LOOKING AFTER THE KIDS: Rob Stokes
IT took eldest son a while to warm to the idea of choosing a university. I remember raising the subject with him at the start of his first year of A levels. His friends were already thinking about where to go and what they might like to do.
But to say he was unmoved by the idea is being generous.
He parried the initial inquiries, saying he would do it.
Then as the weeks went on he said he would do it later.
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The weeks passed into months, websites were mentioned, even prospectuses were waved under his nose. But his interest was to say the least restrained.
In a vain attempt to kick start the whole thing I recall driving him to the UWE campus on the Sunday afternoon that most of the new students were arriving. It didn't fill him with enthusiasm but it did, I hope, plant the odd seed in his mind.
Ironically it was his younger brother and sister who were genuinely excited by looking around. At this point he had no idea what he wanted to do let alone where he wanted to go.
The months passed.
As Christmas in his second year of A levels approached we managed a couple of visits to Portsmouth, to Liverpool. We talked about others but they were quickly dismissed. So it was with A level exams fast approaching the UCAS was submitted with what seemed undue haste. But perhaps he knew something I didn't.
A few months later he secured his place to read Sociology and Criminology at Liverpool. And he is loving every minute. As he said the other day with a smile: "It's turned out alright hasn't it?"
Admittedly his place of study was a happy coincidence because of his love for Liverpool FC although I believe the presence of a Wagamamas played an important part. And maybe those are the sort of criteria that should be taken into account.
After all you need to go somewhere you feel happy.
His brother who is yet to complete his GCSEs let alone get under way with his A levels already has a list of potential courses and universities.
He has spent ages searching on-line, weighing up the pros and cons of different universities, reading reviews about them, looking at their campuses, their courses, their requirements.
He has put them in order of preference and he knows the grades he needs to get into them.
He even has a plan B in case he doesn't get the marks he wants.
We are already talking about where we should visit and when. And I have to admit I'm really looking forward to it.
Even though the last series of visits were against the clock I did enjoy spending a day going somewhere different and looking around.
So come October we will be on the motorway again. They are almost certain to feature the question "And can we go to Wagamamas?" at some point.
This time we'll be heading to Southampton, Nottingham and Cardiff. All of which, as far as I know, have a Wagamamas.