Unless you’ve got a son or daughter doing their A levels at the moment, the fact that it is University Open Day season has probably passed you by. It’s in full swing in our house, and has been quite a revelation, especially as both my husband and I are Open University graduates and mature ones at that, so we both fitted our studies in around our work, our lives and our family. Big daughter is currently considering her future options, one of which is to go away to university, so we’ve appreciated the chance to take a look around.
Big daughter and I have been to visit three universities this week and we’ve got another couple of visits to fit in before the end of the year (luckily, we get a break over the summer holidays) when she has to make her choice. We have walked for miles on campus tours, looked at student accommodation of varying standards and budgets (I really must try not to say “how much?!” quite so often), listened to Vice-Chancellors extolling the benefits of studying at each particular institution and sat through sample lectures of big daughter’s chosen subject. We have asked questions about financing, travel and launderette costs. We have followed enthusiastic, helpful students around as they lead groups on tours of faculty buildings and pointed out the best sofas to snooze on after lunch.
I keep reminding myself that what is important is what big daughter thinks, not what I would choose for myself. I am impressed by the range and choice of courses, by the social opportunities and by the focus on employability. I imagine what it would be like to live in any of the halls of residence and sit in the lecture theatres. I’m excited at the possibilities available to big daughter. Then I remember what I felt like at eighteen and I can see what a big and rather daunting adventure all of this is. Big daughter still isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. She has no grand plan to follow a specific career path as a doctor or a vet, or even a teacher so her choice of degree is based on what she enjoys and the general direction of where she sees herself working. The thought of leaving home next year to do this is rushing towards her with disconcerting speed.
It’s funny how we take life in our stride. If you’d asked me last year how I would feel about making plans for my daughter to leave home, possibly for good, I would have given you quite a very different answer to the one I would give you today. Now, I’m ready to help her to take the next step in her life – at least, I’m ready to help her visit the universities. I didn’t say anything about being ready to let her go!