After getting better than expected grades, Anastasia Stankovsky from London used the Ucas Adjustment system – which can be found in the Track Choices section of the website – to switch on to her dream course, a BA Hons in television production, at Bournemouth University.
"My predicted grades were not good," recalls Stankovsky. "I really wanted to go to Bournemouth because it's one of the best in the country for TV production, and was so upset when I found out my grades weren't going to be good enough."
While the 20-year-old was on track for an AA for her media diploma, equivalent to two A-levels, she was only predicted a C or D for an A-level in classical civilisation and was held back by the E grade she'd received for GCSE maths. Instead of Bournemouth, the course recommended by her media teacher, Stankovsky applied to Middlesex University, Goldsmiths and Westminster.
"I was very disappointed because they were all in London and I wanted to move away from home," she says. "I got knocked back by Westminster, so I opted for Middlesex as I knew I could meet their entry requirements and it felt like a safe choice. But I just felt very desperate about the whole thing."
Despite her worries, she studied hard for the exams ahead. "At that point I knew I was not going to Bournemouth, so studying was for my own purposes. I wanted to do well and get a good grade. I revised really hard – and I'm so glad I did."
After the exams, Stankovsky had a feeling that she might have done rather better than her teachers expected. "I felt that maybe I could get a high C or even a low B, so I looked at the Ucas website again to see if there was any way to change my choices. I looked at Clearing but it felt like a high-risk thing to do – and that's when I saw the section on Adjustment, which is something I'd never heard about before." Even so, she wasn't sure if Adjustment would apply to her situation.
When the results arrived, they showed two As and a surprise high B in classical civilisation. "If I told them, my teachers would be so surprised," she says. It was a bitter-sweet moment: "Opening the results was a strange feeling, because I had got such good grades, but I was going to a university I really didn't want to go to. But on my results it actually said I was eligible for Adjustment, and then I was so excited."
After that, it was a straightforward procedure for Stankovsky. "I checked my points and called Bournemouth and said my grades were higher than predicted. They checked my Ucas profile and then I had a 10-minute interview on the phone with the TV production department. It was nerve-racking, but it was really much easier for me than for people who had actually had to go and attend interviews. It was all over surprisingly quickly. I thought I was going to be living at home and going to Middlesex University, but within a few days of getting my results I was on my dream course and getting ready to move to Bournemouth."
After being accepted by Bournemouth, the whirlwind of practical organisation began. "Up until then, the plan was that I would live at home, so I had to rush around and find a place to live and all the things I would need. Fortunately, the university was very helpful and helped me find a place in halls, which I really hadn't expected at this late stage," she says.
"I thought I'd have to find private accommodation, but the university puts a lot of students from Clearing in these halls. They aren't the most convenient, because they're about 40 minutes from the university, but there are university buses running all the time. I just felt really lucky to get a place in halls and still get that university experience.
"It took me a little while to settle in, but I've really enjoyed the first year. I love being in Bournemouth. It's such a contrast to London, which is so hectic and busy, and it's just amazing to be by the sea in the summer."
The course is living up to her high expectations. "The facilities are very good and the university has a lot of connections with the industry, with course graduates ending up at the BBC, ITV and other companies," she says. "I'm getting some amazing practical opportunities. The university told me about an international film competition and I ended up going out to Thailand to film a wildlife documentary. For my first year, that was an amazing experience."
The Londoner can't speak highly enough about Adjustment. "If it wasn't for Adjustment I would be at Middlesex now and living at home. If people think they may have done better in their exams, then I'd really advise them to research Adjustment, particularly if they didn't apply to their ideal course because they thought it was out of reach."
"Adjustment is a chance to put it right. It's surprising how many people do not know about it. And it's not just students. When I was going through Adjustment, I phoned another university to check on their availability and they didn't know what it was. I had to explain the process to them! Yet it's such a good system and it doesn't seem to involve the same hassle as going through Clearing. I would really recommend this opportunity to people."