On results day, A-level students up and down the country will find out if they’ve got into their chosen university. But with the all-important place dependent on just three grades or a few hundred UCAS points, a lot hangs in the balance. For those who find that they’ve missed out on a place, this A-level results day needn’t be a letdown thanks to Clearing.
Clearing helps over 60,000 students to find a place every year, and with all types of courses at universities across the country, there’s a very good chance that you’ll find one that suits you. The process acts as a medium between students who didn’t meet their original offers and universities with space on their courses. Although stressful in the short term—prepare to be on the phone with your UCAS number close to hand for at least an hour or two—in the long term, going through Clearing may be the most positive thing you do towards your time at university.
Jenna Kingston, who now studies English at Edge Hill University, obtained her place through clearing. “I was so upset on results day at first that I ignored half my friends and refused to be in any photos,” she says. Yet despite the initial disappointment, Jenna got a place for the same course she applied to at a different university: “Either way, it doesn’t matter once you are in uni. The results get you there, its what you do at uni that counts. From my experience, you can be better off not getting into the most prestigious unis sometimes—its not all about the degree but about the experiences you gain at uni.”
A huge variety of institutions now offer places through Clearing—last year, 16 out of 24 of the Russell Group welcomed students through Clearing, with some offering Clearing places in more than 500 courses. The Universities of Liverpool, Leeds, Kings College London and Manchester were among them. Courses range from Chemistry, History of Art and Law to Nursing, Marine Biology and Business.
“Either way, it doesn’t matter once you are in uni. The results get you there, its what you do at uni that counts. From my experience, you can be better off not getting into the most prestigious unis sometimes – its not all about the degree but about the experiences you gain at uni.” - Jenna Kingston
Also available on Results Day is Adjustment—the perhaps less-well-known sibling of Clearing, Adjustment offers students who exceeded their predicted grades the chance to apply to a university that they may not have previously considered. With both Clearing and Adjustment, it’s important to bear in mind specifics to the location you’ll be going to—is it a small town or a large city? Could you live at home? Have you missed the deadline for accommodation applications, and if so, do they offer a service to help you find a house?
Ultimately, the choice to go through Clearing or Adjustment is a personal one, and just as many students see it as the best option for them, others decide that a gap year would suit them better. Stephanie Pruden, who now studies Biomedical Sciences at the University of Manchester, says: “A-level results day for me was not so fun. But I didn’t have to go through clearing, reapplying was the better choice [for me] because then you have more control, not just taking your pick from courses left—you have the grades so don’t have any conditions to meet, uni will always be there if you want to go, and a year out working gives you the motivation for studying again.”
University places obtained through Clearing carry less of a stigma than they used to—they can lead to a valid and valuable time at university, with an abundance of courses and institutions on offer. So if you wake up to less-than perfect grades this A-level results day, consider it as a great school leaver option.
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