Sometimes, no matter how hard you study, you don’t score the grades you were hoping for. The grades you were predicted by the school board. The grades that were supposed to get you into the university of your dreams. But now, being a second-year student at the very university I was almost rejected from, I can’t help but laugh at those memories and shake my head in disbelief after my experience with Clearing.
How it all started
Well, let me introduce myself first before I take you on a little trip back in time. My name is Daniela, and I’m an international student (also an ambassador here at the University of York). I’m in my second year and I study English Literature. I love my degree, I absolutely adore my Department and I just started gathering material for my dissertation.
Two years ago, however, things were not looking great or promising at all. I did the International Baccalaureate (IB). This is a competitive, stressful and very prestigious programme that is meant to get you into the best universities and prepare you for the academic world. I had my strong subjects, I had my weak subjects, and I was predicted a fairly average score in the sea of peers. Regardless, my predicted grades were good enough to apply both domestically and internationally. That’s what I had in mind when I decided I wanted to study English.
When things don’t go as planned
I guess that if you’re reading this, you know things didn’t go as planned. A month and a half after my final and worst exam to ever exist (Economics HL Paper 3 is a gruesome nightmare), I opened the official IB website in anticipation. My heart was racing, my fingers were twitching. It’s safe to say that results day is a nerve-wracking experience, and, well, seeing some of my results was indeed nerve-wracking.
And not at all in a good way.
Sometimes, you don’t do well. You fail, you score low. And it should be okay because we’re human beings and can’t be perfect. However, shortly after results day, all of my UCAS applications were automatically rejected.
When you don’t do as well as you thought you would, it’s heartbreaking. I won’t be lying when I say that I spent at least a few days just crying and thinking – where did things go wrong? How could I do so well on mock exams, but not here? At that time, studying in the UK was not necessarily a top priority for me, I just really wanted to have it as an opportunity. Seeing how things have turned out, I decided fate was telling me to stay where I was and study somewhere else. I was ready to give up completely.
Then, it happened.
My Clearing experience
It began like this: ‘Dear Daniela, I’m sorry to hear about your exam score…‘
In a long, detailed email from the Department of English at York, a very kind staff member explained to me what my options were if I still wanted to study with them. She said that my personal statement and reference letter were impressive and that it would be a shame if I didn’t at the very least try to apply again. That was how I heard about Clearing. It took me a while to process things.
I was getting an email from one of the best English departments in the UK. York is a leading Russell Group university. My grades were not good enough, but my personal statement was. I could go through Clearing.
What is Clearing?
But what IS Clearing? How does it work? Well, Clearing is how universities fill in remaining places after results days when some applications get rejected or students accept an offer from a different university. Essentially, it opens a path for those who wish to apply but, for whatever reason, didn’t have an earlier opportunity to do so. You have to keep in mind that when it comes to grades, what the university expects and what they ACTUALLY want are two very different things. You are not defined by a piece of paper with numbers – you are a person, you have aspirations and interests.
Applying through Clearing was so much easier than I imagined. A few phone calls, a few emails, and some adjustments on the UCAS website. Clearing sounds like a big scary word, but it’s not as complicated as you think. Sometimes you might have to pick a different course. For example, I initially applied for a combined degree of Literature and Linguistics. At the time it seemed like the ideal opportunity; the perfect degree. It’s minor, but I had to change to a single English Literature course instead when I went through Clearing because there were no places left. Going through Clearing requires an open mind and patience. More often than not you will be told that some courses have no places left.
What I learned
If applying through Clearing taught me one thing, it’s that I wasn’t alone in this. I know quite a few people who applied through Clearing because of similar reasons. In the end, we were all students at a Russell Group university. Our grades and our past have no real impact on our future life as students. Some of the brightest, most amazing fellow students I know didn’t score as high as they hoped for. Does that make them any less of a person than those who did? No. They are smart, they are talented, and they are brilliant people who will graduate and share their knowledge and skills with the world.
If you go through Clearing, remember this: your past doesn’t define you. Stay open-minded and think positively, because the truth is, there will always be an opportunity left for you, even if it is a different one. So with this, I’m wishing the best of luck to all students who will be applying through Clearing this year.
You can read more blogs from students who came to York through Clearing.