When results day comes around in August - in 2013 it's Thursday 15th August - and you find you haven't done as well as you expected, you will find yourself in clearing. No problem. Many students get their university places through clearing and have the best three or four years of their life. So don't start off thinking that it's going to be a disaster. Be positive and proactive.
You need to make use of the information widely available on the internet, in the national press and at universities themselves, most of which open clearing hotlines from 8am on results day and keep them open for several days or even weeks afterwards.
Starting points for going into clearing
Firstly, you need to know where the vacancies are available. The following are all useful sources of information:
- The UCAS website. This has the central list of vacancies that is constantly updated
- The University’s own website, which should also be updated regularly.
- The daily press. The Independent and the Daily Telegraph publish lists of clearing vacancies on A-level results day and for a couple of days afterwards. Obviously, these aren’t constantly updated but some people like a paper list that they can circle, highlight and doodle all over.
Clearing 2013: act quickly and stay focused
On results day there will be thousands and thousands of places available. The most popular will fill up quickly and the longer you leave it, the narrower your choices become.
Once you have found a few courses that interest you, take a few minutes to learn a bit more about the course and the university.
- Look at prospectuses - paper copies or on line. They will tell you about the course structure and the modules available.
- Alternative prospectuses are often really useful - they are written by the students and often give a better feel of a place than the â€˜official' literature.
- Specialist websites such as Apply to Uni have well organised information, including lots of guidance about clearing.
- Chat rooms can give you a useful insight into a particular university or course.
The following resources should be available in your school or colleges careers/HE library:
- The Times Good University Guide will list the best universities for particular subjects - the top ten for Electrical Engineering or the top twenty for History.
- Brian Heaps Degree Course Offers book is often a very good starting point that will show you which Universities are likely accept your grades.
- The Push Guide and the Virgin Guide to UK universities will give you an at-a-glance view of various essentials such as the social and night life, male: female ratio, price and quality of accommodation, quality of transport and even the price of a pint.
Clearing doesn't mean you can't visit
It's not a good idea to commit three or four years of your life to somewhere you've never been to before. So go. Even if there is no official open day, make every effort to go and see the town/city and the university to get a feel of the place. There should be time to do this before accepting any offer you have been made in clearing.
Talk to people about your clearing choices
Family and friends always have an opinion but it may not be a particular informative or balanced one. Your college will be open from results day and in the few days after to help students through clearing. Go in and talk to your careers advisors and other staff who are there about your possible options and what to do next.
They can guide you to information about universities and courses, point you in the direction of resources they have within college and provides good sounding board to discuss your options.