It's August. You've come through the application process together.
- You had a great time accompanying your son or daughter to an Open Day at your old university.
- They wisely ignored your romantic reminiscences and applied to five other universities instead.
- You were a rock when the first decision was a rejection and then provided the chocolates when the next one was an offer.
- Now things are tense as the publication of exam results approaches.
After your important role in extolling the virtues of university life at the start of the process, results day is another time when your support can be crucial.
- The paramount thing is to remain calm and collected yourself.
- Whatever contortions your digestive system is engaged in, there will already be enough tension around without you adding to it.
- If the right results come in, things are easy: just join in the celebration.
- But if they don't and disappointment reigns, don't add your own.
- Now is the time to be a calm, comforting and constructive presence, particularly if they are overwhelmed because so many of their friends are celebrating exam success.
A few practical things are possible.
- Be there, not on a Mediterranean beach. Moral support is not quite the same over a long-distance telephone call.
- Prepare for the possibility of Clearing by getting familiar with the procedure. Make sure you know how and when you can get access to the official vacancy lists and what needs to be done. Encourage clear and sensible thinking so decisions are made carefully and the first place available is not jumped at. Your child will have to do the legwork, of course (universities much prefer to get the applicant rather than an upset parent on the phone).
- Sometimes it helps to be able to point them in the right direction. Often, it may be first worth getting your offspring to check whether any of those universities s/he received an offer from – but which s/he chose not to accept – still have vacancies.
- Be available as a taxi driver or make funds available for a train fare. Some universities run Clearing open days and some courses, even when recruiting in Clearing, will require an interview. Both of these possibilities will require transport.
- In 2009 UCAS introduced a new initiative at the request of the government called Adjustment. In reality this has limited relevance to the vast majority of students and it is best not to encourage raising expectations of being able to choose a better more competitive university late in the day. However, more students succesfully 'adjusted' university in 2012 than ever before (but still less than 1% of the total).
Next page: Preparing for their Leaving