“You’ll get into your firm or insurance choice university.”
Every teacher I had in my second of year of college told me this. My predicted grades were enough to get me into the universities I’d chosen, and I was confident I’d be able to get there. So much so, I remember being indifferent when Clearing was covered. We’d had a few reassurances that Clearing wasn’t bad, you could do it even if you did achieve your grades. I remember coming home to tell my parents about it, and how it didn’t apply to me since I knew where I wanted to go.
Fast forward to the start of August 2016, and thoughts of Clearing start coming to mind. Due to anxiety, I couldn’t recall much of my A Level exams – three years on I can remember crossing out some of my answers. This veil over my exams had me questioning everything and hesitantly I searched up clearing advice.
- Do – Check the UCAS website for universities offering your course through Clearing.
- Don’t – Make an impulsive decision. If you decide to go through Clearing, remember to think as rationally about it as all your other university decisions.
There are extremely important things to remember on the day. Firstly, phone up the university on your UCAS and tell them to release you from your offer.Your Clearing university can’t put their offer in for you until this is done.
And secondly, perhaps the most important thing, is for you to speak to the university yourself. You are the one attending, not your parents. They want to talk to you, emotional tears and all.
Even with all this information, none of it prepared me for the emotional turmoil I would face on August 18th 2016. In a bid to keep things as normal as possible, I took a coffee with me, and chatted with friends whilst we waited for 9am to roll around and the doors to open.
I’ll never forget the feeling of disappointment I had in myself when I saw my grades. Whilst friends were celebrating all around me, I just wanted the ground to swallow me up. Everything I’d expected and prepped for had been yanked from underneath me.
DDE. Not the BBC I was predicted.
For the most part I managed to keep my emotions in check, telling my friends I hadn’t got the grades I expected. The moment I went to talk to one of my teachers, I broke down. She re-explained to me how to go about Clearing, and somehow it stuck with me long enough to get home.
I stayed off Facebook, didn’t look at my phone until I spoke to my parents and debated whether I actually wanted to go to uni that year. Since it wouldn’t hurt to check UCAS, I grabbed my laptop and set to work. This process will be different for everyone, and it’s about finding what works for you. I fully expected with my grades to go onto the Creative Writing with Foundation Year course, which severely limited my options. I spent an hour writing down the universities that offered the course, and ended up with a top two. My third choice university, or a university I’d never heard of.
I went for the university I knew nothing about. I was still sniffling and emotional, and waiting for someone to pick up was nerve-wracking. When they did, I was relieved it was a friendly voice. In my anxiety, just something so simple was so reassuring to me. They were very helpful, asking what course I was looking at, my A Level grades, then my AS Levels and GCSEs. Everything was taken into consideration for my application. Much to my surprise, my GCSE English Language and Literature grades qualified me for the BA (Hons) Creative and Professional Writing Programme.
“Your GCSE English and AS Levels marks are good enough for you to have a place on the three year course. Would you like to do that instead?“
Those words meant the world to me. I quickly accepted and was informed that as soon as I cancelled my offer with my firm university (on a course I didn’t want to do) that they would put that through on UCAS. They also advised I book onto the Clearing Open Day the following day and have a look at the university, the city and accomodation options.
The moment the phone call ended, I remember crying happy tears. I was actually going to university! I was lucky, I didn’t have to call my firm choice. They called me and I was quite happy to cancel the offer for the course they’d given me. As soon as that was done, I went to Facebook to finally update friends and family on how my results day went.
My Clearing offer didn’t come through on my UCAS until 6:30 the following morning, where I quickly accepted it. I don’t know how many of you have done six hours of travelling in a day, but it’s exhausting. Taking the train to Derby, Mum and I were greeted by university reps, who had the minibus to take the main campus. Clearing Open Days follow much like regular university open days. You get to talk to your lecturers (they were unaware of the chaoticness my friend group would bring them for three years), have a tour of the campus and accomodation and familarise yourself with the town/city. Mum and I did extra and had a look at the student letting agents and looked at a few houses. Before we knew it, it was time to get back on the train home.
“Clearing really was the best option for me.”
It’s cheesey, but honestly Clearing was the best choice I made. I never expected to fit in so well at Derby University as I did. The course was the best for me, the library was the best one I’d seen, and the atmosphere was so welcoming. It was everything I wanted from my firm choice and more. I graduated as part of the class of 2019 with a 2:1 in Creative and Professional Writing.
Always remember, one universities loss, is anothers gain. Your journey may be filled with bumps along the road, but once you’re at uni, it won’t matter what A Levels you got, or how you got there. You’ll be a Fresher, in the same boat as everyone else in your class.