COVID has caused many young people to delay thinking about their future. But as the prospect of freedom slowly returns, they are starting to get serious about what happens next.

Exams were cancelled this year making way for teachers to determine students’ grades, A-level results are out August 10th. So, if you’ve left it until now to think about university, we’ve got some top tips.

Many people think that university clearing is only open on A-level results day and for a few weeks afterwards – it’s not the case!

Former BBC World News editor Dr Lisette Johnston, Head of School at ScreenSpace, part of MetFilm School explains what Clearing is all about and urges young people to plan now!

This year, clearing opens on the 5th July, and universities are already advertising courses available through Clearing.
 

What is Clearing?

Clearing is the process that students use to access university AFTER they’ve received their A-level level results (or A-level equivalents).

Is it just for those who didn’t get their expected grades?

No, COVID-19 has really affected the way people are thinking about university. Historically, it was widely recognised that schools and colleges didn’t always get predicted exam grades right, and this year with teachers effectively awarding students’ their predicted grades, universities are expecting lots of lastminute applications.

Last year’s results were affected by the pandemic, but that didn’t put young people off from going to university, and the number of students given university places rose nearly 3%. 2020 was also a record year for students applying through clearing: 70,000, people, including those who had applied earlier in the year, were accepted through Clearing.


What if my grades are higher than I expected?

If your results are better than expected and you’ve accepted a place at a university based on lower grades, you can ‘trade up’ to a different course or university that required higher grades, this is called Adjustment.

I’m getting my A-level results in August – I’ve put off deciding whether to go to university because of COVID-19, but… what can I do now?

Here are Dr Lisette’s 6 top tips

1.Get Cracking: the sooner you apply the better! Some courses cap the number of students they will take, so apply early and that way you are more likely to get a conditional offer, which is better than missing the boat if you leave it to phone on results day. 

2. Be informed. Don’t wait until results day to look around universities and get a taste of what’s on offer, there are lots of campus tours (real and virtual) between now and August, so as well as looking at course content online it’s a real bonus if you can actually go to a university and see what it is really like. That way you can hit the ground running.

3. What do you really want? If you haven’t got the grades you expected, you might not get into your first choice, but that doesn’t mean going through Clearing to get in just anywhere. If staying at home is important to you, find out what the options are available locally. If you are passionate about a specific topic, find out where the next best place on the list is and what grades they expect currently. It’s also acceptable to ask how many people they took through Clearing last year. They might not be able to tell you on a course by course basis, but you should be able to get a breakdown across the university.

4. Be realistic. Oxford and Cambridge may be out of reach. Decide what is a priority for you. If you haven’t got the results you expected, what is more important – the course, the location, or a degree in general? The last thing you want is to get on a course and find out it’s not what you want. And don’t just go somewhere ‘cos all your mates are going there!

5. Be open minded. Within a university there are often opportunities to transfer courses to take electives more closely linked to your original choices. See who offers this. Also Clearing gives a chance to go to a place you might not have thought about before.

6. Remember, you’re not stuck – if you start at a university and you realise it’s the wrong course or the wrong place – you can change! At ScreenSpace we had students who came through Clearing last year, some after the course started; they’re actually much happier than they were with their original choice. 

By Ed