Clearing tips from a student who has been there

I joined Marjon through Clearing and have written this guide to the whole process. It’s for anyone who is applying now to university, whether yours is a new application or a change to an existing one.

Firstly, Clearing isn’t just for A-levels results day as it opens on Monday 6 July. It’s not just for people doing A-levels, you can apply with other qualifications or if you are returning to education after some time out. You can contact Marjon now for a chat about your options.

If you think you might need Clearing after your results, make a note of which university and course you want to apply for so when Clearing opens you can phone up quickly. If you can act quickly you have a better chance of being accepted and not being put on a waiting list.

One of the most important factors to consider if you are applying for uni via Clearing is that there are a huge number of options to choose from. What you decide in the end could be very different from your original choice. For example, I originally applied for Dental Therapy and Hygiene but ended up choosing BSc Psychology.

If you do want to apply for the same course via Clearing, make a list of several universities which offer that course so when it comes to Clearing you know which universities to contact.

Also, there might be universities offering similar courses to your original choice which may interest you, for example you may want to apply for Psychology, but the university you are interested in only offers Psychology and Counselling. Or the university may be offering a foundation course instead. Make sure you compare the available courses thoroughly to see which one would be most suited to you.

Remember that if you do not meet your predicted grades it is not the end of the world. You may still get in, always ring and ask what is possible. Also, you can always retake to apply for university the following year.

Do your own research on the universities you are interested in, so you can see which one would be best suited to you, for example, do you want to be near or away from home etc.

See if there are prospectuses available for you to order/read or if there are any email addresses on the university website for you to contact the course leader to find out more.

Most universities list the courses they have available through Clearing on their website. Also, if available, make a note of the Clearing hotlines for your selected uni so you are ready to phone up quickly when you get your results.

Clearing is not as intimidating as it may seem. There are useful websites such as UCAS which update showing which universities have available places for certain courses. A good part of UCAS is that you can filter your choices on there to fit your requirements for example, you can enter your tariff points, whether you want a full time or part time course, if it needs to be undergraduate or postgraduate etc.

It is best for you to talk on the phone yourself and not have your parents do it as it will sound better coming from you. You are the one joining the university. From my own experience of using Clearing hotlines the staff talking to you are generally very friendly and will help you feel at ease.

You will be asked for specific information when you phone a university such as your Clearing number (which will be on your UCAS profile when you apply for Clearing on their website), your name, your grades and contact details such as an email address or phone number so the university can contact you for further information. Ensure you have all this information on hand when you phone up.

After that, you will be asked some basic questions whilst on the call such as why you want to apply for this course etc. It would be useful to practice and rehearse your answers for possible questions beforehand.

After you have made your call you might be asked to take part in an interview at a later time or you may be asked to send over extra information such as what work experience you have done. However, this all depends on the course you are applying for as different courses may ask about different things. For some courses you’ll get an offer quickly but not for all courses, so be prepared for the process to take a little while. Just keep in touch with the Admissions team, to make sure they have everything they need from you.

From my experience with phoning Marjon’s Clearing number, the staff were very patient and friendly with me. They offered options for me very quickly and were very helpful throughout the process. I asked questions about the difference between the BA Education & Psychology course and the BSc Psychology course. I was also able to speak to a Senior Lecturer of Psychology about all my questions.

Additionally, look out for Clearing open days or virtual open days, these are a great way to learn more about the course and meet the staff to ask any questions you may have. They will be advertised on the university website or you might be told about it when you call.

Remember that, you can only select one Clearing choice on UCAS. It can only be your chosen course/university once you have phoned them first to determine that you have secured a place and have their permission to select them. Once your place has been secured ensure that you update your student finance details so that your tuition loan is going to the correct university for the correct course. If necessary, update your maintenance loan for example, if you no longer need more money for accommodation because you will be staying at home etc.

Finally, if you have called multiple university Clearing hotlines it is best to phone up the ones you will not be going to too, letting them know, so they can free up your space for other applicants on the waiting list.

Reflecting on Clearing, it was a fulfilling and rewarding experience, as I was encouraged to go out of my comfort zone and phone universities up and try to sell myself, which is something I have problems doing.

It made me realise how many options there are for the degrees you can do. It helped me to push myself. In conclusion it was a rewarding experience as I was able to choose a degree that I really enjoy at a university that is best suited to me.

It is understandable to feel nervous as it is a very stressful time but remember that there are always other options if you don’t meet your grades. There is nothing wrong with taking time to figure out what is the best course for you. I wish you all the best of luck and hope that Clearing works out as well for you as it did for me.


Thank you to Natasha Hartshorne for writing this.

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