Clearing can be a daunting prospect. Here are some wise words from 10 students who've survived to tell the tale...
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1. Persistence pays off
Do not take no for an answer. I was rejected around eight times by universities - and even by the university I currently attend before my persistence paid off. You have to be assertive and think of the phone call as an interview.
2. Be prepared
Be prepared. This is the most useful bit of advice for Clearing students. Have a list of the unis you are going to ring up, their Clearing phone numbers, and times the Clearing lines actually open. All this information should be readily available on individual uni websites. Do this research well before the day, and make sure you actually would like to go to these universities. As soon as the lines open, start calling - and do not be put off if you're rejected by the first few you try.
3. Be an early bird
I missed my insurance choice by a couple of marks which was devastating. My advice for people going through Clearing is to get on the phones as soon as you know you're in Clearing, as places go like hotcakes.
You need the internet and a phone: internet to search for and research unis offering your desired course (or a similar one) and a phone so you can call each of them up straight away to see if you can get a place. You will be put on hold, or the lines may be too busy for you to get through in the first place - so while you’re waiting, keep researching. It’s all a panic but I was finally offered places at two different universities.
4. Keep an open mind
Don't be put off just because you're not very familiar with a particular university. I ruled out some choices I had come across on the first day, but after doing some research into what the courses were offering as well as looking more into the univiersities themselves, I felt more confident to apply to those options the following day.
5. Speak to the right people
It was a stressful time but the advisers I spoke to on the phone at Queen Mary were really reassuring and helpful. One tip I would give: don't be afraid to ring up universities straight away, as they are there to help. I took a little while to ring up, which probably hindered the process and made it more stressful overall. Also, if you have not met your grades, make sure you ring your original and insurance choices to see if obtaining a place is still possible.
6. Sell yourself
Be cool and calm - if you're going through clearing, have an idea of what you might want to say to sell yourself. Write it down beforehand if it helps as a script / aid but don't robotically read it out. You may be speaking with the head of your course, so ensure there's something special you can highlight about why you are passionate about gaining entry to their course.
7. Hang on in there
The most stressful part of Clearing for me was the wait between finding out if my application had been successful or not. It was over two weeks after results day that I finally found out that I had got in - during the period in between, I didn't know what was going on and whether I was going to university at all.
8. Keep calm and carry on
My sixth form was really good on results day, but I did get upset when I thought I hadn't got a place anywhere. My advice would be not to panic. So many people I know didn't get into their first choice unis, but I don't know anyone who didn't manage to get in anywhere - and all of them ended up loving where they went to.
9. Get all the help you can
I went to pieces when I found out I hadn’t got into Newcastle University - both my first and second choices were for there. My form tutor soon calmed me down on exam results day, sat me down and got me in front of a computer. She told things to me straight, helped me research other options and this really helped me to calm down and focus. I wouldn’t have been able to sort things out if she hadn’t been there to help me.
10. Don’t make a rash decision
The most important thing to look for if you go through Clearing is the course - get this right first to make sure you'll enjoy your studies and do well. The uni you go to doesn't matter so much - if you're on a course you love you'll still end up having the best time of your life. I didn't choose the right course and so now I am having to do another first year on a different course. But even though it's not ideal, even changing courses isn't the end of the world either. You've always got the option to start again if you want.
I would advise not jumping to take the first course place you're offered - try and take a bit of time to think about it properly before committing. Most universities will give you 24 hours to think it through if you ask. Also, don’t just rush into a course because you think it's a good university - research the course properly and think carefully if you will enjoy it.