S-cool guide to Clearing
S-cool ran a poll on our homepage on the clearing process and it is clear that most of you are not 100% clear on your options, or what you will do if you choose to enter clearing. This is understandable as it does seem a bit complicated, however it is actually not too tricky and once you are in the process it all makes a bit more sense.
Why would I enter clearing?
1) You have completed your UCAS university application form after the 30th June 2015.
2) You have changed your mind about the courses or Universities you have applied for.
3) You have not met the grades required for the courses you have applied for.
Preparation for clearing
It is worth reading this article to familiarise yourself with the process and to make sure you are prepared for the unexpected even if you are pretty sure you will get the grades you need. This will ensure you do not panic in the event of having to enter clearing.
Practical ways to prepare include:
1) Think about why you chose the courses you did? Is the university, you chose the most important criteria, or is it the specific course? If the university is the priority for you, are there alternative courses you might be interested in. Maybe a joint honours course or even something else that grabs your attention, obviously you will still need to have studied relevant subjects! You may find a slightly different course with 80% of the same content that has slightly lower entry requirements.
Remember that just because a course has lower entrance requirements, that does not mean it
is inferior. Quite often they are just less popular, maybe due to the name rather than the course description.
If the Course is the most important thing to you, have a look at similar courses in different
universities. Again have a look at the course content as well as the name of the course.
For most people these two criteria will overlap, the important thing is to open your mind without putting too much pressure on yourself to think of alternative options to your original choices. This will help you to make a considered decision.
Your careers advisor should be able to help you with advice on courses that are similar to the ones you originally applied for.
2) Come up with a list of possible courses and put it to one side in case you need it. You will be in a good position to make an informed decision in the clearing process.
The Clearing process
1) If you have not met your entry requirements, and have been rejected by both your firm and
insurance places, or if you applied to UCAS after the 30th June 2013 you will not need to do
anything. Your “UCAS Track” account will automatically tell you if you are eligible. If you are, your clearing number will be displayed and an 'add clearing choice' button will appear.
If you have met your firm or insurance offer, but have changed your mind, you will need to ring up the university and ask to be released from the course. This may take a while to be processed, and while you can contact universities informally while this is happening - you cannot formally be offered or accept a place until your UCAS Track account has given you a clearing number. This may take a couple of weeks though.
If you have decided to take a gap year, you can apply for a deferred place through clearing, but you will probably be better off applying again from the beginning through the UCAS system for next year as you will have more time and a greater choice of courses.
2) You now need to start phoning up universities you are interested in (get out that list of courses you made earlier). Give your clearing number to the admissions tutors so they can see your details, hopefully they will ask you to apply. If they do, you will be given a date you need to formally apply by.
3) Remember to ring all the universities on your short list if you can. This way you may end up with several options.
4) Once you have been asked to apply, you can enter your details on UCAS Track by clicking on the 'add clearing choice' button. You may only enter details of one course.
Contacting Universities to apply for clearing places
When you start phoning universities it is worth doing a little bit of preparation, so make sure you have:
• A fully charged phone with credit!
• Your clearing number - if you have it.
• A list of your GCSE and A-level Exam Results
• A copy of your personal statement
• A list of the universities you want to ring and their numbers, this is so you don’t forget to
• A list of the courses you want to ask about at each University
• A list of any other questions you have
• You should also have done a bit of research on the university - is it a campus university etc.
You want to come across as prepared.
When you ring the University you will speak with either an advisor or an admissions tutor. An advisor should be able to answer your initial queries and will assess whether your grades and experience match their requirements, if so they will pass you on to an admissions tutor.
What to ask?
When you are speaking to the adviser/tutor remain calm and remember that while they are
interviewing you, you also need to interview them. This is especially important if you have not visited the university yourself. The following is a list of useful questions you may wish to ask:
• What the name and position is of the person you are speaking to?
• Are there places available on the course you want?
• Will they accept your grades and experience?
• What are the interview requirements?
• What are the accommodation options?
• What other activities are on offer?
• Will they offer you a place?
The important thing is to sell yourself. You want to come across as confident, enthusiastic and committed to the course. Make sure they know about any relevant experience you have. Even though your confidence may be knocked by your results, relax, stay calm and try to enjoy the process!
Try to be flexible as well. You may be offered a slightly different course, but don't rule it out straight away as it may well fulfil your criteria. For example you could be offered a HND or a place on a foundation course that could then lead on to a degree later, take a note of these options to consider later.
Finally thank them for their time, and then make sure you have made a note of the conversation. It may also be useful to make a note of whether you got a good feeling from the conversation - did you feel they genuinely wanted you.
Next, take a breather and phone the next one.
You should now have a few pages of notes to sift through, tidy them up and make a list of the offers you have. It is worth giving them a rough ranking and then talk through the choices with your friends and family. Give yourself a bit of time to do this and try not to rush into a decision. You may wish to visit the town or University before you make your choice and Universities sometimes offer clearing open days.
Finally you will need to make a choice. Listen to others, but in the end the choice is yours. Go with the course and university that you think is best for you. Then finish off your clearing application in UCAS Track and then have a great summer!
If after reading this article, you are still unclear on what to do, especially if you have a questionrelating to a specific situation you find yourself in, have a look at the UCAS website, they have a very useful FAQ section.