Sponsored feature, words by Fay Millar
Applying to university through clearing can be a stressful time, especially if things haven't gone to plan. But sometimes it can turn out to be the best thing to happen to you – just ask biosciences student Katie.

Katie narrowly missed the grades she needed and decided to
enter clearing. She found a place at Sheffield Hallam University and now, she is graduating with a first class degree. She will shortly be starting a medical degree to chase her dream of becoming a doctor.

Here are Katie's top tips on how to survive and thrive through clearing:

Don’t panic

Katie from Sheffield Hallam
I totally panicked at the time and I didn't need to. I honestly thought if both my choices had rejected me I must have done terribly and I was so fearful of collecting my results. But when I got them and saw I had still achieved good grades it was almost a relief.

Both universities wanted AAB and I got ABB, so I was still upset and didn't think I would be going to university at all.

Then my sixth form tutor sat me down and reassured me that I still had options to study and to do something I would really enjoy. I looked at the UCAS website to see what courses were available and it really helped.

Think through your decision

Don’t rush anything. It can feel like the end of the world but it will all work out as long as you research your choices. Look at the course content, research the city and speak to course leaders. Don’t rush into anything and make sure it's what you want to do.

I chose Sheffield Hallam in the end because I knew a number of people who had gone there and really enjoyed it, the university did the course I wanted and I researched the city and felt it was a really good fit for me.

Be prepared when you speak to the university

I found a course I wanted at Sheffield Hallam and then as soon as the phone lines opened I spoke to one of the people in the clearing team. I was then transferred to one of the academics there and they want to know why you want to study the course and that you aren’t doing it on a whim.

It's a good time to reread your personal statement and remember all the reasons why you wanted to study your course in the first place. If you're applying for a different course from your original choice, then jot down some reasons why you have changed your mind and why you want to study the new course so you are not left fumbling for answers.

If you're offered a place, visit the university

Some universities hold clearing open days, so you can see the facilities and speak to students and academics before you decide to accept your place. It really helps to get a feel for whether you want to spend the next 3-4 years there, and you need to be sure.

If there isn't an open day, book onto a university campus tour and explore the city, too. Find out what societies and clubs are available and what you can get involved with as a student, so you can really make the most out of your time at uni.