Stressed about Clearing? Here’s what you can do to prep for A-Level Results Day

Chloe Hashemi on 7 August 2019

In the run-up to A-Level Results Day 2019, the team at Student Hut has spoken to you, the students, to find out how you’re feeling with the big day approaching.

We spoke to over 250 of you, and what we found was rather interesting... 

First up, we found that almost a quarter of students didn’t know what ‘Clearing’ is. Does that include you? If you want to find out more about Clearing, or are unsure about any part of the process, read on...

So, what exactly is Clearing?

Clearing is a period of the university application process which is kick started around A-Level Results day. This period in time is when universities directly advertise and make available the remaining places they have across all of their courses. This stretch of time allows students who have not yet secured a place for whatever reason to speak directly to a university or open up their UCAS application again. 

Why would I consider Clearing?

Now we’ve clarified that for you, we’re sure you want to know it’s actually possible to go through this process yourself. Although lots of students go through Clearing because they didn’t get the grades they were expecting, there are other reasons to put yourself through the Clearing process:

  1. You didn’t want to go to university originally but have now decided it’s for you
  2. You applied later than 30th June
  3. You achieved higher grades than you first thought
  4. You’ve completely changed your mind, either about the course or the institution you thought you wanted
  5. You don’t hold any offers from your original applications

Most importantly, Clearing does not mean a last resort, it can mean a second chance.

Do I need to apply to university with a UCAS account?

Despite what you may have heard, you can get a university place through Clearing without a UCAS application account. This will differ from uni to uni, but the main thing to remember is that, if you didn’t have a chance to start your UCAS application for whatever reason, there are still options available for you.

What is great about the Clearing process is that you can apply and speak directly to the university of your choice. (As long as they have available places of course.)

Our Finding:

We also found that 60%* of you would rather apply to university with final grades, rather than your predicted ones.

So it is actually a common myth that you need to go through the conventional route to apply to university. Although most of your classmates may be following a very specific path with January UCAS deadlines etc., this may not be right for you. Whether you feel ready to apply to university a few months or years after this deadline, Clearing can be a way to do this. 

So in essence, it’s never too late to apply to university. You don’t need to go through UCAS or follow the conventional deadlines. With Clearing, it’s possible to find universities who don’t require you to write a personal statement. Clearing rules are definitely different to the usual ones, this is your time to change your destiny - so to speak.

Our Finding:

Two-thirds of the students who are anticipating going through Clearing this year have never done any Clearing-specific research at this stage. 

It doesn’t have to be this way! There are plenty of resources online to help you properly prepare. Universities have great guides on their sites talking you through the whole Clearing process, some even have dedicated live chat services to help you with everything you need before the big day itself.

We would recommend the following resources which explain the whole process from start to finish:

We put this out to a few thousand students who have gone through Clearing themselves. See below for their Clearing hacks to make the whole process more straight-forward:

  • Make sure you know which universities and courses you’re interested in before the big day. 
  • Get the phone numbers and details of these unis/courses ahead of results day.
  • Make a note of the questions you want to ask unis about Clearing ahead of results day.
  • Even if you don’t get onto your firm choice, don’t be afraid to call up to see if they have any spare spaces on any similar courses. 
  • Don’t rush into anything! It’s totally fine to take a year out if you can’t find the right place for you. Although it feels like the end of the world- everything will sort itself out, at a pace that’s right for you.
  • The whole Clearing process can be scary, but doing your research and preparation can eliminate some of this. Try and remember that sometimes things happen for a reason. The school that accepts your offer through Clearing wants you for you, and if you don't get a Clearing place, that's fine because there are so many other options, just remember, you did not fail.

Our Finding:

60% of students still negatively view Clearing as something for those only who get lower grades than expected.

In reality, Clearing is actually an opportunity to fulfill your university dream. Has it been your life-long dream to study at Loughborough university? You may not need to put this dream to bed just yet. 

When 15th August comes around you could actually get much higher grades than you were predicted, so it may be the time to make this dream a reality. 

You can sign up for Clearing alerts right now with universities like Loughborough which can help you get ahead of everyone else once you have your grades next week. You can even talk directly to current students so you can make a more educated decision of where to go, and what to study.

Of course, Clearing is also there if you got slightly lower grades than you were predicted. Whatever happens when you open that envelope next week, Clearing can be an opportunity for you to go to university and get your future started.

*These findings are based on over 250 students.

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Chloe Hashemi
Chloe Hashemi on 7 August 2019