Preparing for results day
As soon as you find out that you haven't got a place at university, you need to start the Clearing process immediately. Universities do not want empty places; they don’t like empty seats in lecture theatres, and they do not wish to have empty spaces on courses. They want them full, so they're going to be filling up their places as quickly as they can. They are not going to wait a week for you to decide and hold that place for you. They are going to be filling up quickly, which is why you need to have a plan in place before results day.
Now, one of the things you need to think about is whether the course you have applied for maybe has slightly too high requirements. Or maybe think about a different course; is there a slightly different course that has loads of space on it, just because it's a little bit non-traditional?
For example, I did Biochemistry with a year in industry, but maybe straight Biochemistry would have had lower requirements. One of my friends did Biochemistry with a year abroad, and they all had different entry requirements.
Electrical Engineering is quite hard to get onto, but one of my friends did Electrical Engineering with Psychology. It wasn’t a very common course, but there were loads and loads of places left on it because people didn't think of combining the two courses. This is something you really should consider when looking for Clearing places, because you might be able to still go to your dream university. You could do a course that is 90% the course that you wanted, but maybe you just have to add Psychology or French or a year in industry onto the end of it.
Consider different locations and universities. You might have time to visit these, or you might not—because like I said, things happen very, very quickly after results day. Fortunately, YouTube is a fantastic thing for visiting places. You don't actually have to go to them, but if you can find time to see them in person, it is really worth it.
UCAS will list all the clearing vacancies on their website. Once you've had a look through the website, call up the university and talk to them. They're going to need your UCAS ID so that they can log onto the system and see your results and everything about you.
Get informal offers. Now, make sure the universities are very, very clear that these are just informal offers. You can get as many of these as you like, but don't take too long about it because these places are not going to hang around.
Once you have made your decision, and are confident that you're happy with your choice, you can add it to the UCAS website. The university will take over from there, and they will confirm it.
If they don't confirm it after a certain length of time, then you can add another one, but you can only add one at a time.
Some things aren't known until time goes on. One may make mistakes unknowingly and keep on regretting the past mistakes. While celebrating another year older, I have come to understand some lessons that I never knew before. Below are some lesson I wish I knew when I was young:
- Stop worrying how other people think of you.
Whenever I made any decision or did anything during my young age, I was so worried about how other people perceived me or reacted to my actions. It’s clear to me that if you keep on seeking people’s validation, approval or respect, then you will never accomplish your goals. Even though every person has his/her own opinions, people’s opinions are based more on their perceptions than actually anything you do. It’s always good to rely on your own assessment rather than seeking other people’s feedback.
- Today is what is important
Always learn to appreciate and enjoy every moment that you get today, just because there is no guarantee for tomorrow. Do what you have done today and don’t excuse yourself by saying you’ll do tomorrow. Always know that tomorrow is determined by what we do today, and today’s actions and decisions are the foundations of our future.
- Believe in yourself
Always know that whenever you have confidence in your abilities, value, and contribution to society, then everyone will trust you. Have some faith in your intrinsic worth. Sometimes we have something to offer, but the problem is that sometimes we may never know what it is. Sometimes we feel like we can’t succeed just because we can’t tackle a particular task, but we don’t have to be able to see the end zone. This does not mean it will not happen; it’s just a matter of time.
- Money isn’t the most important thing in life
Like any other young person, I grew up knowing that money is an essential thing in our lives. Once you don’t have money, you feel unwanted, and you think that you belong to the low class. Even though we use the money to settle our bills, at the end, money isn’t the goal. Getting a good job that will always keep you happy is a more motivating goal. Always learn that money can't buy happiness, and it does not insulate your pains and suffering. Money is just a currency that allows us to have something to eat, something to wear, and to live.
- Life is not a race
Life is not about competing with your friends. Every person has his/her own unique goals to accomplish, and there is no need to hurry to get to your destination. Some people might think that you are lost just because you don’t walk their way, without knowing that we all have different paths to reach our destinations.
- Always see good in everything
Learn to stay positive. Celebrate with your friends at all the beautiful moments. Instead of criticizing others, give an encouragement reason for them to live.
Your Options if You Don’t Get a Place
If you don't get any offers for a place at university, or if you didn't get the grades on results day that you need to take up your place at university, then you have lots and lots of options. Do not despair, it is not the end!
You can apply through Clearing. If you didn't get any offers, you're at a slight advantage with Clearing because you can plan ahead, but if you do have an offer and on results day you find you don't get the grades, you're going to need to have a plan in place in advance. You cannot leave Clearing until results day. Have a look at the UCAS Clearing website and see what courses and universities are available there.
Maybe you have your dream university in place and you just need to change your course ever so slightly. Would adding on a year in placement, or adding on a second subject like a language, change the grade boundaries ever so slightly? Even if they don't change the grade boundaries, they might still have places, and they might still accept you if they're under-subscribed for a certain year.
If you have a dream course in mind, could you change your university and go further away, or a bit closer to home? Can you change the type of university from a city to a campus? Ideally, you will have looked around at all of these places before you apply, but things can happen very quickly in Clearing, so that isn't always going to be the case. Use the internet, it's a fantastic place. There are so many people student vloggers on YouTube (see list on page 210, so you can actually get a feel for what the universities are like without having to visit.
Another option is to wait, and this is going to be a hard one. If there’s nothing that catches your eye on Clearing, you can reapply next year. Get your application in as soon as it opens in September, so that you are right there at the beginning, at the top of the pile. You'll have your grades already sorted, so you won't have the stress of waiting around. Start planning now, and get your application in as soon as it opens. You can take this as kind of like an enforced gap year, and use this time to really, really bump up your personal statement and your CV and make it look amazing. And I don't just mean by going to work in the local supermarket or going to work in the local pub. You're going to need to get some fantastic work experience on there, some fantastic volunteering. Because you won't have school or exams to distract you, you can really focus on working out exactly what you want to do and exactly how you're going to get the experience to show that you're going to be amazing for this particular degree.
You also have the option of re-sitting year thirteen—or re-sitting year twelve and year thirteen—so that you can try and improve your grades. Now, some of you are going to be July and August birthdays, which means you are nearly a whole year younger than some of the other people on your year—this also means on results day, you may not even be legally allowed to celebrate with a drink in a pub! For some of you, this is going to be a big, big difference, and for those of you who maybe struggled a little bit, re-sitting year thirteen could be a really sensible and viable option for you. This will give you the opportunity to really think about what you want to do at university, really improve on your A-Level grades, and boost your personal statement.
You can think about whether you actually want to go to university at all. University isn't right for everybody. Maybe going out and getting a job straight away would be a better option. Maybe getting an apprenticeship or a degree apprenticeship course would also be something that might suit you a little bit better. Do not despair, everything is not lost. You have lots and lots of options!
On A-Level results day, you're going to need to have two plans in place: one where things don't go as expected and you need to apply through Clearing; and a second where things go better than you're expecting, and you need to apply for an Adjustment place.
Spend time on the UCAS Clearing website and find places that will be available to you if you don’t get the grades and want to apply through Clearing; do the same in case you get better than expected grades and want to apply through Adjustment.
You’re eligible for Clearing if you didn’t get any offers or if your university place isn’t confirmed. The most likely reason your place won’t be confirmed is if you didn’t get the grades you needed. You need to have a plan in place for this before results day, because things are going to happen fast after this. Places are going to be given away quickly, and you will not have time to do the planning on results day. You have to do it now.
You've got to be realistic. You're not going to be able to get a medicine place through Clearing because the grades are very high, so if you're not getting your grades for your firm choice, then it's unlikely you're going to be able to apply for medicine somewhere else. But have a look through and see if there's anything that catches your fancy because, things are going to move really, really quickly on results day. You need to get started as soon as you can.
On results day, it’s likely you’ll be tired from a sleepless night and things are going to happen very quickly.
In an ideal situation, you’ll get exactly the grade you need to get into your first choice and you can go and celebrate with your friends.
The UCAS website will update at 8am, and any conditional offers you hold will change to ‘firm’ or you’ll see that you have been rejected.
The UCAS website will tell you whether you've gotten into university or not, and your A-Level results will show your grades. There is the chance that if you don't exactly get your A-Level results, you might still get into university.
However, if you check the UCAS website before you go to school, you can see whether you've got into university or not irrespective of what your A-Level results are. It is possible to not get the grades you need and still get your place at university, this decision is completely at the discretion of the individual universities.
Schools will generally open early to give you your results, and they know UCAS track updates at 8am and they want to give you as much time as possible to apply via Clearing if needed.You’ll need to start acting immediately if you want to apply for an Adjustment place or if you need to apply via Clearing.
Read Mason's experience at the end...
An Adjustment place is a place that you apply for when you get better than expected A-Level results.
To qualify to use an Adjustment place, you need to have met and exceeded your results. Say your offer was for an A,B,B with an A in Chemistry, and you got an A,A,B, but your B was in Chemistry. You may have exceeded your results—you got two As and a B, which is better than the A and two Bs they asked for—but you didn't get that A in chemistry, so you haven't met your offer even though you've exceeded it. You not only need to get better grades, but you need to meet and exceed any individual conditions placed within your offer. I know that sounds a bit weird, but you have to exceed your targets if you're going to qualify to apply for an Adjustment place.
You do not have a lot of time to do this. You have five 24-hour periods from the time that your offer turns to an unconditional firm offer. That might not be on results day; it might be the day after, or there might be some confusion and it might be a couple of days later. You cannot rely on there being any good Adjustment places because loads of places are full and universities want full courses. They're not going to save places just in case someone better turns up on UCAS results day. You need to be looking through the UCAS website and seeing if there are any places that you might want to apply through Adjustment.
You should have some ideas already mapped out, but you cannot rely on there being any decent places this year just because last year some spaces came available through Clearing. Even though universities want to fill all their places, some people will unfortunately not have gotten the grades that they want, and those places will then be available to other people—people such as you, who have got better-than-expected results and applied for Adjustment. Your original offer—the one that has turned from a conditional firm into an unconditional firm—is safe while you look around. They're not going to take that away from you just because you're doing inquiries about Adjustment places. It is only gone once you have confirmed your new place. So, be really certain that you want to change your place because once you've confirmed your new place, your old place is gone.
The first thing you need to do is find the course you want, call up the university, and make it really clear to them you're looking for an Adjustment place. Give them your UCAS ID so they can log onto the system and find you. Tell them you are just looking around, that you just want information. You can call more than one place, but make it really clear to them that you haven't made up your mind yet. Once you have made up your mind (and remember, things are going to go really quickly, so spaces will fill up fast), call the university back and verbally confirm that you’d like the Adjustment place. They will then put it all through the UCAS system and it will change on the UCAS website for you. Only do this once you are very, very, very certain you want to change places.
This is an excellent situation to be in. It can be quite a stressful situation because you have to work quickly, but hopefully, some of you will get excellent new places from this.
I can’t deny how nervous I was for results day. This was possibly one of the biggest days of my life. In comparison to receiving my GCSE results, this was an entirely different experience. We had been told by our college tutor that on the morning of results day, we would be able to check our offers. This would be on the UCAS website under tracking. If our results were good, our offers would show up as unconditional offers. It may also show the offers as conditional or no offers at all, dependant on our results.
The first thing I literally did after waking up was attempt to log on and check my offers. The server however was far too busy and the offers weren't loading. My mum had to drag me away from the laptop as I was obsessively pressing the refresh button. She told me to relax and that I would know my results shortly after arriving at college. So we made our way to college. I spotted my friends who had eagerly been waiting for me. Everyone was so nervous. You could feel the trepidation in the air.
We made our way to queue, and it was beyond busy. My stomach was in knots as I was handed my envelope. I couldn't open it immediately; I needed a quiet place where I could open it. Peeling back that envelope is probably one the most nerve-racking things I have done so far. I couldn’t believe my results—they were so much better than I had expected or even wished for!
After phoning my family I went straight to my favourite tutor. She had always told me that she believed I could get better results than I was predicted. She immediately told me to check my UCAS (I had forgotten all about the offers by this point). I had unconditional offers! My tutor knew from our previous discussions that ideally I wanted to study a different course. Because I anticipated I wouldn’t get the results I needed for that course, I settled for a similar course. She told me immediately to register for Adjustment on the UCAS website and to speak to our college UCAS adviser.With Adjustment, I would be able to apply for a different course or even a different university whilst holding onto to my unconditional offer. This can only be done within five days. On the adviser’s advice, and not wanting to let this amazing opportunity pass, I rang the university to ask if they still had places available on the course that ideally I had wanted to study. They told me they did and talked me through the process. I could be notified at any time. The suspense was still killing me as I went out with my friends to celebrate. Luckily, it was only a few hours when I received an email telling me something had changed on my offers page. I checked and I had been accepted. I couldn’t believe it! Now I could finally relax!