2018 was a record year in terms of the number of students finding a university place via Clearing so you are certainly not alone. University staff are experienced in supporting students who are recruited at this point in the application cycle so as long as you do your research and prepare properly, you’ll be well placed to find the right place for you and go on to enjoy your university experience

So what exactly does Clearing entail? Well fundamentally it is a matching process between universities looking for students and students looking for universities. Typically you’ll be able to find a list of courses available in Clearing on the UCAS website or on universities own websites, and be able to call them to see if you are eligible.

What happens next will vary from institution to institution, but regardless of whether you are speaking with a student ambassador, an academic or a professional member of staff we’ve prepared five tips for you to ensure that your calls go as smoothly as possible.

Understand when you can find a place

Clearing is almost always used as short-hand for A Level results day in England and Wales, which goes a long way to confuse and alienate students with other qualifications that may already have their results. If you are waiting for non-A Level results or already possess results you might be able to use Clearing and confirm a place at university earlier in the Clearing window. Clearing opens on the 5th July so if you are in this position why not get yourself sorted long before A Level results come out in mid-August?

Know your stuff

There is a reason why UCAS only allows you to add a Clearing choice at 3pm on A Level Results day. This is to give you time to do research on institutions and courses that suit you, and to ensure you make an informed choice. Create yourself a scoring grid to rank the things that matter to you in a course and location and don’t be afraid to ask your family and teachers for advice before the call. This will all help inform your choice, but the final decision is yours.

Be equipped

Have your grades to hand, your UCAS application details, along with a (working) pen, your research and a fully charged phone. As you may be speaking for a while, consider having a drink with you so as not to waste time leaving the process to investigate the contents of the fridge.

Your grades, and your researched preferences, will be essential for your clearing phone call to go as well as possible. Keep them near you so you can refer to them as a guide in case you feel flustered.

Be ready to impress

Depending on the institution you speak with, it might be a simple case of confirming your grades in order to receive an offer, or you may need to have an interview with an academic. This is where your research on the course and institution is vital. You need to impress and show you are serious about studying on their course, so treat it like you would a job interview.

One crucial thing that many students forget is that this is a two-way process. It is your opportunity to quiz them as well. Plus the more-informed your questions are by your own research, the better you will come across in addition to getting the answers you want to help make a final decision.

Don’t make a snap decision

As you call institutions on your list you’ll start to collect offers of places. Universities will often put a timeframe on their offer to you as they will be trying to manage the number of vacancies they have. Don’t let that time limit pressurise you into making a decision before you feel ready to. You may be finding this process slightly stressful, but this is immeasurably minor compared to the stress brought on from realising you’ve made the wrong choice because you didn’t give it due consideration.

It is also useful to discuss with your family the pros and cons of the choices you have available before making a final decision. Arrange for them to be present to offer their thoughts and advice before adding that clearing choice.

University is a fantastic opportunity to gain so many enjoyable and vital life experiences. For more than 60,000 students in 2018 their path to university included the clearing process so you certainly are not alone. Our five tips will help you navigate the process effectively and enable you to start looking forward to the next chapter in your life. We wish you the very best of luck.

Pete Edge – Director of Admissions, The University of Law