For those of you reading who aren’t yet at uni and are awaiting your A-Level results, I hope you get the grades you’re looking for.
But whatever happens on Thursday, be sure not to panic. If you don’t get what you need to be accepted at your chosen uni course, the game ain’t over yet. Rather than drown your sorrows, pick yourself up and tell yourself that you’re on a mission to find a great course at a great university. Put everything in to the mission. Prepare yourself for the Clearing Quest!
You want some help on this quest? Here are 10 tips to get you the place you want through Clearing:
- Be quick – When Clearing starts, get stuck in. Don’t wait around, dwelling on your results or replaying things in your mind. The longer you remain downhearted, the longer you risk missing out on the full range of what’s available.
- Be slow – Okay, it’s wise to be quick off the mark, but you still have to make sure the university and the course is one for you. Before you make solid plans, check the course details on the university website and see what the league tables and independent university guides have to say about the institution.
- Be positive – Your grades may not have been enough to get you where you originally wanted, but that’s no reason to be downbeat about Clearing. The whole point is that you aim to find a course and an institution just as good, if not better than the one you wanted. Anyway, loads of people go through Clearing. It’s not something to be unhappy about. Apparently, about a tenth of places are taken up through Clearing. That’s nearly 40,000 places, so you’re in good company!
- Don’t ignore your original institution choice – Maybe you didn’t get the grades required, but that shouldn’t stop you asking the university if there is any leeway. They might still let you on the course, especially if they have room and you show a determined commitment toward the work. Alternatively, you may be able to find a suitable alternative course or combined honours degree that needs filling up through Clearing or has lower UCAS tariff requirements. If this option is available, do make sure you’d be happy studying the other subject(s)!
- Commit serious time to Clearing – Unless you’re very lucky, this isn’t a five minute job. If you want to make sure you get the best place and the greatest opportunity, you may need to spend a few days working toward your goal.
- Keep up with newspaper listings, university websites, the UCAS site, and so on – Information of available places changes quickly during the Clearing process. Keep an eye on all the relevant sources of Clearing information out there.
- Keep your options open – Your first contact with a university may result in an offer. That’s great news, but don’t blindly say yes unless you’re absolutely certain this is the right move. If you have any questions, thoughts, doubts, or requests, ask all that you can and (if at all possible) visit the university to see the place with your own eyes. Some universities open specifically for Clearing candidates, so don’t dismiss the possibilities available to you in making the right choices.
- Be brutal – A friend of mine found a course at a university that suited him down to the ground. When he rang the uni, he was told that he would not be accepted on the course, as his grades were not good enough. Undeterred, he rang up the following day. Again, he was told that it wasn’t possible to find him a place. On the third day, he called again…the operator remembered him this time, but apologised and gave the same reply. On the fourth day, my friend called yet again. This time he was told he’d be given a place if it would stop him from keep ringing up. Result! This is the most unconventional way of succeeding I’ve heard about. Sure, maybe the uni had just been informed that someone had dropped out, but it still paid for my friend to be persistent!
- Remember why you chose the unis and courses on your UCAS application – Clearing is a similar process to choosing your initial degree courses. You still want to be in a suitable location for your study and social life, you want facilities to keep you happy while you work, you have to consider your budget and how far it will get you, and you owe it to yourself to pick an institution that is the right size and shape for you. Since you have (hopefully) already worked out what you want for the next few years of your life, it shouldn’t be difficult to find the best institutions for you. Reconsider the universities that rejected you in the first place, because they may be crying out for students through Clearing now and you may have a chance at somewhere you already had flagged. Good, eh?
- Don’t feel pushed into a course – This is especially important if you’ve asked anyone to help you find a place. Such a huge decision can’t be taken lightly and it certainly can’t be taken by someone other than yourself. If everything in your head is screaming ‘NO’ while everyone around you is screaming ‘YES’, it’s obviously not a good idea to bury your own reservations and do what everyone else is telling you. Understand what’s holding your positivity back and see if it can be swayed. If not, move on.
If these 10 tips are not enough, The Independent have struck gold again with some fantastic articles about Clearing. All five of the following articles will help bring you closer to the goal of a place at uni:
- Find a course you click with – Clearing doesn’t have to be a pain. With a few clicks online, you’ll find interesting courses at your fingertips.
- My story: how I survived Clearing – How students have found a successful place in past years.
- Last-minute advice – Small town? Big city? Particular course? As this article states, “Always trust your gut feeling about a place, and if you aren’t happy about it, don’t go”.
- Take the future in your hands – To chase the uni, or not to chase the uni? That is the question.
- In search of a room of one’s own – Finding accommodation doesn’t have to be hard work when taking a last-minute place. Lots of unis still have campus accommodation, while others guarantee it to all Freshers anyway. Failing that, there’s a lot of decent private accommodation available in uni towns, so consider the best course and uni first. Only think about living arrangements once you’ve confirmed the place you want. This piece explains all.
Best of luck to everyone searching for a place through Clearing from Thursday onward. I hope you find exactly what you’re looking for!