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“I didn’t expect to go into Clearing, but I’m grateful that I called”

Published: 16 August 2018
Sarah with a cup of tea
If I'd known last year what I know now that everything will be okay, I would do it again - Sarah

The anticipation of A-Level and other results bring a mixture of excitement, anticipation and uncertainty to thousands of students whose results will help shape and determine what they do next.

For the majority, the results will be as hoped for – or even better – and a place at university could be awaiting them. For others, the results could be mixed and unexpected but university could still be an option as the grades they’ve achieved will still provide entry into higher education. Regardless of the outcome, the University of Southampton is ready with advice, guidance and helpful information to help students explore their options.

Isaac, Sarah and Abbie all arrived on the south coast unexpectedly through Clearing but their results, organisation and perseverance all proved invaluable to each of them achieving a place.

Sarah’s story

Like every A-Level student in the country, Sarah had put so much effort into revising ahead of her exams that she thought everything would be okay. But like Isaac, she had confirmation that she’d achieved results to enter her insurance choice but checked again and again to make sure the news wasn’t some kind of mistake.

“I called the University and tried to figure out if there was a way I could get in and they said no, everything with Criminology in the title was filled up,” says Sarah. “I was calling loads of different universities and I had friends calling other universities for me and I just felt that if I’m not going to go to my first choice university, I don’t want to go to at all.

“One of my teachers recommended that I call Southampton,” Sarah continues. “She had known somebody who had just recently graduated and they really loved it there, so I was thinking, okay well we’ll give it a shot so she called Southampton for me. They gave me a ring back a few hours later and said they would be happy to offer me a place and I was like ‘okay, that’s alright’ but I still wasn’t sure in my heart if I wanted to go to Southampton.

“I looked up some of the statistics and a lot of students said that they had enjoyed the course and a lot of them had gone on to getting Graduate jobs straight after graduating so I thought this would be a good university for me,” Sarah concludes. “When I woke up the next morning, I said ‘I’m just going to go to Southampton’ and I think it was the best decision I made.

“It’s a bit crazy that I would go through clearing and all the emotions I went through last year but if I had known last year what I know now that everything’s going to be okay and you’re going to have the time of your life I would do it again; I’m so grateful that I called back.”

Isaac’s story

Isaac was feeling quite happy heading into results day, chatting with friends on Facebook who were all excited about what was to come. But once the results were released, and his friends began to confirm places at their first-choice university, Isaac was disappointed to discover that he would need to rely on his insurance choice – a result he’d not prepared for at all. 

“Obviously I was hit with a lot of disappointment,” he recalls. “I felt I had let my family down, let my friends down and I was really not feeling like I hope I would because I didn’t really expect it.”

After asking to be released by his second-choice university, Isaac entered Clearing and started searching and phoning around other universities.

“One of my very best friends was going to the University of Southampton and so I thought I might as well have a look at it,” he enthuses. “The whole campus looked really attractive to me, the Russell Group looked really attractive and the fact that my best friend was going there so I phoned Southampton’s Clearing hotline and within minutes I was through to an operator who was going through mathematical based subjects.

“They told me that I had the grades to get onto a Mathematical Studies course and they sent me an email confirmation which made me really happy,” he continues. “I finally got myself some closure and I had a plan for the future.

“The advice I’d give is definitely have a plan on results day, make sure you look around beforehand and most of all don’t panic; your family and friends are always there to support you and there’s also your college who can really point you in the right direction if it does all bad, knowing that it will turn out alright in the end,” he advises. 

Abbie’s story

Abbie never thought she would be put through Clearing – it never crossed her mind. On results day, she had a phone call from school asking her to come in, soon. Abbie then looked online at UCAS and saw that she wasn’t getting directly into university based on her results. “My heart just sank straight away,” she recalls. “When I got to school they said, ‘look, they’re not bad grades, it’s just not enough to go to the universities that you want.

“In Geography, the one subject that I love, I just completely messed up the exam; I had it remarked, but I literally read the question wrong and it just ruined all my chances,” she continues.

Having calmed down, Abbie decided to review her options and revisit her previous choices when her Mum remembered that she’d had a good time visiting Southampton – three times, in fact, for an Open Day, interview and post-offer day.

“I was comfortable with the city and the only reason I didn’t want to go there was literally because it was too far away from home,” says Abbie. “I called up the Clearing hotline and was very hysterical – they had to really calm me down over the phone because I was like, ‘I don’t want to go to the other University, please give me a place.

“I applied for a foundation year instead and my Professor called and said no, we’d actually like to offer you a place on the full BSc,” Abbie continues. “That was a massive shock; I was literally crying over the phone.

“Then I looked through the tables, where Southampton is placed [for Geology] and thought, I’m actually going to a really good university,” she enthuses.  

“My top tips of going into clearing would be - stay calm, but obviously have that hysterical moment of crying and get all your emotions out! Sit down with your teachers and parents and just think about things realistically. Try and go to as many open days as you can. And if you don’t get your choice, you need to know what your other options look like.”

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