For sixth-form students with grades that either exceeded or failed to reach expectations, and universities with undergraduate places to fill, clearing is the last-chance saloon.
On the eve of A-level results day, Twitter traffic offered insights into how universities are using the microblogging website to ensure that anyone searching for the hashtag #clearing was made well aware of how to get in touch.
There seemed to be a battle for who could man the phones first. “Our #Clearing hotline opens at 7:30am,” tweeted Brunel University (@BrunelAdmission), echoed by Queen Mary, University of London (@QMClearing) and University College Birmingham (@UCBirmingham). St George’s, University of London (@MySGUL) was less urgent. “You can call us from 8:30am!”
However, the University of Greenwich (@UniOfGreenwich) stole a march on them all, announcing that its helpline would be “opening bright & early from 7am to answer any queries”, adding a picture of a cup of coffee to illustrate its point.
Some took to poetry. Writtle College (@writtlecollege) penned four verses that included the immortal lines: “Twas the night before results day/And all through the house/The student couldn’t sleep/So she Facebooked her spouse” and “If you don’t get the grades/ Just give us a call/01245 424250/We’d love to hear from you all”.
Middlesex University (@MiddlesexUni), meanwhile, got a little trigger-happy, sending no fewer than 57 identical tweets to sixth forms across the South East of England with a link to its “essential guide to clearing”, an infographic featuring everything from pointless trivia (“over 55,000 students found their university place using Clearing last year”) to the all-important number for the Middlesex University Clearing Hotline.
Coventry University (@CovCampus) offered a clearing blog with tips on handling the hell that students were about to endure. The results day experience, according to the blog, can include “Nerves/Sickness/‘OMG, I’m gonna die’”, “Stress”, “The dreaded dream about results” and a feeling of “I’m going to fail”. Its helpful advice includes “It’s important not to let this single day ruin your holiday. There are always options, no matter what the outcome, trust us.”
The University of Salford (@SalfordUni) also blogged, offering tips from “top sports psychologist” Tom Fawcett. “Learning to fail is one of the most important skills we have to develop…knowing you are doing something about it can provide you with a sense of purpose,” he says.
Southampton Solent University (@SolentOfficial) invoked the power of children’s television newsreader Ricky Boleto (@RickyBoleto) in its bid to grab attention, tweeting a picture of the CBBC Newsround star alongside its own clearing phone number. “Wishing everyone the best of luck,” Mr Boleto tweeted back.
For many in university admissions teams, A-level results day is the day where all their hard work comes together. Others, however, head to their campuses with less enthusiasm, as a tweet from Times Higher Education’s books editor Karen Shook (@timeshigherarts) revealed. “A university administrator friend confides: ‘#clearing sucks. I didn’t like upset teenagers even when I was one’.”
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