Thames Valley University’s admissions officers give their advice for getting the most out of Clearing.
Positive mental attitude
Many students panic when they find out that their university application has been rejected; it’s a natural way to react when things don’t go as planned. But this shouldn’t act as a barrier towards fulfilling one’s aims. Students can learn a lot from not succeeding on their first application – indeed mistakes can be very constructive. Taking a look at where they went wrong first-time round and ensuring that all the holes are plugged and statements are reinforced will strengthen their chances through Clearing.
The key to Clearing is to do extensive research before reapplying, so contact universities to find out the right courses and look at course and subject profiles. Students should also ensure that they have all details to hand, and always be prepared to be called in for an interview at short notice.
Thames Valley University (TVU) Admissions Officer Ray Brown advises: “Do not rush into accepting the first offer you get - there is still a lot of time, and there may be better offers on the way. A good time to start doing your research on universities and courses would be a couple of weeks before A-Level results are released.”
Proving your passion
Personal statements are normally written when applying for the first time through UCAS, and students are generally not required to re-write one when they go through Clearing. However, there may be a few instances where students may be asked to do so.
It is important to include academic qualifications and work experiences. Also, if a student originally applied to study Music, was turned down and is now applying to study Business, the student should clearly explain why he or she is considering the change in course and their interests in Business. This is an important element of the reapplication process: you don’t want to appear as if you are applying for a different course just for the sake of going to university. Projecting a strong passion in the subjects applied for will put the student’s application in a more positive light.
In addition, the skills acquired are worth mentioning. For example, a student applying to study Business could mention that they were involved in some enterprise workshop and have acquired some business sense during that stint. In order to show a passion for Business, for example, the student could include that they make and sell handicrafts to neighbours and friends over the school holidays – this will add some real substance to the personal statement and backup the claims made throughout the application, and will improve the chances of the student gaining a place on the course.
“We get a lot of brief personal statements with just two or three lines about the student. It is important that students tell more about themselves by providing comprehensive personal statements”, said TVU Admissions Officer Kate Pittman.
Kate added: “A personal statement can be brilliant with all the necessary information but structuring it properly is just as important. Instead of writing everything in one big chunk, make sure to split different points into different paragraphs.”
Interviews take place from 16th August. Students calling the Clearing Hotline will be asked to quote their Clearing Entry Number (which should appear on Track as soon as you enter Clearing) and for details of their qualifications and or portfolio. A copy of their application will be available to the interviewer at the time of the interview.
If students are called in to attend an interview or interviewed over the phone, they should make sure that they have read everything about the University and course applied for. Students can prepare themselves by reading information sheets that are sent to them.
For face-to-face interviews, students should bring in anything they have got; for example, a portfolio. A telephone interview can be fairly informal and students must make sure to have notes ready and to be prepared for questions.
Universities do not normally advise students to take a year out if their applications are rejected. However, there are cases where students are undecided about what course to take, and may want to travel for a bit before continuing their studies.
“It is not a problem for students to take a year out, and come back to university later as a more mature student, as they may have already decided by then the career path they wish to take. We had a student who deferred her course so that she could work to earn and save some money to pay for her education before coming back into university in September. Either way, students have very flexible options,” said TVU Admissions Officer Ravinder Bharaj.
So don’t let your initial disappointment get you down because there is much to learn from it. Stepping back temporarily and targeting the weaknesses in your first application will help to add weight to the second one: after all, knowing where you went wrong puts you in a stronger position now than you were first time round.