Clearing 2010: top tips to guide you through it

Here at Choices we’ve helped thousands of students to explore their options and make the right decision about higher education. We work alongside clearing helpline staff and admissions tutors to help students find their way through the Clearing process and secure a place at university.

Here are our top ten tips for surviving Clearing and finding the course that’s right for you.

1 Don’t Panic!
If your exam results are not quite as good as you expected remember to keep calm; the right course for you may still be out there. There’s a good chance that you will be able to secure a place at university through Clearing. Many students find university places through Clearing! You are certainly not alone and you have some excellent options awaiting you.

If you narrowly miss the grades you require you should check the status of your application on UCAS track before you start ringing universities to enquire about places on alternative courses through Clearing. In some cases if you are only a few UCAS tariff points short of the required grades the university may still be able to confirm your place, but this will be at the discretion of the admissions tutor.

2 Keep an Open Mind
Be prepared to be flexible. If you have reasonable qualifications and are open to the possibility of considering courses that perhaps weren’t your first choice there is a good chance that you’ll be able to find a course to suit you through Clearing. You may find you have a passion and talent for something you would never have considered before!

3 Prepare
When you call be prepared – you might suddenly find yourself in a telephone interview with an admissions tutor! Before phoning the Clearing helpline make sure you have all your grades to hand so that you can confirm them if necessary, and jot down everything you want to ask. If you have some questions already prepared, you’ll feel more confident and be able to impress the Admissions Officer by demonstrating that you’ve thought about what you want.

4 Pick up the Phone
The earlier you call the Clearing helpline the better. Lines at Birmingham City University are open from early morning until 8pm on Thursday 19 August. Call us on 0121 331 6777. Do remember that there will be lots of other students in the same situation so lines can be busy particularly early on in the day.

5 Be available
You may be asked to attend an interview so make sure you are available during the Clearing period – it will be difficult to secure a place if you are away on holiday.

It’s usually best to call universities yourself. If you’ve received disappointing results then, understandably, you may be feeling upset, but you are more likely to be successful if you call and speak to tutors yourself rather than asking a parent or friend to do it for you. Admissions tutors will want to be sure that you have a genuine interest in their course and will aim to help you make the right decision.

6 Sell yourself
Yes, your confidence may have been knocked if you are disappointed with your exam results, but be positive! Show your communication skills and let the admissions tutor know that you are keen. Don’t forget to mention any relevant work experience you’ve done if you are applying for a professionally focused course such as teaching, nursing or social work. This can help to demonstrate that you are a committed candidate who has carefully researched their subject choice.

7 Be flexible
A module in your original choice of subject maybe part of an alternative course – or if you aren’t able to get a place on an undergraduate degree you may be offered a place on an HND (Higher National Diploma) or Foundation programme.

8 Consider your options
There is a good chance that you will find a course to suit you, but don’t panic and rush to accept the first place you are offered if you feel at all unsure about it. Think about all your options and talk things through with someone who will be able to help you reach the right decision. Remember though, that at the end of the day, only you can decide what’s right for you. Use friends, family members, tutors or careers advisers as a sounding board, but don’t be pushed into something you’re unsure about or don’t want to do.

Where and what you decide to study will determine what you do for the next three or four years and possibly beyond that into your career, so do carefully consider your course choice. If you’re still unsure, you may want to consider alternatives such as taking a year out, gaining some additional qualifications or studying something completely different.

9 Ask yourself the following….

  • Is this a subject that are interested in?
  • What type of university do you feel would best suit you? For example, do you want to stay close to home or would you be happy to study at a university located at the other end of the country? Do you want to live in a big city or nearer to the countryside?
  • Can the university offer you accommodation?
  • What facilities does the university have in your chosen subject?
  • What kind of sports or social activities are available? If you have a particular interest or hobby is this catered for by the student societies at your chosen university?

10 Keep in touch and try to arrange a visit
You might want to take a little time to mull things over, but don’t leave the decision too long. Although there are quite a lot of places available through Clearing, they can be taken up quickly, particularly on the more popular courses. Make sure that you keep in touch with the University after your initial approach to let the admissions office know that you are interested.

Finally, ask if it’s possible to visit the University. You’ll get more of an idea of what university life on campus will be like if you arrange a visit. Here at Birmingham City University our Clearing Open Days are on Saturday 21st August (10am – 3pm) and Wednesday 25th August (10am – 1pm). Visit our website for more information or call us on 0121 331 5595.

Good luck!

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