Before A-level results day I, like many students waiting for their grades, had a vision of exactly what university I was going to. With an unconditional offer from my first choice of Nottingham Trent, I was ecstatic and thought my future path was fixed.
Way back when I was choosing where to study, I remember receiving my predicted grades of ACC and having a long think about what my university choices could be. That was when Nottingham Trent came into the mix. I was happy with my choice and excited about starting student life in the East Midlands. But, after sitting my final exam, something changed. While a lot of my friends were doubting their performance in the exam hall, I felt strangely confident. It was then I realised maybe my options were more varied than I first thought, and I could set my sights higher, instead of being restricted by my predicted grades.
Call it a premonition if you like, but on A-level results day, my secret hopes of doing better than expected were confirmed. I ended up getting A*AC, which, a few months earlier, would have been a result I could never even have dreamed of. Suddenly, I felt like a football manager, who, when picking his team, had gone from being restricted to a League One line-up to having my choice of premiership players. It was then that I decided to go through Adjustment. Dubbed ‘the lesser known option, and the happy cousin of Clearing’. Adjustment allows you to ‘shop around’ for other university choices if you do better than expected - even if you’ve accepted a place elsewhere.
Firstly, for those reading this ahead of this year’s A-Level results on 18 August, if you have the slightest inclination as to whether to go through Adjustment, my message is this: go for it. All universities will have a Clearing number on their website where you can ring and ask any questions you have.
For me, I rang six universities and asked whether they had space on their economics courses. Some had already filled all their places, but some had room for people like me. After deciding to go for the University of Sheffield,I spoke to someone who was extremely helpful. All I needed to do was give my Ucas details and I was told it would all be sorted and my application would be handed over for consideration. Simple.
I know making a change like this so late in the day might sound unnerving, but, as the afternoon went, on I was kept up-to-date with what was happening every step of the way. And less than six hours after first picking up the phone to Sheffield, I was told my application had been successful. The Steel City was to become my new home. And, to make things as stress-free as possible, anyone coming through Adjustment or Clearing at Sheffield was guaranteed accommodation for the year.
With one less thing to worry about, all that was left for me to do was log into the university’s website and register for the academic year. By 5pm, the next three years of my life were sorted and I could pop open the champagne and celebrate.
Going through Clearing or Adjustment is often seen as a stressful time, but, once you’ve come to terms with whatever your results are - good or bad - in my experience, I don’t think it has to be. Every member of staff I spoke to was committed to making the process stress-free and incredibly efficient.
As I see people nervously bracing themselves for results day, I can’t help feeling euphoric at the decision I made that afternoon one year ago. Going through Adjustment landed me a place at a leading Russell Group institution with world-class facilities and an award-winning students’ union, as well as the Peak District on my doorstep. I’m following in the footsteps of Nobel Prize winners and alumni, such as Jessica Ennis-Hill and Eddie Izzard. It was the best decision I made and I couldn’t be happier.
Everyone thinks of the Clearing process as a frantic scramble for places among students who don’t quite get their predicted grades, but I can’t shout about it enough. It doesn’t have to be a disappointment, it can be an opportunity. It was for me. Just a phone call is all it takes.
Samuel Boutel, 19, is studying BSc economics at the University of Sheffield
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