The Tab’s guide to clearing
You’re gonna be OK
If you don’t get the grades you’re hoping for on Thursday 18th August, all is not lost. There’s always clearing.
Generally clearing is used by those who did not achieve highly enough to get into their firm or insurance choices. However, it can also be used if you have changed your mind about which university you would like to go to, or if your grades are way above your offer and you’d like to upgrade, or ‘adjust’, you can give better unis a call to see if they’ll take you on with all your surprise A*s.
You are only automatically entered into the clearing system if you were rejected by your firm and insurance offers, so if you have other reasons, you must call the university that accepted you and inform them that you don’t want your place before you can get your UCAS clearing number and begin calling other universities.
If you didn’t get any offers when you did your application, you will also be entered into clearing automatically. So, on results day, you might be in the same position as that smug guy at your college who got five offers.
Advice from Mike Gibbons, Director of Student Recruitment and International Development at the University of Manchester
The clearing period can be a stressful time for students, but if you don’t get the results you were hoping for then stay calm as there are still a lot of options open to you. Log in to UCAS track and check your status. If you’ve only just missed your offer then there’s a chance that you may still be under consideration, or you might even be offered a place on another course at the same university.
If you are in clearing then do some research on courses that you’re interested in and call those universities for advice. If you have done well enough to exceed the conditions of your firm offer then you could, if you wanted to, consider other courses or other universities that you didn’t apply for originally.
Advice from Kirstie Ritchie, Director of social mobility charity Access Aspiration
University isn’t the only option, of course. On A-level results day the key thing for all students to remember is that their results are not the only thing that will determine their future – there is always a plan B, plan C all the way to a plan Z.
In my experience, leading employers value work experience above grades or the university they have been to. One way to gain skills that will help for both university and future employment is to get as much varied work experience as possible, get some insight into business and find out more about your own talents and where you could see yourself in the future.
A work-ready generation of young people is what is valued by employers so getting practical experience is just as valuable – if not more – than the grades they achieve in their A-levels.
Alex Urquhart, York
With 4 A’s at AS level, predicted A*AA (Maths, Chemistry and Biology) and one offer (AAA) to read Medical Science at Leeds, clearing wasn’t an option. Clearing was a life-sentence to a third-rate uni, miserably scrolling through Facebook, during my poorly-conducted lectures, watching everyone who got their first choice (everyone but me) blissfully learning their dream subject and loving life.
Despite the process of Clearing appearing to me as a desperate scraping of the degree-barrel, settling for the scraps that successful students had left behind, I was completely wrong. Clearing completely changed my life for the better, and it can for you too.
If you’re convinced you will hate your clearing choice, the thought of University gives you anxiety and you’d rather just take a year out and worry about all this later – I implore you to give it a chance. I was in this position as well but you’ll always have the option to leave and take some time out, but running at your clearing option with all your energy can become a fantastic adventure where you learn and grow more than you would at your first choice.
Ultimately my most important piece of advice is do what makes you happy and throw yourself at whatever your eventual situation is – this is the best way of getting the most of of your clearing choice. A lot of people that achieve their first choice Uni are regularly never given the opportunity to question what they really want from work and life, until they’re at uni doing a course that they don’t really enjoy.
I now read Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance at York; a complete U-turn to the path which i convinced myself was the only option. It was the best decision I’ve ever made – a decision made, thanks to Clearing.
Ella Brown, York
When I first opened my results I couldn’t quite believe it, my first thought was literally ‘shit’ cos no matter how much you mess up an exam you always sort of think that it will work out anyway.
My advice would be to have the clearing numbers that are on UCAS ready before the morning even if you think you’ve done well, you never know if you’ll need them. Ring the unis up as soon as possible, get as many offers as possible and don’t worry about making a decision until you know where you stand. Remember, it’s always worth double checking your firm/insurance won’t let you through even with slightly lower grades.
On the phone just be friendly and enthusiastic no matter how crap you feel, accept their congratulations and sound like you genuinely want to go to the place you’re phoning (even though it’s not your plan A). Most importantly, just know that it will work out. Uni is amazing full stop, regardless of where you go and what you do.
On results day I thought it was the worst thing that could ever have happened to me but here I am a year later and I wouldn’t change it even if I could.