13/08/2015

University Clearing: My story and Advice

So it's that day of the year where student's hard work pays off, or if you were like me you find that those letters on a piece of paper don't reflect your efforts at all. It's results day. 

I really hope that all those reading this achieved what they wanted and secured a place at their first choice university. However there is a strong chance you're checking out this post because you haven't, but it's ok. Remain calm. There's clearing.

Since the University fees rose to 9K a year clearing is rapidly loosing its stigma for accommodating places at only the lower ranking universities. Now even top ranking universities such as St. George's, Birmingham and Durham are taking on clearing students- So don't feel too limited despite your situation.
A happy night out in Cuban with friends from all over the world


My Story
Not going to lie, results day was one of the most disheartening, stressful days of my life. My firm choice was UCL to study Anthropology and Archaeology. It had been my dream to study there and live in London since GCSEs and I decided what I wanted to do. I had been to numerous taster days, read a fair few books, completed my Work experience there- all to boost up my Personal Statement. It was my dream university. However my results seemed to disagree and UCL was no longer a reality for me.

I was an absolute nightmare. I just couldn't believe what I saw on the paper, I've always done well academically, so these grades to me were not a reflection of my ability or hard work. The first thing I did was call UCL to see if they could hold my place until next year while I retook, they told me that if I reapplied I would definitely be offered another conditional offer, so I knew I had this as a back up. But could I really wait another year to go to uni? In a mad frenzy I started to go through my emails to see which universities had advertised clearing. Both Kent and Exeter ( two offers which I had rejected) came up so I called.
Summer Ball

I quickly managed to complete my online application to Kent with help from their office. I then spent about twenty minutes on the phone to Exeter only to find they had no places available at their main university. I checked out the UCAS website and although Birmingham had places available still, I didn't want to go miles away from home on a university I had never seen before. I was a pretty picky clearing student. So all my hopes were counting on Kent.

Not too soon after my application, I got a phone call from someone in the Anthropology department. To my surprise he was really trying to sell the course to me! ( I don't think he realised how desperate I was) he then ended with saying we'd love to offer you a place on the Bsc Anthropology course. However, I really wanted to do it with Archaeology, so I negotiated a little bit and asked if he could see if that was possible in anyway. He seemed pretty shocked at this but none the less checked with the Classics department, and woolah! I was now going to be attending Kent university in September.
Emoji Party- any excuse to get drunk

So it seemed like all was fine and dandy. Except it wasn't. I was not looking forward to university at all. My confidence had be crushed by my results, I had no idea what the situation was with accommodation and no clue about Canterbury.

My behavior for the next few weeks was appalling, if I could go back a slap myself round the face I would. Truth be told I have still not gotten over not getting into UCL but I am happy I went to Kent. However at the time I was acting like Kent was the Prison of Azkaban, I got my accommodation but convinced myself it would be a shithole ( It really wasn't), visited Canterbury to find out it was a city not just a little town with two charity shops and looked more into my course to find that I loved the look of all the modules available. Yet I was determined to be miserable. I was sick of everyone around me saying 'cheer up your going to university', it sounds pathetic but I needed time to get over the fact that I wasn't going to the place I had worked so hard to get to over the years.

With dragged heels I went to Kent and although it wasn't UCL, it was still good. I achieved a 2:1 in my first year, with a first in my classics module, the exam I did really badly in at Alevel! Which has boosted my confidence back up, became president for my halls- something I would not have achieved at UCL and above all met my boyfriend. A year to be proud of I'd say.

My Advice:

Weigh up your Options
Is university this year really your only choice? Could you retake? Or were you near the grade boundaries and could look into getting a remark. Don't feel like clearing is your only option. Breathe and think.

Don't compromise too much (but do a little)
So you will have to compromise a little unfortunately, and not only with the university, probably with the course and your accommodation too. But know when enough is enough. Kent was in my 5 choices, the course was exactly the one I had applied to and I was able to get accommodation. Had one of those three things been missing I would not have gone to university this year. I have a friend who couldn't get accommodation, she was already massively compromising the course and university, the accommodation was the last straw for her, She retook this year and got her first choice! Just really think about what you're going to do for the next three years before rushing into it.

Don't sell yourself too short
If you really think that you are too clever for the university, don't apply. £9000 a year is a lot to be spending so really think about it. This is not an insult to any university at all, so please don't take it as that, but if you care about rankings etc then don't be afraid to chase what you want.

Call the Universities
I know in this day and age everything is done online. But calling the universities is the best thing you can do for clearing, websites can be so confusing and can all tell you different things. So just have a bit of patience and call them.

Make the most of your choice
Sound cliche but university really is what you make it. Take it from someone who's been there. Go in with a positive attitude and make friends with everyone, even though it's not what you had in mind.
Saying goodbye

Whatever happens, well done and good luck with whatever you decide to do.
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