For some students A level results day will mean that things haven’t gone quite to plan and they find that they haven’t been accepted at either their firm or insurance choice universities. Instead they have been entered into the UCAS Clearing system – but this doesn’t have to mean disappointment.
In 2015, 64,300 students used Clearing to find a university place and this year it looks as though even more courses will be on offer, including those within the Russell Group. Many of these places are taken very quickly once results have been published so the key to a successful, stress-free Clearing period is preparation.
Before results day, look over your personal statement and think about what made you apply to university and for the courses you picked in the first place. Then look at what courses are on offer and make a list of the universities and courses you are interested in, together with their Clearing helpline numbers and your UCAS number. Just as when you first did your research, it is important to remember that courses can differ substantially between universities. Ensure that the courses you are considering offer the options that you are interested in and that you are likely to meet the entry requirements. It is important to be open-minded and flexible about different universities but it is also crucial to remember that you need to be happy studying and living at a particular place for three or four years.
On results day, your UCAS Track status will tell you if you are eligible for Clearing and will give you a Clearing number. Make a note of this as you will need to give this number to any universities that make you an offer. UCAS’s search tool will show students the available options and The Telegraph newspaper will publish all Clearing vacancies on Thursday 18 August and Saturday 20 August as well. If you do find yourself in Clearing you should consider getting in touch with your original university choices to see if they will accept you or even offer you an acceptable, alternative course. If not, then move onto the universities on your additional list and ring them on their individual Clearing helplines. Keep calm and treat the conversation as a mini-interview giving details of your results and why you are a suitable candidate for the course you are applying for. If you get an offer by phone, ask for written confirmation via email, and don’t feel you have to accept it straight away. Clearing choices can’t be entered into Track until 3pm on results day but often universities will hold places for a day or two to give students enough time to make a considered decision and to visit if necessary.
Whatever you do, remember that thousands of students have been through Clearing before and ended up having a brilliant and rewarding time at university.