It’s that time already, clearing, when (in the UK) all the A Level results are released and students are crossing their fingers for a place at university. For many, it will just be another day in the week. Nothing important or out of the ordinary will happen, other than you might catch a glimpse of a scared-stiff teen live on the BBC or ITV opening up their A Level results. You’ll probably marvel at how brave they are for going public, and that will be that. But, if you’re a parent of teens (and beyond) receiving results this week, it’s likely to be the scariest, hairiest week of your year! From a non-parent perspective it’s hard to get it. Why on earth would you be worried? Why would August be playing on your mind (possibly all year)? And why would you consider poking your parent-nose into your child’s business? But don’t worry; a lot of parents will get it.
As parents we spend a good part of our lives protecting our children. Whether they are babies, pre-schoolers, teens or grown-ups, it’s just something that we do. I don’t know about you, but I have a knee-jerk reaction to anything that could potentially be steering the course of my little ones future. She may be little right now, but I know that deep-down if I could possibly ‘do something’ to help in a situation like this, then I would. Which, inevitably brings me onto clearing week, because how can a parent help without over stepping that invisible boundary. Making you either the best parent ever or the world’s most interfering?
Here’s how you may be able to help:
1. Drop hints that clearing isn’t all about low grades and trying to scrape into any university that will take them. It’s about taking a shot, even if you’ve missed first time round. It’s also a good system for those that have done very well and may wish to aim higher so to speak. Clearing is no longer a negative system, but rather a positive one full of endless possibilities.
2. Fingers crossed they will get into their 1st or 2nd university choices. But, it’s always good to have a backup plan, even if it’s unlikely to be needed. No scaremongering allowed, just a general prod in the ‘just in case’ direction.
3. It doesn’t hurt to look right? At the moment at lot of universities have their clearing gates open for those that have got their results. You’ll already know which course your child wants to get onto, so jump in and have a look at a few universities clearing webpages to gauge if any of them are now accepting slight lower grades. A good place to start is checking out all the universities that they applied for, and all the ones they shortlisted before making the final 5 choice cut. You don’t have to tell them, but if you gather the information up just in case it’s needed, you can pass it onto them if things don’t go to plan. Universities update their clearing pages often, so look out for any that suddenly close as they are full, or change the asking grades or points. Because this does happen.
4. Never call a universities clearing line or admissions office on their behalf to try and apply for them, find out if they got in or to generally try and persuade a university that ‘little Fred’ is actually the bees knees and had a one-off result flop. Really, just don’t do it. No one will thank you for it, believe me. Not only will your child probably feel really silly, but the universities will only be able to discuss applications with the actual applicant themselves. It’s always going to be a no-win situation all round. A possible exception to the rule is an emergency situation. And no, I don’t mean because they can’t call for themselves because they are in bed, at work or out of the country.
5. Finally and probably the most forgotten thing is to make sure your child has all their details written out before they start ringing around universities for clearing. In the heat of the moment it’s not uncommon to forget what grades you got and even how to spell your own name! Make sure they have their UCAS number and results, including GCSE’s to hand, as well as any prompts that might help them such as a print out of their UCAS application that they can refer to.
6. Bonus tip! Bring all the smiles and encouragement. No matter what their results are, there is always a way through, even if it takes a bit longer than expected.
*Please bear in mind that these tips may not work out for everyone. Everyone deals with stressful situations differently and ultimately you know your child best. This is not a definitive guide.
Whatever the next few days may throw at you, we are sending all the luck and may the force be with you!
What do you make of clearing? Maybe you even went through it yourself?