After months of suspense, results day is finally in sight. As a wave of dread washes over the nation’s 17 year olds, there is one thing on everyone’s mind: the infamous C-word.
With clearing remaining a topic of anxiety for many, some students who have gone through the clearing process and survived to tell the tale, share their experiences and advice. As it turns out, clearing doesn’t have to be a negative process. In fact, for all of these students, clearing was a blessing in disguise.
Last summer, Oyindamola found herself among the thousands of students calling up universities through clearing. “Results day was really stressful for me. I had my heart set on Nottingham Trent which was my first choice and when I found out I hadn’t got in I was really disappointed. I hadn’t done any preparation for going into Clearing and hadn’t looked at any possible alternatives.”
Oyindamola’s dream is to become a barrister, and she was therefore reluctant to give up the possibility of a straight Law degree, despite receiving an offer to study Business Law at Huddersfield. Fortunately, she was able to find a Law course at Bucks New University, where she currently attends. “I was actually going to apply for Bucks first time around but didn't do much research into it and decided just to apply for five universities. When I saw that Bucks still had some places on their Law course in Clearing I knew I had to give them a call because I had started to give up hope of being able to study Law. The admissions team were really friendly and helpful, putting me at ease and answering all the questions I had.” Looking back on her experience, Oyindamola is extremely positive. "Now that I am coming to the end of my first year my course has been even better than I had expected. It is generally a much more personal approach and I know I wouldn't have had the same experience if I had gone to a law school with 200 students in each year group.”
"For students going through Clearing without a back-up plan already in mind, my advice would be to be persistent. Not getting into your first choice shouldn’t stop you from doing the course you really want to do. It is a knock and you may feel like maybe you should be following a different path but if you are focused and determined then you will find a way to get there.”
Also to go through clearing last year was Sarah Yule, who had originally applied to study Physics. However, upon taking her A-levels she realised she wasn’t passionate about the subject, and as a result was unlikely to get the grades she needed.
This was a wake up call for Sarah, who realised where her real passion lay: film. “I had my heart set on Met Film due to the practical nature of their courses. I started my application during the clearing period, and had my interview over the phone on results day. I was terrified! My interviewer was really nice though, telling me to take deep breaths and taking me through the process. We started talking about film, and I thought ‘hold on, I know this! I can talk about this!’ Suddenly the interview became a lot easier, and I was offered a place on the BA Practical Filmmaking course.”
Sarah is also thoroughly enjoying her course. “Studying at Met Film has exceeded my expectations”, she says. “I am so glad that I chose this route instead of studying Physics, like I had originally intended! I now feel that I’m well on my way to my dream of becoming part of a camera team when I graduate.” Sarah is an example of how clearing can provide a golden opportunity to reconsider what you really want to do.
Jenny missed her grades for her physiotherapy course, and had to go through clearing. She was successful, managing to get a place at Birmingham City, although the course was Law. A few years later, and Jenny has graduated with a first.
Commenting on her experience of clearing, Jenny says it wasn’t as bad as she’d expected it would be. “Everyone on the phone lines are incredibly friendly and helpful and they aim to make the process easier for you. The portal is very good for showing course availability but always phone the institution to check for more regular updates on places.”
Her college, King Edward VI Stourbridge, was extremely helpful. “They made me realise that I was capable of getting into law school despite my previous view that I would not make it, hence choosing a different career path.”
Although the initial experience was upsetting, Jenny is happy with how things worked out in the end. “On reflection I know it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I am definitely on the right career path and had a fantastic experience at Birmingham City University. Clearing gave me the chance to realise what I truly wanted to study and where I wanted to be.”
Jenny has some advice for those going through clearing this year. “Going through clearing is not the end of the world. Without it I would not be where I am today. It is a good chance to take a step back and think about what you truly want and where you will be happy. It is a fantastic opportunity for a second chance. The process can be quite daunting and hectic but my best advice is to stay relaxed and focus on what you want and not where everyone else is going. Wherever you go, grab the opportunity and make the most of your university experience, get involved in as much as you can, and most importantly enjoy yourself. Going through clearing is no disadvantage, if anything it gives you more motivation and drive to succeed.”
Jordan was unsuccessful in his first application to study Paramedic Science in 2011. However, after taking two years out gaining work experience in a healthcare setting and as a 999 call operator, he successfully gained a place on the St George’s, University of London Paramedic Science course through Clearing in 2013.
He was initially hesitant about moving to London, but is now extremely positive about the move and loves his course.
As for many students, Jordan found the prospect of clearing a daunting one. However, he found the process to be smooth and reassuring.
To students applying for a course through clearing this year, Jordan’s advice is as follows: “don’t stress too much and don’t make any rash decisions. Think about what you want out of university and your future, and follow your dreams.”
After missing her grades for a Medicine and Biomedical Sciences course last summer, Monika too found herself applying for courses through clearing.
It was initially a distressing experience. “Just like any other student, I was utterly devastated that I hadn’t got into the universities of my choice and wasn’t looking forward to the clearing process at all, particularly because I had no idea at the time how it worked. When I first started calling various universities I was really nervous because I had no idea what they would ask me. Admittedly, trying to put on a confident persona after several rejections is tough.”
Monika decided to apply for Healthcare Science, and set about calling universities to find out more about the courses available through clearing. “When I called St George’s, I was offered an interview for the very next day. My interviewers were great, really made me feel at ease. It was an awesome feeling when I looked through my e-mails to see an offer.”
Monika now feels that her course is perfect for her. “I am very happy on my course now. I enjoy the lectures and love all the placement time because I really enjoy working with patients, so in the end this really was the ideal course for me.”
"The advice I would give to students going through clearing this year is not to beat yourself up too much if you haven’t got the course or university you initially wanted. There are loads of courses out there and you may find that maybe the course you got through clearing is the right one for you. Don’t give up on clearing day either, persistence pays off!"