What if my grades are not what I expected?
What if you do not receive any offers?
Before doing anything else, it might be worth considering 'why?' you didn’t receive any offers – do you need to take time out to gain relevant work experience or were you being slightly over ambitious? Was it a very competitive course? Did your target grades not match the standard offer? Making a realistic application is important, especially when you are competing against others.
If you didn’t receive any offers and you really want to try to get onto a degree course this academic year, then you have two options:
- UCAS Extra is available from late February till early July (check this on the UCAS website) and is designed for students who have been turned down by all of their choices or, for whatever reason, have turned down their offers. (Remember though, that if you turn your offers down, you can’t go back and ask them to take you later in the same academic year). Once Extra has closed, you are automatically entered into Clearing if this is appropriate.
- Clearing is available after the A Level results come out in August
Are you eligible for UCAS Extra?
If you are eligible for Extra, it will show up when you log into UCAS Track. Extra is designed for students who have been turned down by all of their choices or have turned down their offers. Universities and Colleges let UCAS know where they have spare places and you can search for these using the filters on the UCAS course search. Whilst this search does show you which courses have places available in Extra, it doesn’t let you know HOW many places are still available on each course.
You can also sign up for UCAS Media mailings if you'd like to get emails from universities and colleges with details of their vacancies
Extra gives you the chance to reconsider your university and college application, perhaps looking at courses not requiring such high grades or even different subjects should you have changed your mind. You need to contact the university or college to see whether they are prepared to consider you and it may be that they will request further information or you can offer to send them a new personal statement, especially if you have decided to change subjects.
It is unlikely that the really competitive courses will have places available in Extra. It is only possible for you to apply for one new course at any time through Extra so this does mean that you will not be able to have an insurance place. For details on Extra use the UCAS website and read their FAQs.
Whatever situation you find yourself in – whether you have been rejected by your 5 choices or completely changed your mind, don’t panic and just opt for any offer
Remember, the choice in Extra needs to be researched so take a look at which course to do to make sure that it is a good choice for you. If you do not receive an offer through Extra or decide that you don’t like what was offered, you are still eligible for Clearing.
Have you only applied to one course?
If you only applied for one course, it is possible for you to add another choice as long as you do this before the end of June. There is an additional charge to UCAS for this.
Are you eligible for Clearing?
You are eligible for Clearing if you do not hold any offers.
For those students taking A levels, Clearing starts after results are announced in August. Universities and Colleges tell UCAS where they have places available through either students not achieving the right grades or students not taking up their insurance offer because they did make the grades for their firm offer.
Although it tends to work on a first come, first served basis, it is really important that if you find yourself in Clearing that you do not take the first place you are offered. Students tend to feel pressurized and panic and accept offers without doing their research first. If at all possible you should follow these pointers:
- Visit the institution– universities and colleges will have staff working over this period for you to talk to. You will be spending at least 3 years of your life there – a website and a video tour can only show you so much!
- Don’t forget to do all the research you need to, checking out the course content, opportunities for work placements, employability statistics, ratio of coursework to exams - Find and compare will give you some good ideas.
- Check out what is still available for you in university or college (If applicable) accommodation as well as finding out about the clubs and societies. Remember, in order to gain a good graduate outcome, the more you actively participate in university life, the more likely an employer is to be interested in you.
- The whole package still needs to be right for you, whether you are going to university or college through Clearing or not. For most people, going to university/college is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – so make sure it is the right choice for you!
- Talk to your school or college staff as they know you well. Listen to their advice and, where possible, talk to your careers adviser who will be able to give you impartial advice on all your options.
It can feel very flattering to hear a university or college telling you that they would really like you on their course, but just make sure it is the right course at the right university for you! If the institution has places on a less competitive course, they may offer you a place on a similar subject course or on a joint honours or combined course.
Take this time to consider whether if the course & institution is right for you OR would you be better taking time out and applying again next year? Always use the UCAS website to get the full picture on Clearing
UCAS Clearing - Direct Contact Service
The UCAS Direct Contact Service is a system by which students say, before the results come out, whether they would like to be entered into Clearing. By registering your interest, UCAS hopes that it will mean that students will get a university place more quickly. Universities and colleges will be able to contact you on results day to offer you a place, on what they consider to be a relevant course. You don’t have to accept any of these offers. Take the time to research anything that is offered, rather than just accepting.
If you make the grades you need for either your firm or insurance offer, even if you have opted in for this new service, you will not be contacted by any universities/colleges. For details on this new service consult the UCAS website.
Adjustment: grades better than expected
Some students find that they do better than expected when they get their results in August. If you are holding a firm choice and your results are better than this offer, you should be eligible for Adjustment - which is the opportunity to try to get into a different university that often asks for higher grades than you were predicted.
Supporting your child: If they don't get a University place.
If your child has their heart set on going to university or college but doesn’t get a place, they are likely to be disappointed and anxious about what to do instead. As well as offering emotional support, you can help them by:
- Encouraging them not to make any hasty decisions. It’s probably better for them to step back and think about next steps rather than accept a place on a course they’re not really interested in.
- Helping them to seek advice – for example from teachers, school/college careers advisers or the National Careers Service (www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk).
- Discussing possible alternatives with them. Could they retake their qualifications and reapply? Would they be interested in a career-related training option, such as an apprenticeship or HND? Or would they like to take a gap year to give them time to think about their options