This is a collaborative post.
I have a post about University life today. More specifically, I’m going to talk about the clearing process.
It’s that time of year again when thousands of college leavers will be regretting their decisions not to apply for university. Or perhaps you simply didn’t get into any of your chosen schools. Either way, there’s no need to panic just yet. Clearing officially opened on July 5th and will continue to run until mid-September. This means you still have time to bag a place in time for the 2018-19 academic year.
If you are planning to take this route, though, it’s vital that you make the most of it. You will face some unique challenges, and not only in relation to your studies. Follow this step by step plan, however, and you’ll have nothing to fear.
Finding The Right Course
Whether you failed to gain a place at your preferred university or you simply didn’t apply is almost irrelevant at this stage. There are still plenty of spaces available across various courses and establishments. Sometimes, this can work out even better than if you’d landed your first choice.
By now, you should have a rough idea of the subject matter you’d like to study, although there may be a few options on the exact course title. Applying through clearing will limit your options, but finding a suitable university should still be on the agenda. After all, this is where you’ll be based for the majority of the next three (or maybe four) years.
If you’re unsure about a particular BA Hons (or other degree) you can speak to past graduates. This is one of the most important decisions of your life, so going the extra mile to get it right is pivotal.
Build A Winning Application
The majority of prospective students already sorted for the upcoming academic year. As such, you may think that it’ll be easy to get into a course on clearing. But while the universities are keen to fill those spots, they won’t want students that will crash out in the first term. The fact you didn’t apply in the first place statistically makes you a bigger risk. Proving your commitment is vital.
A winning university application should include a quality personal statement. Highlighting your attributes as a student will support your academic background. If you have work experience from within the industry, this should be promoted in a clear fashion too.
If nothing else, a winning application gets you back into the student mindset and boost your motivation. When you have that incentive to succeed at uni, you will.
Be Prepared For A Stressful Ride
Even when you’ve found a list of suitable courses and marketed yourself in the right way, there are no guarantees in this life. You may still face rejections, which will make life very stressful. Even if it feels as though time is running out, you must not give up. Persistence pays off in the end.
At this time, one of the best tips I can give you is to maintain control of your health and happiness. After a long day of calls and emails, going for a run can be the perfect way to reset your mindset before going again. When you are calm, you’ll be likely to approach the academic matters in a far more productive manner too.
You will get there in the end, no matter how bleak things may look during the difficult moments. Keep the faith, and you will not regret it.
It’s probably the least enjoyable part of the university application process. Unfortunately, the need to take the financial issues into account cannot be emphasised enough. Tuition fees alone could set you back just over nine grand a year, and there are various other items to consider too.
A loan from the Student Loans Company is still usually the best answer, although you’ll have to be quick now. Alternatively, some students may be able to fund their tuition through private money. As for the ongoing living costs, maintenance loans are an option. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with getting a job as long as it doesn’t impact your studies.
Or you could follow in the footsteps of entrepreneurs like Ben Francis by starting a business on the side. If this can be linked to your course, it may even actively support your studies.
Find A Place To Live
As a clearing student, the harsh reality is that getting a placement in halls of residence is less likely than if you’d applied months ago. Therefore, finding a place to live can be one of the most stressful challenges facing any clearing student.
When looking at student accommodation, it needs to be comfortable and affordable. The location is another crucial aspect, especially for those relying on public transport. Otherwise, the time and money spent on travel could compensate for any savings made by choosing a cheap place. Viewing the whole picture should also include considering on-site facilities and bill inclusions.
Of course, those looking at clearing vacancies at their local uni can skip this issue if still living with parents. However, this factor shouldn’t influence your decision on where to study.
Connecting With People
With only a few weeks until your course starts, you might not have the same opportunities to network at open days and other events. This will be particularly true for students that join after the induction days on their specific courses. Unless you are a particularly confident person, this can be a very daunting prospect indeed. Thankfully, there are still ways to communicate with others.
Social media groups that have been set up for students on your course are an ideal starting point. Meanwhile, general student forums, as well as services designed specifically for your uni, are great options too. Removing some of the apprehension before you start is key.
Once you do start, though, there’s no substitute for meeting people face-to-face. From hitting the SU bar to joining student societies, those steps are bound to have a positive impact.
Make Sure You Catch Up
If you’re going through the clearing process in the next few weeks, you should be settled into the student home and ready to begin on day one of term. For those that do not start until the classes have already started, catching up on the missed lectures is essential.
On the one hand, you may feel that the early credits from the first modules might not matter. On the other hand, the skills and knowledge learned here provide the building blocks for future development. Besides, once you fall behind, it can be very tough to recover. If you originally missed out on the course due to grades, this is the last thing you need.
Whether asking to borrow notes or speaking to a lecture, you must find a solution. To borrow an old cliché; start as you mean to go on.
Get Organised ASAP
Academic matters are the priority. Still, clearing students are perhaps under even more pressure to organise their lives. Whether you arrive during Freshers’ Week or just after, you are already playing catch up in other aspects of your life. Many of the part-time jobs will be gone while students may have already booked equipment and reading materials. This can make life a little difficult.
From buying secondhand books from graduates or going the extra mile to get your schedules in good health, regaining control is vital. Aside from actively boosting your studies and lifestyle, it can go a long way to aiding your mental health.
Seriously, if you lose control before the hard work gets started, the chances of dropping out increase drastically. Just ask my classmates that fell into that trap. Oh, you can’t. They dropped out.
Remember It’s Not The Only Solution
Clearing is an excellent option for prospective students that thought they’d missed the boat. I have several friends and classmates that have taken this route in recent years, with most of them agreeing it’s the smartest move they ever made.
Nevertheless, if you are a little worried about the timings or simply cannot find a spot on the course of your dreams, take a year out. Go travelling, earn some money, and try to force your foot in the door of your chosen career with a job or internship. If you get truly lucky, it may even allow you to bypass uni or learn while you earn starting next year.
Essentially, if you wish to use clearing to begin university, just be sure that it’s on your terms. Assuming that it is, this could be the first step towards the future you’ve always wanted.
Clearing is a stressful process, and it’s certainly better to get your first choice through traditional applications. Still, once you get settled into uni life as a clearing applicant, you’ll be on a level playing field to everyone else. Take the necessary steps during applications, in the lecture rooms, and at your accommodation, and you should be just fine.
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