Aug 10 2020

A Parents' Guide to Clearing 2020

Arden University provides a useful guide to clearing for parents and carers 2020.

It's Clearing time! That time of the year, when A level students and their families across Britain face the prospect of finding a university place.

This year, more than ever, there is extra stress for A level students and their parents.

Here Sian Duffin, Student Support Manager at Arden University, offers some useful tips to stressed-out parents of A-level pupils about Clearing.

Sian writes: “You’ve watched your child work all the way through school, taken the pictures of them in uniform, practiced spellings, agonised over maths problems and made models with glue and glitter. 

"You’ve been there for sports events, music concerts, plays, school trips and read end-of-year reports. 

"You’ve dried tears, listened, nagged, and often wondered if you are doing the right thing.

"And, somehow, now, it’s A level results day and you’re waiting to hear the good news on Thursday August 13th. 

"Things have been a little different this year, and grades are calculated*…but sometimes things don’t go to plan and now your child is facing finding a university place through Clearing. They may be disappointed by their grades or have done better than predicted and now have the chance to apply to uni.

"So, what is Clearing?
Well, clearing is a system set up by UCAS that lets students apply for university courses that still have places available.

It’s a great option for those who: 
•    Haven’t received any offers from universities yet
•    Haven’t received any offers they want to accept
•    Haven’t met the conditions of their offer by missing out on the A level grades they needed.

"Clearing is already open for browsing but will officially start on A-Level Results Day and will remain open until 20th October.

"We know that this can be stressful, to know what to do and how to navigate this, so we’ve put together some tips to help you to help your child.

Be Present: It will be emotional, and your child and you are likely to have a whole range of emotions, from anger, to disappointment, shame to sadness. Try to be available to your child if you can, we find some parents like to book the day off if they can, or make sure that another adult is around if that isn’t possible. Whilst they will need to take the lead for themselves in making the calls to universities that have places, having you or someone else they trust with them can help them feel more confident, especially if they are asked to make quick decisions.

Be Prepared: read about the process and know what to expect. There’s plenty of specific advice out there to help. The UCAS website has a short video to help. Make sure that your child has their Track** details, including their password to hand. Make sure phones are charged and that you have a paper and pen to hand to jot things down. If your child is receptive to it, try talking about Clearing before the day and have a look at what is available, normalising Clearing for them can really help. Knowing some potential universities to contact in advance who are asking for slightly lower grades than they are expecting can give you a head start. 

Be pragmatic: Think about slight alternative courses if they have applied to something very popular or competitive, perhaps something with joint honours for example. Ask questions but make sure you let them make the decisions! They also need to make the phone calls to admission’s tutors but practising that with them can be helpful. Consider alternatives such as blended learning, online distance learning and degree apprenticeships, all of which provide a different route to getting a degree.

It’s also worth remembering that there are alternatives to Clearing. 

*The calculated grade process will take into account a range of evidence including, for example, non-exam assessment and mock results. To make sure that grades are fair between schools and colleges, exam boards have put all centre assessment grades through a process of standardisation using a model developed with Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator.
**UCAS Track is an online system developed by UCAS that allows students to check the progress of their application once they’ve submitted it. For example, they can see whether any of their chosen universities/colleges have made them an offer, or if they have replied to any of their offers, etc