What is clearing?

After all that hard work put in over the last two years, A Level results will be published on the 20th August. It's a nerve-wracking time for students as the results can mean the difference between getting their first choice of university or not. Most students who have applied to uni will have certain grades they need to acheive, but what happens if they don't quite make them?

It's not the end of the world. Students can still apply to universities through clearing. This is a UCAS (University and College Admissions service) service aimed at students who didn't receive any offers, didn't get the grades, didn't accept any of their offers or applied after the 30th June. After results come out, universities give lists of course vacancies to UCAS who publish them between August and September in various newspapers. These are still good courses at good universities, so don't be put off applying to them.

It's a good idea for students to speak with a careers advisor before deciding on a course - unless you find one similar to what you'd originally planned to study. But there's no harm in changing direction when you go into clearing. Also, have some back up choices in case you don't get into your first choice. You'll have to be pretty quick off the mark though, lots of other students will be calling universities, and the phone lines may get very busy.

Once you're through you'll speak to clearing helpline staff who will ask for your results and then, if they are able, may offer you a place, or otherwise they'll put you through to an admissions tutor. Admissions tutors will give you a mini phone interview to find out why you've chosen that course and uni, and why you think you didn't get the grades you'd hoped for. They may also want to see students during the next couple of months so it pays to be available and not disappear on holiday.

Once you've accepted a university place, UCAS will be informed and you'll be all set to start your new course in September. In the meantime, what you get up to is up to you!