Clearing can sometimes be a confusing time for students, particularly in this unprecedented year when A Level examinations have been cancelled and students will receive a calculated grade for their results.
Thankfully, there is always help at hand to guide you through the Clearing process, and a good place to start is to read about the experiences of students who have already been through the process.
Alice Ede joined SOAS in September 2019 via Clearing. She is now studying an undergraduate degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies.
How did you hear about SOAS?
“I first came across SOAS when I was researching top universities for languages in the UK. Originally I wanted to study Spanish and Arabic and initially discounted SOAS because Spanish was my priority and, despite being rated very highly for Arabic, this was not a combination I could’ve taken.”
What made you want to come to SOAS?
“The course at SOAS is particularly appealing for languages students because of the high amount of contact hours and the quality of the teaching. I don’t think I could’ve come as far as I have without their support.
“I was attracted to the challenge of the course, and SOAS really provides that whilst making it manageable.”
Why did you apply to SOAS through Clearing?
“So, I missed my grades for Cambridge and Exeter and had a difficult decision to make. Because the languages course I initially wanted to study was fairly niche, I chose to drop Spanish in order to pursue Arabic singularly. This was when I remembered SOAS from my earlier university browsing and decided to make a phone call to their clearing line.”
Did you apply anywhere else as well?
“My five original choices were: Cambridge, Exeter, Warwick, Durham and St Andrews and because I’d received offers from all of them originally, I tried all of their clearing lines. Warwick and Durham both declined and St Andrews was full due to the Scottish Highers being released a week before A-level results. Exeter offered me random courses such as Archeology and History but this was not what I wanted to pursue.”
How did you find the Clearing process?
“If I’m completely honest, I found the day very traumatic. I hadn’t slept well the night before and then I woke up to check my UCAS at 8am to find I hadn’t been accepted to any university and I was in Clearing. I was very confused without my results, so went to open them at college. I was devastated that I hadn’t got into my two choices. I found it very difficult to make such important decisions about my future in such a short time-period. Especially considering I spent the months prior carefully researching my options.
“Clearing can be quite a frantic process, calling institutions all day and explaining your situation, but at the same time it can really drag, like when spending hours on hold for certain places. However, saying this, SOAS Clearing was the best university Clearing process I went through. After all my details were taken I was told I would be sent an email with a decision on whether I would be accepted. This email was sent very quickly with my offer, despite my grades being below the usual acceptance grades.
“The best part was, the Head of Department rang me once I officially accepted my offer to answer any questions I had about the course. This was particularly helpful as I hadn’t researched it a lot, having originally discounted SOAS. Talking to him was very reassuring and I was excited to begin this new journey in London.
“I would also add that SOAS had the most inviting Clearing music while I was on hold.”
How have you enjoyed the course?
“The course has exceeded my expectations completely. I was very concerned, having no background in Arabic that there was a possibility I wouldn’t enjoy it or be good enough. In reality, the course has been amazing and the academics are really accommodating. I’ve gone from not even being able to read Arabic to finishing my first year with a 1st in that subject.”
What’s it been like being a student in London?
“This was another thing I was terrified of. Being from a very rural area in Cornwall, I had completely ruled out London universities before Clearing because I felt the city did not suit me. Clearing forced me out of my comfort zone and I couldn’t be happier with the result. After an initial settling-in period, I acclimatised to the environment. There is so much to do and so many places to go. Sure, the city isn’t like other traditional ‘uni cities’ but it makes up for it because there is something for everyone. I mean, no other university can offer the opportunity to just pop next door to the British Museum for a lecture.”
How have you found studying during the lockdown? How have you kept yourself occupied?
“With my course, there’s always revision that can be done when the work finishes. But I’ve also used this time to have a bit of a break and catch up on some non-academic things because Arabic can be quite intense.”
What advice would you give to a prospective student thinking about applying to university through Clearing?
“It’s definitely worth it. I remember fearing the stigma attached to Clearing: I was an Oxbridge reject; after going through the whole year of applications, interviews and getting an offer, I failed at the last hurdle. But, honestly, now that I’m at SOAS, you find out so many people have similar stories and also that it really doesn’t matter; you still deserve your place at a great university, studying what you want. Once you’re on your course, it’s irrelevant who got A*A*A* and who didn’t. Clearing doesn’t mean worse, in fact for me, it gave me the opportunity to study at the perfect university for me.”
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