First of all, Clearing shouldn't be a single day of hair-yanking horror. You'll make it much more manageable by planning ahead: some universities (like BPP) even have places available before results day, so a little research and a few phone calls can secure you a place in advance.
It's also helpful to know exactly how the Clearing process works - BPP has a useful guide on its website. The admissions team points out that getting a headstart will be less stressful – having got your place “you can spend time making all the adjustments needed to register at your new university.”
Build your backup plan
Your research should be focused on coming up with a plan in case you miss out on your first-choice and insurance places. Perhaps a career-focused university (like BPP) would be a good option, or maybe you'd like to look at different kinds of study (such as part-time or distance learning) or subjects?
Think about the kind of place you'd like to go to and find out more about it online. All universities have in-depth info on their websites – BPP has even produced videos to help.
Right course, right uni
Yes, Clearing may involve one or two compromises, but that doesn't mean you should take the first thing you're offered. Three years studying toenail art at the University of Perpetual Damp is not necessarily better than nothing.
Instead, be realistic but keep an eye out for the details that are important to you, like course content, study methods and location. Mobolaji Awoniyi secured a place on BPP's BSc (Hons) Business Management with Finance programme through Clearing in 2012.
He says the course structure was an important part of his decision. “I chose BPP University College because of the flexibility it offered. There is a combination of face-to-face lectures and seminars – the majority were also available online which made it easier for me to study in my own time.”
Act fast, ask questions
If you've done your research and prepared your backup plan, you'll be ready to bolt out of the blocks should you find yourself in Clearing. Draw up a list of universities you're interested in (Clearing places are advertised in national newspapers like the Telegraph), take a few calming breaths, pick up that phone and be prepared to talk about yourself and why you're interested in a particular course.
The BPP admissions team also recommends asking questions yourself. “Make a list of questions about what you want from a degree and a university and make sure you ask them all to the advisor on the phone,” they say.
Advice for your folks
Clearing can be challenging for your family too. While you’re making the calls, get them to help out by doing some more research on the uni you’re talking to.
Useful information they could dig up includes the career support you can expect from the university and what the quality of teaching/tutor contact time/academic support is like for the cost of the programme.
Most importantly, don’t let them make the call for you! You are the potential student and you are the person the uni will want to know about. They’re not interested in talking to your parents.
Look to the future
The final thing to think about is something positive: Clearing (and university) is there to help build your future, so let that steer your decision, say the BPP admissions team. Ask yourself where you want to be two years after graduating. Can the university offering you a place get you there?
For Mobolaji, Clearing and BPP was the right pairing. “Since graduating, I have recently set up my own company which offers a bespoke mentoring service for London professionals.”
So if you've planned ahead, done your research early, acted quickly and taken plenty of deep breaths throughout the day, you'll cope just fine with Clearing. No toenail art required. Good luck!