‘I’m so glad I trusted my gut’: Kathryn on clearing and staying calm

16 Aug 2019,
By Kathryn W., Student at Northumbria University

I went through clearing because I’d changed my mind about what I wanted to study. I changed my mind only a few weeks before A Level results day so there was a bit of a mad panic trying to find out the information I needed.

For me, the most daunting part was applying for a course I knew very little about. I’d read the course page on the university website, and sent several emails to ask questions and clarify information.

Can I even change course? If I get into my first choice university, or even my insurance, can I pull out of my place and enter clearing?

It went far more seamlessly than I could have imagined.

The answer to both of those questions is yes. Then came the challenge of deciding exactly where I wanted to go. What did I even want to study? Did I stick to the same university, but a different course? This idea was tempting because I’d been to my first choice university twice, I’d seen the buildings, looked at the accommodation and chatted to lecturers and other prospective students.

Did I stay in the same city, but choose a different university? This idea also made sense to me. The city is what had drawn me to studying there in the first place. The Quayside, bustling centre, and easy access to the countryside had all been appealing.

Or, did I choose a completely different course and location altogether? This was definitely the most daunting and isn’t something I ruled out straight away. In fact, I put several universities on my clearing list that were miles away from home, and from the university I’d already applied to.

In the end I found the course I wanted at the other university in Newcastle, Northumbria - initially my insurance choice, but not somewhere I’d visited. Knowing how much I loved Newcastle put my mind somewhat at ease about the clearing process and the prospect of studying somewhere I hadn’t visited. It also opened up a huge choice of university accommodation, something I was worrying about had I decided to study somewhere else. Newcastle has such a huge choice of student accommodation so I knew, even though I wasn’t living on campus, I’d be able to choose a room that was right for me.

Having made my decision, results day couldn’t come around quickly enough and after two short phone calls my place was secure.

Then came freshers’ week, something I’ve spoken about here before. A university I’d never been to, a course I’d chosen last minute, and lecturers I’d never met. I was nervous, to say the least.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t doubt my choice during the first semester. Had it been the right one? My family hadn’t been the most supportive of my choice, but it wasn’t their decision to make. They have their education behind them and are happy with their chosen career paths. I still have my whole life ahead of me and, while university isn’t the be-all and end-all, I wanted to make sure I was on the right course for me.

Here are my top three tips for clearing:

1) Have your results ready. And your UCAS information too. When you start calling your prospective universities, that’s the information they want.

2) Narrow down your options. It can be easy to create a long list of universities to call, but placing them in order of preference can be helpful for when you start calling. If you’re really struggling, try writing a pros and cons list for each one.

3) Don’t panic. Clearing can be a stressful experience, perhaps more so if you haven’t quite got the results you need. But don’t panic. Where there’s a will, there’s a way - and everything will work out okay in the end.

Clearing. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? It shouldn’t. While it was daunting at first, it went far more seamlessly than I could have imagined. As it turns out, it was one of the best decisions I made, and something my family now agrees with.

I was so glad I’d trusted my gut instinct and changed my mind. I’ve met some wonderful people, learnt new skills, and exercised a whole lot of creative energy making short films, documentaries, and animations.

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By Kathryn W.
Student at Northumbria University