My annual clearing blog: 2020 – OurWarwick
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My annual clearing blog: 2020

How on earth have we already got to mid-July? Honestly, thanks to Coronavirus we have literally blinked and it has gone from March to almost August. Whilst this may be a painful reminder of the brevity of time and all that, it also means it is time to start talking about all things UCAS, results day, offers, and of course, clearing. Ah, that old taboo. No one really talks about it much, because it is seen as a sign of failure: that you did not get the grades you should have so you have to now settle for a lower path in life. WRONG.

Note: cover photo is a dog, because even though Clearing was a very positive experience for me, I realise it can be a stressful time for lots – which calls for lots of dogs.

I have waffled twice before about my personal clearing experience, so feel free to wade through the murky journey of this blog to find them, but to cut a long story short: I missed my firm, Durham, by 1 UMS (still bitter lol) and did not want to go to my insurance Edinburgh, so I “dropped out” of Edinburgh (can you actually drop out if you never even attended??) and used clearing to find a place at Warwick a good three weeks after results day. A slightly less traditional way of using the service, but an example of how it can help people who didn’t have everything go exactly to plan find a new path, that could be even better than they thought.

However, forgetting myself for a second, this year clearing is going to be a whole new experience, because lets be honest, the whole A-Level process this year was uncharted territory. Officially, clearing will be open from the 6th July until the 20th October, but most actual places will become available around August, when both the results days for Scottish Highers (4th August 2020) and A Levels (13th August) have happened.

When you log on/ collect your grades on results day, it will tell you if you have also met your offer for your firm, or your insurance university. Sometimes you’ll hear your results first, other schools may wait so you’ll see if you have an offer or not before your results (which is cruel, I admit). NOTE: if you have not received your grades and you do not have an offer, but there is no button saying “eligible for clearing” then the university might still be considering you. I advise you to call your firm/insurance university and sell yourself; you never know, they might make you an offer. This is a very important step to go through before going down the clearing path.

You should use clearing if you: have received confirmation from both your firm and insurance universities that you did not obtain the required grades; missed the UCAS application deadline (on the 30th June) so you didn’t get any offers, but have decided you still want to go to university, or if you’ve changed your mind (like I did) and want to apply for something else/ somewhere new.

So if it does not go to plan on Results Day – DON’T PANIC! I remember the adrenaline well, and it can often be a very overwhelming day. I have such fond memories of one of my teachers telling me I looked “flushed” when I was pacing around our college trying to work out what to do. However, it can be quite a simple process if you are calm. Here is the ideal way to go about it:

  1. When you wake up, check your UCAS account for any status updates and to see if you made the grades for any conditional offers.
  2. If you didn’t get the required grades, contact your chosen unis first and see if you can talk your way into a place (you never know your luck!)
  3. Start looking at clearing places, on both the UCAS clearing webpage and on individual university webpages. Make a note of the phone numbers you’ve got to call. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis, so if you find something you like, go for it. But equally, take your time to work it all out. Don’t end up rushing a decision just for the sake of going to university. Make a note of the phone numbers you’ve got to call.
  4. Some universities will have clearing and assistance phonelines open from 8am on results day. You will probably have to wait on hold, but do not give up!
  5. Make sure when you call you have your UCAS points, grades and your Clearing number or ID. You will also need something to write down information on.
  6. Whilst I luckily avoided this situation, some universities might want to do a quick phone interview too, so be ready to relieve writing your personal statement, but this time, in person. Have your personal statement and CV to hand, so you’re ready to waffle about why you’re the perfect match for the university.

If this all works out, then you should receive a provisional offer from your new university of choice. All you need to do to confirm your place is add the details to your clearing choices on UCAS and wait for an official letter/ email.

However, if nothing on results day seems very good, or you feel that your firm choice is definitely the choice for you, then I am all in favour of taking time out to figure it out. Given how chaotic the exam systems were this year, I’m sure lots of people will try and resit exams, so perhaps this is an option to try and secure the place you want. Or you could take a year off to work before applying again. I personally waited a whole three weeks before applying to Warwick (but this is not a good idea – I was saved by languages not being very popular…)

The whole point of clearing is to ensure students are supported and have options to still access higher education, even if things haven’t fully gone to plan. Therefore, take advantage of the options, and try and remain positive! If you have any questions/ worries about results day and clearing, feel free to comment below or message me privately. I will be more than happy to try and help!

Catherine

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