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What is Clearing REALLY like: as told by students

What is Clearing REALLY like: as told by students

by Amy Cousins

Every year, thousands of students secure a spot at university by applying through UCAS Clearing.

But what is Clearing really like? Read our blog for the truth about the Clearing experience from those who know it best - students who secured their spot at Newcastle University by applying through Clearing.

Hear about their experiences on Results Day and find out what they went on to do when they joined us.

Find out what Clearing is really like if:

Applying through Clearing when you don't get your predicted grades

Disappointing grades can happen to anyone. But they're no measure of the great things you can go on to achieve in the right environment.

Read on to find out what it's like to apply through Clearing when you haven't secured the grades you needed to get into your firm or insurance choice universities.

Newcastle Uni student Asa as a coxswain for the rowing team

Asa, Civil Engineering (MEng) 

"I grew up in London and always dreamed of being an engineer. I received a conditional offer to study Engineering at Bath University.

"Unfortunately, my exams did not go as well as hoped and on Results Day I found out that I did not get my predicted grades.

"It was easy to get in touch with the dedicated university Clearing hotlines and within hours I had received over seven offers from a range of Russell Group universities, all with good reviews on my preferred course.

"When I was offered a place at Newcastle, I did some research into the course along with speaking to my teachers, who mentioned the good links the university has with industry.

"Newcastle has truly shaped who I am today. I have met some great people and had some wonderful experiences. I became a university rowing champion with the rowing club and, with support from my tutors, I was offered a graduate programme at one of the top engineering companies in the UK."


Newcastle Uni student Owen during a practical for his Marine Biology course

Owen, Marine Biology (BSc)

"In February before my final exams, I decided I wanted to study ecology and conservation.  

"When I sat my A Level exams, I felt confident I would get into Newcastle, especially after completing the PARTNERS summer school, which lowered my entry requirements. I also hadn’t really researched other universities, because I felt certain I would get in. 

"As I walked into college to pick up my results, my stomach hit the floor when I saw my Art A Level grade was lower than my predicted grade.

"Within minutes I was on the Clearing hotline, talking to the Newcastle University Admissions department about possible alternative courses I could get on to. They gave me an informal offer for Marine Biology, which I immediately accepted.

"I very quickly fell in love with the course, the university and the city. I’ve learned to enjoy our field practicals and have become fascinated by the subject. Life at Newcastle has completely changed my life."


Newcastle Uni student Tom sharing his experience applying through Clearing

Tom, Civil Engineering (BEng)

"Civil engineering was a subject which I had always been passionate about. Overall, I felt like my exams went relatively well and requiring A*AA for the University of Bristol was comforting.  

"Leading up to Results Day, I was nervous but felt fairly calm. I had been on YouTube looking up videos about Clearing, as it is a fear every student has.  

"Unfortunately, on Results Day I fell two marks short of two grades, getting A*BB. I got some help from my school as they gave me tips about what to say to universities and how to approach talking to them.

"Their main bit of advice was to have everything ready for the phone conversation. I had written down my UCAS number and the grades I got, so that when the universities asked for them, I could produce them instantly.  

"I spoke to Newcastle. The person on the other end of the phone was so lovely and very helpful, and she said that they would have a place for me. After I had secured a place at Newcastle, I was both excited and nervous. The head of department immediately contacted me and told me all the good things about Newcastle and why I had made a good choice which made me feel much more comfortable." 

"I know this will sound like a cliché, but coming to Newcastle was one of the best things I have done, and I’ve made some lifelong friends already. I don’t have any regrets about choosing Newcastle as a university." 


Newcastle University student Morag sharing her experience about applying through Clearing

Morag, Chemistry (BSc)

"I moved up to Scotland from Yorkshire the summer before the Upper Sixth, and I boarded my last year of school in order to continue my A Levels.  

"I felt my exams had gone well and, having achieved good grades throughout school, I didn’t even consider the possibility of Clearing. This made it so much worse on Results Day. I needed AAA for my first choice - Edinburgh University - and achieved BBB. I felt like I had failed my exams. 

"I was in a very unfortunate and rare position of being a Clearing Scottish student with A Level results. The Scottish Highers results had been released the previous week, therefore, all the Scottish Clearing places had already gone.  

"My final option was to look at English university Clearing places, but accept I would finish with more student debt. I chose this option as I wanted to go to a high-ranking university for Chemistry. 

"I got Clearing offers from Liverpool University and Newcastle University.

"The kind admissions tutor at Newcastle offered to show me around the day after Results Day. I chose Newcastle because of my visit and tour by the admissions tutor. While I was feeling like a failure and embarrassed of my situation, he treated me like any other prospective student and that they were lucky to have me choose them, not the other way around."


Applying direct through Clearing for the first time

It's normal to feel indecisive and unsure about the right next steps for you and your future. This is what it's like to go through Clearing because you've changed your mind about going to university on Results Day.  

Newcastle Uni student Lauren proudly showing off her dissertation

Lauren, Marine Biology (BSc)

"Initially, I had planned to move abroad with my partner, but after we broke up over the summer break, I made the decision to stay in the UK. 

"After getting my results, I was satisfied with my biology and psychology grades, but my maths grade dragged down my hope of being accepted to Newcastle University. 

"Nevertheless, I rang up the Clearing hotline and asked what Biological Science courses were available. As soon as ‘Marine Biology’ was said to me, I knew I wanted to know more. 

"As I learned more and more about what the course entailed, I was hooked.  

"My course has taken me kayaking through Mexican mangrove forests, studying in a laboratory on the beach, working in the industry (work experience) and even growing microalgae in order to conduct my own research project. I’m leaving university not just with the knowledge from the course, but also with incredible experiences and the confidence to go on into the working world."