Clearing is here! It’s the final opportunity in the UCAS application process to find a place for the next academic year. A common misconception about applying through clearing is that it is just a last resort for those who have underachieved on results day. This is not the case at all! Keep reading to hear Amelia’s story and her top tips on applying for a course through Clearing.
Although someone may find themselves applying through clearing because they missed the required grades to get onto their course at their chosen university, they may also find themselves applying through clearing due to other factors such as;
- They have applied late
- They have received no offers from any of the universities they have applied to
- They have changed their mind about the university they want to attend or course they want to study but the deadline to alter choices has passed.
Last August I found myself in a situation similar to one of these. I didn’t achieve the grades I needed to get into my first choice university, however I did get into my insurance. This was a result I expected on the day and collecting my results and seeing BBB written on the paper was not much of a shock. Initially I felt content that I would be attending my insurance choice university to study Business and Marketing. As the day went on my feelings started to change, my gut feeling was telling me that maybe this wasn’t the place for me. That was when I started exploring my other options. A few hours later I knew the university I was going to be attending and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. At the time I knew very little about the process of clearing. In fact I found receiving advice from people that had gone through clearing themselves very comforting at that stressful time. So here is my advice to you, if you somehow end up in a situation like mine or one that I have previously listed.
Of course we are all hoping to get into our first choice university and we have our insurance choice as a backup. But sometimes, and in this case, our backup plan needs a backup plan of its own. Therefore, you will find it very useful to have done some extra research and have some ideas of alternative universities and courses that you are interested in. You should familiarize yourself with courses that have lower grade boundaries than what you are predicted. Doing this will help the process of applying through clearing run a lot more smoothly and will help to not waste time.
You should also prepare yourself for a few questions on the phone as a mini interview. This doesn’t always happen and I was lucky enough to avoid this process. However, it is important that you know what you will say to the interviewer in case this does happen. An example of a few questions you may be asked is “Why do you want to study this course?”, “What makes you want to study at this university?” and “What makes you suitable for this course?”. You may even be asked something directly related to your course so it is important that you have done your research.
ON THE DAY
On the day you should pick up your results from school as early as possible to give yourself the best opportunity to get a spot on the best possible course. As the day goes on course spaces will get filled up so it is important to get on the phone to universities as quickly as possible.
You should also make sure you have the day free to spend all the time you need phoning up universities and exploring your options without rushing and panicking.
When looking into which universities you are going to contact and which courses you are interested in, keep an open mind. Look into courses that vary from what you had originally applied for as this will broaden your chances of both finding a place on a course you are happy with and at a university you’d be happy to attend.
ONCE YOU’RE ON THE PHONE
Once you have decided which universities you are going to contact, you will need to make sure you have the UCAS website available to you with important information such as your UCAS ID, various course codes and past GCSE grades.
Getting through to speak to someone at the university can take numerous attempts. There may be a long wait as the phone lines on results day are very busy with people like yourself phoning up, so be patient. Keep trying as you will get through eventually.
Once you’re on the phone to a representative try and be confident, remember you are selling yourself to them. If you sound confident in yourself and assured in your answers to their questions, it will instil a level of confidence in you from the person who is considering your application. Try not to panic, the person who you are speaking to will understand this is a stressful time for you. They’re not trying to catch you out, they are there to help.
You may find this guide useful on “How to call universities.”
So… you have spent all day on hold and repeating your exam results, hopefully you will have received a few offers from universities that you are interested in. The next step is to make that decision on which offer you are going to accept. It is important you don’t rush this decision. Take time to research. Not just on the university and the course, but the places you are potentially going to be living. Look at accommodation and the city/town itself. You may also find looking at what facilities are on offer will help sway your decision.
Before you solidify your final decision you can visit a clearing day. Most universities offer a clearing day just after results day where you can explore the university and its facilities first hand. This will help you make a fully informed decision about the place you want to spend the next few years of your life. Alternatively, you may come to the conclusion that taking a gap year is best for you or retaking some exams. You may even decide to look at other options such as apprenticeships.
You are not on your own, in 2016 just under 65,000 students in the UK achieved their place at university through clearing, according to UCAS. In a ‘Which?’ annual survey 83% of students who went through clearing said they were satisfied with their choice so don’t look at clearing as a worst case scenario. Instead it is just another pathway to reaching your final goals.
A huge thanks to our work experience student, Amelia, for writing this blog post!
SOME USEFUL LINKS
You can find clearing vacancies on the Telegraph website.
Here is the University of Worcester’s “Clearing survival guide”
Apply through Clearing at the University of Worcester