Don’t let Clearing fill you with dread

Yesterday’s A-Level results mean that most people know whether or not they have their place at university.  For those who do, there’s about a month or so before it’s time to hit campus and feel the reality of a whole new adventure.  For those who want/need to go through clearing, I wish you a successful search.

On the subject of clearing, you may have heard that lots of universities are full and that there are roughly six people chasing every available place in clearing.  But that isn’t a reason to give up.

photo by Perfidiousgoddess

photo by Perfidiousgoddess

If you really want to go to university, don’t let the doom and gloom mongers put you off.  And keep planning ahead for all eventualities.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Were you set on your main choice and don’t want to even consider your insurance? – When you’ve built up a relationship with a particular uni, it’s difficult to imagine anywhere else is worth bothering with.  Even your insurance choice.  But the whole point of an insurance place is to go somewhere that should work out fine for you.  If you picked an insurance place more randomly than that and don’t know enough about it, do some research into the uni and course to seriously consider the suitability.  Comparing anything to the uni you’ve been thinking about for months is always going to end up negatively.  So put your original university choice to one side and look at the new place on its own merits.
  • Do you have no insurance place, but still have an intense desire to be at uni this year? – It’s not the end of the world.  You’ll have to spend more time ringing around and looking into different unis, but it’s worth the effort if you’re set on starting a degree this year.  Don’t be half-hearted about the clearing process and don’t skim on looking into the unis that still have places.  The more legwork you put in now, the more likely you are to enjoy the place and the less likely you are to drop out later.
  • Are you considering a year out? – However much you had your heart set on uni life, there’s nothing wrong with taking a year out.  I did it.  Just make sure you have a purpose, or the year can slip away with nothing coming from it.  Your purpose could be to improve your grades to make sure you get to the uni you want next year.  You may decide to get some work under your belt to help pay for uni life (so you’re not under so much pressure to get a part-time job when you’re actually studying!).  Perhaps you had a particular course in mind for your future career…in which case, you could start getting involved in work surrounding your chosen career.  From blogging about it to volunteering somewhere, there are lots of things you can do to help make you stand out when it comes to a place at uni next year.  And with some experience in your field, you’ll be better placed to tell if that career is for you and you’ll also look more tempting to future employers.  Who knows, you may even find a way of being sponsored so you don’t need to worry about those expensive student loans!  It’s all to play for, so look at a year out in a positive light and come back with even more energy for next year.
  • What about an alternative to university? – While I’m all for uni life and the opportunities it brings, I know that opinions can dramatically change if you haven’t been given a guaranteed place on the course you applied for.  If you’re having second thoughts about uni, or if you don’t want to bother if it means waiting another year, there are other options out there.  I recently mentioned the site, which was set up by a 19 year old, Tom Mursell, who wanted to explore the many other choices out there.  University isn’t for everyone.  So for a lowdown on what’s available to you and how you can get the most from your current position, notgoingtouni is a pretty good place to start.  They even have a dedicated exam results survival page.

For more thoughts on life after A-Levels, the BBC have also put together some good advice.

However things go for you, be as positive as you can.  What seems like the most crucial and limited point in your life is actually a huge opening.  There’s scope to do so much, whether you get a place at uni this year, next year, or not at all.

My main piece of advice for all those who haven’t got their place yet is this:

Don’t make your main focus finding a degree course…focus on you and your personal future.

Life is all about YOU.  It may currently involve trying to find a course, yes, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t.  Your future isn’t determined by a university, or a particular course, or taking a year out, or exam results, or anything in isolation.  Anything you consider a failure is actually a step closer to finding success.  Don’t forget that and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.