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The reality of Clearing: as told by students

Don't let your perception of Clearing be shaped by what you read in the news. Here’s the real story from people who have actually gone through the process…

What is Clearing? Read our survival guide or browse our special advice section.

Lots of people have found it really straightforward

Going through Clearing isn’t about applying all over again. If you know what you want to study and where you want to go, it can be sorted very quickly.

Clearing was easier than it is made out to be. Checked up vacancies online at about midnight when the website came up, phoned up the university directly at half eight in the morning and was immediately offered a place. Went down to provide details of my qualifications – an hour or so later and it was all finalised. Third Year History Student | (university Of Lincoln)
Going through Clearing was something I didn't feel up to, but I had to do. So I'm glad it was such a simple process. 

My Clearing phone call to Northampton was surprisingly quick and easy. I spoke to one person who asked what I wanted to study, the subjects I did and the grades I got. They then said that the university was able to offer me a place on the course I wanted to do. I was absolutely over the moon.  

I didn't think I had quite enough Ucas points to get on to the course but now I'm glad I called anyway! Psychology and educational studies student | (University of Northampton),
The process was very easy, I was informed that whilst I had not gotten onto my chosen course there was a similar alternative available. I was directed to the page in the prospectus where I could find information to make my decision.

I was very lucky as I have enjoyed my replacement course but I know others who were not so lucky so the process should not be a rushed one and time should be taken to make the correct decision. Fifth Year Systems Engineering | (loughborough University)


And having a 'plan B' is always a good idea

Having a decent back-up plan can do wonders for your stress levels on results day. Even the best-laid plans can go south... 

My entire plan was built around my firm university. I'd been to a summer school, an open day, applied for my accommodation, wrote an essay to get my hardship scholarship and I had my heart set on it. [Last year’s] grades fiasco meant I went from a BBB (with a scholarship) to CEE and nowhere to go. e.lma | (The Student Room Member),
 I absolutely was not expecting to ever miss my firm (although it was high at A*AA for physics) not to talk of my insurance choice which had a reasonably lower requirement in comparison. To put it simply, I (temporarily) missed the grades and landed straight Bs.

My firm was where my heart was – I really really wanted to go there and nowhere else. My insurance was just there for fun really so having my insurance say no was extremely disheartening for me. Ayo.f1 | (The Student Room Member),
Prepare for the worst possible scenario. It might sound bad, but in the end you may be surprised. Elvia, London | (Student),

OK, it's true. Sometimes Clearing can be a nightmare

By its very nature, Clearing can be a really stressful time – but keep going and you could end up with a really positive outcome.
Clearing is quite frankly a horrible process. The phone lines are constantly busy. Having spent over two hours attempting to contact Portsmouth University repeatedly, I eventually was put through with all the places taken.

Although it's worth the university place, bear in mind that you may not even get a chance to talk to a real person before the place is gone. First Year Law Student | (university Of Surrey)
This was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. The Ucas website crashed, all phone lines were jammed and universities did not always give you an instant answer. First Year Psychology Student | (university Of Chichester)
I considered applying to two universities, Surrey and another. On my first attempt at calling Surrey they said there were no longer any places available.

After a day or so, I called up Surrey again and specified my grades, I got put through to the head of the department who offered me a place. Second Year Civil Engineering Student | (university Of Surrey)
I contacted nine universities and seven of them were extremely unhelpful, telling me an immediate 'no' without giving me any other information. Luckily Sussex Uni were much better; they assured me that by passing their psychology foundation year – the entry level was CCC – I would be guaranteed a place on their AAB Psychology BSc course

This was extremely helpful as I'd only managed to get BBC in my exams, so a foundation year seemed to be my only option for going straight to uni without having to take a gap year or settling for a uni I definitely didn't want to go to. Xofia | (The Student Room Member),

But there are lots of people who found Clearing really positive

In fact, your Clearing place might end up suiting you better than your initial choices!

I wouldn't worry, in hindsight I know it's a scary thing but it is not the end of the world and I have met loads of people through Clearing and I have immensely enjoyed my first year. First Year Politics Student | (swansea University)
If you don't get the grades for your first choice, it is important not to panic. Also, don't rush to get on just any course, it has to be the right one for you.

I found that my clearing course suited me even better than my original firm choice, and accepted. I ended up being glad that I went into Clearing! First Year Drama Student | (university Of Glamorgan)
If I hadn't gone through Clearing, then I wouldn't be at RHUL, and subsequently wouldn't be on a year abroad in Australia! It may seem like the worst possible thing at the time, but hopefully it'll all work out. Second Year Classical Studies Student | (royal Holloway University)
Clearing was a great opportunity for me to review my choices and successfully gain a place at a university near home and suited for my requirements. Second Year Social Studies Student | (university Of Sunderland)
My failure to get into any of my original choices is something that has played on my mind for a while but I'm happy where I am now; I've met some good people and I think that year 2 will be good. At the end of the day, if I had gone to Warwick or Sheffield or one of my other original choices, the past year probably wouldn't have been much better and could have been much worse. ArtisticScreech | (The Student Room Member),

And there's a lot you can do to be prepared

I noted down which universities would accept me for Clearing if both my firm and insurance rejected me. I wrote down their numbers and the conditions, and brought it with me to results day. Tyra-Faith, London | (Student),
If you want to go through Clearing, my advice would be to check entry requirements beforehand and if you're slightly below the average offer, don't worry too much – I've heard of people getting into Russell Group unis with AAC, even ABD through Clearing, although if you're applying for a competitive course like Law this may not be possible. ArtisticScreech | (The Student Room Member),


Also, don't forget that Clearing isn't just for if you miss your grades

You might change your mind about where you want to go – either before or after you get there.
Often, people think clearing is JUST for those who didn't get their grades, but it isn't. I made my firm choice, but after I visited the uni, I realised it really wasn't for me.

Since I was accepted by my first choice, I had to apply to Lincoln via Clearing. It was very stressful.

But it just takes patience, and remember the final goal! First Year Social Studies Student | (university Of Lincoln)
I went to my first choice of university for two weeks but found that the course wasn't for me and the university didn't live up to my expectations, so I contacted my insurance/second choice of university who told me that they would still accept me in the same year and I could start immediately.

They were extremely helpful and guided me through the clearing process and gave me advice on how I should proceed. First Year Biological Sciences Student | (university Of Southampton)
I was left with my insurance which I later decided I didn't want. I then visited Essex University on an open day and loved the atmosphere. I got in contact with the Economics department before turning down the insurance offer I had via Ucas, and then only when they agreed via email to take me via Clearing, did I reject the insurance offer. Fourth Year Economics Student | (university Of Essex)
I applied through Clearing because I hadn't found the course when applying originally. I applied and within an hour had a phone interview with one of the staff from my department and was made an offer within a matter of hours.

It was stress-free, easy to do and advice was offered throughout. I was very happy. Fourth Year English Literature Student | (university Of Kent)

It can be more complicated if you didn’t do A-levels

...but not impossible!
I found Clearing extremely stressful as I took the IB and many phone operators during Clearing were not familiar with it. I was not promptly informed of rejections and many universities raised their entry requirements for Clearing. I ended up in a university whose entry requirements were far lower than my points score. Luckily I am happy where I ended up. First Year Marine Biology Student | (university Of Hull)
It was very stressful, mainly because universities do not write entry requirements for international students. One of the main reasons for choosing my university was the fact that they wrote specific entry requirements for my country (others too). First Year Human Resource Management Student | (university Of Glamorgan)

On the other hand…

If you’ve studied for a qualification such as IB or Btec, you may get your results before A-level students get theirs. So if you’re going to use Clearing, you could have a head start.
I applied to four universities for Law and received four offers. I later decided to study Physics instead and went through clearing for Salford. It wasn't stressful for me because I did the International Baccalaureate and so could go through Clearing months before the A-level students. First Year Physics Student | (university Of Salford)
Doing the IB instead of A-Levels meant that there was a lot more time to arrange things and sort myself out but it also meant that unis were a bit more confused and I didn't get released from my offers until very late. Second Year Human And Social Geography Student | (university Of Leicester)

And finally... don't give up!

I looked at the possibility of resitting my A-levels, including how much it would cost and which institutions offered this option in my local area. Zuzana | (Student),
Don't be afraid to ring up if you don't meet the grade requirements. I was allowed on course despite not having enough points. First Year Chemical Engineering Student | (university Of Westminster)
My advice for Clearing this year is to keep going! I don't even think I confirmed my university place until a week after results day because I'd panicked and didn't want to admit I'd failed by going into Clearing. But really, there wasn't much to be scared of at all. e.lma | (The Student Room Member),

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