Clearing 2014 case study: Worse results than I expected meant I had to argue my case

Imogen Richardson wasn’t quite prepared for Clearing 

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The Independent Online

“I did A-levels in Spanish, maths and drama. I tried really hard and I put in all the effort – but, unfortunately, I didn’t get the grades I wanted.

A-level results day was a shock. I opened the envelope, got in my parents’ car, and just burst into tears. My boyfriend had done well, and I was trying to be happy for him at the same time as crying. It wasn’t good.

I’d chosen two universities that had asked for similar grades – one wanted AAB and the other was ABB – so I was gambling on getting really good results. My teachers seemed confident that I could get them. The gamble didn’t pay off.

My parents leapt into action. My brother had gone through Clearing a few years ago, so my mum knew what to do. She sat me down and asked: ‘What do you want to do? Because, if you want to go to uni, we have to act now – and we can get this sorted’. They wanted to get straight on the phones. The sooner you do, the more likely you are to get a place.

I’d been to loads of open days when I was choosing my Ucas options, so we talked about the ones I’d liked. I called my second choice offer, hoping they might still take me – but they said I didn’t have enough points. So I looked at the places available through Clearing, and  Hull came up. It was one of the universities I’d looked at, and I remembered that I’d really liked it. I  couldn’t even remember why I hadn’t chosen it as one of my final options. So I gave them a ring and they put me through to the head of the languages department.

I talked to her for 25 minutes, trying to convince her to offer me a place. She asked my why I wanted to do languages, because they’re a very demanding degrees. She pointed out that other people on the course had got better grades than me and asked if I’d be able to keep up. I told her that I want to teach languages, that’s my passion, and I know this degree will help me do that.

I told that her I like the course at Hull, and that I’d been on the open day. That helped because she could see that I was genuinely interested. I really argued my case. And she saw that I’d done a lot better in my GCSEs than my A-levels, so was willing to give me a chance.

I went to the Clearing Day at Hull soon after, which was really beneficial. We had a really in-depth talk with the student who showed us round. It made me feel confident about going there.

I remembered what I’d liked so much about Hull – it’s a really nice uni with a lovely campus. I could see myself having a good time here.

I’ve really enjoyed my time at Hull so far, both on the social and work side. Of course, going to uni was a crazy culture shock, but I got a place in halls and, when you first turn up, nobody knows who got their place through Clearing or as their first choice or whatever. You all just get involved, get to know each other.

I’ve been able to keep up with the workload and I’m doing well in all my assignments. I’ve applied for a special module next year that will give me a qualification in teaching foreign languages, which will help with what I want to do post-uni. It’s great that the university offers that.

Looking back now, I wasn’t prepared for Clearing. I didn’t really know how the process worked, and when you’re in that situation, you haven’t got time to stop – you’ve just got to get on with sorting it out. I was lucky that I’d done so much research into universities before submitting my Ucas application and been on so many open days; that really helped. I’d advise other people to put the time in to do that. It’s important to know as much as you can about what you’re getting yourself into.

Even though, when you get your A-level results, you feel like you’re not good enough, you need to calm down and think about your options. You can still get onto a good course and have a positive experience – it’s just a different one to the one you’d planned.”