Results day and Clearing is a busy time of year for students and universities. Most institutions run Clearing hotlines on results day and there afterwards and students can find their telephone numbers on their websites.
What you need before you call
Students should have their grades, UCAS Tariff points and their UCAS personal ID and Clearing number before they call. Students should also have a pen and pad to write questions they want to ask beforehand, as well as their personal statement printed and to hand if they want to refer to it. Students should write down the university, what time they called and the name of the member of staff they spoke to in case they need to ring them back or if the university offers to call them back. Students should also check the Clearing vacancies before calling as hoping your course – which has no free spaces – has a spot for you and calling up won’t guarantee you a place.
Who will be on the other end of the line?
Most Clearing helplines are manned by students – some who have actually been through the Clearing process themselves – graduates and staff who are trained to be informative, kind and helpful. Sometimes students may be passed to a head of a department or teacher/lecturer too.
What happens on the phone?
On some occasions students will be offered a place on the spot, but if you want time to decide universities will usually give students 12 or 14 hours to think about their choice. At other times during Clearing universities may be uncertain about what numbers they have available on courses and will let students know via phone or email. That is why it can be handy to have two phone lines handy, maybe use your landline and a mobile. Use one to phone universities and the other give the number as a contact for universities or people to phone you back.
What to do whilst on the phone
Students should make notes about conversations on their pad under each universities and the name of the person they speak to – for information to refer back to. So when students decide to think about their choices they can look back their notes and not just the information on the university’s websites.
Take a break
Students should give themselves breaks during the time that they are calling up universities. Giving yourself a break will ensure you are thinking over the information that you have already received and think about whether you want to go to the university(ies) you have contacted.
Calling about course information
Students should check beforehand if the course they’re interested in has any free spaces. If their courses do not have any free spaces students should re visit to check throughout Clearing as spaces can become available – but it isn’t guaranteed for every course and/or every university.
Can I get someone else to ring for me?
Short answer: no. Your family members, like mum, or your teachers and school cannot ring up for you. You have to do it yourself. It can be daunting but after the first few you get into the swing of things and the nerves go away.
Will I get straight through to someone?
Clearing helplines will be busy as there are thousands of other students doing the same thing as you are now! If lines are busy you can call back, and in the meantime call another university to save time. You can choose to hold but there is no indication of how long you will be waiting on the phone.
Will I have to do an interview?
In some cases universities conduct a small telephone interviews which is much more informal than it sounds! When you have you notes and personal statement in front of your beforehand if this does happen then it won’t seem as scary. Some questions might be: why you want to study at that university, why you are interested in that course. Universities want to know why and how you are committed.
Should I ask questions?
Students can ask any questions or queries they have to ensure that they are making the right decision than regret it later on. Students can ask how the course is taught, assessed – coursework or exams etc. – and you can ask what student life at the university is like. Students can ask about halls of residence, societies and life at the university. The person at the other end of the line won’t get frustrated or annoyed at your questions because they are there to help you and they’re happy to answer because these questions could be a decision-maker for you!
What if I start to cry?
Clearing and results day is a very stressful time of a student’s life and its okay if you get a bit emotional and the staff on the other end are kind, gentle and know how to deal with emotional students. The advisers can help you and steer you in the right direction. You can always get their name and call them back if you need some time to yourself.
What happens next?
Ensure that you understand what you need to do if you have been offered a place. You can, if you have been given a time frame to answer the offer, to visit the university if it is close to get a feel of the university and of the campus. If you’re happy with your university and your new offer than you can log onto UCAS Track and add the university and course details as a choice and wait for the university to accept and confirm your place.
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