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Treat university Clearing as an opportunity, says admissions expert

Treat university Clearing as an opportunity, says admissions expert

Students across England and Wales will be discovering their grades on A-level results day on Thursday (18 August), bringing to a close two years of study heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many that will mean confirming which university they’ll be heading to in the autumn, while for many more it will restart the conversation about the next steps in their career as they enter the Clearing process.

Last year, more than 70,000 students found a university place through Clearing, which is how universities fill any places they still have on their courses. Students see if there are vacancies left on courses at different universities and contact them directly to see if they will offer them a place.

A-level results day is traditionally regarded as a stressful time for students – but while Professor Charles Seger, UEA’s new Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Admissions, recognises that going through Clearing can be a demanding process, it also opens up a host of new choices and opportunities for young people deciding on their future.

Prof Seger said: “If you’re a student going through Clearing, it might feel initially that you have to rush into a decision, but in fact the system is set up to give you enough time to decide what is right for you.

“So try to do as much research as you can in advance so you know which universities you want to call up on the morning if you need to, contact a few of them on the phone or live chat, get some offers and then you can relax, as you’ll have given yourself some options and time to think.

“Then ask yourself what you want from your university experience. Is the course going to be one you’re interested in? Can you imagine yourself living on the campus, or the area, and having the social life you want there?

“The answers to those questions may well come from attending open days, seeing the campus, speaking to lecturers and students. Take the chance to visit and ask questions – you might discover something you never thought about that helps you make a decision and choose to go to a place that you end up loving.”

Prof Seger joined UEA in 2010 from Indiana University and is an Associate Professor in Psychology. He also reassures students that any interruptions caused by COVID-19 won’t have a negative impact on this year’s Clearing process.

Prof Seger said: “We realise that, because of the pandemic, this cohort of students have had a seriously disrupted experience to their A-level education, and as a result may feel they’re not as prepared as they actually are. But UEA, like all universities, is here to support you – we have staff on phones and live chat from 8am on Thursday; give them a call 03301 731 854 and talk through your options.”

Seven top tips for Clearing

Prof Seger has some top tips for students on results day…

  1. Be prepared – most universities will have information about courses available in Clearing and adjustment online many weeks before results time in August so it is worth having a look in advance of results day so you have a plan of who you want to contact in Clearing
  2. Access your email – UCAS and universities will likely contact you by email so ensure you access to the email account you entered on your UCAS form
  3. Call early – once you have your results, phone the universities you’re interested in – places are limited so talk to the places you’re interested in as soon as possible. Most Clearing lines will open at 8am on Thursday 18 August. There are often other ways to contact universities too including live chat, social media and via email
  4. Have all your details with you – universities will often need to know your UCAS personal ID and details of your results
  5. Keep calm – don’t pick a course or university you don’t know anything about, do as much research as possible
  6. Visit – most universities will hold open events around Clearing which will give you the chance to visit the campus, meet current students and find out more about life at the particular institution
  7. Accommodation – don’t forget to ask if this is guaranteed or what accommodation options are available for the first year.

Student Bella Yau went through Clearing three years ago after her A-level results meant she missed out on her first and second choice universities.

She elected to study for an undergraduate Marketing and Management degree at UEA and, having graduated this summer, she will begin a Masters in Brand Leadership at UEA in September. She advises those going through the process this year not to rule anything out, and to seek the support of family and friends.

Bella said: “It was a very stressful and emotional experience due to the shock of my A Level outcome, but in hindsight I’m happy everything turned out the way it did. I remember thinking I’d never get into UEA after being turned down by so many universities beforehand, so it was a huge relief when I got a place at a university that ticked all my boxes.

“I think it’s really important to be, and stay, open minded throughout the whole clearing process. I would have never imagined myself at UEA when I was researching Universities but now I am here, I can’t envisage myself anywhere else!

“Have a parent, guardian, friend or even teacher with you as you call universities up to help decide which university you want to go to. The experience can be overwhelming so it’s good to have someone there with you for support and reassurance.

BSc Physical Education, Sport and Health student Jake Conway joined UEA through Clearing in 2019 when he put Loughborough University down for four of his five choices but didn’t achieve the necessary grades. Three years later, he has completed his undergraduate degree and is about to start a Masters in Global Business Management.

Jake said: “I went to plenty of open days and I would say this is a mandatory thing to do before choosing your university – and you cannot feel the true aspect of the university unless attending it in person.

“UEA is a campus university, which I absolutely love because of the community environment this brings. It also had over 57 different sports teams and over 200 societies which has provided me with lots to do all the time. I ended up becoming president of Men’s Football which has been a brilliant experience.

“My advice for students going through clearing this year is to relax and not worry, the process is really easy and there is nothing to be afraid of. Clearing has been the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I would not change anything for the world.”

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