Don’t Feel Bad About Going Through Clearing, It’s One of The Best Things That’s Ever Happened To Me

Getting your A Level results is stressful. You have the anxiety of waiting to find out how you did, and then you have to make other plans if you missed your grades.

Realising you’ll have to apply to university through clearing can be tough, and can leave you feeling like a failure. I wanted to talk to a graduate who has been through it all already to demystify the process and show that applying to university through clearing is not a bad thing, and that everything can still work out just as well – if not better – than if you’d achieved your first choice.

I spoke to Jenny Mullinder to see how things worked out for her after her initial disappointment on results day.

When Jenny applied to university, her first choice was a Marketing and Communications degree at Birmingham City; she needed B, B, C in order to get in. But when results day came around, she opened her envelope to find a piece of paper reading all Cs. She’d missed the grades and was beginning to worry she wouldn’t be moving to Birmingham in September after all.

At the time, Jenny tells me she was “a mess”.

“It was a really weird and emotional time for me… I’d planned out everything – where I was going to live on campus, the nearest shops, what bedding and stationery and plates and stuff I was going to buy. I’d talked to some girls who were going to be on my course through Facebook.”

I was disappointed in myself for doing so badly when I knew I was capable of more.

Naturally, after getting excited about going off to uni and with everything all set up and ready to go, Jenny was really let down when it began to seem like things weren’t going to work out. She tells me she was definitely disappointed, but not entirely surprised. When Jenny was studying for her A-Levels she was also a young carer for her mum, meaning she missed some classes in order to take her mother to hospital appointments. She says, “I sort of knew I wasn’t going to get the grades for my offers… but I had hoped I would get let in.”

Jenny had hoped her extenuating circumstances wouldn’t impact her conditional place, but unfortunately Birmingham City University withdrew their offer to Jenny meaning her only option was to go through clearing. “I was disappointed in myself for doing so badly when I knew I was capable of more,” she says, “I definitely cried on the phone a little bit.”

“I remember going to the corner of the courtyard at my sixth form – I didn’t want to be right in front of people because I knew I’d get emotional. I sat down on the grass and had a little cry. My friend came over and just gave me a hug and said we should go to the pub.”

photo provided

photo provided

After Jenny had taken some time to deal with her news and let it sink in, she looked into clearing and began to see the positive side to her situation.

Having to change her plans was “scary, but it was sort of exciting too,” she tells me. “Everything was so fast.”

Clearing can be really stressful, and you have to act quickly as lots of students who didn’t get accepted into university the first time round will be competing with you for places. Jenny recalls how she “went into autopilot,” saying, “I just had to get in there and phone people and sort stuff out.”

Jenny called every university that still had places she was interested in. She tells me the process is pretty simple, but that it’s good to be organised and write all the information you need down in one place. She also says that sometimes it’s necessary to be really persistent with universities in order to get answers from them as quickly as possible.

In the end, Jenny accepted a place at the University of Greenwich to study Creative Writing.

“When [I found out] I’d got in I literally burst into tears in the middle of what later became one of my seminar rooms,” Jenny tells me. Looking back, she thinks getting rejected by her preferred uni choice worked out well for her: “I feel really lucky that I went through clearing in the end.”

Sometimes plans fall apart so that better ones can happen in their place. 

Jenny admits she had originally applied for a more business-related course because she thought she should: “I felt pressure to apply for a ‘real course’ with good career prospects after. When I didn’t get in, and all my plans blew up, I felt like life is too short and so I should just go for what I really wanted.”

“Clearing was one of the best things that’s happened to me in my life so far, because I ended up feeling free to work on my passion – creative writing, and to move to London which had been something I dreamed of doing one day.”

For Jenny, the clearing process allowed her to re-evaluate a really big life decision based on what she really wanted, and also says it’s not as painful as she expected it to be. Now, after having graduated, Jenny is a Content and Marketing Executive at Youth Employment UK and tells me she loves what she does: “It seems like I’ve ended up right where I was meant to be.”

photo provided

photo provided

I ask Jenny what advice she would give to A-Level students who are worried about clearing.

She says “No matter what happens, you will be OK. The world will keep turning, you will find a new plan if the one you have right now doesn’t work out. Sometimes plans fall apart so that better ones can happen in their place. Just think of it as an adventure, and make the best of it.”

She finishes by saying, “If I can go through clearing and end up doing an amazing job against the odds, then I promise you will be fine. Make sure you have friends and family around you and, whatever your results are, take some time to celebrate the fact that you’ve got to this stage. You deserve to be proud of yourself regardless of what a piece of paper says.”

If you’re applying to university through clearing, you can find out all the information you need on the UCAS website here