Get set for Clearing - Part One

Friday 20 December 2019, Applicant


Get set for Clearing - Part One

Wendy James, Admissions & Student Records Manager, Birkbeck, University of London

It’s really important to remember that studying at university isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ experience. As well as finding the right course, take some time to work out what kind of experience you want out of the next few years, so you don’t get swept up with what your friends are doing, or go for the first option that comes your way.

For example, do you want to study in a city or campus-based provider? If you need to work to support yourself during your studies, what are the employment opportunities like?

If possible, do this before results day – research viable alternatives just in case. If you get the grades, then great, but if you don’t, be prepared! Would you go to Glastonbury without your wellies?

Look at courses, entry criteria, the university environment, facilities, the social scene, bursaries, and accommodation, and make a shortlist. If you're considering changing subjects, think about writing a new personal statement in advance to explain your interest in the course and your strengths. You may be asked to send this as part of a Clearing application.

If possible, try to visit the places you are thinking of studying at. There will be lots of open days just after A level results, which will give you the opportunity to visit the campuses in person. Can you picture yourself studying there?
Claire Fitzpatrick, Clearing Supervisor at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU)
Clearing is all about exploring new opportunities. It’s your chance to make a life-changing decision that could set you upon a completely new, and perhaps unexpected, path.
Maybe you’ve changed your mind (it happens!), or you’re a late applicant, or things haven’t gone as you expected them to. Clearing is your opportunity to turn things around – maybe even turn your life upside down – but it is totally worth it in the end!
To help you take that leap of faith, here’s our top tips to get you through Clearing and into the university that’s right for you.
  1. PMA. A positive mental attitude will keep you calm, collected, and in control – you’re also more likely to make a rational decision.
  2. Plan ahead. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Clearing, but the more you plan, the better prepared you’ll be.
  3. Research. Make a list of potential universities based on your criteria, to help focus your search, for example: ‘I want to study geography and live within two hours of home.’ Make a note of who you want to contact, and the numbers you need to call.
  4. Visit. Does the university offer a Clearing open day? If not, there’s no harm in taking a day trip and getting a feel for the place. Where you study is a huge part of your university experience.
  5. Think. Don’t just accept the first course offered to you – give some consideration to what the course entails, and your own ambitions.
  6. Remember… your place is not confirmed until you add the university as a Clearing choice in Track, and they accept you. You will also need to think about updating your student finance application, and booking student accommodation (if you need it). 
  7. Good luck! Making big life decisions are hard, whether you decide to go to university this year, next year, or never, but you can do this! Most importantly, we want you to be happy in your choice and have an amazing student experience. 
Hannah Jones, University of Reading
You may not have realised, but Clearing is open already, and now is a great time to start thinking about your options. Maybe you want to explore some of the opportunities that will be out there on A Level results day? Now is a great time to start researching to see what’s on offer.

Clearing isn’t just about last-minute applications, or to find a place if you don’t get the grades you were expecting. You can also look for a place at another university if things went better than planned, or if you have had a change of heart between applying and getting your results. This might be an interest in a different subject, or wanting to study in a different location.

Most places will have information on their websites, and a form like this one for you to complete to leave your contact details. This means the university or college will be able to contact you on A level results day, to let you know what is available through Clearing or Adjustment. This way you can get information direct to your inbox as soon as you have your results.

When thinking about which courses you might like to apply for: 
  • Think outside the box – just because you haven’t done a science A level doesn’t mean that you can’t study a science degree. You could be offered a place on a foundation programme which gets you ready for a change in direction.
  • At degree level, there are loads of new subjects you might not have studied before, such as museum studies, meteorology, construction management, or zoology – but your qualifications might still give you access.
  • When you made your initial choices, did you think about four-year degrees? You might now want to study and do a work placement to get some industrial experience, see the world with study abroad, or even do an undergraduate master’s (this is a four-year integrated programme).
When contacting a university or college on results day:
  • Check its website, to make sure the course you want to apply for is in Clearing. 
  • Have your details ready: 
    • your Personal ID
    • the qualifications you have taken and the grades 
    • English language qualification, if you are an international student 
  • If you cannot remember your mobile number, make sure you have that written down! The university or college will need to be able to contact you again.
  • Most universities and colleges have a call centre specifically set up to deal with Clearing enquiries. Lines will get busy, but try to be patient. At Reading we can make offers over the phone, so the wait can definitely be worth it. 
  • If you feel too anxious to call, many universities and colleges will have an online form like ours, that once you have completed will be dealt with by a specialist team.
  • Don’t forget to check your emails throughout the day, as most places will make offers by email.
A few other tips
  • If you get invited to attend a Clearing visit day, try to go if you can. This will give you a real feel for the university or college, and you will get to meet staff and students.
  • If you declined a university or college initially, this does not preclude you from contacting them through Clearing or Adjustment. In fact, as you picked them as one of your initial choices, you will not need to research them, as you would already have done this. Just go on their website to see if they have spaces available.
Lindsay and Emma, Leeds Trinity University

We understand that Clearing can be a daunting time, but the most important thing to remember is you are not alone. It has become an extremely common way for students to apply to university – so much so, that 10% of all UK university students entered university through Clearing in 2017.

1. Don’t panic
Clearing can move quite quickly, but there's no need to panic. More than 65,000 applicants secured a place through Clearing last year, and it's a smooth and common process. This is your chance to find a university place you're going to love, so don't rush a decision.

2. Have your UCAS Personal ID handy
When you call, this is one of the first things you’ll be asked (along with your name… but we don’t think you need reminding of that!), so make sure you’ve got it with you.

3. Research!
Before you call, research the courses you are interested in, and make sure you know the full name of the course(s).

4. Have your results handy
While you’re on the phone, you’re likely to be asked about your GCSEs and Level 3 qualifications. If you don’t know them off the top of your head, have them with you – it will speed up the process.

5. Ask questions
Going to university is a big decision, and it’s important that you make the right decision for you. We’re here to help and advise you, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Speak to current students with Unibuddy!