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Making the final choice

Clearing success story: Newcastle

Read about Morag's experience of getting a place through Clearing to study Chemistry at Newcastle University.

Morag, university Clearing student at Newcastle University

What degree did you originally apply for and where?

I moved up to Scotland from Yorkshire, the summer before upper sixth. My first choice before moving was Edinburgh University.

Why did you use Clearing?

I felt my exams had gone well and having achieved good grades throughout school, so I didn’t even consider the possibility of Clearing. 

This made it so much worse on results day – I was in complete shock. It felt like the world was ending. This may sound like an exaggeration but when you’ve imagined yourself in the buildings, the accommodation, studying in one particular place, and now that whole fantasy is no longer possible because of some unchangeable results, the fantasy is crushed.

I needed AAA for my first-choice university and achieved BBB. I felt like I had failed my exams and this mentality has taken a few years to change. I got amazing results but just ended up in an unlucky position. 

To cut a long story short, I was in a very unfortunate and rare position of being a Clearing Scottish student with A Level results. The Scottish Higher results had been released the week previous, therefore, all the Scottish Clearing places had already gone. It was very frustrating to be told I could have a place at my first-choice university, but only if I was self-funded. 

One option was to resit my A Levels, which was something I really didn’t want to do as I hadn’t got bad grades, but without an ‘A’ my first-choice or insurance choice wouldn’t offer me a place. I could start a new school in Scotland and take Scottish Highers, again not something I wanted to do. My final option was to look at English university Clearing places, but accept I would finish with more student debt.

I chose this option as I wanted to go to a high-ranking university for Chemistry and, had we not moved a year ago, I would have ended up with the same student debt anyway.

Why did you choose Chemistry at Newcastle?

I got Clearing offers from Liverpool University and Newcastle University, neither of which I had visited. 

Fortunately, the kind admissions tutor at Newcastle offered to show me round the day after results day and Liverpool were having a Clearing open day the day after that. 

After securing my place at Newcastle, three days after results day, I felt relieved but also very happy with my decision. I was still going to attend a very good university regardless of my entry route. Initially through UCAS I had applied for MChem with placement, but I could only be offered a BSc Chemistry place initially and then after stage 1, if I achieved the necessary results, I could transfer onto the MChem with year in industry.

Did you attend a Clearing open day? How was it?

I chose Newcastle because of my visit and tour by the admissions tutor. While I was feeling like a failure and embarrassed of my situation, he treated me like any other prospective student and that they were lucky to have me choose them, not the other way around.

How was your university experience?

If I hadn’t have come to Newcastle, I wouldn’t have met my course mates, housemates, or boyfriend. I wouldn’t have lived away from home. I wouldn’t have had the great placement year that I did. This makes me so grateful for the opportunity to come to Newcastle.

I became a student ambassador because of my entry experience, too. I wanted to tell prospective students never to worry about Clearing or their exams and that I was living proof everything works out in the end. I tell them what I wish I’d done myself, to research clearing before results day as a plan B as I think this would have helped and to have some perspective, clearing does not mean failure, it just means it wasn’t meant to be.

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