Our top tips for Clearing

Student news

Wednesday 15 August 2012

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Press Team

A-level results day can be a stressful time, and if your grades are not as good as you’d hoped it is easy to become overwhelmed by the experience. Don’t worry if you panic – it’s only natural to be unsure what to do next if things haven’t gone to plan.

At Coventry University there is a 100-strong team of trained staff and student ambassadors who are on hand to offer advice and to guide you through the Clearing process.

Clearing is a service available from now until September to help people find vacancies on higher education courses. It’s not only for students who have missed out on offers because they didn’t get the grades, it is also for students whose results exceed their expectations and who may now consider applying to university after all.

It also represents an opportunity for those holding offers to investigate what other courses are available. Remember, though, that if you have already accepted an offer as your firm or insurance choice and you have achieved the required grades, then you have effectively entered into a binding contract and you will only be able to look elsewhere if that university releases you from it.

With all this in mind, we’ve put together the following tips for students getting their A-level results on Thursday 18th August…

General advice

  • Be prepared for all eventualities! No matter how confident you are of achieving the grades you need, it is worth being aware of how the Clearing process works in case your results aren’t what you’re expecting.
  • Make sure you’re free. If you have a part-time or full-time job, take the day off. Remember that you need to collect your results from your school or college and you may need to spend some time acting upon them or contacting universities’ Clearing hotlines. Don’t leave it until your lunch break!
  • Have the contact details of all recruitment offices at UK universities to hand on the day – the time this saves could mean the difference between getting the place you want and missing out.
  • If you don’t get the required grades, it’s easy to panic and go for the first course that you find through Clearing – but don’t lose sight of the subject you really want to study. The last thing you want is to end up studying a three year degree in an area in which you have no interest.
  • On the other hand, don’t sit back and wait to be discovered by your ideal university – you won’t be! Be pro-active and give yourself the widest range of options.
  • Try to visit any universities which interest you. At Coventry University, we have a dedicated Clearing Open Day on Saturday 20th August, 10am-4pm for students coming through Clearing to get a feel for our campus and the choices available to them.

On A-level results day

  • Remember to check UCAS Track on the morning of Thursday 18th August to see if your preferred university has already confirmed your place. This won’t tell you your exam results – you have to wait for your school or college to release them – but if your place is confirmed, it probably means you’ve done at least as well as you needed to.
  • Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and, if you’re on Pay As You Go, make sure it is fully pre-paid. Results day is not the time to be running out of battery just when you need it the most!
  • Buy The Daily Telegraph. The official UCAS Clearing vacancies will be published in its pages as well as on the official UCAS website. Other newspapers like the Times and the Guardian have their own listings. Individual universities will probably carry a list of their courses available through Clearing on their website. For example, vacancies at Coventry University may be checked on www.coventry.ac.uk/clearing.
  • Do your homework in advance – if there are particular courses at particular universities that you have considered as an option if you enter Clearing, learn those courses’ exact titles and codes as most Clearing listings will be ordered  that way (e.g. Psychology/C800).
  • When you start making your calls, have your UCAS application number and exam results with you – you might also be asked about your GCSE results, so have those to hand as well.
  • Be patient with your calls. Universities are ready and waiting for your call, but they will be receiving several hundred calls an hour on results day so be prepared to wait a reasonable time to get through.
  • On universities’ Clearing hotlines, the first person you speak with is likely to be someone who will ask you some basic questions about what you want to study and what qualifications you have, as well as asking you for your UCAS Personal ID number. They will transfer you as quickly and efficiently as possible to an admissions tutor who will be able to talk to you about any vacancies available, qualifications required, course details, etc. If you are just exploring your options and already hold an offer from a university, be honest about that – after all, that information will be available to the university through the UCAS database anyway.
  • Be ready to talk about yourself – have your personal statement to hand to remind yourself just how good you are and why the university and admissions tutor will want to make you the offer you want.
  • Some universities, like Coventry, use specially selected and trained student ambassadors as Clearing hotline agents to receive your call. Ask them about the university, the social life, even the course they have studied. You need as much information as possible to make an informed choice, so take advantage of them!
  • If the admissions tutor makes you an offer, you do not have to accept it right away but remember your place may be offered to someone else if you do not express interest.
  • If you do not get an offer, or if you are asked to ring back later for a decision, be positive. The right course for you may still be out there, and perseverance pays off. Although the most popular courses will fill up very rapidly on the first two days of Clearing the process lasts until university terms begin.
  • Art and Design students may be asked to bring along a portfolio of work for review at an interview. Have it ready before the day!

Good luck! Higher education is well worth the investment of your time and money – some of the best years of your life could be just ahead of you!

You can talk to the Clearing hotline team at Coventry University on 02476 791 791 from 7am-7pm on Thursday 18th August. You can also visit Coventry University’s Clearing Open Day on Saturday 20th August from 10am-4pm. For more information visit www.coventry.ac.uk/clearing or call the hotline.