Maybe your Higher or A-Level results weren’t quite what you expected, and you’ve missed out on your university course of choice.
The good news is that clearing is no longer the taboo subject it once was, and far from a last resort measure for struggling students. It’s actually a useful tool to understand your full range of options.
There’s really no need to worry, the perfect course is out there for you somewhere, and universities across Scotland have hundreds of places to fill right now.
That’s a fact that’s both reassuring and daunting, but how do you go about finding the right course?
Your first port of call should be the UCAS website. You’ll need your UCAS number ready, but from there you can start browsing the options available to you.
Head to this UCAS page, where you can begin to sort through the plethora of available courses.
There are a number of ways you can search:
Clicking in the ‘Select up to three subjects’ box will give you a drop down menu, from which you can choose three subjects that interest you.
Suggestions are listed, with the top five most popular subjects first, and the rest following in alphabetical order.
If you’d rather search by location, you can skip the above step by clicking ‘Next’.
You’ll be given three ways in which you can search by location.
‘Location’ lets you select geographical areas you might be interested in studying at.
Again, you can select up to three, and the locations listed are fairly broad, such as ‘Scotland’ or ‘North East England’.
‘University or college’ lets you search by institution.
This is a good tool if you already have a good idea of where you might like to study and if you didn’t get into your course of choice, but are still set on attending the same university or college.
You can select up to three universities to search.
Finally, ‘Distance from you’ lets you search out universities within a radius around your location.
Enter your postcode and select how wide you want the search to be (up to 100 miles), and UCAS will find universities near you. This is perfect if you don’t want to travel too far to study.
Once you’ve set up your search parameters, whether through subject or location, click ‘Next’ to be taken to your results page.
There, you can refine your search even further, using the checkboxes down the left-hand side of the page to filter results.
To get you started, here are links to the Clearing vacancies available at Scottish universities:
Once you’ve found a course you like the look of, the next step should be to pick up the phone.
This might seem scary, but speaking to a human at the universities you’re interested in may help iron out confusion more effectively than endless online searching.
Make a note of any questions you want to ask them about the course expectations or otherwise. It’s also fine to ask to speak to a current student about what it’s like there.
Imagine the telephone conversation as a two-way interview. It may be that a university wants to arrange a time for you to speak to a tutor to evaluate whether you have the right skills and attitude for their course.
Try making a checklist – what are the qualities you are looking for in both a course and a university?
If you will be moving away to study, what housing options are available? How expensive will it be to travel to or live in that town?
If you can’t make a visit to the university in time, check to see if they do a virtual tour online. Social media can also help answer some of these practical questions.
Also remember that there’s no need to rush.
Some universities may try to hurry you into a decision. But students shouldn’t make a choice until they feel ready to.
Any university that gives you an offer will have a time they want you to respond by, most often that will be 24 hours.
If they’re rushing you to respond within a couple of hours, maybe ask yourself, is that somewhere you really want to be?