Finding your path to uni

First off, don’t panic. Do. Not. Panic. Enjoy your end of term educational hiatus, secure in the knowledge that if your A levels/BTECs haven’t gone quite the way you hoped, you will still have plenty of options.

Here are a few points that may be useful to bear in mind come August. Even if you equal or surpass expectations, your UCAS application was an awfully long time ago, and maybe you’ve been having second thoughts. Nothing wrong with changing your mind – we all do.

So, once the results are in, take your time to plan your next move. There’s no rush – whatever universities tell you. The Clearing season lasts for a few weeks for a reason – and our lines are open from July 5th – September 24th.

When the time is right, here’s a nine-step guide to finding your way to university via the road less travelled.

  1. You are not alone, to paraphrase The X Files’ Fox Mulder. Thousands pass through Clearing every year. Some people even bypass UCAS altogether, as Physical Education and School Sport student Kennedy told us: “Clearing is easy – no personal statements, no applications, no interviews.”
  2. Whatever else you may be feeling, do not feel embarrassed. Embarrassment is irrelevant. You may have missed out by one mark. You may have had a bad day back then. One clearing student broke her hand the week before. Stuff happens. Once you’re in, you’re in. Clean slate.
  3. Fools rush in….take time to reflect. Both before and during the clearing process. This is a gilt-edged opportunity to reassess what you want to do. You may still want to study your UCAS choices, of course, but this is also a second chance to a) tailor your options, and b) cherry-pick a course that suits both your qualifications and your interests.
  4. Clearing is also a chance to go entirely off-piste. For some courses, and particularly Arts and Social Science programmes, your A levels/BTEC results are just an indication of your ability to learn. You can start an entirely new subject from scratch, for example Law. Tom saw a vacancy on our Music Production course during Clearing. He had no formal qualifications, but loved music. One box ticked. And played in a band. The course was practical, so that was another box ticked. He convinced the tutor in a phone conversation, and he’s now on target to graduate this summer.
  5. Of course, you can always take the scenic route. Consider a gap year – working, travelling, recharging, retaking, snake-charming. Whatever you choose to do with it, you can secure your place now, and enjoy a year out safe in the knowledge that your year-end destination is fixed. You will be bringing twelve months of new experiences with you – and you know anecdotes about wrestling a crocodile beat a chat about A Levels every day of the week.
  6. Talk, talk. To friends, to family, to your teachers. They know stuff. But also talk to us. We are most definitely not in the business of destroying dreams – but meet us halfway, sell us your dream. If we think you can handle the course, you’re in. Life’s what you make it.
  7. And it’s always your call. It’s your life, after all. You may find yourself under pressure from universities to accept an offer immediately. You don’t have to. Take your time, do further research – where will you live etc, talk some more (see 6), possibly over a cuppa. Make the decision that works for you, and in your own good time.
  8. It’s never too late. Clearing opens on Friday 5th July 2021, and closes about a week before term starts.
  9. Finally, stay positive. This is an opportunity – to re-evaluate your future, to re-set your goals, and to spend time at the University of the Year (Educate North Awards 2020-21). Now, who could that be?

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