Clearing. It is the one word that sends shudders through any students currently awaiting their results and rightfully so. Whilst it may seem incomprehensible to many of you waiting for your results, my advice is to get prepared just in case.
Last year over 61,000 students found a place at university through Clearing according to UCAS. This equates to 9 per cent of last year’s total admissions. Although there is a stigma associated with Clearing admissions, it needs to be ignored. That percentage shows that Clearing is not simply an option for underachievers; it is a second chance.
If we rewind to over three years ago, I was facing Clearing myself. I had done the International Baccalaureate abroad and had received my results in July. When I checked the website to see that I had achieved nowhere near my predicted grades or the entry requirements to my firm or insurance choices, I was distraught.
I faced Clearing with absolutely no preparation. Luckily for me and many other IB students, we had a month to look for new universities and courses. If I was an A Level student, I would have a matter of hours.
As I am sure many teachers and parents have told you, please prepare for Clearing just in case. The days before you get your results are agony, but the process will be made worse if you face Clearing unprepared.
Most places on popular courses at the higher ranking universities will be filled by the end of the first week of Clearing so you will need to be quick.
Whilst you might feel like you want to rush and grab any place offered, you need to think carefully about your decisions. You will need to be confident that the university and course you are considering will fit your needs and that you can see yourself living there for the foreseeable future.
In order to satisfy your criteria, you will need to research and this is best done in the days before your results.
How to prepare
Do some research on other universities and other courses that you might be interested in with lower entry requirements that you have applied for. Remember, the course is what you are there to attend. If you do not enjoy the course, you probably will not enjoy the university. Always take a look at the module options as well. If you are looking to do something like humanties, the modules will differ depending on the university and their special subjects. Find something you love and go with it.
When you have found some options, note the UCAS course number, the institution and their Clearing number down.
On Results Day itself
If you find yourself without your expected grades on results day, do not panic. As soon as you can, log onto Track and look at your application status (you can even do this before you go to pick up your results). This will tell you if your firm or insurance have accepted you or not.
If you are unsuccessful, Clearing provides an opportunity for you to secure a place elsewhere. With your prior preparation, it will be a less stressful experience. But before you ring your shortlisted universities, make sure you have your Clearing number, your results (including your module marks if you have them), your log in details for Track, your personal statement and your notes by the phone.
Do not let your parents make the calls for you though. University is about independence and you need to prove to the admissions team that you are worth a place at their institution. By calling yourself, you can provide the neccessary information and make your own decisions. Think of Clearing calls as job interviews. Be confident and if you struggle on the phone, grab a glass of water.
Now you can work your way through the list, making notes as you go ready for your decision when you are ready. If a University decides to offer you a place, ask for an email confirmation as well
You cannot accept a place on the first day of Clearing until 5pm. This gives you plenty of time to speak to different universities and consider your options. Ideally you will want to be quick, but do not rush it.
Clearing may seem like the end of the world, but I promise you, it is not. By the time you start your university life and begin to enjoy it, you will have forgotten all about it.
Do you have any tips for preparing for Clearing? Let us know in the comments below.