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Advice for Parents & Carers - Higher Education

How to support your child in completing their UCAS application, personal statement and references to gain a place in Higher Education.

Your child's compulsory schooling at sixth form or college is coming to an end so now’s the time to think about what their plans are for post-18 study. As a parent or a carer, you can help your young person choose the right course and learning environment for them to excel in their experience of higher education.

Here are some of our top tips for supporting your child in this decision-making process.

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Start research early – there are a lot of higher education options for your child to choose from. You can sit and research together to make this digestible for your child.

Make sure your child has registered in the UCAS Hub and browse through courses with them  – they can then work out what they would enjoy or potentially be interested in. Remember this is early stages for them so don’t rush them to decide on one course - they can actually apply for several courses if they’re undecided - this isn’t a problem.

Know the deadlines – for some courses, the application deadline is almost a year in advance of when the course starts - it may be worth contacting some institutions to find out more information about their deadlines.

Encourage your child to attend UCAS events and course provider open days, as well as any careers fairs their school provides – recommend them to speak to higher education staff so they can get answers for any questions they may have.

Check the institution’s entry requirements – support them in revising and during their exams to ensure they can get the grades they need to get a place on a course. Make sure they have backup options in case they don’t get the grades they wanted.

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Read through their personal statement when it’s still in draft stage – give plenty of feedback and help them refine it until they’re happy and feel like they’ve written about all their relevant experiences and opportunities.

Understand student finance – so that they can make the best arrangements to fund their studies. Keep an eye out on your emails for any forms you have to sign and be prepared to submit your tax documents for Student Finance England.

Be prepared for results day – make sure they’re prepared for all the possible outcomes and be available to support them!

Understand how Extra and Clearing work – in case any unpredicted outcomes occur so that you and they are aware of the different ways to apply for more courses.

When your child is communicating with UCAS and universities, make sure they use an appropriate personal email address - make sure it's not one linked to their school that they may not have access to after leaving.

A member of the Plymouth College of Art team speaks to a student showing them a prospectus at a university fair event

If your details change, such as your home address or phone number, make sure the UCAS details are updated.

Avoid projecting your own goals – remember that this is a huge transitional phase of your child’s life, and encouraging independence is absolutely key.

Be available for them to talk to you about their feelings and what they want - listen and give them the space to speak openly without judgment.

Don’t be phased if they change their mind - this is totally normal and is not a failure or something to be criticised. They are making a big life choice and you are there to support that, whatever leads them to the right choice for them.

Your child may want help choosing a course and/or institution and may ask for your opinion, so be sure to give them unbiased help - let them know if they’re doing well in a subject, or if they enjoy a hobby enough to make it into a career. Attending Open Days and workshops is a great place to start.

If you’re not sure about anything, reach out to some institutions via phone or email - they will be happy to provide you with information you or your child might need before making a decision.

Two people, one young and the other older, sit in a cafe smiling and writing in a notebook

At Arts University Plymouth, we offer a diverse range of BA (Hons) degrees in highly specialised creative subjects. By choosing to study with us, your young person will be welcomed into a like-minded community where together we make, experiment and innovate in an interdisciplinary environment that allows individuality and ideas to flourish.

If you think Arts University Plymouth could be the right place for your young person why not attend an Open Day where you can get the opportunity to explore a community of makers and thinkers, ask questions and visualise what it’s like to study a creative degree.