Five things you never knew about Clearing from the students who have been there and done it

So what is Clearing really like? Is it really the ordeal some people claim it is, or could it lead you to a degree and university that ultimately makes you far happier than your original choice? 

If you find yourself entering Clearing either because you’ve missed your grades or changed your mind it can be a daunting process. But like many a student before you, you’ll find the whole experience can actually be a really positive one and you could end up on a course that truly suits you.

Students and experts from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh reveal the things about Clearing you really need to know. 

Get organised before you get your results

According to Maria Belton, a maths and physics student at Heriot Watt, you should get all the stuff you might need together long before your results come out and even if you’re not sure you will be entering Clearing.

She says: “Start thinking about it a week before your results even come out, write down the Clearing number, write down your course code, know exactly what course you want to do and what modules that involves.”

Don’t panic (too much)

It’s hard not to panic if you think you’ve lost your coveted uni place but the whole point of Clearing is there are plenty of other equally brilliant places out there for you. You just need to remain calm, take a deep breath and follow the process logically.

Maria says: “I kind of knew what Clearing was so I wasn’t too worried but I was definitely nervous and thinking what if I don’t get a place.

“But straight away I got through to a really friendly voice and straight away went from crying and being stressed out to yes, relax, this will be okay.”

Get the phone number right

Sounds simple right? But when you are stressed it is all too easy to write down a uni’s Clearing number incorrectly. Make sure you have the right number from the start so you’re not giving yourself unnecessary worry.

Maria says: “I’d written Heriot Watt’s number down and all the course details so I started calling. I couldn’t get through and it was more and more stressful and worrying so I called one of my friends to talk about it and say what am I going to do. She went on their website, read out their number and said I had got it wrong. I rang again and got through straight away.”

Have several back up plans

It pays to have several plans written down. If one course doesn’t work out think about what you might do after that – will you try to get on another course, will you consider further study or maybe you would like to take a year out either volunteering or working?

Maria says: “Make sure you’ve got the plan written down of what you want to study and where, and if not, what you’ll do instead. If you have lots of different back up plans, it helps keep you calm and organised.”

Talk to family and friends

Have a good think about what you want to do. Remember you are making a decision which will affect your life for the next three years if not longer.

Shona Barrie, recruitment admission and marketing manager at Heriot Watt, recommends talking your decision through with family and friends and thinking about your final decision overnight before you make your choice.

She says: “It’s a really big decision. You’re perhaps about to move to a different city, leave your family. And it’s for three or four years so it’s a big commitment to make.”

Make sure you know what to do next

Once you have your place, you’ll need to make sure you sort out accommodation, how you will get there, course materials you will need and update your student finance. It’s great you have a place through Clearing but you need to make sure you prepare for the start of the autumn term now.

Be open-minded

Don’t think for one second that going through Clearing is some kind of consolation prize. Missing out on your first choice could actually be the best thing that happens to you.

Maria says: “I’m almost glad that I missed my grades. As much as I would’ve like to get higher A-Level grades I am glad I missed them and ended up at Heriot Watt. I got to be in a campus uni in a city I love. The university really suits me, it’s not just the course, it’s the people, it’s the whole package.”

For more information about Clearing you can visit the Heriot-Watt website and just to make sure you have it written down right – their phone no for Clearing is 0131 322 3222 which opens at 7am on 18th August.