Tom is studying BSc Hons Medical Sciences at our Glyntaff Campus, and his mum Judith works as a student adviser at USW. We caught up with them both to ask Tom how he decided on studying his course and the role parents play in helping their children decide on a university and course that's right for them.
Have you always wanted to go to university?
Tom: Going to university was always the plan for me. I initially went to the University of Reading to study Biomedical Engineering, but didn’t really like the course. Then my mum suggested that I might be interested in studying Medical Sciences at USW.
How did you go about choosing the right university for you?
Tom: The fact that USW was local meant I could still live at home, so that was a real bonus as I already really liked the sound of the course. I’d moved away from home to go to Reading, so I felt as if I’d already had that experience.
Judith: USW is in a great location with very good transport links, which means so many people can travel in easily, and the support from lecturers is fantastic – they’ve really gone out of their way to make sure Tom has settled in.
How did you decide on the right course for you?
Tom: We came to a Clearing Open Day, because I decided to change universities during the summer, and I really liked the look of the facilities such as the labs and the clinical simulation suite – they are fantastic. Medical Sciences also has a direct link with Cardiff University’s Medicine degree, so it’s encouraging to know that there’s a logical next step for my studies. The lecturers were great and the modules sounded really interesting, so I knew it was the best course for me. Attending the Open Day convinced me that I’d made the right decision.
Judith: Because I work at USW as a student adviser, and knew Tom wanted to follow the Medicine route, I told him about the Medical Sciences course that we have here. Bearing in mind that it didn’t go as well as he had hoped in Reading, we as a family wanted to make sure he wasn’t rushing into another course, but we couldn’t have been more pleased with his experience at the Open Day.
How much did you as a family know about the application process?
Tom: We knew a little about it through school, and obviously as my mum works at the University, but the process was still a bit daunting as it’s such a huge decision when you’re leaving school.
How involved should parents be when their child is applying to university?
Judith: I think parents should support them by taking them to Open Days and going through their application together – it can really help to have an extra set of eyes on things like the personal statement. But ultimately it’s up to them to make their choice.
Tom: Mum did let me make my own choice, and supported me in whatever I wanted to do.
Do you have any advice for prospective students thinking about university?
Judith: These days, going to university has to be the right decision for your own long-term plans. It’s about encouraging your child to think about what they would like to be doing in five years’ time – whether that’s in a career or further study – and for them to find out what course can give them the best prospects.
Tom: I would definitely recommend going to Open Days to find out what a university is really like, and help make your mind up. Also, if you don’t know what you want to do straight out of school, take your time to make that choice. You have to pick the right place and the right course, which shouldn’t be something you rush into.
Judith: You don’t have to decide straight away – it doesn’t matter if you’re 21, 22 starting university, especially as there are lots of older students at USW with that bit more life experience.
Has university helped you think about your future career?
Tom: Yes, I’ve already applied to study Medicine and my lecturers have been really helpful with giving me references and supporting my application. The varied modules have opened my eyes to lots of different aspects of medicine that I could go into, so I’m confident that I’ll have plenty of options as to what career I could follow in the future.