The 2014 A Level results are due out on August 14th which means an end to several months of worrying for many students as they get into their chosen universities. However, for those who didn't get the desired grades it sparks a period of confusion, stress, and panic as their dream seems to slip away from them.
But all is not lost for these students; the UCAS Clearing procedure can help students to find a suitable course at university. Clearing is a way for universities to fill any remaining spaces on courses that start in September, and it gives students a second chance when plan A didn't quite work out. Read on as we guide you through how and when to go through the clearing process...
When the A Level results are released you'll need to check UCAS Track to find out the status of your initial firm and insurance offers to find out which ones have been confirmed and which have been unsuccessful.
If all of your applications have been unsuccessful then you are entered into clearing, which means you need to check the UCAS list of universities and courses with places available and contact each one directly to find out if they will accept you. The Telegraph also publish the clearing list too.
If you already know that you'll be going through clearing - you can start to research universities and courses that appeal for you, and begin to contact them. Some universities may publish vacancy information a few weeks before results day so it's worth checking and contacting them to state your interest before the results come out.
Remember to check the entry requirements of any course you want to get onto through clearing, and be realistic about the grades you expect to achieve. Just because a course is available to you through the clearing process, doesn't mean the entry requirements will be lower.
If you weren't expecting to be in clearing - it can come as quite a shock, and some students can end up making rash decisions due to the stress of the situation. Just because you're in clearing doesn't mean you have failed, so try not to dwell on it for too long as there are decisions to be made and you need a clear head to make them!
It's usually easier to figure out what you don't want to do rather than thinking about what you do want to do. Think about the location of the university, the course content, and the cost, and decide on things you definitely don't want to do, which should leave you with a fairly condensed list of universities you like and courses that appeal to you. It's much better to do it this way rather than panicking and accepting an offer from a university or course that isn't suitable for you.
Every A Level student hopes and prays that their months of hard work will pay off and results day will be a day of celebrations. For some students, however, their hard work just wasn't quite enough to secure a firm offer from their chosen university, and all of a sudden they find themselves faced with the daunting prospect of clearing.
Earlier in the guide to clearing we looked at how to tell whether you're eligible for clearing, and what you can do to prepare for the process and ensure it goes smoothly. In this second and final part we're going to guide you through how to actually enter clearing, who to seek advice from, and what to do if you don't think clearing is the right option for you right now...
If you have made your UCAS application within the current academic year, have not withdrawn it, and have paid the full £22 UCAS application fee then you are eligible to use clearing. If you've only paid £12 for a single choice application then you'll need to pay a further £11 to UCAS to use the clearing service.
Once you've entered into clearing you'll need to check the UCAS website for their comprehensive list of available courses and universities, and start contacting the ones you are interested in to see if they will accept you.
You can approach as many universities as you like and receive more than one verbal offer over the phone, but you can only enter one clearing choice on Track. This means you can shop around a bit and take a little bit of time to weigh everything up and decide what is the best possible option for you before committing to it via Track.
It's really important that you don't enter a clearing choice on Track until the university have made you an offer, otherwise they may just reject you, and until they do that you can't apply anywhere else!
Some universities may accept lower grades, but don't enter into clearing expecting this. If you didn't get the required grades you may have to lower your sites a little and choose a different course at your chosen university, or find the course you want at a different university.
The best way to contact universities is by phone, but many will let you register your interest via their website or email too. Remember, you can't add your clearing choice to Track until after 5pm on results day as the button won't appear until then. So use the time before 5pm to phone around and do your research to make sure you're making the right choice!
If you weren't expecting it then entering into clearing can come as a huge shock, meaning that you might not be thinking straight and may need some help in reaching a decision. There are a few places you can get advice from:
If you don't think that clearing is the right option for you right now then there are some alternatives: