Going through clearing is the best thing you’ll ever do

Jump in the air even if you got three Ds


Let me guess: you didn’t get the grades for your first choice university. Or your insurance. Your morning was spent awkwardly avoiding eye contact with grinning (smug) classmates and holding back the tears. You had to tell Hattie who you sat next to once in year 11 History you didn’t quite make your grades. The longer you were sat on the UCAS website, the more the feeling of dread increased. There are endless courses and you just don’t know what to do. It’s hell, it’s Sophie’s Choice, it’s like repeating the whole five month UCAS process in two hours. Welcome to clearing: probably the best thing you will ever do.

So, you didn’t get into your first choice. A lot of people don’t. Get over it. I missed out on an Oxford place by four marks, you’ll find no sympathy here. In time your bruised ego will heal and the chip on your shoulder will be gone by the third day of freshers. As for your insurance choice? Missing the grades for there was probably a blessing in disguise. No one ever picks a uni they’d really be happy at as their insurance.

Now, in front of you are thousands of different courses from hundreds of different universities – probably every university in the UK apart from Oxford and Cambridge (though if you thought there was a chance they’d have clearing places, there’s probably a good reason you didn’t make your grades). The best thing about clearing is the freedom; the choice. No longer are you restricted to just five unis, instead you can contact as many as you want.


As well as this, you now have the opportunity to apply for and get a place on a course you would never have got onto with your grades normally. In reality, there’s a strong possibility you could be accepted by a better university than the one you missed out on, albeit for a different course. Being able to change course now though is fantastic. Yes, you originally applied for Geography but that was months ago so if a Chemistry degree from Liverpool looks tempting then go for it. And there’s no personal statement malarkey to worry about either.

Ultimately, try and take clearing in your stride. Your family will probably throw all sorts of shite life advice at you: “the road is life”, “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, “there’s a reason for everything” and the best one of all “maybe it just wasn’t meant to be”. Sure, all of these are ridiculous but the general philosophy behind them is kinda true: two doors have closed, but thousands have just opened. Unless you’re applying for medicine or Oxbridge, you’re basically back at square one, and in a better position.

At the end of the day, none of this will matter two weeks into university, because once you’re here nobody cares how you got here. University isn’t school, people aren’t constantly asking you what AS grades you got and eventually, once you’ve settled in, you’ll laugh at the prospect of being anywhere else.

If you’re still not convinced of the positives of going through clearing and you’re really not happy, take a gap year –  get a job if you have to – reapply and resit some exams. Worse things can happen than today, so don’t panic.