Get your head around the Clearing options
Finding out that you haven't go into your firm univeristy choice can be stressful, but we’re here to prepare you just in case things don’t go quite as planned on results day.
1. Do your research and be prepared for Clearing
We can all agree that results day can be a stressful time, especially if you don't get the grades your had expected. The more you can do to prepare and think about your options in advance the better off you will be on the day. Research universities and courses that you might be interested in if you don't get the results you expect.
It's often easier to first rule out the unis and courses you definitely don't want. Think about things like the uni's location, the course content and the type of university you want to go to. This will help you to focus on what you want to get out of Clearing. Check the guides in our university guides A-Z to get a better idea of what each uni is like.
Cast your mind back to when you made your five choices and think about what informed that list. What was most important to you when you chose your unis?
When thinking about your options for clearing, don't just think about the course, check what the accommodation policies are for Clearing applicants and think carefully about where you're flexible and where you aren't. You can use The Student Room to speak to university official representatives and other students who are already at university to find out more information about the university or course. Re-read your personal statement so you are familiar with what you said and can talk about any experiences or extra-curricular activities you discussed there.
2. Get hold of the Clearing 2018 listings
Clearing opens on 5 July 2018 and you can view any current vacancies on the UCAS website from then onwards. However, if you want to wait until you've got your results, on the morning of A-level results day 2018 (16 August), you'll want to get hold of all the current Clearing listings. Your best bet for up-to-the-minute vacancies is again the UCAS website - it's updated constantly during results day and beyond. Universities also start to publish Clearing lists on their own website from early August, so be on your toes from then on.
You might also want to pick up a copy of The Telegraph on results morning. This features listings of all the courses in Clearing at the start of the day, so it's a decent starting point for getting an idea of what's out there. Bear in mind, however, these listings go out-of-date very quickly, so you should always check the web-based listings before making any calls. For university contact details, check TSR's Clearing contacts directory. You might also want to take a look at our list of the highest-ranked universities in Clearing.
3. Find a quiet place to phone universities
Make sure that you call from a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed with easy access to phone and the internet. If you can get home easily it might be best to make your calls from there, where there is more peace and quiet and you have everything to hand.
Clearing places do go quickly, but you have time to compose and prepare yourself. You will give a much better impression to universities and colleges if you are relaxed and calm when speaking over the phone. Have a drink of water to hand if you're nervous, in case you lose your voice on the phone.
You might be using a land line to make calls, but it's best to give your mobile number as contact details if a university wants to ring you back. This way, the line won't be engaged if they choose to call you back!
4. Have your details to hand
Have the following information to hand during your call to universities:
- The phone number for the university and your own contact details
- Your Clearing number from UCAS Track
- Your A-level, AS-level, GCSE and equivalent results, including module marks
- Personal statement from your UCAS application
- Your log-in details for Track
- Your notes on the course/university and any planned responses to questions
- Any questions you want to ask the university
- The name and details of anyone you have spoken to in a previous call (if you've called the university before)
5. Make the Clearing call yourself
Treat the Clearing call like a job application. You’ll need to make the call yourself – don’t ask your teachers, parents or anyone else to do it for you. The university will be unable to talk to them because they are not allowed to discuss your application with others. You might feel a bit nervous about phoning, but remember universities are friendly and want to help. The staff who work during Clearing will have had specific training to help you feel at ease.
Make sure you have your notes about why you want to study the course to hand, as well as a copy of your personal statement. This will help you remember what you want to say. Make sure you demonstrate an enthusiasm for your course and the institution. If you get upset or flustered then pause, take a deep breath, and start again. It's important that you stay positive and focus on your strengths, rather than on negatives or where you didn't do well.
6. Make notes during the Clearing call
Have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes as you go, otherwise you may forget what the person is telling you. It will also help keep you grounded and focused if you're feeling a bit anxious. If you're making a lot of phone calls it's easy to get confused or forget something important.
Keeping job titles, dates and times noted as well as a summary of what you said and what they said is also a good idea. This will make it easier to get back in direct contact should you need to.
7. Have some constructive questions to ask them
Clearing interviews are not just a chance for tutors to see if you are right for their university, but also for you to work out if they are the right choice for you. Do your research so you already know the basics that are easily answered on their website – this will give you more time to go over more complicated questions that aren't covered in FAQs.
Check what entitlement to accommodation and bursaries you have as a Clearing applicant, as this can vary from university to university. You might also want to ask about open days and opportunities to visit the university so that you can have a look around. Asking questions makes you look keen, inquisitive and motivated – all good qualities that tutors look for.
8. Ask for email confirmation
If the university decides to give you a verbal offer, ask them to confirm their offer and how long it stands for in an email. This will ensure that there is no room for misinterpretation, and if there are any problems later with your Clearing choice not being accepted by the university then you have written evidence to support your claims, which will make your position much stronger.
9. Be persistent and flexible
If at first you don't succeed... keep trying. Even if you have an offer already you can still continue to call universities to receive more offers and then decide which of these you wish to add as your Clearing choice on UCAS Track. The situation can change quickly and even if a university wasn't interested in you initially, if places still exist a few days later there is no harm in trying again. If you find yourself on a reserve list, maintain contact with the university to demonstrate your continued interest.
You are more likely to be successful in finding a place in Clearing if you are flexible and consider similar courses to the one you originally applied for. A lot of courses have similar content and you might be interested in joint honours courses such as English and history. Check the course content carefully to see if it interests you and what options you have to change to a single honours course later.
10. Add a Clearing choice within the allotted time
You can only enter a Clearing choice on Track after 3pm on A-level results day (16 August 2018). In addition, most universities will give you a time period (typically 12-48 hours) for which their offer is valid. If you enter a Clearing choice after this period has passed then the university may reject you.
It is very important that you only enter a Clearing choice on Track if you have spoken to the university or college and they have provisionally offered you a place on the course. If you enter a Clearing choice without discussing it with the university or college, they may take a while to reject you and this can significantly delay the progress of your application, wasting valuable time as other clearing places are taken up.
You can only add one Clearing choice at a time, so only add a choice if you are sure you want to accept the verbal offer that you have been given by the university. You cannot add a Clearing choice until at least 3pm on results day so there is plenty of time for you to make sure that you are happy with your choice and comfortable with studying at your chosen university for three or four years.
Go back to your prepared notes of where you are flexible and where you are not prepared to compromise. If you are not totally sure then maybe you are better off taking a gap year and re-applying, rather than starting a course which you are not fully committed to and then dropping out having accumulated thousands of pounds of debt.
Got a question about Clearing? UCAS-trained adviors are ready to answer your questions. Go on, ask away.
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