Sponsored feature, words by Russ Thorne

When she missed out on her first choice uni and found herself unexpectedly in clearing, Giulia's reaction was pretty much what you'd expect. “I was really shocked,” she says. “I was scared I wasn't going to get into uni at all; or if I did, the one I went to wouldn't be as good as my first choice.”

Having already decided not to take up her insurance offer, that meant only one thing: starting again from scratch. “But in a very panicked state! I went into a survival mode, I knew I had to sort it out as soon as possible.”

Giulia took several deep breaths and started looking at the courses she wanted to do via the UCAS website. She quickly found the University of Central Lancashire: she had discounted them as they didn't do the original course she wanted, but a quick look on UCAS reassured her of UCLan’s wide range of courses and she got in touch.

“They were really understanding,” she says, explaining that the clearing team walked her through the entire process. “That really gave me some peace of mind; the extra bit of organisation from them gives you one less thing to worry about.”

Settling in

The whole process was so efficient that Giulia had an offer of a place within about five minutes (so don't worry if you find yourself in a similar position, you can sort things out quickly). Then it was just a case of visiting UCLan to make sure it all felt right.

Luckily, she found UCLan's home city of Preston “cosy” and set about sorting her accommodation. “I was worried that I wouldn't have anywhere to live, and pitching a tent on campus didn't seem too appealing!” Fortunately, the UCLan team were on hand to help and she soon had a roof – not a canvas one, either – over her head.

So far so good. Of course, it's always hard to wave your family off on the first day, but Giulia says that thanks to taster sessions and social events organised by the Students' Union, she soon made friends and started to settle in. “Within a fortnight I was walking to class thinking 'I'm absolutely fine, what was all the fuss about?'.”

Support when you need it

Unis like UCLan are well set up to help their new students. Jasleen, a recent UCLan grad who originally came to the uni through clearing, says that she always had support. “All of my tutors were massively helpful throughout my three years. They go out of their way to make time to listen to your problems.”

In fact, far from being nervous wrecks courtesy of clearing, both Giulia and Jasleen really thrived in their unexpected new homes. Giulia is president of her school and a member of the student council (among other things); Jasleen was editor of the uni paper (PLUTO) and travelled to Europe helping out on conferences hosted by UCLan. “When you're in clearing, it can feel like you've somehow failed,” says Jasleen. “When I was going through the process, I felt awful. But without clearing, I wouldn't have ended up here and had the amazing experiences and opportunities that I've had.”

A little advice

If you find yourself facing clearing on results day, of course it's going to be tempting to throw yourself into Lake Panic. But Giulia has some sound advice: “Try to leave your panic until later. There will be clearing choices for you.”

Once you get to uni (congrats!), don't feel any clearing shame, either. “No one will think differently of you,” says Giulia. “No-one cares how you got there, in fact. The only thing that matters is that you are there.”

All you really need to do is enjoy yourself and take advantage of the student experience. “Any opportunity is what you make it,” says Jasleen, who did just that: she graduated with a 2:1 and a prize for her dissertation. “Clichéd as it is, you get out what you put in - so just embrace it.”

Giulia and Jasleen are excited about the road ahead – they're both planning to take masters courses at UCLan, so it's fair to say that they get along with their clearing uni. It's another reason not to worry if clearing comes calling: it might actually be opportunity knocking. Giulia believes it all out worked perfectly. “I have no regrets whatsoever,” she says. “I love being at UCLan.”

More on TSR:

Your guide to A-level results day

More information about A-level results day

Help and advice about Clearing and Adjustment