students collecting exam results

 by Jon Cheek
, posted On 14 Aug '18

Buzzword 'Clearing' – students should be prepared and not fearful

A Level results day is this Thursday (16th August). So for many 17 and 18 year old's (or older) their week will be full of anxiety and excitement (probably in that order!).This blog will provide some support for teachers waiting to support their students picking up results.

If students need to make clearing phone calls, it will also serve as a guide of what students may expect during the day.

Life changing decisions should not be made in a day..

Decisions on university will change a student's life, 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.

Even with the rise of unconditional offers, the majority of students will be sitting on university offers and will need to fulfil 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 on Thursday - the universities will have been working over the weekend to allow students to know their university decisions on results day. 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. A large number of these (even from some of the UK's top universities may still be available on Thursday).

So the next step may well be the clearing call centres

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 paid 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.

My tip for Tuesday - start research before Thursday

Students will have a plan A in their first choice university (which they may also change). And maybe a plan B, but sometimes students have no intention of going to an insurance choice (I certainly didn't). So potentially they may want a new plan A and B - and I would recommend having a plan C, D and E too. Students should see Thursday as an opportunity, and choose carefully. Starting ther research now rather than facing a mad manic on Thursday and the prospect of rash split second decisions.

They should replace the fear and anxiety for excitement, and be surprised at the wealth of opportunities at their fingertips.

Teachers, careers colleagues and support staff: request your FREE UniTasterDays Teachers' Guide to University brochure.

This brochure has been produced by in collaboration with HELOA - to support the university guidance that is provided in secondary schools and colleges.

Editorial has been provided by over 35 colleagues at universities and higher education institutions throughout the UK. On topics covering how to support students with their university decisions, university events, widening participation & fair access, UCAS applications (including writing school references) and more. It also includes the key student finance facts from Martin Lewis.

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