After A-levels: a University Admission Officer’s perspective

AFTER A LEVEL RESULTS - A UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS OFFICER'S PERSPECTIVEIf you’ve not got the results you hoped for, don’t panic. Former University Admissions Officer Ian Douglas shares his experience on how to make Clearing work for you.

“I wish I could sleep, results out tomorrow. I hope I did OK, what if I don’t?” All these things were going through my head the night before my A-level results came out. Would I get to the university I wanted or would I have to go into Clearing? I’m sure almost all students have gone through this doubting time, as I did back in 1966 (the great year when England won the World Cup!). My results were not quite as planned, however rapid response meant the securing of my place of study.

My son suffered a similar fate with his results and immediately began to explore options when he did not get his first choice. His effort in Clearing led to his enrolment on the degree of his choice at an alternative university. He met his wife, who was on the same course and we now have two grandchildren. This is what a bioscience degree will do for you…

Entering Clearing

Post exams stress syndrome (PESS) is a common issue for students and even if they achieve their results students may have doubts about the course or going to university. The key to overcoming PESS is to discuss your situation with family, school advisers and others to clarify your own view of your situation and not to rush into anything.

If entering clearing, it is important to do the appropriate research and visit the universities you are now considering.

Do not make assumptions without checking them out. Do not rush into a decision which may not be the best for you.

Research first

Two years ago I had calls from students who actually achieved their first choice university but did not like it when they went to register. They had not visited the university before accepting the place. Would you buy a car without a test drive? Another call came from a mother asking about places and when I asked where the student was she told me he was in the pub! This is not advisable as admissions tutors want and need to talk to students not parents.

Remember not all students go to university straight from school or college, and if you have doubts it is important to consider them rather than grabbing any course in Clearing. Consider carefully your future, which may involve a year prior to university doing some work or voluntary activity. This would give you time to explore options and reapply for the following year, with your results, to gain the place on the course you really want.

Face the facts

After the results come out, celebrate or commiserate but don’t bury your head in the sand. If you have a change of heart or have to change your plans, see this as an opportunity and consider the range of options you have. Revise your plans and act on them in a careful and considered way to secure your route to success as it is important to remember your future is in your hands.

Don’t have sleepless nights but have all your prospectuses and information to hand for the results day, especially your UCAS number, so you can finalise the process of enrolment at your chosen university in a smooth and effortless way.

Remember help is at hand. I have had many discussions in Clearing with students over the phone and at Clearing open days with students who have then explored options and enrolled on an appropriate course.

Your time at university will be the best time of your life.

Ian Douglas

Ian Douglas’s career story – the short version
Ian planned to be an electrical engineer. In fact, he studied maths, physics and chemistry at A-level, did a year’s industrial placement and then did a degree in electrical engineering, followed by a post graduate teaching qualification. Ian then became a university admissions officer after a number of teaching posts and a further degree in solid state physics.

Find out more about surviving A-level results