Clearing 2013!

A level results are out on August 15th ' next week. Whether the day has crept up on you or you've been closely watching its arrival, the big day will soon be upon you. Whilst the majority of students get the grades that they were expecting and needed for acceptance into university there are thousands that discover they have failed to meet the requirements for their chosen university. Whilst it's horrible realising that you missed out, all is not lost as this is what clearing was designed for. Universities primarily want to educate you, but they also need money to run and they can maximise this by having full courses. So, if you've already applied to university through UCAS, you can use clearing to gain a place. By results day, the universities have all the data to work out how many places they have left to fill and they want you to take them!

It can be overwhelming and stressful, but some research and planning can take the pain away. If you leave it to the last minute, you could be left with a course that you don't like, in a city you don't like all because you decided: university, and didn't think about it.

The first thing to establish is which courses have places left and the best place to do this is on the UCAS website. Here, you may need to think outside the box and opt for a subject that's slightly different from your original choice. Would you be willing to exchange one science degree for another? Do consider what you want to do after university ' studying physics might be interesting, but if you're intent on becoming a vet then it probably isn't for you.

You must also consider the university that is providing the course and you may have to make crucial decisions about the location and how far away from home you want to be. Don't forget that there is an abundance of cheap student travel deals around ' and you want to be out there making friends, not retreating home every weekend!

By now you have hopefully decided on a course that you'd like to apply to through clearing. Have a think about WHY you're choosing to spend 3 or more years studying that subject and also go back over your personal statement, picking out the key points. This is really important as the next step is a phone call to the university and you must make the call, not your parents, as the universities can only offer a place to the prospective student.

There's no telling how long it will take, but if you've made careful choices and are able to explain them, then the university should give you an informal offer. They normally allow you some time to think it over, so try and visit while you can. If you decide to accept the offer then you can let them know by updating your UCAS. Then the next stage is working out how to fit your life into a small student room!