Elizabeth Stokoe, a social interaction professor at Loughborough University, conducted research on clearing. Her team transcribed about 3,000 calls from last year’s clearing conversations at their university and analyzed the patterns that emerged. Despite the emotional nature of clearing, Stokoe found that people generally remained calm and focused during phone calls. This resilience is not surprising, as people often exhibit strength and adaptability in crisis situations, such as doctors communicating with patients.
Stokoe’s research also revealed that repeatedly calling for a place wastes time, and getting angry with the call taker won’t help. Some students may phone again if they get a "no" in hopes of getting a different offer, but the data showed that repeat calling did not result in a course offer after an initial rejection. The best strategy is to move on if the first call fails to secure a place.
Additionally, Stokoe noted several things that students often misunderstand about clearing. Some parents call on behalf of their children, but if they haven’t been designated as a contact in the application form, students should speak directly to the university. Some callers were also surprised to learn that grade requirements during clearing do not typically drop and may even increase as demand for places rises. Finally, attempting to bribe the university for a place will not achieve a different outcome, as one caller learned when offering a "parental donation."
Sue Broadbent, acting head of student support and wellbeing at Northumbria University in Newcastle, recommends that students mentally prepare before calling by staying calm, thinking positively, and using relaxation techniques. She also urges students to do some research on the clearing system, such as viewing the full list of vacancies available on the Ucas website and drawing up a shortlist.
Before entering clearing, students should ask themselves what they want from university and what matters to them, such as their preferred course type and location. It’s also important to consider opportunities for work experience and placements, projected employment prospects for graduates in the chosen subject, and available accommodation options.
Broadbent emphasizes that clearing can be an exciting opportunity to get onto a course one loves in a desired city. A successful applicant needs to stay positive, proactive, and relaxed instead of feeling sorry for themselves or comparing themselves to others.