Exam results 2015: The 5 steps on how to survive Clearing, according to Which? University

With just days to go until A-level results, Which? University has published a new survival guide to help students navigate the Clearing process

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The Independent Online

As universities from across the country brace themselves for a record-breaking scramble for places on 13 August, use of the Clearing system looks set to hit a high as thousands of prospective university students rush to fulfil their ambition of taking home a degree.

While the majority of students waiting for their A-level results are likely to get the grades they need for their desired first or second choice university options, those who don’t achieve shouldn’t panic, says Which? University.

A record 61,300 students successfully found a university place through Ucas Clearing last year – more than ten per cent of all university admissions.

With this in mind, Which? University says it’s vital students are prepared for the possibility of entering the Clearing process, should they not meet the requirements of their chosen university.

The consumer champion brand’s Alex Neill urged students to remain calm during what can be a stressful time. He said: “With tens of thousands of students successfully securing a university place last year via this route, there’s no need to panic.

“If you don’t quite get the grades you expected, our advice is to act quickly but also carefully, considering your options fully. There’s a wealth of free resources and information on Which? University including advice about going through Clearing and insider tips from admissions tutors and students who went through the process last year.”

Which? University’s five steps on successfully navigating the Clearing process are:

1) LOOK BACK AT YOUR ORIGINAL CHOICES: A good place to start your Clearing search is with the courses and universities you originally considered. Draw up a shortlist of universities before hitting the phones. Once you’ve found a potential course, make use of available resources to research it.

Tip: Which? University’s course search will help, and the organisation says students shouldn’t stray too far away from the subject area they originally applied for.

2) CLEARING CALL = MINI-INTERVIEW: Calling a university about a course might be a straight-forward conversation and confirmation of a place, but you could equally find yourself on the receiving-end of some tricky questions designed to test-out your suitability for the course.

Tip: Plan for the latter, noting-down, beforehand, why that specific course and institution appeals to you.

3) DON’T BE HASTY: You can call every university on your shortlist and verbally accept more than one offer but you can only enter one institution with Ucas to confirm your place.

Tip: Before making your final decision, try to go along to the university to get a feel of the campus, speak with family, friends or a teacher to gather as much information as possible.

4) DON’T FORGET THE ADMIN: Make sure you formally confirm your place on your chosen Clearing course via Ucas. And before you head-off to celebrate, remember to update your student finance application, arrange your accommodation, and let your school or college know where you’re going.

5) CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVES: Clearing isn’t about trying to snatch a place on a course at all costs – it’s about choosing what you’ll spend the next few years of your life studying, and perhaps which career route you’ll go down.

Tip: There are other paths to consider – a gap-year to re-sit your exams next year, a different qualification, such an apprenticeship, or even degree studies abroad.

Which? University has also published a survival guide for results day including a free, downloadable step-by-step leaflet to help students who find themselves in Clearing. The guides include practical advice what to do and how students can ensure they find a course that’s right for them.