It’s not long until A level results day, taking place this year on Thursday 13th August. For many students, stress levels will be at a high as the anticipation begins to drive everyone crazy.
Clearing needn’t be such a stressful time, though. All it takes is a change in perceptions to move away from thinking about it as a last chance saloon, and instead look it as simply another date in the recruitment cycle.
Here are my top tips for making it through Clearing stress-free.
Change your perception
Don’t look at Clearing like it’s your last chance to go to university if your grades aren’t up to scratch. Not only is this a defeatist attitude, it’s also wrong. Many students who get grades better than they expected use Clearing as a chance to secure a place at a different institution to their original preferred choice. If you look at Clearing as just another date in the recruitment cycle it helps to take the pressure off.
Keep an open mind
Keeping an open mind is crucial to a smooth ride through Clearing. You may end up on the phone to an institution you never planned on looking at, which suddenly has a unique offering which fits with exactly what you want from a degree. Don’t write places off just because they weren’t part of your original plan. Collect offers from a variety of different institutions and weigh up the pros and cons intelligently and impartially. Decide which factors are must haves, and which you can live without. Remember, Clearing is another opportunity to find out which university is the best fit for you.
Remember that there are plenty of places
Don’t panic! The mistake that I see students make every time is panicking and feeling like they have to accept the first offer they get, for fear of not getting a place at all. Universities understand that the decision to accept or decline an offer is a potentially life-changing one, and won’t put pressure on you to make an immediate decision. They’ll give you time to consider, answers to any questions you may have, and will respect your decision. Don’t feel forced into accepting a place just for the sake of it; remember there are plenty of places at plenty of institutions. The first offer you get will not be the only one.
Think about your brand
Whether you’ve done better or worse than expected, you still need to treat Clearing like you treated your original application (if you went through UCAS). Just like you want to know what you’ll get from studying at a particular institution, universities will want to know what you can bring to their student population. Think about everything you’ve achieved, both academic and non-, and be prepared to talk about it. Communicate to your chosen institution that you’re more than just a few grades, and be prepared to sell brand ‘you’.
Being organised is crucial to navigating Clearing successfully. Make sure you keep a note of every university you call and what you discussed. Did they make you an offer? If so, write down the conditions and details. It’s easy to forget or confuse details of a phone conversation, particularly when you’re making a lot in a short space of time. Keeping notes will allow you to make an informed decision when you get off the phone and start weighing up your options.
Clearing can open up a whole host of doors that you never knew existed. Follow the tips above and you can make it an enjoyable, rather than worrisome experience. Keep calm, carry on, and use it to kick start your higher education journey.
Susie King is Head of Admissions at the University of Bedfordshire, where entry requirements range from 200 to 280 tariff points.