This week, thousands of students around the country will receive their A Level results, with the contents of that envelope determining their university career over the next few years.
So, if you’re due to find out what you got in your A2 exams and whether you’ve made it into your first choice university, read this guide to find out what you should do once you’ve bravely torn open the envelope and discovered what you got.
1) Getting into your first choice
Whether you’re likely to get a place at your first choice of university or not, 18-year-olds all over England and Wales will be dreading getting their results this Thursday (August 15th). However, you might be one of the lucky ones that have achieved high enough grades to simply get a place at their favourite university.
If this is the case, you will automatically be accepted into your uni, so you don’t need to do anything – unless you’ve been instructed to do so. Once a letter has been sent to you to confirm your course, your online UCAS Track will update your status so you can see it easily on the internet.
What you will have to do next depends on your letter, so it’s important to follow instructions carefully. For instance, you might have to fill in a slip at the bottom and send this back to the university; however, some don’t insist you do this. It is always important to keep this letter safe though as this is your proof you’ve got a place at your chosen university, so you can simply begin preparing for your impending move and get ready for the next phase of your life.
2) Accepting an insurance offer
You might not have made your firm offer, but your results might be good enough for you to meet other choices you put down on your UCAS form.
The first thing to do is check your UCAS Track, as some universities still accept those who do not make their offer if there are enough spaces available. Remember to phone up the university if it still says your place is conditional so you can determine whether you have a place either way.
However, if this isn’t the case for you and you fail to meet your first choice, don’t fear, as you may have met your insurance offer. Your UCAS Track will tell you whether it has given you a place or not, and if it has, you can simply wait for your letter to confirm this.
If it unclear whether it has accepted you or not on the UCAS Track – you may not have achieved high enough grades for your insurance offer, for instance – it is best to phone up.
3) Going through Clearing
While it can be very disappointing for lots of young people on results day when they don’t meet their first choice university or their insurance offer, this doesn’t mean they won’t be spending September celebrating their Fresher’s Week somewhere in the country.
The next step they have to take is to go through Clearing, something that thousands of school leavers have to do every year. If you check your UCAS Track status, it will tell you whether you’re in the Clearing process and, if you are, the first thing you should do is look through the Clearing vacancies available.
Search by looking at what universities have places for the course you would like to study; once you have compiled a list, call up the universities and tell them why you should be considered for a place. You might have to phone a number of universities before you get a place on the course you want. Alternatively, if your priority is going to a university you prefer as you aren’t 100% sure about what course you want to study anyway, it might be worth looking at similar subjects at your preferred institutions.
It is important to be ready to call up as early as possible on Thursday if you think you might have to go through clearing, as students from all over the country will be ringing up the same universities so you have a better chance of getting a place if you’re one of the first to phone.
Once you’ve been given a place through Clearing, your UCAS Track will be updated and the university will confirm your place. Then you can relax and begin preparing for starting a new life in a few weeks’ time!
4) Thinking about retaking
Should you be unable to find a place through Clearing or you’re unhappy with your results and think you can do better, you might consider retaking your exams at a later date and delaying your start of university.
It’s important to think carefully about this, particularly if taking a year out and retaking some exams means you have to turn down any offers you’ve already been given. You should also think carefully about whether it’s realistic that you’ll actually be able to improve on your results.
At this stage, speak to your tutors and school for some advice and what your steps are from here. Any offers you have been given – if any – have to be declined, and you should start thinking about how you can make the most of this time out, whether that’s trying to organise a gap year project after your retakes in January or going back to college to improve your results.
5) Go through the Adjustment period
Of course, you might have the opposite dilemma of getting much higher grades than you anticipated and far exceeding the grades stipulated in your firm offer. If this is the case, you might decide it is worth trying to get a place at a better university, in which case you have to go through the Adjustment service.
In order to potentially get a place at an alternative university, you’ll have to contact admissions offices of the institutions that offer courses you’re interested in. Then it’s simply a case of seeing whether there are vacancies available for students applying through Adjustment.
There are only five 24-hour periods between August 15th and 31st when the Adjustment time is available, so if you don’t make a final decision whether you’re going to accept an offer from another university by the end of the month, you will just keep the offer you were given by your original university of choice.
Whatever your results are and whatever you decide to do, this is an exciting time for any 18-year-old, so remember to enjoy it. For most of you, you’ll be starting the new academic year at university, meeting new people and adjusting to a different city. And those who don’t make it to university this year still have the potential for 2013/14 to be the time they assess their future and make it a truly great year!