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Top tips for clearing

As thousands of students await A-level, BTEC and other exam results this summer, Stewart Harper, Associate Registrar at Leeds Beckett, explains the clearing process and offers his advice to students.

If you find yourself without a university place when you receive your exam results don’t worry, you can choose to enter Clearing. Clearing (managed by UCAS) is the process of matching applicants without a university place to one still available.Clearing is also available to those who already have their results, but who haven’t yet applied to university. In 2015 over 64,000 students gained a university place through clearing: which is around 12% of all acceptances; so it very much isn’t a ‘second best’ option. As with the main UCAS cycle, the key is to make sure that you research the course and university.

Each year some applicants pass their exams with better results than expected. UCAS have introduced a scheme called ‘Adjustment’ for this purpose which you can access via your UCAS Track account. It provides an opportunity for you to reconsider where and what to study. At Leeds Beckett, we always have places available for exceptional candidates and would welcome your application so we’d recommend talking to us.

Accommodation is guaranteed for all our new full-time undergraduate students and we are offering the chance for students and their parents to come and look around our University at Clearing time. Staff and Student Ambassadors will be on hand to show you around our campus, talk to you about Accommodation and Student Finance and answer questions about life at Leeds Beckett.

Clearing can be a stressful and daunting process for both you as a student and for your parents. It can seem like they are trying to interfere with your decision. However it’s important to remember that they are trying to offer advice and help you make the best decision for your future. We can’t discuss your application with your parents, so it’s important for you to communicate clearly with them about your options. The most important thing is not to panic: many universities still have places on a wide range of courses and we are here to help you.

It's important that you take a few minutes to take stock of your situation. Think about what course you'd like to study, and what kind of university you'd like to study at, before picking up the phone and making that call. Don't feel pressured into calling immediately – the courses don't all disappear within the first hour of Clearing, and a bit of essential preparation will make the whole process much easier.

All universities will have online information about their courses and facilities. You'll be able to see whether your grades meet their requirements, and specific details of any courses you might be interested in. UCAS listings are also a useful source of information.

We’ve created a dedicated microsite for Clearing - www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/clearing - which offers prospective students lots of advice on how to make the correct decision, particularly when their results are not what they were expecting. You’ll need to consider the balance between different options within the same subject area – practical or theoretical, for example – that suits your own personal style or preferences.

When preparing to call universities, remember to see it as an opportunity to sell yourself as a desirable student. After all, you both have a shared objective: universities want to fill their courses, and you are looking for a place.

When you pick up the phone remember to write down your essential information as this will help you during your conversation. This should include having your UCAS ID and Clearing ID, if released, to hand. You should also make notes on the course you want to study – what has attracted you to it? Are there any details about the course you’d like to know? Now is the time to ask any questions you might have.

You'll need to be able to sign into your UCAS Track account once you've made your decision. It's also handy to be able to check any further details of courses or universities that you’re interested in before making your final decision.

Remember as well that the person on the end of the line wants to help. They will be speaking to hundreds of people in your position. They know you're nervous, and they'll do everything they can to try to put you at your ease. Try smiling while you speak – it may feel a little strange, but it will make your voice sound more relaxed and friendly over the line. Be prepared though, the lines may be busy. You may have to wait a few minutes before being connected to a telephone operator.

If you're ringing around a lot of universities, it can be easy to get confused. Make sure you know exactly what you've been offered from each university, and the details of their courses. Record any essential contacts, email addresses and telephone numbers which you may need for future reference.

Good luck to all students who are currently awaiting exam results and remember to check out www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/clearing for more information.

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About the Author

Leeds Beckett University

Stewart Harper

Stewart is a former Head of admissions at Leeds Beckett University.

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