I’m a second year university student and I thought here would be the best place to share my somewhat unexpected experience of transitioning into university through clearing
This begins with the moment in life both parent and child dread equally: results day. Although this could easily be one of the most rewarding moments in any child’s life, for me it was entirely unexpected as I ended up in the whirlwind of university clearing.
I had always intended on going to university and had my heart set on two respectable options to study English Literature. Little did I know I would not receive the grades to get into either. In that moment this seemed like the worst thing that had ever happened to me. But looking back I know where I am now is exactly where I want to be and the process of university clearing really wasn’t all that bad.
The purpose of me telling my story is therefore more to do with preparation for those who may have the same unexpected experience I had. I understand this is from a student’s perspective and no parent is expected to imagine the ‘worst-case scenario’, but a little preparation can’t hurt…
Back to the dreaded day. I found that whilst the majority of my friends began the day out celebrating with their families and getting excited for their future I was in bed, admittedly feeling very distraught, trying to figure out what my next option was.
Although my Mum had no experience of a child going to university and I’m assuming she didn’t know how to react when I first came home with the results, she encouraged me to get started on the clearing process right away. This meant calling up universities, telling them my grades and finding out whether there was a space for me on my chosen course or one similar. One thing I found was that everyone I spoke to that day was extremely reassuring and, unlike myself, entirely prepared
Where was I going to study?
This led to a lot of list making and figuring out where I wanted to be, as well as the helpful reminder that the degree you do is no different wherever you decide to complete it; the certificate given at graduation will mean the same thing.
Once I had come to terms with all of this fresh information, I decided my best option was to choose a university in the same city as one I had initially applied to, which looking back was the best decision I made.
Aside from the frantic planning and calling various people on results day, the process becomes a lot easier once you have made the final decision. However in my case there were some other obstacles that none of my friends had to face.
Where would I live?
Perhaps the most unexpected and hard-hitting part of my experience was the realisation that I would not be given a place in halls or university housing (something I believe for the majority of universities would not be an issue).
So I began my second phase of the unexpected this time accompanied by my Dad. I was told my best chance of securing a house for my first year of study would be to go to a house hunting day at the university. However, we quickly found that all other students were told the same thing and the letting agencies were filled with groups of students desperately putting down deposits for somewhere to live.
Instead I took to Facebook. I joined one house hunting page, commented on a handful of posts and soon found a group of 8 other girls with a house they were ready to put down the deposit for. With my Dads encouragement, I quickly agreed that I was ready to sign the contract ASAP.
All’s well that ends well
I went into the whole process of university clearing thinking I would miss out on the same university experience all my friends would get. Little did I know being in a house was the best outcome for me. One reason for this, that I did not know until meeting my housemates (who I still live with to this day), is that by finding who I would live with through Facebook I had eliminated the uncertainties of whether we would get along. I found out that two of the girls who started the group had hundreds of replies to their post and they determined who would be in the house based on our common interests and so on, which led to me meeting my closest friends I will have for the rest of my life.
I can’t deny the initial shock of such a big change to what I thought I had planned for my future didn’t scare me, and certainly my parents too, but I don’t look back on what happened with any regrets or want of a different outcome.
My advice to parents
The best advice I can give to any parent who is preparing for university life I have compiled into a list of dos and don’ts:
- DO encourage your child to embrace the unexpected because (certainly in my case) it could work out for the best.
- DON’T attempt ‘dry-September’ when saying goodbye to your child for the first time because (if you’re anything like my mum) you’ll be texting your friends for a drink as soon as you start the drive home.
- DO prepare for somewhat questionable living arrangements when dropping your child off, and if it is a lovely home, prepare yourself for your next visit after it’s been lived in.
- DON’T expect your son/daughter to use the iron you brought them, but know they are thankful for your encouragement.
- DO hang around on move in day to take back all of the items you were certain your child needed but soon realised that no household needs 10 cheese graters.
- but DON’T linger too long, crying is normal, but moving in with your 18-year-old child is not.
I hope this gives a little insight into the process of saying goodbye to your child for the first time and maybe prepares you for the ‘worst case scenario’ that really isn’t all that bad.