Friday, 31 July 2015

Why #Clearing Has Become The New Way To Apply For #University

Since we welcome Brian McGee as a new full-time addition to our consultancy team from Monday, we thought a few of his wise words on UCAS Clearing might be useful for those awaiting A Level results this August.

As A level results day approaches, many students have traditionally waited with bated breath to see if they have been successful in gaining their chosen university course through UCAS, dreading the thought of being pushed into the mad scramble of Clearing.

But in the last two years all that has changed and Clearing now provides a way for proactive students to gain access to courses which are very attractive and possibly of a higher calibre than they might have hoped for. 61,300 applicants secured their university place through Clearing in 2014 and this figure is likely to be higher this year.

Many universities, including 14 Russell Group institutions, have now opened up Clearing places in advance of the August 13 deadline. This is partly in response to students such as IB candidates who gain their qualifications earlier, but it is mainly because the Higher Education sector has been blown wide open by the lifting of the cap on university places offered by each institution.

So, what does this mean for the astute student and parent wishing to make the best use of this opportunity? Well, if you start to look at the Clearing courses available now, you have the chance to be ahead of the pack. This could even mean considering applying for a higher level course through Adjustment if you feel that your grades might be better than you’d hoped. You may also have second thoughts about a course you applied for possibly ten months ago and feel that another course might suit you better.

Download the Telegraph Clearing 2015 app so that you are ready on the day to act fast, or see their Clearing website.

For these details take a look at our top tips for students and parents in our recent blog post

Remember, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone for fast independent advice.

Call 01865 522066 to talk to Claire about your query.

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Less than 4 weeks to go to #ALevel #results day. Are you waiting for your future to be secured through #UCAS?

It’s distressing opening that envelope on A level results day to find you haven’t attained the grades you need to confirm your place on the #university course of your dreams. If you find yourself in this position on Thursday 13th August, try not to despair. There’s a chance you might still be accepted if your grades have only slipped a little and if not, as long as your grades are reasonable and you are prepared to be proactive and flexible, you should secure an alternative.

Here are our top tips to make the day as stress free as possible and to ensure the best possible outcome, whatever you’re faced with.
  1. Be available at exam results time. If you’ve only just missed out on your university offer grades, check your status in Track as your place may have been confirmed anyway. Congratulations!
  2. If your status is unchanged, there’s no need to panic yet. If not confirmed or rejected by mid-morning, pick up the phone to the university admissions team, as they may not have made a decision on your application as yet. Be calm and ask when you might hear and let them know you’re still really keen to study with them.
  3. If the answer is no but your grades have only been missed by one or two marks, so your school may be recommending a re-mark, call the university to explain. Be calm and polite. Places are very competitive so unless your school or adviser feels you have a strong case to ask the university to re-consider, it’s probably not worth the call.
  4. If your first choice university answer is no, consider your back-up offer carefully. Before accepting, ask yourself if this is a course you really want to study at a university you wish to attend. A minimum of three years study on the wrong course in a location you don’t enjoy will seem like a very long time.
  5. If you find yourself without a confirmed place at either of your course options, act quickly to find an alternative.  It can be difficult to be motivated and enthusiastic at a time when you are experiencing disappointment, but the key to success is to get involved in the Clearing process as early as possible.

UCAS Clearing allows those who have not secured a place on their chosen course to research places on alternative courses. It can also be used by those who did not accept any offers received during the UCAS application process or applied too late for their application to be processed via UCAS.
  1. If you are eligible for Clearing, Track will say ‘you’re in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’. If it is taking a while, it may be your university choices are taking a while to decide on places.
  2. Look at the official Clearing vacancy list online via UCAS or via The Telegraph by clicking here
  3. Seek advice from your school or an education consultant. Their familiarity with the Clearing system will give you a head-start in using it effectively, as well as assist you to quickly find courses of interest. Vacancies get snapped up so it can be useful to have expertise to support you, in being effective and speedy to move forward with anything that interests you.
  4. Keep an open mind when viewing the course vacancy lists. You do not need to stick to your original course of study and may find alternative courses that did not occur to you previously.
  5. Keep an eye on the Clearing information on a regular basis. Courses that were full can sometimes have vacancies later, so always be up-to-date with the latest information.
  6. Contact universities with courses of interest as soon as possible. Have your exam results, your UCAS personal ID and Clearing number to hand. You will find your Clearing number will appear automatically in Track
  7. Once you have found some places on courses which interest you through the UCAS website, call your chosen universities. They will put you in touch with the admissions tutor and you will have the opportunity to ask questions about the course and to tell them a bit about yourself and why this course interests you. Prepare a few questions in advance such as will they provide accommodation and make sure that you have practised selling yourself over the phone. Try the lift test. If you had one minute in the lift to tell them why they should offer you a place, what would you say?
  8. It might be useful to have a copy of your personal statement to hand, just incase there are things in it that might be useful to highlight, in response to questions you are asked by the admissions tutor.
  9. Ideally you should visit the university campus before making a final decision, but be prepared to verbally accept or decline an offer on the spot. With this in mind, it is a good idea to telephone the universities in order of your preference for the courses they are offering.
  10. To accept an offer which has been made to you over the phone, you need to enter the course details on Track via the ‘Add a Clearing Choice’ button. If the university then formally accepts you, confirmation will appear in the ‘Choices’ of Track and UCAS will follow this up with an official confirmation letter in the post.
  11. If you are not formally accepted by the university the ‘Add a Clearing Choice’ button in Track will be re-activated and you can add another course form the Clearing list.

Good Luck!

Some useful website links for step by step advice during Clearing.

Clearing places search tool click here

OR Give us a call and our friendly professional team of education consultants will be very happy to help you.

Call +44 (0)1865 522066


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Friday, 10 July 2015

Choosing the right #British #boarding school - Ten Top Tips for #international or #expat parents.

  • Consider your parental aspirations for their future, in tandem with your child’s individual talents, personality and needs. They must feel ‘at home’ in the right type of environment to enable them to meet your aspirations.
  • Get to grips with the British curriculum and decide what format and teaching styles will best suit your child as they transfer from their school outside the UK.  Understanding the age and school years for school transition, for example prep to senior school at age 11 or 13, will make the entry and settling in process less tricky.
  • Look for an extensive 7 day a week programme, ideally with lessons on a Saturday morning. Weekends can be lonely if there’s not enough to keep busy.
  • Be wary of schools offering flexi and weekly boarding, if total boarding numbers are small. A high percentage of full boarders is crucial.
  • Extend your search area outside the South East. Considering flight routes from regional airports instead of just Heathrow and Gatwick, opens up a whole host of great full boarding schools across the UK. With generally speaking less competition for places, chances are you might have more choice of schools, especially if you are looking at short-notice.
  • International schools raise children who are very culturally aware and who feel comfortable within a global community. Review the percentage of international pupils at your short-listed boarding schools. Will your child feel more comfortable in a UK school with a higher percentage of international pupils? Or are they more suited to a largely British school community, with only a sprinkling of international children.
  • Ask about parental communication and reporting. Technology now allows for sophisticated web-based feedback and reporting systems for parents. Some schools even stream live video of lunchtime concerts or plays. This will ensure you still feel part of your child’s life at school, even if you live overseas.
  • Meet the head and the houseparents when you visit. These key people will shape your child’s future, so you need to agree with their educational philosophy and feel you can build a good working relationship with them over the years your child is at boarding school.
  • Food is important. In-house dining creates a homely pastoral feel, whilst for fussy eaters, central dining may offer more extensive choice.
  • Be wary of in-country experts who give advice in return for a financial incentive from schools. Advice from an independent source is crucial.

Would you like advice on choosing the right British boarding school from our team of professional, friendly, independent education consultant experts?

Give Claire a call on (+44 )1865 522066