The steps to take to make everything fall into place

Our guide to Clearing will help you to pick the right institute and course for you

OK, so you have opened the dreaded envelope and the grades were not quite what you were expecting. Your place at university is hanging precariously in the balance and September is fast approaching. Don’t panic: just because you didn’t get on your first-choice course does not mean your university career is over before it has begun. Last year, according |to UCAS, more than 47,000 students found university places through Clearing. Follow our guide and you could do the same.

Check if you are eligible

You can go through Clearing if you do not have a place on a university course. This will be either because you |have been rejected by your firm and

insurance choices after not making the grades; you have rejected all your offers; you were not given an offer at all; or your application – including the full £19 fee – was received after 30 June. The lucky few who did better than expected can also go through Clearing via Adjustment to find a place on a higher-ranked course.

Call your university

If you have missed your grades, it is worth calling up both your firm and |insurance choices and asking if they will let you in despite not getting the results you needed. It will be tight this year, because university applications are at an all-time high, but it will depend on individual faculties. Try asking if they have any spaces on related courses: you might be able to change once you get there. Remember, if you don’t ask, then you don’t get.

Log on

If that fails, it is Clearing for you. Arm yourself with a laptop and a pen and paper and go to the UCAS website ( ucas.com ), aka your Clearing bible. You’ll need to log in to Track to get your personal Clearing number. Then go to the listings to find details of courses with available places. There will also be full listings in this newspaper.

Note down courses you are interested in – you could try any of your original UCAS choices to see if they accept you, or you could opt for something new. Keep checking the website as it gets updated regularly. Universities will be helping in every way they can. Thames Valley University will be giving students advice about Clearing through their Twitter page ( twitter.com/TVUguru ), and most universities will have specific Clearing advice on their webpages.

Pick up the phone

Once you have your list, then you’re ready to hit the phones. Make sure you have your results and Clearing number to hand. Hotline advisers will ask you which course you are interested in. They may also ask you about your results, experience and background, so be prepared to talk about yourself. In most cases, they will call you back, so be patient and be available to take calls. Not being by the phone can add to the stress, as Emma Harris, 19, who won a place at the University of Bristol to study theology via Adjustment, discovered. “There was a lot of hanging around waiting, and I was convinced I wouldn’t be going anywhere in September,” she says. “When they called me back, I was at work – they had called my house first and my mum had to give them my work number. It was the most stressful two days of my life.”

Sell yourself

If there is a place still available, in most cases you will talk to the admissions tutor about the course. This is your chance to convince them to give you a place and to find out more. Rob McGowan, the recruitment and admissions officer at Coventry University, says: “You want to try and impress the admissions tutor over the phone. Ask questions about the course, maybe about the different modules, how it is accessed or whether it includes a work placement. If you show an interest in what they have to offer, they are more likely to be interested in you.”

Visit

If a university does make you an offer, well done, but bear in mind that you don’t have to accept straight away. Ask how long the place is going to be open for; it will differ from place to place. If you can, try to visit the university – some places will have specific Clearing open days geared up to help students who |are still unsure of their next move. Tim Duncan, 21, who graduated from the University of Plymouth with a BEng in civil engineering this year, is glad that he took the time to get to see the university when he found himself in Clearing. “Everyone was really friendly. Some student ambassadors showed me around the campus, then I met a couple of the lecturers, who took me around the engineering department. They |were so enthusiastic about me coming there that it made me enthusiastic too. The fact that I went down and saw it was a big part of the decision in going there. After all, you’ll be spending three years of your life there, so it helps if you like it.”

Accept online

Once you’ve made up your mind and told the university, you are responsible for making it official. Log on to Track, click the “Add Clearing choice” button and put in the course code and the institution code. Then, if all is OK, UCAS will send you confirmation of your place. When you have that letter in your hand, you can be calm in the knowledge that your place is official.

Jeffrey Odufuye, 19, did better than expected in his exams last year, and he went through Adjustment to gain a place at Kingston University. He is |studying sociology and film studies.

“I was predicted Cs in my A-levels and BTEC in health and social care, and had a place at the University of East London doing psychosocial studies. When I ended up with grades ABC at A-level, I thought that I should look at what else was out there. I really wanted to do sociology, and, having grown up in south London, I fancied a change from city life.

I saw Kingston had spaces and phoned straight away. The phone call was very easy – they were really helpful. They phoned me back in about half an hour to say I had a place. I accepted there and then because I knew it was the right course for me as I want to be a social worker, and it was the opportunity to go to a higher-ranked university.

There wasn’t room in halls, but I had a friend at Kingston who was living in private accommodation. He moved out and I took over the tenancy. I don’t feel I missed out not living on campus. People phone me if there is anything big going on. It’s nice to be out of London, too. Kingston is quieter, but there is still a good nightlife. I’m glad I didn’t just settle for the easy option.”

Tate Connolly, 22, gained her place through Clearing at the University of Lincoln, studying for a BA in advertising and marketing.

“When I first thought about which university to go to, I just looked at places which were the highest-ranked for my course and within two hours of home. When I |didn’t get my results and realised that I couldn’t go to my first-choice university, I was devastated.

My plan was to go back to college to retake one grade – I didn’t think there was any point going to a lower-ranked university. But as term approached, I was dreading it and had a look at Clearing. A friend was going to Lincoln and she suggested I try there, but by this time it was late August. Luckily, there were still places available. When the admissions tutor explained the course to me over the phone, it actually sounded better suited to me – it had more of a business focus. When I was offered the place, it was very close to the start of term, so there was no time to sort where I was going to live. My parents persuaded me to pack up and drive down on the first day of freshers’ week. That day was the first time I’d ever seen Lincoln!

Even though there was limited accommodation left, I found a flat at Brayford Quay, on the river Witham. I’m into kayaking, and it was perfect – I could walk straight out of my flat and be paddling in a few minutes.

I couldn’t believe my luck. If you’re going to live somewhere for three years, it has got to be right for you – it turned out Lincoln was the place for me.”

Andrew Jeffery, 19, had a change of heart about studying physics, rejected all his choices and went through Clearing to get a place at De Montfort University in Leicester, studying for a BSc in media production. He has just finished his first year.

“I was undecided about what I wanted to do at university. I chose physics as I loved science at school. Then I kept picturing myself working in a laboratory and realised I didn’t want a career as a scientist. I’d always been interested in films and decided I wanted a career in the industry. So I rejected all my UCAS choices and went through Clearing.

I had been to De Montfort for the media production open day and really liked it. I had also phoned them a few times to check there were still places, so when they said there was still a place, I jumped at the chance. My BSc course involves all aspects of creating and producing media, including modules involving physics, so it’s perfect for me.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing, though. When I arrived, there was no accommodation left for freshers, so I decided to stay at home. I live just outside Leicester, so the commute isn’t too bad and I’ve saved a lot of money. I realise now that I should have thought more about what I wanted to do long term. It’s worth taking time to think about, as it is a decision that will affect the rest of your life.”

FIVE TOP TIPS FOR CLEARING

1. Be prepared. Before you go and get your |results on Thursday, have a think about what other courses or universities you might be interested in. Make a list of three, then if you do find yourself going through Clearing, you will have a starting point.

2. Don’t panic. Clearing might seem like a scary prospect, but it does not need to be a frenetic experience. If you need any help with the process or you have any questions about your application, contact the UCAS helpline on 0871 468 0468.

3. Do it yourself. YOU need to pick up the phone, not your parents. This is your application and you are the one who should make the key decisions. It goes without saying that results day is not the best time to take a holiday.

4. Be interested. When you phone a university, it should be a two-way conversation. Ask about the course, accommodation and student life. That way, you will get all the information you need to make a decision and you will, crucially, come across as someone who deserves that vital place.

5. Consider everything. Clearing is not the be-all and end-all. There are other options: an apprenticeship, a part-time course, or taking a productive gap year. For expert, independent advice, call the National Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000. It is based at UCAS, but staffed by Connexions advisers.

Kate Butland, customer service manager at UCAS

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand labelled 'left-wing commie scum' by Fox News
TV
News
Paul Nuttall, left, is seen as one of Ukip's key weapons in selling the party to the North of England
i100
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Graduate Project Manager

£25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Drama Teacher

£110 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a Drama tea...

Science teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a languages...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past