You probably won’t know if you need to use Clearing until May or even results day. However, a little preparation will do you a world of good if you do need, so it won't hurt to get ready! We’ve teamed up with Teesside University in this guide to help you create an action plan.
Have you considered all your options?
Just because these opportunities exist, doesn’t mean you have to take them! There are lots of alternatives to going to university, so have a think about what you might like to do if you don’t quite meet your offers or if you change your mind.
- Take a foundation year - most universities offer foundation years as a way of bridging any gaps between your final year of school and your first year of university. They tend to have lower entry requirements than bachelor’s degrees and are a great way to jump straight into the university experience. You can find them on the UK university shortlisting tool, or check out our guide ‘Foundation Years, Foundation Degrees and Art Foundations’.
- Resit your exams - if you know you could have done better and want to try again, go for it! Have a chat with your teachers - they might allow you to resit the year, or suggest a local centre to resit your exams without having to repeat school. Bear in mind though, that if you take your exams outside of school, you’ll have to pay an entry fee of anything between £40-£200 depending on the subject.
- Work - what better way to get lots of experience and explore your options? You could find a job related to the subject you want to study, or you could sign up to a temping agency and try out lots of different jobs. You might find this changes the subject or place you want to study at anyway!
- Travel - another great way to get experience is to see the world! You could volunteer abroad, work abroad, or explore and take in the sights. Travelling is a great use of your time and if you choose to apply to university on your return, you can use your experiences to boost your Personal Statement.
- Apply for an apprenticeship - apprenticeships are great ways to learn while you earn and get into an industry you’re interested in without needing a degree. You can find live, local apprenticeships using Unifrog’s Apprenticeship shortlisting tool.
Work out the best choice for you whether that’s using Clearing or finding an alternative to university. Have a chat with your family and teachers to get their thoughts too, but remember that this should be your choice.
What should you do before Clearing starts?
There are a couple of ways that you can be ready for whatever happens next.
Make a list
Have a list of alternative towns, cities, courses, and universities that you’ve researched in as much detail as your original choice - you don't want to rush into a decision on the day and regret it later. Think about some of the universities you considered the first time round, or ones that you didn’t choose as your firm or insurance choices, and use Unifrog’s UK university shortlisting tool to explore further afield and to save your findings for when you need them.
From the 5th July, you can also start using Unifrog’s Clearing tool to start researching and favouriting possible alternatives. Use it in the lead up to results day to save options that sound interesting, but remember that vacancies in Clearing are constantly updated. You need to contact universities directly when you’re ready to start looking for offers to check for the most up to date vacancy information.
Prepare for an interview
The admissions tutor might ask you interview style questions, or book you an interview before they offer you a place. Practice answers to general questions like: why do you want to study this subject? Why do you want to study at this university? What makes you a suitable candidate? You already have great answers to these questions in your Personal Statement so dig it out again and refresh your memory to get ahead of the game.
If you’re applying for a practical course or a maths or science course, you might be given scenarios to work through or calculations to solve. None of this is a test - it’s just to check that you are the right fit for the course, so brush up on your knowledge and reasoning skills just in case.
Have a list of questions ready
This is your opportunity to ask your admissions team all your questions so make a list of everything you might need to know. Be wary though - you don’t want to ask questions that you can find the answers to on the website or it’ll look like you haven’t properly researched. You could ask about virtual campus tours, student or graduate case studies available to read, or the best university social media channels to follow.
What should you do on results day?
Whether you’re going into school or college, or receiving them online, you need to get up early and check your results! However nervous you are, having them earlier puts you in a much better position if you do need to use Clearing. Thousands of students across the country use the system and competitive courses fill up quickly.
To use Clearing, you need:
- Your UCAS login, Clearing number, and personal ID
- Your list of alternatives - ideally in order of preference (and UCAS will actually suggest courses and unis to you)
- Your exam results (including your GCSE or National 4 or 5 results)
- Your Personal Statement
- Your questions for the admissions team.
You can use Unifrog’s Clearing tool or the shortlists you already made to find the contact information for universities. Some universities will expect you to phone them, while others will use livechats, registration forms, or social media - check your universities’ websites to find out how they want you to get in touch. However you get in touch, you have to be brave here and contact them yourself - apart from showing that you can be independent, most universities will only offer a place if they are speaking to the applicant directly.
You must contact the university you most want to go to first! You can only accept one offer through Clearing so contact your universities in order of preference. If you aren’t suitable for the course you’ve enquired about, the admissions team might be able to make more appropriate suggestions - be open minded, but be careful not to be talked into something you’re not happy studying!
Remember that you can also choose to release yourself from your firm or insurance university offers if you change your mind and use Clearing to find something new, but make sure you get an offer first!
Check out our other guides on Clearing and what to do next for more information.
Good stuff from elsewhere
Teesside University's Clearing page
More information about Clearing direct from Teesside University.