Top Tips for Surviving UCAS Clearing 2021

Applying for a university place through UCAS clearing? Read our top tips on how to approach Clearing in 2021 and discover what other options are available to you.

UCAS Clearing Advice: Planning Ahead of A-Level Results Day

Anxious about your A-Level results? Clearing is just around the corner, and if you’re worried that your exams didn’t go to plan, we’re here to put your mind at rest. It’s important not to worry – even if things haven’t panned out as expected, there’s nothing stopping you getting a great university place.

3 students sitting at a park table looking at notes and drinking coffee

Applying through clearing

Clearing is a system set up by UCAS that lets you apply for courses that still have places available. It’s a great option for those who: 

  • Haven’t received any offers
  • Haven’t received any offers they want to accept (hey, university is a big step, you have the right to change your mind!) OR
  • Haven’t met the conditions of the offer

If clearing is the path you decide to take, there are a few points to remember: 

  • Be prepared – have a list of unis you are interested in and the Clearing phone numbers at the ready. As soon as the lines open, start calling.
  • Be an early bird – places go like hotcakes so get on the phone as soon as you know you’re in Clearing.
  • Keep an open mind – don’t rule out universities you aren’t familiar with. They might be great institutions, offering great opportunities.

Clearing isn’t your only option

Although Clearing tries to secure degree courses for as many students as possible, it can’t feasibly cater for everyone. So, how could you do it differently? There are a lot of alternatives to choose from:

  • Study online - many of us think the traditional university route is the only way, but with the rise of modern technology there are new exciting options to be considered. Online learning gives you the option to study flexibly, so you can learn while you earn – in the days of the all-important work experience, this is a considerable advantage in the graduate world. Online universities often have more than one intake a year (at Arden, we have multiple intakes for both Blended and Distance Learning), so if you need more time to decide, you can keep your options open.
  • Study via Blended Learning - some Blended Learning degrees include foundation years designed to prepare you for university level study. Perfect if you don’t have formal qualifications or any work experience.
  • Get a job – if you planned to go to university, you might worry that starting a career without a degree might put you at a disadvantage. In reality, it is not that simple. For example, by the time your peers graduate, you’ll have three years of work experience under your belt, as well as valuable contacts you might not have had otherwise. And if you later decide that a degree is something that could push your career forward, you don’t have to give up on bringing that money back home – simply study online and keep earning while you learn.
  • Plan for a gap year – travelling broadens your mind. Universities (and employers), look at hundreds of applications, so having something that makes you stand out is an advantage - and a gap year - with plenty of experiences like volunteering or working abroad - can do just that. But with Covid-19 putting many gap year travel plans on hold for 2021/22 it might be worth exploring travel options closer to home! There are also options to study while you travel too! You can find out more here.

As you can see, there are several options available if you haven’t secured an offer or have simply changed your mind about studying the conventional way. They may not be in line with your original plans, but in our experience, doing things differently can create exciting opportunities that take you on a journey to success!