It is A-Level results week. But then if you have any interest in universities or schools you will know that. This week always comes with mixed feelings for me. I remember the disappointment of not quite getting the A-levels I was hoping for, the heartbreak of not getting into my first choice uni (Sheffield if anyone cares), the panic about not being able to find a place and the excitement of eventually securing a place to study Law at Leicester. It’s also a week of mixed feelings because this week I have to make decisions which change people’s lives.
Anyway, CLEARING. I was there once. It is awful. I got my results, I missed one A grade by a tiny margin and didn’t meet my offer. I called and was rejected. I cried. I had my heart set on going to Sheffield. In those days you had to go through the newspaper to find institutions with place available. I called Leicester because I had actually been on an open day there and liked it a lot – I’d just liked Sheffield more at the time. I also phoned the University of Sussex – my Mum went there as a student – that was the extent of my knowledge. Both institutions took my details, both said they’d phone back. I waited. Leicester called first and offered me a place on the LLB. I accepted and then I cried – a lot, mostly with relief. I was going to Uni and I was going somewhere I’d seen and I’d liked and it was all going to be fine.
What’s my advice to anyone facing this possible scenario tomorrow? It’ll be fine, don’t panic. Breathe. My institution offers some advice (as do most others I would imagine!) – it includes thinking about where else you might want to go and make a list of alternatives. Do that now. Did you like the look of any institutions you visited for an Open Day but didn’t select in the end? That might be a good candidate to phone – you already know something about them. Think about how far away from home you want to go, if you’re going to live at home then that limits your options, if not, how easy to you want to make it for your parents to come visit or for you to nip home? Put the list in order of preference and then, if you have to, you can start at the top and work your way down.
On the day make sure you have your phone fully charged or access to a landline (ideally both so you can use one for calling out, leaving a line clear for call backs) and make sure you can access your email. Also have pen and paper ready so you can easily take down any reference numbers.
Take your time over making the decision. This decision will change your life. The university and the course have to be right for you. If you don’t know the institution, ask if you can go visit, speak to an academic if possible, ask questions, see if it feels right. This is about your future after all! Listen to those around you offering advice but remember that ultimately it has to be your decision!
And if you just haven’t got the grades to do what you really want? Well that can happen. Get advice. Maybe there’s a foundation year you can do, maybe your College can offer resits or further study or maybe you’re just not as suited to your chosen subject as you thought and it is time for a re-think. Talk it through, think it through, don’t do anything in a panic
Good Luck. I feel for you, I really do. I’ve been there. I will take up my duties on our Clearing helpline tomorrow morning with a knot in my stomach. I will remember my 18 year old self and I will try and handle any of your calls with the same calm and reassurance as the admissions team did at Leicester all those years ago (thank you – whoever it was!) and I really do hope I’ll be able to say ‘yes, please join us for your student journey’.
This week has been all about Clearing and A-Level results for me. It started earlier this week when the University got the results and we worked out how many clearing places we would have for our courses and continued through the week as we got more information, confirmed some more students and got ready for today – A-Level results day.
I have a weird sort of affection for clearing. I went through clearing, I loved my uni days and am grateful for the chance to study law and I get really excited about now being able to give that chance to some of our callers. Working the clearing helpline is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster though. There are the calls from people who are nowhere near the entry tariffs and you just know they will struggle to get a place and it’s heartbreaking; there’s those who are so close and you really want to take them but can’t because os university policy; there are those who have made it and are so excited about getting a place in clearing and those who have done better than expected and are even more over the moon. So basically today I have been in the business of making dreams come true and shattering them in pretty much equal measures. Here are my thoughts/tips whatever you want to call them for surviving clearing
1. Don’t panic – you don’t have to make all the decisions now – don’t let institutions pressure you into accepting a place you don’t really want
2. Come to an open day if possible – most unis have them (For Bradford’s clearing open days see the website)
3. Think about what you want – if it is to study a particular subject at a particular institution and you haven’t got in, can you resit and try again next year? Is it the place or the subject that grabs you? If the place, do they have other courses of interest; if the subject, can you go somewhere else?
4. Have all your info ready – institutions need your UCAS ID, Clearing ID, information about your results, what course you’re interested in and if you have called them before the reference number they gave you.
So for those who got the results and uni places you wanted – well done! For those who haven’t, it feels horrible, really horrible but you know what, I went through clearing and my student days were fabulous and with hindsight I’m actually quite pleased I didn’t get into my first choice! And if this helps a little bit – a lot of our best students have come through clearing. We don’t accept people who we think will struggle too much on our courses so if we offer you a place it’s because we believe in you and want to help you reach your potential. I’ll be back on the phonelines tomorrow afternoon and I am looking forward to it – I just hope that the dreams I can make happen far outnumber the dreams I have to shatter! (Oh and just in case you want to come and study with us at Bradford – we have some places available and all the info including the number to call is on the website.