For many people, ending up in the clearing process feels like bad news. However, that certainly needn’t be the case.
The clearing process is administrated by UCAS and takes place every year after A-level results come out. It is a way for students to get a university place even if they fall short of getting the grades they need or wanted for their first choice or insurance offer. It is also a convenient way for universities to fill seats that they have left in various courses.
Given that students in clearing have usually missed their grades – which is upsetting enough on its own – the uncertainty of having to find a new course at a university you have probably not researched can feel like the end of the world and the prospect of a mad scramble for a course you didn’t choose is a daunting task.
The reality is that, as much as clearing might feel like a disaster, it can actually be a fantastic opportunity to get your hands on your dream course and, reassuringly, you’re still very much in control of your own destiny. The most important thing is to keep calm and be proactive about what you do next.
Most importantly, being in clearing basically means you have a chance to step back, assess your options and pick the course that’s right for you. Many students in their final year of sixth form choose their university and course before they’ve settled on a career choice. A lot can change in the few months between submitting your UCAS form and receiving your results, so make the most of the opportunity to get on a course that’ll really help you with your career.
If you do have a career in mind, don’t discount the benefits of a vocationally-oriented course. Something that offers you direct training and/or experience of your chosen job is likely to be very valuable to employers. You might find that vocationally focused universities and courses are less likely to be oversubscribed – fewer students have a clear career idea at this stage so these courses are more likely to offer places through clearing. That’s why having a second bite of the apple, through clearing, can be the perfect way to get you on the path to your chosen career.
Even if you’re not sold on the idea of a vocational degree, clearing can be a great way to research courses that you might not have considered so far. It is very beneficial to research other courses and universities before you get your results, just in case you do end up in clearing. Doing this will mean you’re streets ahead of everyone else when it comes to picking a university.
If you do miss out on a place at your dream uni, it’s far from the end of the world. Look into other options and keep in mind the whole student experience offered by each university. You might end up at a uni you’d never thought about before, but that ultimately gives you the best experience of your life. Through the clearing process, you’re in control of your own destiny – universities want
you to join them, so make the most of the opportunity and don’t despair!
Nadim Choudhury is the Head of Careers and Employability at The London Institute of Banking & Finance. Find out more about Clearing here.