Sometimes, we humans overestimate our abilities. If this happens to you while applying to go to the UK, you have two options; go somewhere else or go through 'Clearing'. If you select the latter, you’re in the right place. So fret not, for stated below is a quick guide to Clearing.
'Unfortunately, your firm and insurance choices have retracted their offers. Please proceed to Clearing when applications open'. [If you don't understand what 'firm' and 'insurance' choices are on UCAS, then head over to Megan's article about 'UCAS Applications' before reading the rest of this article.
If your grades aren't up to par with the expected grades of the university, the above is along the lines of the general statement that will be issued on your UCAS portal. Don’t be alarmed but you will have to work quickly.
Step 1. Find alternative universities that have your course
UCAS makes it easy to find universities with courses that are similar to those that you applied for originally but there may be differences in the actual courses. For example, I chose Automotive Engineering but UCAS also shows related courses such as Mechanical Engineering, Motorsport Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering and Automotive Design. Be sure to read the contents of the course before proceeding to the next step.
Step 2. CALL the university and go through a phone interview
This is the most crucial and stressful step because of the timing of the whole ordeal.
Firstly, if your original university didn’t give you a place as a 'firm or insurance' choice, they MAY reconsider and give you a place if you’ve applied through Clearing. Thus, always start by calling your first choice of university. If that doesn’t work, always try the most prestigious universities first as they tend to have lower grade requirements when there are still a lot of open spaces. For example, I called the University of Nottingham on the second day of Clearing, their advertised grades on UCAS were BCC, unfortunately, because I was late, the grades were bumped up to BBB which didn’t allow me to apply.
Next, don’t be afraid to ask. Coventry University had a minimum requirement of BBB but the UCAS tariff points needed was 140. I had 132 since I did AS-Level biology and scored an A. I gave a call and the professor accepted my application. I mentioned UCAS Tariff points; UCAS Tariff points are calculated by qualifications in 16 different types examinations, there’s an online Wikipedia article* if you’re curious about the numbers.
Last tip, it’s always good to write out the list of universities you are going to call because international calls are expensive and you don’t want to waste your time calling all the universities.
Step 3. Send over your documents to confirm your place and accommodation
This will be the least stressed of your experience but is a bit fiddly. When submitting official transcripts and personal information documents, they must all be in English. You will need to have them translated and signed by either a translator or an attestant of sorts. Documents required vary by university but they encompass: academic achievement, personal information and medical records.
The key thing to take away from this is to be calm and think logically throughout this experience. It will be scary but you’ll make it.