I went through clearing, so I know how intimidating the clearing process can be. But with the right support and a bit of prep, clearing can give you the chance to find a great course somewhere.
Here are some tips that I wish I’d known beforehand!
AHEAD OF TIME
Think about what you want out of uni
When I did my exams, I knew they hadn’t gone my way before I got the results. Instead of preparing for clearing, I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. That meant I ended up doing some frantic Googling of courses throughout results day and making quick decisions about where I wanted to study.
I should have taken the time to think about places and courses that interested me. The subject you choose and where you study are large parts of your uni experience. Making sure you choose what will make you happy is really important!
Know the process
Another thing I wish I’d done ahead of time is to research exactly how the clearing process works. I spent a large amount of time on the day worrying about what I’d have to do to get a place at uni, and how the process worked. It’s a relatively simple process, and UCAS explain it all on their website.
Clearing places can go quickly, and being prepared will give you the extra advantage of knowing exactly what you’ve got to do. Results day is stressful enough without having to keep checking what the next step is!
ON THE DAY
Everyone who goes through clearing says this because it’s true. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the emotional rollercoaster of results day, especially if you didn’t get the grades you wanted and now your plans are changing.
It helped me to remember that I wasn’t the only person going through this. There are loads of reasons people go through clearing, and most of the time people find a great course and end up loving where they study.
There’s lots of advice about dealing with stress during clearing out there. Also, I found talking with my friends and family during the day made me feel much more relaxed. This made it much easier to stay collected when talking to unis.
Keep an open mind
One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to look at courses in similar fields to the one I’d originally applied to. Being flexible means you’re more likely to find a clearing place, and it can also lead to something you hadn’t previously considered.
I originally applied to do anthropology, but after my tutor suggested Social and Political Sciences (SPS), I was able to look at more universities, including York. When I looked at the SPS course content page, I realised that it really suited me. I’ve never looked back!
Calling universities to ask for a place is a bit nerve-wracking, especially when you haven’t done it before. But it’s important that you make the call, not anyone else, as universities want to get to know you.
Here are some tips I wish I’d known before making clearing calls:
Have a pen and paper close-by
Having a pen and paper to make notes is important, as sometimes you might be given a lot of information in a short period of time, and can forget what’s been said. This can also help keep you focused if you’re feeling nervous.
Names, course titles, dates, times, and a summary of what’s been said are all useful details to write down. You might need to ask some questions or get back in touch with the person you spoke to on the call.
Other bits to prepare
When you call each uni, there are a few things it’s useful to keep nearby:
- Your UCAS ID number
- Your qualifications and how many tariff points these equal
- Any questions you might have about the course
Remember, universities want to help you find a place. This means you’ll need to tell them why you’d be a good member of their community. It’s unlikely they’ll ask you a difficult question, but you might want to keep your UCAS personal statement handy in case they ask about your reasons for wanting a place on a certain course.
Just be yourself and show how enthusiastic you are about their course!
DON’T MAKE RASH DECISIONS
You usually have a few days to decide which offer to take, so don’t feel pressure to accept immediately. It’s a big decision, so make sure to do some research and talk to friends and family.
The clearing process doesn’t have to be a really stressful experience. It’s an opportunity to get into a great university and study something you love. Keep an open mind, be prepared, keep calm, and it’s bound to work out!
Read more student stories about clearing.
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