image of students logging into UCAS to check their ALevel results

 by Jon Cheek
, posted On 16 Aug '17

Buzzword 'Clearing' – students should be excited not fearful

A Level results day is tomorrow (Thursday). So for many 17 and 18 year old's (or older) today and tomorrow will be full of anxiety and excitement (probably in that order!). I am not convinced they will sleep much tonight either! Hopefully this blog will provide some support for teachers waiting to support the students getting their results.

Decisions on university will change their lives, with many meeting future partners whilst at university, and many more meeting life-long friends or choosing to live in a close proximity of where they studied after they graduate. Of course, some careers will also be built as a direct result of degree choice, but the majority won't. I read some analysis which commented that 68% of job adverts don't even specify a degree subject when advertising graduate level jobs.

The majority of students will be sitting on university offers and will need to fulfill the conditions that have been given to them. Universities will find out results before students do, to allow their decision to be communicated back to UCAS so students have the answers to make informed decisions tomorrow. Other students will be leaving their options late, and seeing what is available in clearing. After all, at the start of the cycle, there were 328 institutions in the UK a student could apply to, and over 40,000 courses. I guess over half of them may still be available in clearing on Thursday.

So the buzzword is clearing - search google for that very word and you will see clearing pages for almost all universities in the UK displaying - and those adverts at the top won't be cheap either.

Having worked with universities throughout my career, I have seen how clearing has changed, with some of the leading universities in the UK now entering clearing. But anyone who knows their stuff about supply and demand will know that can only mean a good thing for students. Not because some of the best universities in the UK are now in clearing (as they may not be the best choice for everyone) but because students will have more choice than ever before, on location, subject and degree level to name but a few.

See the opportunity…

My advice for any students (and teachers advising them) that are worried results will mean they need to use the clearing service would be not to panic. Students phoning clearing hotlines will speak to some fantastic people at universities who will show a genuine interest and empathy, and be a supportive ear at the end of the phone.

I have worked at three large universities during clearing, and one consistency in them all is that staff are really keen to help. They will reassure, calm and speak to callers on their own level and merit. It won’t be a sales pitch, they will want prospective students to make the best choice for themselves, and not commit to something they are not comfortable with.

University marketing may be more aggressive than it ever has been, but universities remain supportive of one another in the sector, and won't be afraid to suggest students look elsewhere if they feel it would be in the students best interest.

So students should see tomorrow as an opportunity, and choose carefully. They should replace the fear and anxiety for excitement, and be surprised at the wealth of opportunity at their fingertips.

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