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UCAS Clearing – 4 years later!

30 July 2018

5 mins

July 2014. Refresh, refresh, refresh, refresh… Keep on clicking, waiting for the results to show up on the front page. Heart racing, but no doubt that I will get my predicted marks. Refreshing for that coveted message of “YOU ARE GOING TO YOUR FIRM CHOICE UNIVERSITY”.

Refresh, refresh, refresh… SITE DOWN, oh no! Is everybody else trying to check their results? Can’t wait to post on Facebook about getting into my first choice! My family will be so proud…

Refresh, refresh…But I don’t believe my eyes, this can’t be true. Am I a failure? This is not enough marks to get me into my first choice, not even into my second…

Refresh…THIS CAN’T BE TRUE! NO. WHY?! THIS IS NOT OKAY! AHHHHH, are these actual tears flowing out of my eyes? I don’t believe it, surely this is a computer error.

My clearing experience was stressful, but easy.

This was July 2014. I took the International Baccalaureate (IB), a notoriously rigorous education system, which requires one to take 6 subjects, write a research essay and do community work to pass… Upon high school graduation, one is informally labeled an “IB survivor” and receives unlimited bragging rights. It is still unclear to me just why I didn’t listen to my parents when they told me to quit my sports and focus even more on studies. I assumed that 12 hours a day and a ‘40’ predicted mark was enough…

I call my firm choice university to ask for support…Ring, ring, ring, ring… “We will put you on the waiting list until A-Level results come out next month”. Wow.

In the meantime, I started looking into my remaining 3 UCAS choices. I’d received offers from all of them, but as I scrolled through the universities’ web pages, Loughborough truly stood out as the ultimate place to be for exciting social life, beautiful facilities, green fields and an engaging community in general. In particular, the Loughborough Students’ Union events stood out as an incomparable to other universities’……and I was fully sold on it.

Immediately, I called the Loughborough clearing phoneline, who put me in touch with, unbeknownst to me, my future personal tutor and now a caring mentor from the Department of Materials.

Following a brief email conversation, I received an informal offer from Loughborough to study Materials Engineering, which I was thrilled about! However, there was still hope for my firm choice university to accept me.

In fact, I had to call the firm choice university regularly to check on their decision, and finally to beg them to release me to attend Loughborough instead, when it became obvious that they were not offering me a place.

Best choice ever?

Yes. The sense of community, the adventures that Loughborough offered me and the sheer impact that these 4 years have had on my life outlook have made it all worth the pain of not attending my firm choice. As donned my graduation robes this July, I look back at the 4 years and don’t wish to have spent them anywhere else.

In my first year, I learned independence, made great friends, organised countless events for the Russian Society, volunteered, fundraised, danced salsa, did photography, discovered engineering and spontaneously took a summer job living by myself in Bangalore, India over the summer.

In my second year, I learned how to have fun while studying hard, organised events for Women Engineering Society, played on the BUCS AU Ultimate Frisbee team, worked in a bar, drank a lot of coffee and spent the summer backpacking across Southeast Asia.

On my placement year, I learned the wonderful truth about the 9-to-5 (it’s amazing sometimes) while working for a multinational aerospace company, got to travel the world for work, part-timed as a pizza chef, made life-long friends, “felt like an adult” and discovered what I am truly passionate about. This year motivated me to push myself and do a solo trip to Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam, which changed my outlook on life.


In my final year, I finally learned valuable lessons about mental health, the value of work-life balance, how to work harder than ever, how to enjoy and love your life. I joined new sports, like the amazing Canoe Club who took me to the Alps and helped me overcome all of my fears, took more opportunities and made better friends on my course as a result.

Loughborough did all of this by connecting me with the correct people – be they interesting students, caring friends, the career and wellbeing advisors or my highly respected professors and tutors.

Don’t be upset about not getting into your first choice. With a bit of googling and a sprinkle of luck, something better always waits around the corner!

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