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So you haven’t made your offer, and you’ve got to come up with a new plan.

Clearing is the process that universities use to fill available places on their courses. It’s a mutual selection process: they let you know what spaces they have available, you choose the courses that interest you most, and then contact the university to see if they will offer you a place. You may not have made the grades for a particular university degree, but through the clearing process, you could still attend the university on a different course. 

You can apply for clearing between 5 July and 23 October, if you haven’t already received an offer from a university. If you have had an offer rescinded, you can apply from 3 PM on results day. 

The good news? According to The Guardian, this year’s clearing process is set to be one of the most competitive ever, as universities compete to fill spaces. The University of Cambridge has entered clearing for the very first time this year. This competitive market is ideal for students. 

Though clearing may not be your ‘plan A’, know that the majority of students who go through the process are very happy about their choices. Eighty three percent of students who went through clearing in 2018 reported that they were happy with their decision, according to a student satisfaction survey conducted by Which. 

Clearing can be a trying process, but follow these five tips below to keep your clearing experience as stress-free as possible. 

  1. Take a Breath
    The most important thing to remember? Take a breath. Not making your offer is not the end of the world. This happens to people all the time, which is why universities have a whole system in place. Not making your original offers is the beginning of a whole new adventure. 
  2. Stay Positive
    While this is a very exciting new adventure, it’s sure to be a bit of a shock, so we recommend allowing yourself time to process emotions. Don’t make any decisions immediately, without thinking things through. This is a stressful time, and stress doesn’t always bring out the best in us. Remember to give yourself a break, and focus on the positives. 
  3. Speak to An Academic Advisor
    Everything is overwhelming right now, and good advice may be hard to come by. Speak to an academic advisor, who will be able to talk you through the next steps, and explain what your next best move might be. 
  4. Consider a Different Course
    You may have been so focussed on getting in to university to study history, that you missed the fantastic opportunities available in English literature, or chemistry, or maths. Don’t be afraid to deviate from your original plans. Don’t discount joint honours courses, either. These programmes allow you to study a variety of subjects. However, be sure to do your research if you choose to go with a different course, and make sure that you’re excited about it. You’ll be studying this subject for the next three years, so it’s not a decision to make lightly.
  5. Ring Around Universities
    Found a course that you’re interested in, with clearing space? Hop on the phone (The Guardian recommends you do this sooner rather than later) and speak to one of their clearing advisors. The next steps will depend on the university. Some unis will simply ask you about your grades and offer you a place, whilst others will hold a mini-interview. You usually have 24 hours to confirm the offer. 

Panicking about the call? Make sure you do the following, according to Which:

  • Research the university, and let them know why you think you’d be a good fit for their course.
  • Take notes during each call as you ring different universities.
  • Do a mock call to settle any nerves.

Once you’ve accepted your offer, be sure to add the course to your UCAS track. Once you’ve entered it, you’ve officially accepted the offer. 

After you’ve accepted your offer, check with your programme to get your financials in order and start looking at housing. After that, it’s time to celebrate! You’re off to university! 

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