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!