This week is a nerve-wracking time for young people all over the UK. A-level results day will see tens of thousands of sixth form and college students eagerly refreshing the UCAS website and checking their phones to find out whether they've made it on to their preferred university place.
It's certainly a memorable experience, and for many, it's a positive one. However, the prospect of not getting into a university can be daunting, and the thought of Clearing can be stressful for a lot of students.
However, far from being the end of the world, Clearing is simply another way to get into university. Last year, the UCAS online system for Clearing was used by over 64,000 students, which means that one in eight people were accepted into university in this way. Here at UCLan, we've seen students who went through Clearing progress into successful careers in a range of sectors, including pharmacy, engineering and law.
If you're a student yourself, or know someone who will be getting their results and is looking for advice, a good way to be prepared is to make a list of all of the universities and courses available through Clearing that sound like they might be of interest the night before results day.
There will be call centres set up in universities across the country, and they will often ask for details including personal information and grades over the phone, so it's a good idea to have these to hand.
Most importantly, people shouldn't feel anxious. Clearing can be a positive experience for many reasons. If students open their A-level results envelope and don't see what they were expecting, what comes next is an opportunity to have a real think about the right course for them.
The initial university application process happens early on in the year, with a gap of up to 11 months in between starting the process of applying and getting those final results. A lot can change in this time, and after plenty of hard work and exams, students might not be so sure about the course or university that they had originally decided on.
Choosing a university is undoubtedly a big decision and can play an important part in shaping careers and opportunities in the years that follow. It's therefore crucial that students choose the right course and institution for them.
There are often careers advisors on hand at sixth forms and colleges to help advise students on what to do next, while course leaders and lecturers at universities will be on hand to discuss all of the opportunities and options that are available. It's important to remember that everyone is there to help.
Many students feel panicked on the day, but there's no need to rush into a decision. Carefully considering all of the available options after a phone call is the best way forward, and it's worth noting that Clearing is open from July until September for people who haven't secured a university place, missed the application deadline for university, or have simply changed their mind about what they want to do.
Plenty of students will go through Clearing and it will lead to great opportunities and experiences for many. There's lots of information and help out there, so no matter what's in that envelope, remember that universities around the country are there to support you every step of the way.