Opened your results and suddenly decided you want to go to university? That’s okay - you still can! You can use Clearing to apply for university for the first time and achieve all of your HE dreams! We’ve worked with the University of Essex to show you the ropes for first time applications through Clearing.
Finding the place for you
If you haven’t applied to university yet, you’re in the same boat as lots of other students. Many students choose to wait until they receive their results to apply, or change their mind about their original plans. Clearing 2023 opens on 5 July but you can’t apply for a place until you have your results.
While you’re waiting, you should start researching possible towns or cities, courses, and universities that you might like to go to. Use Unifrog’s UK universities shortlisting tool to start exploring the courses you can take, but remember that not all of them will have vacancies on Clearing. Think about things like:
- Course content:
- Exactly what you’ll study on any given course can vary quite drastically between universities. Check out course pages online (you can do this from your shortlist) to make sure you actually want to study the areas of the subject on offer. If you want to study a practical course, check the balance of practice to theory and make sure it’s what you want.
- Opportunities and facilities:
- Do you want to be able to do lots of work experience or study abroad? Do you want to have access to particular facilities? Check what’s available at the universities you’re considering—if they don’t have what you’re looking for, keep searching. You will find something for you!
- Teaching and assessment style:
- Check the contact hours and assessment methods on the course page to make sure they’re suitable for the way you learn. You want to give yourself the best chance at being successful at university, so play to your strengths.
- How far do you want to be from home? Do you want to live at home or in halls? Would you be able to commute to the universities you’re looking at? Think carefully about where the university is and how it fits in with your expectation of going to university.
- Although halls might not all be available to students who have come through Clearing, having a good idea of the all accommodation options will help you when it comes to making your decision and—eventually—your booking.
- Wider university life:
- University is more than just studying: check out the support available to you, the clubs and societies you can join through the student union, volunteering opportunities, and the local town or city. You’re going to be spending a lot of time here so you need to make sure you’ll have everything you need to be happy!
If you find a university you love and they don’t have places available on your chosen course in Clearing, don’t worry—the admissions team might be able to find a suitable alternative, like a similar course in the same subject area or a joint honours course.
How to apply
It might seem quite daunting, but this is where it gets exciting! From 5 July, you can use Unifrog’s Clearing tool to start searching for vacancies on the courses or at the universities you researched. You can favourite anything you find to save it for results day, then the real fun begins! Remember to always contact the university directly or check their website for the most up to date vacancy information.
When it comes to actually applying, some universities will want you to call them, some will ask you to register before results day, and others will chat to you via social media or live-chat. Whatever the expectation is, make sure it’s you getting in touch rather than a friend or family member—even if you’re shy, it’s time to be brave! Most universities won’t offer places unless they’re speaking with the applicant directly.
You’ll need to have all your exam results to hand—including your GCSE or National 4 or 5 results—and some pre-prepared answers to questions like ‘why do you want to study this course?’ or ‘why do you want to study at this university?’. Be aware that some admissions teams might conduct a short interview with you, or book in a more formal one before they offer you a place. Don’t worry about registering for UCAS or not having a ‘Clearing number’—your application will be directly with the university so you don’t need a profile.
You might have to be patient with your application; if you’re phoning or using a live-chat, you may be on hold for a while. It’s definitely worth the wait though if you really want the place! You can get in touch with as many universities as you like, but you can only accept one offer so start with the university or course you want the most.
You don’t have to apply on results day; you actually have until October. But, remember that you will be one of thousands of applicants and places fill up quickly, and you need to accept your offer before the course start-date so the sooner you apply, the better.
What else do you need to do?
If you want to, you can book a taster session or open day before you get your results to try out different courses. Lots of universities also give you the opportunity to chat with current students and ask them questions; check your chosen universities’ websites to get involved.
Once you’ve accepted an offer, you might be invited to a Clearing open day and be sent lots of information from your university and student union—enjoy it all! You’re in and you deserve to celebrate!
For more information on what happens after you accept a place, check out our guide ‘Results day and Clearing: what should you do after you accept a place?’.
Good stuff from elsewhere
University of Essex's Clearing page
More information about Clearing direct from the University of Essex