicest freebies cos they will either break very quickly or just not be used... an overdraft is far more useful than anythingelse.
    I had 2 student accounts as an undergraduate and always made use of the overdraft by putting some cash in savings account earning me interest but not so much as to make the banks write to me saying the overdraft is a limit not a target.
    Oh and Mum, try not to feel deserted when he has gone (my Mum still hasnt got over it ) be proud of what he has achieved! I am sure you are. In three years time he will have around a thousand people applaud him when he collects his degree
    Have you seen the film Eskimo Day?
    Chad.
    Last edited by Chadsman; 05-03-2005 at 6:39 PM.
  • stuwilky
    He cant get a student account until he has the letter saying he has been accepted. But as soon as he gets that its a good idea to get the best account.
    • nearlyrich
    • By nearlyrich 5th Mar 05, 6:58 PM
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    • 16,542 Thanks
    nearlyrich
    Oh and Mum, try not to feel deserted when he has gone (my Mum still hasnt got over it ) be proud of what he has achieved

    Ooops I forgot about that bit, it's much, much worse than that first day at school when they are 4, you are allowed to cry but not whilst they are looking OK. I suggest you pack a large box of tissues so you can cry all the way home like I did. I also had a few weepy moments in the weeks after he went, not sure how I'll cope this time when they are both gone.
    Free impartial debt advice from: National Debtline or Stepchange[/CENTER]
    • Chadsman
    • By Chadsman 5th Mar 05, 8:04 PM
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    • 384 Thanks
    Chadsman
    He cant get a student account until he has the letter saying he has been accepted. But as soon as he gets that its a good idea to get the best account.
    by stuwilky
    Banks will usually let you open a current account before you get final confirmation of results but insist on it being operated as a basic bank account until you give them proof you have definitely got a place on the course.
    It can be useful to know account numbers in advance and not have to wait around for a cheque book/paying in book/cashcard.
    Chad
    Last edited by Chadsman; 05-03-2005 at 8:08 PM.
    • lyniced
    • By lyniced 5th Mar 05, 8:32 PM
    • 1,847 Posts
    • 604 Thanks
    lyniced
    He already has a bank account - he needed to open one, when he started a Saturday job at Waitrose. Will this mean he'll need to open a different account when he goes to uni, or will this one suffice?
  • stuwilky
    The type of account we are referring to are the great facilities offered by most banks for interest free overdrafts and the like. Specifically for students.

    Most offer some kind of freebie to open. Financially the best is often the 4 year railcard offered by HSBC (depending on how far away son is at uni).

    But at Chadsman says, look at the account, the overdraft in particular being of paramount importance.
    • Chadsman
    • By Chadsman 5th Mar 05, 9:06 PM
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    • 384 Thanks
    Chadsman
    That will probably suffice provided the bank in question actually does have a student account. All of the big national banks have a student account. Just make sure he takes in the proof that he has been definitely accepted onto the course once the A Level results are out.
    It sounds like he is off to a good start
    God save the Queen!
    I'll save Elizabeth Fry, Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, Matthew Boulton and James Watt.
    • lyniced
    • By lyniced 6th Mar 05, 4:43 PM
    • 1,847 Posts
    • 604 Thanks
    lyniced
    Thank you to everyone - I am totally overwhelmed by your help and advice. If I have future concerns (which I know I will!) I hope I can pick your brains again? Thank you once again.
    • nearlyrich
    • By nearlyrich 6th Mar 05, 6:21 PM
    • 13,335 Posts
    • 16,542 Thanks
    nearlyrich
    Thank you to everyone - I am totally overwhelmed by your help and advice. If I have future concerns (which I know I will!) I hope I can pick your brains again? Thank you once again.
    by lyniced

    Anytime just post here or PM me I am happy to help. Hope it all goes well for your son.
    Free impartial debt advice from: National Debtline or Stepchange[/CENTER]
    • zcaprd7
    • By zcaprd7 9th Mar 05, 12:22 PM
    • 1,061 Posts
    • 106 Thanks
    zcaprd7
    I think the best advice I can give is to make sure he can look after himself domestically as well as financially.

    When I was at Uni I was gobsmacked by the number of people who couldn't do the simplest things e.g. using tin openers!

    This one guy would get sent food parcels sent from home and once they ran out he would just steal food from the communal fridge until the next one arrived!
    • lyniced
    • By lyniced 9th Mar 05, 12:52 PM
    • 1,847 Posts
    • 604 Thanks
    lyniced
    Oh dear Zpcard!

    My hubby went to uni (millions of years ago) and he told me of one guy who wanted an electric guitar so much, that he spent most of his student grant (bring back student grants!) on it and then with what was left he made up some gruel (which he froze) to last him the rest of the term. Apparently he was the first person to be diagnosed with scurvey in that city for over 60 years!!! My husband says its true, but it could but I'm not so sure!!
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