Worried about your A level grades? Don’t worry, clearing is there for you, just in case.
Whenever teachers would talk about UCAS and our future university choices, they would often just quickly brush over the clearing system. Certainly, a lot of people do tend to get their first or second choice, depending on how well they did on their A levels, or if their university choice lowered their entry requirements. Anyhow, anyone, whether it is their first, second or clearing choice, can go to university.
Let me tell you a story. June 2017, French A2 exam: no one can ever make me retake that exam in my life. I was confident beforehand, I knew all of my vocabulary and all the themes for my books and films. But THE LISTENING. The part which is meant to be the easiest (!!!) shocked all us. Walking back home, tears started flowing on my face. “I will never get into the uni I want”, “I am going to get a U”.
Fast forward to Summer 2017, the longest summer of my life. The tension and the stress of exam results and ultimately login in to UCAS to get the long-awaited answer. Honestly, by the time I got my results, I had completely forgotten what had happened during my papers that I was making stories in my mind of things I had written wrong (I did say that the stress of that summer is incomparable to anything else).
So, the eve of the long-awaited day finally arrived.
“Hey, maybe we should look at clearing options for you… you never know what could happen.” said my Mum.
It’s true, you never know what can happen, so I started to plan. Here is the deal: I wanted to go to Glasgow University, mainly because my grandad went there when he was young and, as I was European, I could get no fees for attending a Scottish university.
But here is the catch: there is only a certain amount of European student that can get into each Scottish university, something called a quota. And when that quota is filled, they will not accept any more European students. They could accept English students (it’s funny, Scottish students don’t pay a penny for university, but if an English student decides to go to Scotland, they still have to pay 9000 pounds!) and the quota for English students is bigger than for Europeans. Which meant that, if the quota isn’t fulfilled, the university will therefore be on clearing. Thus, if you put in UCAS ‘ I am from England’ the university of Edinburgh will be shown on the list. However, if you put that you are ‘European’, the chances that a Scottish university will show up on clearing is pretty low (because of the quota). You get me?
Anyhow, the day finally arrived. Results were given 30 minutes after universities had told you whether you got in or not (which by the way, is a crazy thought). I had just woken up, logged in 10 minutes before on my UCAS account and a message appeared ‘You are in clearing. Your clearing number is […]’.
My heart sank. I went upstairs and said to my parents ‘Guess what? I didn’t get either of my choices.’ And here is when clearing began.
It actually is not as scary as everyone thinks it is, but I suggest you plan beforehand (you never know!).
– Find out which courses and which universities are in clearing. Normally you can find this out in UCAS, where you can see all the universities. Take a note of what course you like AND the clearing phone number of the university. Do that with a couple of universities. I called UEA, Reading, Lancaster, Bath and Warwick (woooo!).
– Don’t panic. Honestly, don’t worry. Clearing is basically a first come, first serve thing. You call, they ask for your UCAS number, they ask for your grades and then they say ‘Congratulations, we can give you a space on our course!’ Like that. So simple. Out of all the universities that I called, they all gave me a space except Bath, but I did call in the afternoon so spaces had filled up already.
– You can get as many university acceptances as you want. You basically call, call, and call until you don’t have any other choices that you want. Then, you have a couple of days until you have to make a decision about which uni you want to choose. And that’s it! You put it in UCAS, it gets approved by the university and off you go to uni!
– Have a look at your subject’s league table. I remember I looked at the league table and Warwick was 5 for my subject. I searched for their clearing number.
“Are you sure you want to call them? They might not want you, it’s quite high up already in the league table.” said my mum. Honestly, I thought so too, but if you don’t call well… how would you know whether you could get in or not? So I called. And when the girl said that I had been accepted, I kid you not, a tear fell down my cheek. It might sound cringe, but I hadn’t cried when I got accepted by the other universities, except Warwick, so I instantly knew it was the university that I had to choose. And I do not regret it in the slightest.
Whatever happens, remember that grades don’t matter, it’s what you make with those grades. I believe in fate, and had I not looked at only Scottish universities during my early UCAS days, I probably would have picked Warwick as one of my choices. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that I have been presented with at Warwick university. And whether you go to Warwick or end up in another great uni, you will have the most amazing time regardless. You’ll see!