12th October 2017
12th October 2017

UK university applicants who fail to achieve either their first or insurance choices, are routinely referred to UCAS Clearing. While official, organisational feedback is not due until the end of the year, the Guardian newspaper has recently published an article in which a variety of universities contributed their thoughts on this year’s clearing process.

It’s a good idea for KY juniors in particular to familiarise themselves with the UCAS website sooner rather than later. I know that a lot of parents like to access it, too, so that they are systemically aware of what their sons and daughters will be going through. Overall, the whole UCAS machine works incredibly well. Furthermore we have a very knowledgeable staff at KY who are happy to assist students in every aspect of the application procedure.

For me, the most interesting point the newspaper article highlights is the role played by social media this year. During the course of several decades, I have heard a litany of complaints from students and parents about how difficult it is to contact UCAS when less-than-acceptable-results have emerged and the business of clearing begins. Anything that makes this situation less stressful is to be welcomed.

Another interesting issue in the article is that for many UK students, clearing is not regarded as a “last resort” but their preferred option for university placement. I’m guessing that the reason for this is that they have not had great offers because of poor AS grades, personal statements or something. They are hoping for much better grades than were predicted, which in turn will create opportunities to gain places at prestigious universities. If this is indeed the case, I suggest it is at best, a high-risk strategy. There is simply no better way of attempting to get into a good institution than doing well at AS or equivalent and submitting an exemplary application (i.e. one with good predicted grades, excellent references and an engaging personal statement).

Nonetheless it is good to know that via such vehicles as Facebook and WhatsApp, some of the impersonal and stress-related aspects of UCAS Clearing are reduced for those who are in genuine need of the service.

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