1. Be Prepared
Do your research so you know what steps to take once you’ve received your grades. Make a note of phone numbers, email addresses and web access for your preferred universities. You could even have a strategy for different potential grade results.
You’ll need the following information when placing a Clearing call: your UCAS personal ID number, what subject/course you’re interested in and what results you achieved for each subject at A Level (some universities may ask about GCSE results). Scribble these down ahead of time so you’re not hunting for them on results day.
And remember that many universities will be very busy and there may be a queuing system in place. Stay determined and keep trying. You’ll get through eventually.
2. USE YOUR UCAS HUB TO CHECK YOUR PROGRESS
UCAS allows you to check the progress of your university applications once submitted and update you if either of your Firm or Insurance choices have been accepted. In the event that neither have been accepted, UCAS will let you know if you’re eligible for Clearing.
Most Universities will give you a window of time to make a decision, valuable time to weigh up all your options, decide if you want to go to university this year and, if so, which one.
If you end up getting a few offers, UCAS will put you back in the driving seat. Keep in mind that if you are given an offer on results day and you’re in Clearing, you can’t accept a place via UCAS until 3pm, so preparation is key.
3. CHECK IN ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH AND BE MINDFUL
It’s common to feel some anxiety during the Clearing process. When stressed it’s easy to feel powerless or like there's nothing we can do to help ourselves. So try to focus on what you can control. It may be helpful to write down any practical difficulties you are facing and then come up with lists of potential solutions or sources of support.
When stressed our minds can jump to the worst-case scenario, or we may find ourselves making negative predictions about the future. It can be helpful to catch these thoughts, and rather than judge ourselves for them, try to instead remind ourselves that these are thoughts not facts.
There is more guidance on the Get Self Help website around managing unhelpful thinking.
4. YOGA AND BREATHING EXERCISES
Practices like yoga, qi gong and tai chi are great ways to centre your energy and get in touch with your body, which can make a big difference when you’re experiencing stress and anxiety. These methods are also associated with stress-busting breathing techniques such as alternate nostril breathing and diaphragmatic breathing.
Take a look at this video from Rach in the UEA Student Services team talking through a quick grounding technique for understanding and managing some of the emotions that could be effecting you during this time.
5. OPEN UP AND TALK TO SOMEONE
Reaching out to friends and family can help you put things into perspective. Many of them may be going through the exact same thing or experienced similar in the past. You’ll find students sharing their own clearing experiences online on various platforms – take a look a James’s story, who found himself in clearing after his offers were rejected.
Talk to someone you trust. Stress and worry can feel isolating and lonely, so it’s important to reach out to other people. This could be a friend, partner, family member or a support line.
The mental health benefits of practising mindfulness meditation are well documented, for instance increasing your stress resilience by drawing your attention away from future worries and into the present moment and by altering the behaviour of the amygdala, your brain’s fear centre.
If you’re not sure how to get started, you could try a guided meditation app like Headspace.
7. VISIT YOUR GP
If the clearing process is having a negative effect on your mental health and impacting your ability to do everyday tasks, then reach out for professional help.
There are a range of treatments and therapies that can help you manage your mental health, so if it feels like it’s getting too much then make an appointment with your doctor to start exploring options.
Keep in mind that Clearing doesn’t go on forever, it's simply a steppingstone towards a brand new chapter of your life. Try to keep a sense of perspective as you go through this experience. In the meantime, we hope that the tips above will help you deal with any difficulties that it brings up for you.