Ahead of A-level results day on Thursday, Which? University is on hand with Clearing advice and help for students who miss out on their university place.
While thousands of A-level students will be celebrating this results day, those who miss the grades they need for their chosen university could be pondering their future and looking for alternative options.
Clearing is the University and Colleges Admissions System’s (Ucas) process for matching students to university courses with remaining places. Last year, 61,300 students – around 10% of all university admissions – found a university place through Clearing.
Our five top tips for Clearing
Clearing is likely to be a stressful and emotional time, for students and their parents alike. If your son or daughter finds themselves in this situation, share our top tips to successfully navigating the Clearing process:
1. Look back to original choices
Encourage them to start their search for Clearing vacancies by considering the universities and courses they previously shortlisted, and any similar options they find. Use Which? University’s course section to carry out additional research, once you’ve identified interesting vacancies.
2. Prepare for a mini-interview
When your child calls a university about a course (and it must be them who calls, not you!), they might simply be asked to confirm their A-level grades, or they may undergo a mini-interview and some tricky questions. Make sure your child gets prepared beforehand; reading the course description carefully, noting down what it is about this specific course that interests them and so on.
3. Don’t rush a decision
While results day and Clearing might seem like a mad dash to find a place before it’s snapped up, your child still has some time to deliberate once receiving a verbal confirmation of a place. In that time, they should read more about the course and institution, ask friends and family who might have experience there and even visit the university if possible.
4. Don’t forget the admin
Before they head off to celebrate, they need to confirm their acceptance on the Ucas website, update their student finance application and arrange their university accommodation.
5. There are alternatives
Your child has other options too if they can’t find a course they’re interested in – after all, they’ll be spending three years of their life there so it’s not a decision they want to go into half-heartedly. They can take a gap year to re-sit their exams, pursue a different qualification like an apprenticeship or even study abroad.
Clearing 2015: act quickly but carefully
Which? University’s Alex Neill said: ‘Finding yourself in Clearing can be a stressful time but with tens of thousands of students successfully securing a university place last year via this route, there’s no need to panic.
‘If you don’t quite get the grades you expected, our advice is to act quickly but also carefully, considering your options fully.’