Published: July 11, 2018
It’s fast approaching. There’s no getting away from it, applying to university is a lot more complicated than it used to be. As a Student Administration Officer, I know that better than most and I see the shifting trials and tribulations faced by each years’ new intake of students, particularly on results day and Clearing.
Results day is a key date for both applicants and their parents and supporters. How can you help with the myriad of things your child or children need to do on this monumental day, you may ask? Let’s dig into some practical, preparatory things you can do to make things go a little smoother on the day.
Tip 1: Knowledge is power
If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology and timescales of Clearing, there is lots of very useful and clearly explained information on the UCAS website.
Some other handy things you can do before the big day is to make sure your son/daughter has:
• Their UCAS id number written down and on hand
• A pen and paper
• A fully charged phone
• A laptop or tablet for browsing
• A list of the Clearing phone numbers for all relevant universities – those applied to and any others of interest for Clearing and Adjustment.
Tip 2: Help them research their options well in advance of results day
Before you start this stage, remember that:
• If your son/daughter gets the grades they need, they don’t need Clearing and their university will likely confirm their place early on results day
• If they did better than they expected, they can shop around using Adjustment… More on this later.
• If they didn’t get the grades they needed to meet a conditional offer, they still have options and can participate in Clearing
So, what do you need to research then? Even if your son/daughter is confident they will get the grades they need, it’s worth researching other universities with slightly lower entry criteria just in case they don’t. All universities will have their courses, accommodation and scholarships detailed on their websites so sit with your son/daughter and get them started with looking at all of their options. They may have already looked at other universities before they made their first application, it’s always worth having another look in case any new courses or incentives are available.
Applicants will also have the option to use Adjustment if they get better grades than expected. This is a process whereby an applicant can search for other universities and courses. This is risk-free and their original offer will be held in UCAS until they confirm they’d like to go elsewhere. Make sure to research both Clearing and Adjustment options. The truly organised will put them in order of preference, writing down key details such as questions to ask, entry requirements for the course and phone numbers for more information.
Tip 3: On results day
Many applicants check UCAS Track early on results day. Universities will already have had the results for a day or two and will be updating Track as fast as they can. It’s worth checking as it might tell your son/daughter if they have been accepted. However, it can take a few hours to update so don’t panic if it still shows that their place hasn't been confirmed! If this happens, phone the university they applied to as they will be able to confirm the status of any application… usually universities have a confirmation line that you can call where you will get to speak to an experienced member of staff. The University of Sunderland confirmation line is 0191 515 3008.
Tip 4: If they didn’t quite get the grades they were expecting…
This is where you can really shine. Your son/daughter didn’t quite make the grades. They’ll probably be upset and anxious. But don’t worry, there are always options. This is what Clearing is really all about.
First of all, try to keep them calm and focused. They now have some decisions to make so a cool, rational frame of mind is essential. Start looking at those fallback options you both researched so thoroughly in tip 2. Check the grades they got against this tariff point calculator and start mapping the tariff points against Clearing options.
Many universities will also have courses specifically designed for those with lower or non-standard entry requirements, like our Integrated Foundation Year courses. These are great options for those that didn’t achieve the grades they need for their first choice as they include study skills modules and a grounding in the subject to help students gain the confidence they need for higher education level study.
Unfortunately, universities won’t be able to speak to you so you’ll have to step back and take a supportive role now, your son/daughter should call the universities themselves. Clearing phone lines will be very busy, particularly between 7am – 11am. Don’t panic if you can’t get through – keep trying, leave a voicemail and check the university website to see if they have an option to apply for a Clearing place online or request a call back. Here at Sunderland, students can request a call back by filling in our online form, taking the hassle out of trying to get through to a busy Clearing department. We also have an option on our website to fill in a short application form to apply directly for a place, or to use the live chat service on our Clearing pages.
Tip 5: Aim higher
Perhaps your son/daughter got better grades than they (and you!) expected. They also have options, specifically the aforementioned Adjustment. Think of Adjustment like shopping around, with no risk of losing the original offer. This is all done through the UCAS Track system and applicants can look around for up to five days. The original university will hold the original offer while your son/daughter looks around. If they don’t find anything suitable, they can go back into UCAS Track and choose to keep their original offer.
Remember to consult the research that was done in tip 2 and no matter how tempting it might be, encourage your son/daughter to make all phone calls and communications themselves as universities won’t be able to speak to you.
With the right preparation and your support, every single student has options on results day, no matter what results they achieved.
And those are our practical tips for parents and supporters during Clearing – preparation, research and zen! Have you previously supported a child through the Clearing process?
Lastly, good luck and we hope to be welcoming you to the University of Sunderland in September.