Hammering the refresh button and making panicked phone calls through tears can mean only one thing – its results day and your teenager is looking for a university place through clearing.
Clearing connects A-level students who missed out on their first choice university place with available spaces. Not every university or course will be available through clearing – don’t expect to find Oxford, Cambridge or Medicine for example, as they’re all in high demand. For most courses though, it offers great alternatives. It means students can go to university in September as planned with no moping around for a year waiting to reapply. Which reports that in 2014, 61,000 students found a university place through clearing.
How does it work?
On the morning of results day, A-level students up and down the country will log into UCAS Track, where they will see if they have a confirmed place at university or not. If they slightly miss their expected results the place may still be offered so there is a chance they will not have to enter the clearing system. Try getting them to call the admissions tutor directly to discuss their application. The tutor may request some samples of work but sometimes a heartfelt plea is enough to convince them. If this doesn’t work out for your teenager, it’s time to start looking at clearing places.
Clearing is handled through the UCAS system, so when you login courses similar to those originally applied for will be offered first. However, it’s also possible to do a random search if preferred. Research every opportunity – look at the course specifications, university reputation and if you have time, try visiting it.
Making the call
Once your child has chosen the place they wish to apply for, it’s time to ring that university up. Sit down together and talk through the decision making process, list questions to ask and any information that you might like – a call in panicked tones without preparation will only harm their chances. This call is essentially a mini-interview. Universities usually keep clearing offers open for around 24 hours, so there is no need to rush into the phone call like a bull in a china shop. More advice can be obtained from the school’s careers advisor or by calling UCAS’s results helpline on 0808 100 8000.
Clearing begins on what can be the most tense and hectic day your child has ever experienced. The pressure will be on from the second they realise clearing is their only option which can lead to a mad rush to find places and grab the first available opportunity. This is where you need to offer support and restraint but don’t get in their way. Remain calm and level headed and discuss the options together to ensure their choice is the right one.