A Guide to UCAS Clearing

The only reason I got into the University of Glasgow is clearing. I was not meant to go to a Russell Group university with my predicted grades. When results day rolled round, I had got into my firm and insurance choice universities but wasn’t sure if I still wanted to attend them so I decided to check out what universities were in clearing. I phoned round a couple of well known prestigious universities but their grade boundaries were still too high. When I saw a UofG place on the clearing list for English Literature, I though I’d be turned down again but decided to give it a shot anyway.

Reader, they offered me a place. I had actually visited the university with friends the year before and loved it but hadn’t even seriously considered it as the required grades were far above my own.

Then began the tricky process of getting my firm and insurance choice universities to withdraw their offers. They have the right to keep you as a student as you have entered into a contract. Fortunately they were kind enough to let me go, and Glasgow verbally confirmed my place down the phone. It took over 24 stressful hours for UCAS to update and reflect this. I was refreshing the website on my phone every 5 minutes, desperate to have the official confirmation. I had the fear that UofG would withdraw their offer and I would be left with nothing. I was down the pub with my parents, tentatively celebrating my results when the confirmation came through.

Obviously it’s far better to have your dream university as your firm choice months in advance of results day. However if things don’t go to plan, clearing is a godsend. I can honestly say it changed my life and for the better. I could never have pictured myself at this university but I’m so glad that I decided to be a little bit cheeky and try for it anyway.

If you think you might go for clearing then check out the clearing list in advance and figure out which universities you might want to go to. Some universities even have open days for clearing candidates.

At approximately 8am on results day, UCAS will show if you’ve got into your firm and/or insurance unis. Once you find out your results, figure out what you want to do and if you’ve decided on clearing, get on the phones. Find a quiet place and phone every university that you fancy the sound of. This might mean considering a city or course you haven’t considered before but do make sure it’s somewhere and something you could actually see yourself liking for the next 3/4/5 years. You should be prepared with your results, clearing code and an idea of why you’d like to take up that place as they might ask you questions about your motivation and suitability.

If they make you an offer on the phone, check if this comes with a time limit and how they would like you to confirm/decline by phone or email etc. Obviously this is a big choice you want to fully consider it but you also don’t want to let it slip out of your hands. If you do accept then you’ll need to update your Track screen on UCAS.

If you got higher grades then expected you can also go through a similar process called adjustment. This is pretty much the exact same as clearing, only you can keep your firm choice while you look around.

You can also decide to put off university for a year or not attend at all. If you decide to delay for a year then you can work and build up cash for a year, travel for a gap year or just focus on yourself. At my school we weren’t really educated about non-uni options such as apprenticeships, or going straight into work. Some companies like M&S or Deloitte have schemes aimed at school leavers that will pay and train you, a tempting prospect in contrast to tuition fees!

Good luck and congratulations whatever you decide to do!

[Rose Jackson – @ginger_git]

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