How to survive clearing
For those who experience it, university clearing can often be a very stressful time. However, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce stress and ensure the process goes smoothly. Here, we check out the top 5:
One of the things that causes students the most stress during clearing is a lack of preparation. This is understandable – the thought that you may not get into your preferred course or university is not a particularly pleasant one. However, it’s important not take it for granted, particularly if you’ve applied for selective courses or universities, or if you’re not feeling too confident about your grades. So getting prepared is important – think about what universities and courses you would consider doing if you don’t get into your preferences, look for some with slightly lower grade boundaries. Do some research and maybe even visit alternative universities – even if it comes to nothing at least it’s a nice day out! Hopefully you’ll get the grades anyway, but it’s definitely best to prepare just in case.
Whilst this is easier said than done, it’s important to try your best not to go into panic mode if you don’t meet your grades. You may be disappointed, but remember that it’s not as bad as it seems. Lots of the top universities still have spaces on a variety of courses during clearing. Much of it depends on demand and results averages. For example, if a course at a university isn’t filled out, they may lower the grade boundaries during clearing. Similarly, if the grades of many of the applicants for a course fall short, again the grade boundaries may be lowered to students going through clearing. This means that you can potentially still get into the course you want to do at a similarly ranked university. And when you get to your eventual university you’ll have a great time and forget all about your initial preferences anyway!
Clearing can feel like a bit of a minefield at first, so it’s important to seek some advice to help you navigate your way through it. Luckily, most schools stay open throughout the clearing process, with staff on hand to provide you with advice and support. Your teachers are some of the best people to help guide you, both through the process itself and by advising you on courses and universities. Similarly, universities will have advisors on hand for you to contact by telephone who will be able to answer all your questions. You can also seek advice if you know anyone who’s gone through the clearing process – this will be a big help. Last but not least, don’t forget mum and dad – they will be able to provide advice and support, particularly if you’re struggling to settle on a new course and/or university.
Now, whilst it’s very important to remain calm and try not to panic, you do need to keep in mind that you will have to act sooner rather than later if you’re planning on applying to a popular course or university during clearing. Around 65,000 UK students went through clearing in 2016, so there’s going to be a demand for places, particularly for popular ones. If you don’t get the grades, check the UCAS Track site as soon as you can to get your clearing number – from there you can go about looking at courses and universities and making applications. However, remember that everyone else will be doing the same, so you don’t need to rush in to hasty decisions; just give yourself enough time to make an informed decision and you should be fine. Also, use your time wisely – if a university has you on hold for 40 minutes, call another and try again later. Remember, universities will carefully assess applications before making offers, so be prompt but don’t rush into anything.
Consider the alternatives
Remember, it’s not the end of the world – there are several alternatives. After all, one thing you really don’t want to do is to rush into choosing a course or university without giving it much thought – this will increase your chances of not enjoying your course or university experience as much as you should be. One thing to consider is doing a foundation degree – this is an extra year, but it means you will be able to undertake courses without having the required grades to enter straight into a bachelor’s degree. You may even be able to get into your original course and university doing this, so it’s definitely worth checking out. Another thing to consider is re-taking your A-levels. While this may not seem too appealing, if you have your heart set on a particular course or university than this may be your best bet. Many students who do this dramatically improve their grades, meaning they end up having the choice to go to even higher ranked universities than originally planned.