Parents and students talking with staff at the information fair  - Open Day 2023

A parents and supporters guide

Explore our tips on how to support your child in making the right choice for them

Helping your child choose the right university and course can be an exciting time – but with lots to consider, and as a parent or supporter, you’ll want to support them throughout their journey.

In this guide, you’ll get valuable insights and tips on how to support your child in making informed decisions about university. From understanding their interests to setting career goals, we've got you covered.

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What should you consider when looking at a university and course?

Choosing the right university and course is a big decision that can shape your child's future, but with so many options, courses and careers to consider, it's not always a straightforward decision. Here's our advice on how to approach it:

1. Understand their interests and goals

Choosing a subject your child is passionate about will help them stay motivated during their studies and apply for jobs they will enjoy once they graduate. To better understand their interests, have an open chat with your child about their passions and career aspirations by encouraging them to identify subjects that genuinely excite them. It’s important to take the time to discuss with your child what they are good at and what they like about a subject before choosing a university or course.

Top tip

Here are some conversation starters to get you started:

  • “'What's your favourite subject at school or college?”
  • “What do you want to do for a job?”
  • “What do you like about the [subject]?”

You and your child may find it easier to research career options online if they do not have a specific subject in mind, and discuss how specific subjects and degrees may lead to careers that match their interests. Your child could also talk to teachers, career advisers, and professionals in relevant fields for insights and advice.

Book a subject taster day

Contact our Taster Day team to help your child find a subject that suits them.

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2. Research universities

As a parent or supporter, you’ll want to help your child pick a university that’s right for them. To support them, you and your child should research universities that offer degrees related to their interests while considering factors like:

  • Location: Is your child looking to stay close to home, or are they open to studying in a different city?
  • Rankings: Reviewing university rankings can help your child assess the academic reputation of a university – including the quality of teaching, graduate outcomes and student satisfaction. At Portsmouth, your child can look forward to finding success with our 5 star QS World University Ranking for teaching, employability, internationalisation, facilities, arts and culture, and inclusiveness.
  • Campus culture: What support services are available? Are there any clubs and societies that align with your child's interests?
  • What current students say: Hearing from current students can provide valuable insights into life at a particular university

Open days are a great way for your child to learn more about a university and see if it’s right for them. Book onto an open day so you and your child can explore university life and get a feel for the courses they can study, careers to pursue and what it’s like living in a new city.

3. Understand the different types of undergraduate degrees

Universities offer a variety of undergraduate degree options to cater to your child’s interests and learning style. Here are some common choices:

  • Bachelor's/Honours degree: The most common type of degree, in a wide range of subjects and usually studied over 3 years. Your child can also take an optional placement year, during or after their degree, to boost their employability.
  • Degree apprenticeships: Work-study degrees where your child will gain practical experience while earning.
  • Foundation degree: Just below a Bachelor’s degree, which can be topped up to a full Honours degree at a later date.
  • Top-up degree: Used to top up an existing level 5 degree to a full level 6 degree (Bachelor’s/Honour’s).
  • HNCs (Higher National Certificates): Vocational courses focusing on specific skills and industries, typically taking one to two years to complete.

4. Evaluate course content

When it comes to a course, there's more than just the subject to consider. What your child will learn and how they'll study should be looked at —  so you know your child will be engaged and passionate about their studies.

To support your child in making their decision, help them search online for courses in their chosen subject, to see what’s available. Review the course curriculum and modules and ensure that it aligns with your child's goals and provides opportunities for practical experience. To help your child narrow down their choice, explore the following: 

  • Course delivery: Many universities offer flexible learning. How does your child want to study (e.g via full-time, part-time or distance learning)? On our course search, you can filter courses by level, mode of study and start date.
  • Modules and assessments: Are the topics relevant to your child's interests? How do they prefer to learn and be assessed (e.g coursework or exams)?
  • Practical experience: Does the course provides opportunities for practical experience through placements, laboratories or projects?
  • Accreditation: If needed, does the course offer industry accreditation by relevant professional bodies?

Top tip

Take note of the UCAS code for a course your child likes - they'll need it to apply.

5. Check entry requirements

It’s important to take the time to research and understand the entry requirements for your child's chosen course. Depending on the course, they may need certain qualifications, skills or experience. You can usually check these online, via the university website.

At Portsmouth, all of our courses list the entry requirements your child needs to apply with a link to further information. We also carefully look at your circumstances and other factors to assess your potential.

Browse our courses

Explore how we make an offer

Top tip

If your child is considering a healthcare course, they’ll need to complete confidential occupational health and disclosure and barring service checks.

6. Consider future prospects

Whatever your child decides to study, you’ll want to help them explore the career opportunities and industry connections related to their course. This could include:

  • Researching the university's career services and their commitment to helping graduates secure employment.
  • Exploring their alumni network and how it can benefit your child's future.
  • Learning what initiatives are in place to enhance your child’s employability skills.
  • Looking into the university's graduate employment rates.
  • Reading student success stories.

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