That time of the year again

Yep, that’s right… it’s that time of the year again.
What time of the year you might ask?
Well, A Level results time of the year.

If you’re reading this and you’re a university student… you’d be lying if you tried to claim that A Level results day wasn’t a nerve-wrecking experience for you. I know it certainly was for me and all my ex-classmates.
However, if you’re an A Level, IB or Scottish Highers student who is reading this as you watch the countdown tick away until the 6th/15th August then this blog post is for you (Your neck might hurt from repeatedly turning round to look at that dusty clock on your wall so feel free to use this:

If you’ve been following my blog from the start, you’d know that I went through the dreaded process of clearing on deadline day myself. Fingers crossed, all of you reading this will get the results that you want and won’t have to even worry about things going bad on deadline day. However – without trying to make you feel down in the dumps or nervous – if you want to be prepared for all possible scenarios come deadline day in order to secure that all important edge against the other thousands of students who may very well be in the same boat, below are some of my tips based on my experience.

  1. If you think you haven’t done too well, the good news is that you’ve most likely done fine (especially considering many universities let you in if you only mess up one subject since the number of students nowadays is much less than those prior to the fee rise). However if you’re really that paranoid, try to anticipate what grades you are most likely to achieve by taking into account all your other module results so far.
  2. Now that you have a rough estimate of what grades you will most likely achieve in a worst case scenario, come up with a list of different courses which you’d be willing to fall back on come results day should they be made available to you during clearing. (For example – if you applied for Computer Science, your list may consist of similar courses such as: Computing, Software Engineering, Computing with Management, Information Management with Computing etc.)
  3. Next, decide what Universities are Universities you would consider enrolling at, bar the ones which you have already applied to. Some of these could even include the three Universities you declined during your UCAS application (assuming you applied for five). The reason I say this is because some students will only consider Universities which are within a certain distance from home whilst others won’t care where they go. Some students might be set on only going to a top twenty University for example, so you might even come to the conclusion that you would rather take a year out and resit your exams than go through clearing. Even though I will talk further about my opinion on silly university tables later.
  4. Now that you have a rough list of the Universities you would consider going to through clearing, head onto their websites and check out the courses which interest you and their entry requirements. Open a word document and list them along with the hyperlinks to the pages specifying this information as you will need to go back to them later.
  5. A day before results day, open up the word document and head back to the courses you listed earlier. You may notice that some of the entry requirements have dropped. Some Universities might keep the entry requirements the same but will have dropped the requirements on their specific clearing pages of their websites so look out for them as well. Take note of the new entry requirements as they will be changing a lot on results day. Also head out to your local paper shop and order the telegraph to your doorstep for results day as they will also publish clearing positions in it as well, just in case your internet decides not to work.
  6. Sleep… and wake up on results day at 8am to start vigorously attacking your F5 (refresh) button whilst logged in to UCAS until you can see whether or not you have been accepted into your firm or insurance choice.
  7. If your results have come through and you’ve gotten the ‘congratulations’ message from UCAS… well done and stop reading! If you’ve got that other dreaded message that I got… then read on.
  8. Open up the magical word document again and re-check all the new clearing entry requirements. Some universities don’t release their clearing details until results day so take 10-20 minutes out to see if any more positions have opened up and take note. Quickly make a mental list in your head of the Universities in your order of preference.
  9. Go to your school or college to get your actual results and don’t fool around, get back home as fast as you can and pick that phone up!
  10. Remember that mental list you made of clearing courses in your order of preference? Well now is the time to use it in conjunction with our magic document. Start going through the pecking order and contacting the universities. The first thing they will ask you for is the course you want to apply for and the next thing they’ll ask for are your results. I was first time lucky with Leicester. Once a University wants you, they will tell you that they have a space available for you based on your grades and will ask you for further details such as your e-mail where they will send you confirmation of your offer.
  11. Most Universities give you 24 hours – 72 hours to accept the offer through UCAS. Leicester offered me 24 hours whilst Loughborough offered me 72 hours.
  12. Feel free to call up other Universities even if you have already been given an offer. I was offered three different places in clearing and made my mind on the spot. Leicester was a no brainer for me and as I said before, I am extremely glad fate has sent me to Leicester because my other two choices were campus Universities… and now after spending a year at University, I honestly think I would’ve got bored to death at my initial two choices. It’s funny how things often turn out for the best without you even realising it! I’ll also never forget the big thumbs up I got from my Dad when he came into my room and asked me which University I’m talking to on the phone and I pointed to my monitor screen which had Leicester’s website on it!

So that is it for my guide to results day. In my opinion it’s important to be prepared even if  you feel confident. The fact that I had done all my research beforehand meant that I got my results from college at 9am and funnily enough had been offered three places in clearing by 9:45am. My tutor was meant to be at college to ‘support’ me and other students in our time of need, but unfortunately that didn’t happen and most of my college mates who sat around waiting for staff to guide them around on what to do took days to secure a place at a University! Due to my pre-preperation I was first in the clearing pecking order and that meant I had three great clearing offers to choose from.

Also most importantly, don’t be nervous. Be calm and cool, it isn’t the end of the world. Comparing my actual results with my predicted results, I thought I would have to go back to college for a year. Also, forget University league tables. I’m not saying this to stand up for Leicester or anything like that… if it means anything, Leicester is actually higher in University league tables than my initial firm University choice. Going through clearing does not mean you will have to settle for what you might consider ‘poorer’ universities. There is no such thing as a ‘poor’ university or a university which is less prestigious than another because a lousy league table says so! League tables change every year and I found that many of my friends who were big headed on results day and decided to take a year out and resit their exams because they didn’t like their clearing offers actually ended up regretting it after a few months. Most considered it a wasteful year when they could’ve been at University and one step closer to exiting the world of education into the beautiful world of employment.

To finish off… good luck to you to-be University students. If you have any more questions on my experience in clearing let me know in the comments below, I’d be more than happy to help you out.

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About Karam

Karam has now retired from blogging. Hello everyone! My name is Karam and I'm a second year BSc Computing student here at the University of Leicester. I'm also this year's Computer Science sports secretary and possess a strong love for the beautiful game that is of course football. I can speak English, Arabic, HTML, PHP, SQL, VB.NET & Java…

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