BY ROMANO MULLIN
So you have your exam results, and the worst happens. You don’t get into the course of your choice. What do you do? The most likely course of action for UK students will be going through UCAS Clearing. Clearing has often been shrouded in mystery and fear for A-level students, but it doesn’t have to be confusing or scary. In fact, not getting on the course of your choice could be the best thing that ever happened to you.
UCAS operates Clearing from mid-July until September as a service for those unfortunate enough to have not received any offers, missed the UCAS deadline of June 30 or who have declined all their course offers.
If you find yourself in the position where Clearing seems a likely route, the first thing you should do is talk with your careers advisor. He or she will be able to guide you through the process, which is relatively simple. UCAS and the Telegraph post lists of courses with available spaces after exam results. You’ll probably find yourself pouring through these with a cold sweat, trying to find a replica of your desired course. But this doesn’t have to be the case: you can reassess your options and apply your skills and interests to a similar course, if you don’t get one that exactly mirrors your original choice. And don’t pick courses you don’t really want to do, just because they’re convenient or at the same university as friends: you will have to spend at least three years studying there, so make sure you pick the course and institution that is right for you.
Once you begin the process of Clearing, you’ll be assigned a Clearing number that will help you keep track of your applications. You will also have to use this number when you apply to universities through Clearing – it allows them to see your application through UCAS, much like your UCAS ID.
Finally, the waiting game begins. Sometimes Clearing takes a matter of hours, sometimes it can take days. It’s vital that you don’t panic during this time, and if you find yourself anxious about your future, you can phone the UCAS helpline or continue to assess your options with your careers advisor, family and friends.
Once you are offered a place, or places, you must simply choose which course you want to take on. If several universities offer you places at once, take some time to carefully consider what to do, as this could impact the rest of your life.
Not getting on the course of your dreams may be a blow, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. UCAS Clearing offers you the choice to pursue that dream, albeit at a different institution, or to vary it by taking a different subject or a more lateral route to your goal.
If you wake up on results day and things aren’t panning out as they should, you can find out more on ucas.com. Remember: don’t panic, and do your research when it comes to Clearing.