Tens of thousands of students successfully apply to universities every year through Clearing, but how does it work and how can you support your son or daughter through this process?
Clearing matches applicants to available university places. Your son or daughter will be eligible to use it if:
they don’t meet the conditions of their university offers
they didn’t receive any offers (or none they wanted to accept)
they’ve declined a firm place
they’re applying late – after 30 June
This blog concentrates on the first scenario, although the Clearing process itself is relatively the same in all instances.
If your son or daughter has received offers from universities, on Results Day they’ll be able to see the status of those offers as they update in Track – the UCAS portal for checking the progress of university applications.
If they haven’t got the grades they need, and can’t meet the conditions of their offers, this status changes to ‘Unsuccessful’ and the Track account status becomes ‘You are in Clearing’ and a unique Clearing ID number will show on their account.
This can be a huge disappointment for your son or daughter and, because university places can go very quickly during Clearing, they can feel under real pressure to find the one that’s right for them.
But it doesn’t have to be like that, and here’s how you can help.
Be prepared for Results Day
This year, because the Covid-19 pandemic forced schools to close, cancelling exams, your son or daughter’s results will be based on calculated grades. If you’re unclear about how these grades will be awarded, check out our blog.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you understand what happens on Results Day itself and how the university admissions process works – our top tips for parents on surviving the day might help.
Be a calm and positive presence
If your son or daughter’s grades aren’t what they hoped for, not only will they be upset, they’ll also be worried about their future. Reassure them that students apply through Clearing every year and go on to be successful, happy graduates who have an amazing time at university.
Make sure you also tell them how proud you are of all their hard work and effort.
Explore Clearing as a possibility in advance
If you’re worried your son or daughter mightn’t get the grades they need, talk to them before Results Day. It’s great to hope for the best, but it’s important to be realistic, too. And, with a bit of forward planning, you can help them focus on what they need to do next.
Before Results Day encourage them to:
- research other universities and degrees and make a back-up list of the ones they might like to pursue if there are vacancies
- check they have their UCAS ID number – they’ll need this when they ring universities direct to discuss places
- reread their personal statement – universities will want to talk to them about their achievements, their hopes and dreams, and why they want to study a particular subject
- print out any degree specific information they may want to discuss further with a university
- practice a Clearing phone call, so they feel confident about what they want to say and the questions they want to ask
Know what to expect from the Clearing process
When Clearing opens, degree courses with vacancies will be listed on university websites; UCAS also hosts a searchable database of available places.
Once your son or daughter has their results, they’ll need to contact the university they’re interested in via their Clearing hotline to see if they’re willing to accept them. They’ll need to give their UCAS ID number and Clearing ID number so the university can view their details.
If they receive a verbal offer from a university over the phone, this will be followed by an email confirmation detailing their next steps and the timescales for adding this offer as their Clearing choice to their Track account.
Although they’ll need to make a decision quite quickly about whether to accept the offer, encourage them not to rush this step. This is when their Clearing prep will pay off – if they’ve already weighed up alternative universities and courses, they’ll be better equipped and feel more confident when they do make their decision.
Your son or daughter may feel anxious and worried about going through the Clearing process, but trained Clearing hotline advisors will guide them every step of the way. And, with your support, they’ll find the degree they’ve always dreamed about.