On my A-level results day in 2015 I woke up at 6am to find out I hadn’t achieved the grades I needed to go to either my firm or insurance choice university.
My sixth form didn’t really ever explained what would happen if this was the case. Obviously, my initial reaction was to panic. My UCAS status notified me that I was now in clearing and I could apply for courses by calling universities. After a large cup of tea, a few tears and a hug off of my mum I felt ready to search what universities were offering places in the course I wanted to study through clearing.
I found a list of universities that were offering Geography through clearing, two of which I had visited. Cardiff was one of these, and I had an original offer from them. I found their clearing phone number and called, after a short wait I spoke to a very calm and reassuring woman; we discussed what I wanted to study, the grades I had and some details about the course. I was offered a place at Cardiff University to study BSc Human Geography by 8am on results day. She explained to me how there was an open day at the university on the weekend and I would be eligible to apply for accommodation. I also spoke with several other universities about their clearing spaces, but my decision to accept Cardiff’s offer was due to the information they were able to supply to me over the phone about the course and the way I felt I was being treated just the same as if I had a firm offer with the university.
I attended the visit day where I was able to meet the admissions tutor for my course, see the accommodation I would be applying for and meet other students. This reassured me that even though this was not the original path I had planned, it would still be the right choice.
Results day itself can be a very stressful day, and often the unknown of clearing can be even more daunting and upsetting. It is important to be prepared, search the universities that are offering clearing and start phoning. Even if you are unsure to whether you can go there it is better to phone and ask, you can ask for information about the course and speak to someone from the school. Try to call as early on in the day as you can, this way there will be more places available and you’ll have more time to think your decision through.
You can get multiple offers and have up to 24 hours to firmly accept one offer. Ask lots of questions about accommodation, enrolment, modules, Visit days, contact hours…etc., that way making a decision will be much easier. And if you have the opportunity to go to an open day specifically for clearing students definitely try to go, this will enable you to have a real feel for the city and university.
Coming to Cardiff University through clearing has been one of the best decisions I have made. Not once have I ever felt at disadvantage by coming to Cardiff University by clearing. The support network throughout the university has been excellent. I was pleasantly surprised with how many other students have come to university through clearing.
In my past two years at Cardiff I have had many fantastic extra-curriculum opportunities: spending a semester abroad at Macquarie University, Sydney; completing a ten week work placement at the DVLA organised by the university; taking part in a paid summer research placement alongside a PhD student and professor. And this year I will be working on the clearing phone lines because I have had such a positive experience from it.