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Why Clearing was the best thing that ever happened to me…

By Cassie @maidinoxford

‘We regret to inform you….’ I remember waking up and hazily reading those words on results day. They were from Queens University in Belfast – my ‘insurance’.

Surely there had been a mistake. If I was being rejected from Queens then that would mean I hadn’t even met the grades beneath my predictions, and surely there’s no way that had happened!! It had.

I couldn’t speak. Only shake and cry. I thought my life was ruined. I thought I wasn’t going to amount to anything. I had nowhere to go next and no idea what I was going to do. All I could do was get in the car, go to school and find out what the hell had happened.

This year we’re set to have the biggest-ever number of students applying through clearing. UCAS are predicting it will be close to 80,000 students who would have had a year of unprecedented disruption on top of the normal pressure and stress of A-Levels. 80,000 young people who will be crushed by rejection, many of whom through absolutely no fault of their own.

Throughout our education, we’re told that the only thing that matters are our grades and the name of the university we put on our CV. Looking back, it’s still so concerning how this narrative has continued and other options aren’t talked about. When I arrived at school, I remember seeing the concerned faces of my teachers. No one thought to tell me it was okay or that I’d land on my feet somehow. No one told me what I’m telling you now.

Clearing is not the end of the world, it is simply a redirection.

I am not saying it’s not stressful. It really, really hurts. You’ve envisioned a life for yourself, in a city you’ve chosen and it’s been taken from you with no clear direction. It will be hard to get over that, so give yourself a moment to be angry and hurt, but then you need to start thinking.

The silver lining of this year is that clearing students are going to get more support than they have ever received, so make sure you take advantage of that. Don’t rush your next steps. Take your time to really think about what you want to do and where you would like to be, with the grades you have.

Even if you’re not into the whole ‘everything happens for a reason’ thing, there is a different way of looking at clearing than the doom and gloom connotations it has. As long as you’re doing a subject you enjoy and are passionate about, you will learn what you need to get you where you want to be in life. There will still be opportunities to take advantage if you look for them. You will still have a fantastic social life and meet people who you can’t imagine not having met when you look back in five years time.

So where did I end up? After a stressful few days, I was finally given a place at Oxford Brookes University to study International Business Management. I made some fantastic friends. I spent two years in Sydney studying and on work placement. I met the love of my life and now run the bar I met him in and worked in as a Fresher. I found my home in Oxford and have created a multi-faceted career here that brings all my passions together. I’m even due to get married here, when COVID allows!

Would I have made a life for myself at Manchester Business School? Of course I would. But would I trade the life I have now? Not for anything in the world. I promise you are going to be absolutely fine.


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