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Clearing tips: Be flexible, be prepared and don't panic!


If the final grades are too low but the university hasn’t sent their decision, the student needs to get in touch with them – they might be willing to accept lower grades. If not, then it’s imperative to research other options methodically. As parents, you have a role to play here.

Students should talk to their first choice university: “A-level results don’t change a person or change their potential. At Clearing, we’re looking at the Ucas grade predictions and the student references as much as the actual grades, because something might have gone wrong on the day,” says Julian Lovelock, University of Buckingham pro-vice-chancellor.

Be prepared: “Students should make a list of all their qualifications, their grades and course preferences before they phone the helpline. This will help them to not get flustered and enable us to match their qualifications to what we have available,” says Kathryn Rees, operations manager at the University of South Wales.

Be flexible: university admissions staff advise students at Clearing to be flexible about their study choices.

“If there are no places available to study English literature, there may be other options such as a joint degree in English and history or media and creative writing. These will give students the same career path and be equally interesting,” says Claire Chalmers, Goldsmiths’ student recruitment officer.

Don’t panic. Students shouldn’t be be bounced into making a decision they’ll later regret. They should take the time to think through their options and not necessarily to go for the first available offer. “What they mustn’t do is apply in a rash moment for courses they would never have applied to under normal circumstances,” says Lovelock. “If they do, they will always feel that they’ve accepted second best.”

They should also consider other options: “Alternatives to an honours degree, such as an HND or a foundation degree, are worth considering,” says Rees. “They can be topped up with an extra year of study and enable a student to graduate with an honours degree.”