If your child is college age then they’re likely to be thinking about which path to take once they’ve completed their current qualifications at school or college. Deciding whether to go to university and which universities to apply to, can feel like a daunting decision. So, if you’re looking for ways to support them with their decision-making, read on for our tips and advice.



1. Start the conversation

You can make a big difference by taking time to listen and understand their ideas, hopes and concerns. Reassure them that there is plenty of advice and support available to help them make a decision, and if they choose to go to university, there is funding available – which they won’t have to pay back until they are earning a good salary.

Some useful questions that can help your child find the right direction are:

  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • What do you feel you are good at?
  • What future jobs are you interested in? (But don’t worry if they don’t know yet).
  • What concerns do you have?

These kinds of questions should trigger some valuable talking points and conversations that can help them think through what direction to go in.


2. Help them to think about the full experience

Whether you have been to university or not, you can help your child understand what university has to offer by talking to them about the full experience it provides. University is about much more than an end qualification; it allows students to explore the subject they love in an exciting environment while learning from experts.

Going to university will mean your child can develop confidence and independence, make life-long friends, take advantage of the wide range of leisure, sports and social facilities on offer, and benefit from amazing opportunities like work experience or the chance to study abroad.

The extra experiences beyond study (like sports, entertainment, work experience and travel) are just some of the many opportunities your child can find out about once they start comparing universities to apply to.


3. Access school or college support

Find out what support is available through your child’s school or college and encourage them to access it. Every school or college will offer support of some kind.

It might include:

  • Help writing personal statements for university applications (also known as UCAS applications)
  • Organised trips to university open days
  • Different careers events and activities
  • One-to-one career advice


 4. Support with subject choices

Help your child with their subject choices early on. Hopefully, you will have discussed subject choices when they were 14 and 16 years old, so they will have or will be working towards qualifications that will enable them to study the subject of their choice at university. However, it is still a good idea to have a chat about the courses they’re interested in and see what qualifications are needed to check if they can apply or to see what similar alternative courses might be available to them.

Read our blog: Top Tips for Choosing What to study at University for more help with subject choices. It has links to useful sites, such as www.prospects.ac.uk which can help with matching courses and suggesting similar alternatives.


5. Attend open days with them

Attending university and college open days is one of the best ways to explore courses, universities and colleges. Open days are usually advertised on each university and college website, or you can visit www.ucas.com, www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk or www.whatuni.com to look them up.

You can discover a lot at open days, from course information, career prospects and campus facilities, to what kind of accommodation, sports clubs and societies are on offer.

Read our blog: 8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Uni Open Days for top tips on attending open days.


6. Be available on results day

Naturally, results day can be a stressful time. Your child may need your help and support in deciding the next steps upon receiving their results. Be prepared just in case their results aren’t what they were hoping for so that you can offer them emotional support and practical advice on the day.

Ahead of results day, do some research into alternative courses and options in case they don’t receive the results they’re hoping for. There will be backup options available, such as applying for another course, like a foundation course, through UCAS Clearing. This article from The Uni Guide gives a helpful summary of what Clearing is. It explains how your child can use Clearing on results day to apply for alternative courses if they don’t get the results they need to be accepted onto the ones they have applied to.   


7. Help to provide financial information

When your child comes to apply for student finance they will be asked to supply certain information so that their application can be processed. You can support your child’s student finance application by providing details of your household income online as soon as possible. Providing this information promptly will help make sure that their finance application is processed efficiently and potentially prevent any delays in your child receiving their student loan or any grants etc.


8. Keep track of key deadlines

During the university application process, there will be various deadlines that your child will need to meet. These include the application deadline and the deadline to accept offers.

You can help your child to keep track of all key deadlines by signing up with UCAS for free e-newsletters here – you’ll also find lots of other advice and resources for parents and guardians on the UCAS website.

To find out more about the application process, how to respond to offers and information on student finance and accommodation, take a look at KMPF’s Parents’ Guide to Applying to Higher Education.


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Lucy King

3 Nov 2022

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