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How to reassure your child during Clearing | Clearing support

How to reassure your child during Clearing | Clearing support

by Judith Charlton

Thousands of students successfully apply to universities every year through Clearing, but how does it work and how can you support your child through this process?


Who is eligible to use Clearing?

Clearing matches applicants to available university places.

Your child will be eligible to use Clearing if, after applying through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS): 

  • 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 later - after 30 June     

This blog concentrates on the first scenario, although the Clearing process itself is relatively the same in all instances.


What happens if my child doesn't get the grades they need?

On Results Day, if your child hasn't got the grades they need and can’t meet the conditions of their university offers, a unique Clearing ID number will show on their application in their UCAS Hub and their status will change to ‘You are in Clearing’.

This can be a huge disappointment for your child 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.


How to prepare for Results Day

It’s a good idea to make sure you understand what happens on Results Day itself and how the university admissions process works – read our parents' guide to Results Day and Clearing.


Be a positive presence on Results Day

If your child’s grades aren’t what they hoped for, not only will they be upset, but 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 UCAS Clearing in advance

If you’re worried your child 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 you should encourage your child to:

  • research other universities and degrees and make a backup 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
  • practise 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 child has their results, they’ll need to contact the university they’re interested in via their Clearing support 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 application.

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 child may feel anxious and worried about going through the Clearing process, but trained Clearing support advisers will guide them every step of the way. With your encouragement, they’ll find the degree they’ve always dreamed about.

Although we use the terms parent/child in this blog for simplicity, it is intended for anyone fulfilling a parenting role.