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Going into clearing? How to prepare for uni in just one month

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It’s ok, you’ve got loads of time (sort of.) Now sit down, take a deep breath – and bookmark this to do list immediately.


1.       Stay Calm. We cannot stress this enough. Time is obviously of the essence here – you need to bag that uni place as soon as possible before it gets snapped up, if you want to be sitting in a lecture hall come September – but you’ve got enough of it that you don’t need to panic. Yes, really. And panicking, as we know, is not going to get you anywhere at all. So at least try not to.


2.       Don’t think about the small things yet. Instead of feeling wildly overwhelmed by the huge amount that you’ve got to do (Where the eff am I going to end up? Do I really want to spend three yours of my life reading about that? Do I need to buy a toaster?) and the fact that everyone else has had a year, look at the bigger picture. Get your course sorted as priority. Don’t rush this part and get it wrong. If you’ve got a few options, drop any plans that you have for the next 72 hours and get yourself to the required campuses as soon as is humanely possibly. Charter a private jet if you have to. Alternatively, just jump on the very first train.


3.       Whilst you’re there, check out the accommodation. Time to kill two metaphorical birds/huge uni hurdles with one stone. You’ve gone through Clearing so the uni accommodation that you can now qualify for might not be exactly what you envisaged, but 90% of the time it will be fine – even if it doesn’t look mind-blowingly beautiful on first glance. This isn’t the 1980s, and students don’t tend to live in rat-infested Young Ones-style hovels anymore.


4.       Make a decision. The most important point of this entire process. Accept your offer, through UCAS.


5.       RE: Accommodation. See point 4.


6.       Sort out your finances, via the government website. Even if you’re not involving your parents too much in the decision making process, you’ll need to enlist them at this point for the purposes of household income assessment (i.e., how much extra money you’re likely to get – ker-ching!) 


7.       Check your travel times to uni: how long it will take, how much it’s likely to cost, how many trains, etc. It might be an important factor in your decision, or it might not be – but you should know, because being driven there by your mum in two hours might not be an accurate representation of a journey that you’re likely to have to do twice a term (at least), probably alone and laden down with suitcases.


8.       Now you can stop panicking, and start preparing for uni life (yeah, we know you will have been panicking – whatever we might have told you.) Look for Facebook groups for those who are also about to start at your uni, and possibly for those who have also gone through Clearing. It’s a good way to get to know people early and without the pressure, and you might even end up arranging to meet in freshers’ week before you’ve even moved into the place. Plus, talking to others who have gone through Clearing will prove to you that other people are going through the same last minute rush that you are, which should put your mind at ease.


9.       Find out what’s going to be included in your accommodation, and start thinking about things that you need/want to take with you. Whilst kitchenware and stationary are important, they’re no more so than your home comforts. Don’t neglect the things that’ll make you feel at home in the post-Clearing rush.


10.   Pack all of the above into boxes that you’ve stolen from the loft/the fruit section of Sainsburys.


11.   Take a step back, observe your now partially empty room, and make sure you are really, definitely, 100% happy with all of the above. £9,000 is a whole lot of money to spend if you think you might be making a mistake, and your gut feeling tends to be right – no matter how enthusiastic everyone around you seems to be about you or themselves going to uni. If it’s the wrong choice it’s better to admit it now, rather than in a few days time when you’ve loaded the car.


12.   Check what books and materials you need for your course, and buy them in good time. Assuming you’ve moved on from the existential crisis above, of course.


13.   Read all of the freshers’ advice that you can on the internet. Dismiss most of it as total bullshit.


14.   Say goodbye to everyone. Have a party. Have a BBQ. See your grandparents. Cry a little bit on your best friend (unless she’s following you.) Go home again. Sleep in your own bed and cherish the homely quiet. Deep breath. Next step.


15.   Go. And have the time of your bloody life.

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