Experiences of Clearing

Many people end up getting a place at university through Clearing and it can be a daunting and stressful time. Below TSR users share their experiences and top tips for Clearing which you may benefit from if you are going through the process this year. Good luck and please feel free to add in your own experiences.

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The Clearing experience of sweetfloss

I found the Clearing experience thoroughly terrifying. Luckily I had read the Clearing thread on TSR, so I had some idea of what to do - teachers at school were clueless about the entire process. On UCAS my 2nd choice university hadn't declined me yet, so I had to ring them up to see if there was a chance, even though I hadn't met my offer, that I would still have a place. They told me I hadn't... I'd bought myself a copy of the Independent on the way to pick up my results, and, after lots of crying, searched for universities who were in clearing with my course code.

I set myself up by the computer at home, with the Independent, a copy of my personal statement, my UCAS number (I still know it off by heart because of the amount of times I was asked for it!) and a telephone, and got started on getting myself a place. Reading through the list of universities in clearing on the course I wanted, I instantly crossed some off my list, and others I looked up on the internet to find out if I wanted to go there. I soon had a shortlist of 8 places to ring up. I was heartened to find that once I got through to the universities (some were far more organised than others - I remember one university didn't have a hold feature, so endless redialling was the only option) all offered me a place.

I remember losing my voice gradually over the day and so the last phone calls were interesting to say the least! I had a list of questions ready to ask all the places I rang, and obviously a pen and notebook to write down the answers!! You need to know how long their offer to you will stand, if this offer is guaranteed to you provided you meet their deadline and if accommodation is important to you - ask when you ring up if you will be guaranteed a place in halls. Some places will say it's unlikely you'll get a room, other's that it's not guaranteed but likely you will, and some will guarantee it. It's useful to already have this information to hand when you make your decision about where to accept!

That evening I went through all my offers, and narrowed it down to 2 universities I wanted to visit; UEA and University of Leicester. Incidentally, these were the two best organised universities I had contacted, with a special area on their websites about their clearing process, a short wait on hold, knowledgeable people at the end of the phone, and special clearing open days!! They had also given me the longest amount of time to decide whether I wanted the place or not, and were the highest ranked in "traditional" tables, showing that good universities recognise the value of students who may come to them through clearing.

The next day I discovered that my 2nd choice university still hadn't declined me on UCAS, despite telling me that I hadn't got a place. I rang them up to explain that if they didn't want me I needed them to reject me on UCAS as soon as possible - I couldn't accept any offers of a place without my Clearing Passport! I was told, to my shock, that I was still being considered on a shortlist, and that I still might have a place. They couldn't tell me how likely it was though. Luckily I didn't raise my hopes too much, because by that evening I had been declined on UCAS.

I had to pull out of a holiday to enable me to visit both open days, and to make sure that the moment I got my clearing passport I'd be able to drive it to the university I chose. Both universities had excellently organised open days, with accommodations tours, campus tours and most importantly a chance to discuss my course with staff. I had been offered a place on the 3 year Bsc at both universites, but was able to get it changed to a 4 year MMath after explaining that at my original universities that had been my course, and that my LEA had already accepted my finance application for a 4 year course.

After visiting both open days, I decided that Leicester was the place for me (and was amazed I'd not thought of applying there before, since I had fallen in love with it!!), but still had to wait until a week after results day to get hold of my clearing passport. I was very anxious during that time that my place would be offered to someone else, so rang up a couple of times to check my place was still being held for me (it was!!). I also found out what forms I would need to fill in when I accepted my place, and so, when my clearing passport arrived and I drove up to Leicester to accept my place I had passport pictures ready for the accommodation forms!

It was such a relief to get my place properly confirmed when I handed over my clearing passport, and also to know that I could fill in my accommodation forms there and then to give to them straight away and give myself the best chance of getting the halls I wanted. Now, nearing the end of my first year at Leicester, I'm still in love with the university and my course - some modules more than others, I must admit! I feel very lucky that I managed to get a place here and I can't imagine being anywhere else! I got my first choice accommodation (I think the accommodation office were a bit shocked to find someone handing in forms in person, so I must have jumped to the top of the pile!) and am living with some amazing people. All in all, I think my clearing experience worked out pretty well :)

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The Clearing experience of ~NC~

I found the clearing process very daunting at first! I never thought for a moment i would end up in clearing and therefore didn't know much about it. I had however already ordered the independent newspaper just incase! (I suggest you do this.) I went and stayed over at my friends house the night before results day and in the morning i checked online to see if i had been accepted into my firm. To my absolute horror i had been unsuccessful in both my firm and my insurance. I was beside myself not knowing what to do. My friend was very helpful she offered a shoulder to cry on and told me i should go and ring my mum. I rang my mum up and told her the situation. I said i would go into school and then come home to see about clearing. Whilst i was doing this my friend was looking up courses which were in clearing for me! She was amazing and helped me through this. Once i got to school i recieved my results and found i wasn't far off what my unis wanted and i got an A in my chosen subject. I spoke to some teachers who told me to ring my unis and ask to see if i had a place. I rang them both but I didn't. However i wasn't disheartened (a key aspect to clearing) and i started looking through the list my friend had made for me.

I rang up a lot of places and eventually had a promising one.... at Leicester uni. The guy on the other end of the phone was very helpful and told me about a clearing open day they had organised. He took all my details and sent me a provisional offer and an information pack which arrived the next day. My clearing passport also arrived the next day. I read through the information very carefully and the next day i phoned in sick from work and drove up to Leicester to see the uni and to meet the lecturers. The day was very informative and i accepted my place. I am now in love with this uni and can't see myself being anywhere else! I got my first choice accommodation and am very happy!

Basically what im saying is that clearing doesn't have to be scary! And it can have some very positive results. It doesn't mean you have failed or done badly.... it just means that it didn't go right first time! But clearing offers you a second chance! If it wasn't for clearing i wouldn't have gone to such a great uni and met such amazing people so i for one am glad i entered clearing! Be prepared for it by reading up on it and checking out other courses at other unis and it won't be scary at all. If your prepared it makes it much easier and it will mean you can get the best out of the situation.


The Clearing experience of lazza

I was applying on Route B entry to CSMs fashion course. I had good marks and was working at distinction for foundation. But I was rejected. The problem with route B is a 2nd choice college is generally not a good one, and I'd put down Westminster (a 1st choice only college) and it automatically went through as rejection

So I talked to my tutors. I was offered a place on the spot from Ravensbourne but I didn't want to do my degree there. So my tutor called up westminster and asked if there was any way of seeing my portfolio

Now luckily there was an admin messup. The course wasn't officially full and was going through to clearing. I had an interview, got the place. Then had to send them my clearing passport when I got it through.

But yes. If you're an art student there are ways around these things rather than taking a year out. Call up colleges and find out if they have any places going through to clearing and would they consider you for interview. (It obviously helps if you have a good mark!)

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The Clearing experience of welshprincess

I found the clearing process brilliant. I hadn't thought about university really and came out of a levels with a B and a D and thought that even if I wanted to go to uni I'd never get in with my grades. I really wanted to study criminology and psychology and was persuaded by a friend who'd already got in through clearing to try and apply for Glamorgan University. I called them up and they asked for my a level grades and my GCSE grades and told me immediately that they could offer me a place. I had plenty of help sorting out last minute accommodation and student finance and received lots of support from the university. It was definitely worth doing because I'm now coming to the end of my first year at uni and I'm having the time of my life.

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The Clearing experience of Mustard-man

I found the Clearing process as I had expected – being an active poster in the UCAS forum the year I applied, as well as the year before. I applied in my gap year as I decided I needed to critically assess what course I really wanted to do, and its prospects.

I originally applied for Masters in Pharmacy, obtaining full unconditional offers. I also applied for Maths with Actuarial Science at Southampton, even though my PS was Pharmacy-based. However, there was a little complication – I substituted it within the 14 day rule, at that time they had already invited me for an “informal interview”. I explained my situation and they were still happy for me to visit. They said if I apply in Extra they would accept me.

By March time I was sure I didn’t want to do Pharmacy and so I declined all my offers. I was pretty sure I wanted to become an Actuary, and so an Actuarial Science related, or a Maths/Stats/Econ, degree from a top university would be ideal. So I thought I’d wait until Clearing to see what is available.

About a week before Clearing opened I received a Clearing passport – it basically asks for your basic personal details and the course and university info you’re applying for in Clearing. A couple of days before Clearing I had listed a few of University courses, with telephone contact details, that were very likely to be in Clearing and that I was interested in. Come Clearing day I phoned up all of them and it was fairly straight forward.

For City University (Actuarial Science) they said my grades were fine for admission onto their course and asked me to forward copies of my A-level certificates. With Southampton, to my surprise the Maths with Actuarial Science course was not in Clearing, even though in June they said it was likely that it would be. Between those two I had decided that I would much prefer Southampton; the Economics with Actuarial Science course was available though, and so I enquired about that. They took down my details like City University. Basically the universities had “reserved” my place, but asked that I notify them as soon as possible if I changed my mind. All that had to be done now was for me to send my Clearing passport in order to complete the process.

I also phoned various other top universities since I did have AAAB for A-level. One included Warwick: they said that PPE had some vacancies (even though it wasn’t listed on their website, UCAS or Independent newspaper, though other courses were); I said I was quite interested and they took down my details and said that they would phone me back. I didn’t hear back from them, so I phoned them later that day and they said spaces had already filled :S I also tried UCL that morning; a few of the department admissions sounded really positive and were on the verge of accepting me, but their superiors said because the courses weren't listed in Clearing (none of UCL's courses were) they weren’t able to accept me.

A couple of days later of long and hard thinking I decided to go for Economics with Actuarial Science at Southampton, so I phoned them up to confirm, and sent my passport. About a week later I received a welcome letter. The accommodation for this particular University was not a problem, although it is not guaranteed. You can get placed on this mailing list where they email all students that are looking for private accommodation, which was about 60 students (all years). I was offered halls accommodation later on, but I had already sorted my own accommodation.

To this day, I don’t regret choosing EWAS – I thought it was the best and right choice I could have made in that situation. I chose a Maths module for my option unit in my first year, which is included in the MWAS course, to see the kind of things I missed out. It was a struggle and I hated it. Pure Maths at University level is very different, and I thank the powers above for not putting MWAS in Clearing as I would have gone for it over EWAS! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first year, and look forward to October.

A few pointers:

  • Make a list of universities and their courses with relevant contact details before Clearing day.
  • Don’t be afraid to enquire about courses that are not listed in Clearing.
  • Course in Extra does not equal course in Clearing.
  • Be prepared in case of a phone interview.
  • You may only send the passport to one University course only. If you change your mind it becomes complicated - the University has to release you, and that may take a while as Clearing is very busy. Not to mention the hot courses in Clearing disappear very quickly.
  • Stay calm :)

The Clearing experience of cooksey

Two years ago I went through Clearing. I did pretty well in my GCSEs, ok in my AS exams and was predicted BCC for A-Levels. After going to interviews I got offers from Reading (BBC) and Sheffield (BBB), so I put Sheffield firm and Reading as insurance. During the exams I could never get around to revising (to this day I've never done a single bit of revision for anything, I've since found out that it's likely that I have a form of ADD), so naturally I did terribly in my exams and come results day I got CEE, so obviously way below either offer.

We'd been told, in numerous lectures at school, all about the Clearing process in case we didn't meet our offers, and I was already anticipating going into Clearing, so I had bought a copy of the Independent on my way to school and had a look through and highlighted courses I would be interested in on the bus. So after getting my results I went to the careers office at school where the careers guy was in to help people get through Clearing (there were only 3 or 4 of us, I went to a Grammar School) so he had all the prospectuses and big books of courses and whatnot so we could look up the requirements for each course (and lower them a bit for Clearing), so we calculated my UCAS points, with my 2 AS grades as well, got my shortlist down to 3 or 4 unis, so I called them all up, gave them all my details, UCAS number, points, grades etc. and they all said that they would be happy to accept me on the courses.

The whole process only took about an hour and a half, and to be honest wasn't as stressful as I thought it would be. I probably could have waited a few days to decide what I wanted to do, and that might have been helpful as it turns out, but I wanted to get it all over and done with, plus I had some help from the careers guy at school. So a few days later I got my Clearing passport, I ended up choosing Portsmouth, so I applied, and sent it off. But then a few weeks later I decided that I didn't actually want to go to uni that year, so I withdrew my application from Portsmouth, which I recall being pretty easy, but I can't remember exactly how I did it; it may have been different if I had waited a few days before going through Clearing, but I have no regrets. I ended up taking 2 gap years; working in one, travelling in the other. And now I've got 3 offers from good unis, partly (at least I think) based on my personal statement and experience gained in my gap years.


The Clearing experience of an anonymous member

I went through clearing, and ended up in a reasonably good university, where I am now. However, due to my late application I was not given accommodation in halls, but have been housed with postgraduates on the wrong campus, which has contributed to this being one of the hardest years of my life. My university (Exeter) is rather 'clique-y' and although I have made friends, I have felt a bit like a day pupil at boarding school, which is why I will be leaving at the end of the year, and starting in September at UCL. The accommodation situation was not explained to me, and so came as something of a surprise. I found the clearing system itself very easy to use. After months of waiting for the universities' decisions to come through on the main UCAS site, it was nice to be able to make one phone call and know within 10 minutes whether I would be given a place. I was offered places everywhere I phoned, for a variety of different courses, and found the service easy and useful.


The Clearing experience of Just Plain Bob.

Clearing is what you make of it. I knew that I didn't want to go to my accepted firm and I wanted to go somewhere where I could enjoy the subject I wanted to do, but with only a B and a C at higher from 5th year and awaiting my four other higher results in 6th year, i thought my choices were limited.

I started by contacting my firm choice and asking them to release me. This was a week before the Scottish results were due to come out and it took them until 2 days before Results Day for me to be officially released, allowing me to enter clearing when the results came out. There were only two universities in clearing that offered the course I wanted to do: Aberdeen and Glasgow. I really liked Glasgow but I felt that i had done poorly in my exams so began to contact Aberdeen about the course and it's availability, however when the results came out, i found out that i got AAAB. Time to contact my prefered University - Glasgow.

The University of Glasgow was late publishing their clearing list so i didn't know if the course i wanted to do would be in it, but after seeing it in UCAS Extra, i felt there may be hope. I emailed the admissions office and they confirmed that there was places left and asked me to send my clearing passport and other documents (results photocopies).

The Clearing Passport was surprisingly fast to arrive, it took 2 days to arrive after being confirmed into clearing and I had sent it off as soon as Glasgow requested it along with photocopies of my results and another form they provided me with. It was one week until my UCAS status changed showing that i was accepted into the course.

Remember that TSR has an abundance of information on clearing. Use it!

Just Plain Bob.

The Clearing experience of ANONYMOUS

I went through clearing with pretty good grades (ABB)

On results day I kept checking UCAS Track to see if I had been accepted by my Firm - but it wasn't updated, so I started to get really worried. When I got to school, I opened the envelope and to my disappointment I found that I had narrowly missed the entry requirements to read English at Firm (I achieved the ABB with the A in Media Studies instead of English). I rung the university to ask them if I had still been accepted and I was told: "Yes you are accepted" - I was so relieved and decided to celebrate.

A few hours later I got a phone call telling me I wasn't accepted and that it was a mistake! I was furious!! Anyway... after hours of crying and thinking about my future, I decided I really didn't want to go to my Insurance to study English (my grades were way higher than their offer) and I felt that I would rather study Media at my Firm (my grades matched the offer, good employment prospects, more respected than other Media degrees, great course structure). I was initially thinking about applying for a Media degree in the first place, but I was put off by claims that Media is "a soft option" "mickey mouse subject" and less respected compared to English - a more traditional subject. I know from studying it at A level, that this certainly isn't the case - I actually found it the most challenging and interesting of the three subjects I studied.

I phoned the admissions tutor and asked if I could change my course and I explained everything that had happened that day. He was happy to offer me a place on his course, however, my only concern was that accommodation is not guaranteed for clearing applicants - but he was kind enough to help me jump the waiting list and I now have accommodation (apparently clearing applicants with high grades are given priority). If I had gone with my Insurance I wouldn't have been guaranteed accommodation on campus!

My clearing passport arrived soon after I had requested to be "released" from my Insurance. I sent it to the university first class the next day and it took less than a week for UCAS Track to be updated to confirm my new offer.

The process wasn't daunting after all! I am glad that I went through clearing, and so much happier with this course because I know it was the subject I performed best in.


The Clearing experience of May003

I didn't get offers from my top universities and eventually settled on the uni near where I live. I was expecting / hoping for AAA to go through Adjustment, little did I know I was to go through Clearing with only ABB, missing an A by 1 UMS point in English Lit. Utterly disappointed, distraught, yet still determined. Southampton rejected me and I was automatically put through Clearing.

I paid for a Priority Remark for that 1 mark to increase and started calling as many universities I could that I thought would be able to offer me a place. Some lines were busy, some didn't offer English through Clearing, whilst some took down my details. I called it a day after 3 hours, another 3 hours later Exeter called me informing me that they sent me an email regarding visiting their Cornwall Campus.

The next day consisted of more phone calls and emails, giving my Clearing number out and being told that places were full and that I might consider taking a gap year and reapplying. The thought crossed my mind, but with the new A* system coming in next year I was adamant to attend uni this year and transfer than reapply altogether. I called it a day and went for UWE Bristol, the best of 2 offers. Come Monday, I got a phone call and an email from two other unis I had called previously. I had to call and email UWE Bristol to release me back into Clearing, a daunting wait. And then entered Exeter into my choices.

Clearing is possible and people cаn still get into good universities. I was lucky, kind of, as Exeter had a clerical error which sent people rejections instead of firms on their UCAS pages. Ironically, I received more offers through Clearing than I did from my actual choices. I can definitely say that entering Clearing has worked out for the best for me. I'm looking forward to going to a university that is ranked 5th in the country for my subject. Clearing is not as bad as it is stigmatised to be.


The Clearing experience of BistoKid

Unfortunately I didn’t get my first choice or insurance with the grades I achieved. I got 180 points and was nowhere near the UCAS points needed to do Psychology and Sociology at Worcester University. I had given up on clearing spaces after a day of constantly ringing round Universities however, a friend of mine hadn’t given up and she decided to look through the clearing spaces at Worcester again finding an Education Course that I was really interested in after reading through information about the subject. I rang the Uni and couldn’t get through, so I called the head of the department and reached someone who worked with the head of the course. He told me to travel down to Worcester for the clearing day and there, we may get more information about whether I would be able to get on the course with my points. When I and my friend arrived at the uni we were in fact early to try and to get the best possible chance of a place. We entered the hall where clearing was taking place and we went over and spoke to the lecturer of the course and spoke about how I had worked hard to in college and at home. I have also got special circumstances that needed to be taken into account as well. He talked to us for a while and agreed that if admissions have a place it could be allocated to me.

When we went over to admissions we had what you might refer to as a diatribe of lies. We were told that they didn’t know how many places were left on the Education Courses and so they would get back to us. She told us that they had no way of finding out until Monday writing my details on a scrap piece of paper, no form , no proper way of filing my details. Myself and my friend were most shocked at this as we were under the impression we were in fact at a clearing day and this is what we assumed clearing day was...to find out if there were spaces left and what they were. We agreed that she would get back to me about the course either way on the following Monday and she never did (no surprise to us). Anyway my friend emailed the tutor of the course immediately and wrote to him telling him of the shocking way we were treated by admissions. The tutor emailed back quite promptly and told my friend that he would attend another clearing day that day and would see what he could do. He then emailed to ask me to contact him, and when I did he told me there was a place if I was happy to accept and without a doubt I was happy to do so. Even when I had secured my place with the tutor himself we found ourselves against another battle with admissions. I had followed instructions to fill in UCAS so they could accept it officially and when I did so admissions messed up again! This time they marked my clearance request as ‘unsuccessful’! I emailed the admissions and they explained it was a mistake and to carry out the procedure again with no apology to accompany the email from them (no surprise there either). After this was resolved and I had finally, officially secured my place with Worcester University to do Education Studies, a course I feel much more comfortable with than my first choice co-incidentally, and so I am very happy with my clearance decision. It has helped me to understand how much admission people are told to say a certain thing to get rid of students and to find the ones they think should do the course and meet the requirements. I have learnt it pays to contact the lecturer first hand.


More on TSR

Your guide to A-level results day

More information about A-level results day

Help and advice about Clearing and Adjustment