Clearing: a place where the sun can shine through

Like colleagues all over the country, I’ve been with students receiving their A Level and BTEC results today. For all there is the relief that the wait is finally over, for many jubilation that they got the grades they need for their dream course at university, and for some disappointment that they didn’t quite make it.

Well done to all those who found what they wanted in those envelopes, but this post is for those who are entering UCAS clearing, their families and the teachers who are helping them.

It may seem that a door has closed in your face, but really clearing opens up a wealth of opportunities. I gained my university place through clearing and, looking back, it was one of the best things that could have happened. I ended up going to a University I had originally applied for, just on a different course. I got to spend my time studying a subject I still love, I had a fantastic three years at what’s now called a ‘Russell Group’ university, made great friends, met a wonderful woman who later became my wife. I went on to gain a PhD and a career in a fabulously rewarding profession.

I didn’t know any of that when I opened my A level results envelope in 1985, but what seemed like a bit of a disappointment led to a world of opportunity. Right now colleges are clamouring for you to be a student next month. My advice to you is to see clearing as the opportunity it is – a place where the sun can shine through.


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