Plan Now For Clearing!

Most people think that university clearing is only open on A-level results day and for a few weeks afterwards – but NOT SO!

Dr Lisette Johnston, ex BBC World News boss and Head of School at ScreenSpace, part of MetFilm School explains what Clearing is all about and urges this summer’s 18yr olds to start planning now.

Clearing opened on the 5th July, and universities are already advertising courses available through the system.

What is Clearing?

Clearing is the process that students use to access university after they’ve received their A-level level results (or A-level equivalents).

A level ‘pass’ image By chrisdorney | Shutterstock

Is it just for those who didn’t get their expected grades?

No, the way people apply to university seems to be changing. It’s widely recognised that schools and colleges don’t always get predicted exam grades right, and universities offer places based on students’ predicted grades.

There’s a growing trend showing that potential university students are not even applying to universities until they know their results. Last year, a record 17.5k people got their university place applying to university after they’d got their results, and, nearly 67k, people, including those who had applied earlier in the year, were accepted through Clearing.

In fact, the change in attitude to clearing is becoming so mainstream now that just today it is reported that Universities are considering whether to shift the timetable of the admissions system so that applications would take place after students have their A-level results.

What if my grades are higher than predicted?

If your results are better than expected and you’ve accepted a place at a university based on lower grades, you can ‘trade up’ to a different course or university that required higher grades, this is called Adjustment.

Passing A levels By Antonio Guillem | Shutterstock

I’m getting my A-level results in August – What can I do now?

Here are Dr Lisette’s 6 top tips:

1.Get Cracking: the sooner you apply the better! Some courses cap the amount of students they will take, so apply early and that way you are more likely to get a conditional offer, which is better than missing the boat if you leave it to phone on results day. 

2. Be informed. Don’t wait until results day to look around universities and get a taste of what the offer, there are lots of open days between now and August so as well as looking at course content online it’s even better if you can go to a university and see what it is like. That way you can hit the ground running.

3. What do you really want? If you haven’t got the grades you expected, you might not get into your first choice, but that doesn’t mean going through Clearing to get in just anywhere. If staying at home is important to you, find out what the options are available locally. If you are passionate about a specific topic find out where the next best place on the list is and what grades they expect currently. It’s also acceptable to ask how many people they took through Clearing last year. They might not be able to tell you on a course by course basis, but you should be able to get a breakdown across the institution.

4. Be realistic. Oxford and Cambridge may be out of reach. Decide what is a priority for you. If you haven’t got the results you expected, what is more important – the course, the location or a degree in general? The last thing you want is to get on a course and find out it’s not what you want. And don’t just go somewhere cos all your mates are going there!

5. Be open minded. Within a university there are often opportunities to transfer courses to take electives more closely linked to your original choices, for example you may have chosen Media or Film Studies but you could consider Journalism or Film Making. Investigate which unis offer similar or linked courses. Also, Clearing gives a chance to go to a place you might not have thought about before. 

6. Remember, you’re not stuck – if you start at a university and you realise it’s the wrong course or the wrong place you can change! At ScreenSpace we had 15 students who came through Clearing last year, some after the course started; they’re actually much happier than they were with their original choice. 

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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