I decided that as we are edging closer to exams and results season, I thought I would start a small series about my student experiences and any advice I can give you from what I have learnt.
So… I went through clearing.
It definitely took me a while to overcome the pain of being a high achiever at my school who was incredibly lucky to attain high grades and not get my first choice. Of course on results day I was nervous but I was reasonably sure I had done enough to get in. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Warwick wanted AAA and my UCAS profile had a huge gut-wrenching banner that seemed to mockingly say you failed. This is the first piece of advice I can give you:
Don’t look at your UCAS before getting your results
I genuinely thought I had messed up. I found this so hard to comprehend as all my exams had gone well and I was pretty confident in my abilities to get AAA. Obviously, I had checked as early as possible and this meant almost two hours of crying and having no idea what I was supposed to do, which is not a good frame of mind to be in. I had no back up plan and no idea what clearing meant as my school hadn’t ever discussed this. I think schools avoid the talk as they want everyone to aim for their first choice rather than being complacent with having something to fall back on. Sadly, by doing this, so many people are left in the dark about the next step. So, this brings me to my second piece of advice:
Do your research on clearing and adjustment
Adjustment wasn’t something that I had even heard of before results day! The Student Room is a good place to read up on other people’s experiences and tips for adjustment and clearing as well as UCAS itself. It also helps if you know people a year or two above you.
When I got to the school and opened my results, I had prepared myself for the worst. I didn’t know how to react when I saw smiling teachers who said they were so happy for me. Hadn’t I messed up? In fact, I had done the vast opposite. My piece of paper said A*AB and my head felt all over the place. I genuinely didn’t know whether to smile or cry. I was briefly ecstatic but I knew when I got home I had to take action about what was next after my dream of Warwick had burned and died before me. (Side note: I did have an insurance but I made the mistake of picking one just on the grades being lower, with no intention to actually attend). My next piece of advice is:
Stay calm and think logically. If you did happen to achieve lower than expected, it isn’t the end of the world.
I rang Warwick twice but they refused to let me in (screw them). UCAS Clearing is easy to navigate and provides a list of options available to you so just ring in and talk to people about your results and what you want to do. So after looking at what was available, I rang York but didn’t feel hopeful. The people were helpful and friendly and York was a university I had visited before so I wasn’t too worried. They offered me a place straight away, and after my successful A* in Philosophy I changed from English Lit to English Lit and Philosophy – the best choice I ever made. These phone calls are where staying calm is vital. You don’t necessarily get offers from the first place and you may have to ring round a lot but my last piece of advice is important:
Don’t just settle on somewhere because you wanted to go to university
Please don’t just accept a place for the sake of it being a place. I have seen a lot of people end up somewhere they really don’t want to be and it just isn’t worth it. Take a year out and come back to it later on to make a better decision for yourself.
Going through clearing doesn’t mean you failed. Going through clearing doesn’t mean you have no other option. Clearing does give you another chance to find an amazing place to study.
I apologise for the long post but I wanted to fit everything in. If you have any tips for prospective university students, please mention them below!