Not getting into your first-choice university might feel like the worst thing in the world right now. Don’t beat yourself up, if you never fail, you never learn. You probably feel overwhelmed about what to do and with the options through clearing not really appealing to you, it’s best not to rush into a decision you might come to regret. At the end of the day, will delaying your plans for a year really make that much of a difference? It’s barely a drop in the ocean when you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.
Essentially, you’ve got three choices: go through clearing, retake your A-levels or completely revaluate your life.
Resitting your A Levels probably seems like the least appealing option right now. After months of revision, missing out on the fun and a long wait for results day, you probably don’t want to do it all again.
Unless you’ve really messed up (no offence), it’s unlikely you’ll have to redo all your subjects, you might just have to retake an exam or two at best. Shake off any preconceived embarrassment of sitting in the exam hall with the year below, it could happen to any of us and if it gets you to where you need to be, who cares. If it really bothers you, wear a disguise on exam day.
The first thing you need to do is speak to your college or sixth form, as you might be able to retake your exams there. They’ll (hopefully) offer you sound advice on what to do next. If your sixth form doesn’t offer resits, you can sit your exams at an exam centre, where you’ll need to provide your old candidate details.
Retaking your A-Levels shows your chosen university that you are committed to studying there and it demonstrates your independence. You know what you want to do and you’re willing to jump over any hurdles to get there.
Don’t worry about what your friends are doing, do what’s best for you in the long term. You can always go and visit your friends around the country and get a taste for uni life before you’ve even started.
Clearing often gets a bad rep as a ‘last resort’ for students who missed out on their first choice, but you never know, not getting into your first choice could be the best thing that ever happened to you. Clearing gives you the option to live in a city you might have never considered before.
Whilst you can research alternative courses ahead of results day, you can’t apply until UCAS enters you into the process. Once it hits 8am on results day, you’ll be able to see on UCAS track whether you’re eligible for clearing.
Once you’re in clearing, you need to pick up your A-Level results from your school or college. After you’ve picked up your results, create a shortlist of courses you’re interested in. Don’t blindly accept any course that pops up on clearing, pick something you’ll enjoy and can see being useful for a career in the future.
Once you’ve put together your shortlist, call up each of the universities yourself and request to be put through to the clearing helpline. Before you call, you’ll need:
After you’ve spoken to the admissions officer and met the requirements for the course, they will put you through for a quick interview with the course administrator. Make sure you prepare for this before your call and write down reasons why you want to study that course and that university. If this process is successful, the course administrator may give you a 24 hour verbal offer. You can accept this offer through UCAS tracks.
Lots of people will be in the same boat as you so you need to move quick and make decisions fast.
If neither resitting your A Levels or going through clearing appeals to you, now may be the time to look at other vocational routes. There are loads of apprenticeships available, where you can learn on the job and get paid for it (win win) or you could try getting work experience in the industry you’re most interested in, giving you a taste of what to do if you do end up reapplying for university in the future.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t rush into it and do what’s best for you in the long term. Good luck with whatever your future holds.