Rachel wasn’t prepared for the clearing process, however through the reassurance and help of the Course Director and Faculty staff at Ulster University, she found a course that was just right for her.
What degree did you initially apply for?
I initially applied for Pharmacy at another institution.
How did you feel when you entered the clearing process?
Really nervous. My A-level results were a massive shock so I wasn’t at all prepared for clearing. I felt like I’d blown my chance and I would end up doing a degree I didn’t want to do because going away for uni wasn’t an option for me.
Did you attend the Ulster University advice day? If so, was it helpful and did it alleviate any concerns you had?
Yes, I attended the Jordanstown advice day. I spoke to a lady who was super helpful and was able to call the Coleraine campus to let me speak to the right people. I came out feeling like there could be a good chance in me going to uni that September rather than feeling as hopeless as I had when I arrived.
How did you find the clearing process at Ulster University and why?
Clearing is a naturally stressful process because all you want is all the answers now. Although, once I had decided on the degree I was going to pursue and had a little help contacting the relevant people, I was able to meet with the Course Director who showed me the campus and provided me with more information about the degree so I could make a completely informed decision and be sure it was right for me. I found this really helpful because it made me feel like I actually had a choice and wasn’t just picking what was set in front of me for the sake of it. The Faculty of Life and Health Sciences were also very helpful and once I decided to enter clearing, kept me up to date through email as to the status of my application and what the next step was. My new Course Director and Faculty really made all the difference to my experience, because they were able to reassure me and keep me informed personally rather than looking at a blank UCAS status all day every day.
What course did you get through clearing and was this totally different to what you were expecting to do at uni?
I got on to Pharmaceutical Bioscience which was my insurance choice at another institution, so it wasn’t too far off what I had expected to be studying. I knew I would enjoy it as it was still in the field where my interests lie.
What’s been your favourite part of your course so far?
It’s tough. I never leave a lecture feeling like I’ve taken everything in so I need to go away and work and read up on it, but I love that because it keeps me interested and focused on what I’m doing. You need something to motivate you to get out of bed at 6.30am, 5 days a week and for me that was my course.
What’s been the highlight of your first year at uni?
The sheer diversity of the people you meet all with a common interest. I’ve met people from all walks of life and parts of the world who I would never normally interact with outside of uni, but the fact everyone can come together and just chat about a subject or topic they share an interest in, to me is just amazing. I feel like I’ve made more genuine friends for life in my first year of uni than the last 7 years of school.
If you could give one tip to someone who is entering the clearing process what would it be?
To say “don’t panic” is ridiculous because it’s instinct at the time, but the phrase “what’s for you won’t go past you” is one I’ve relied massively on in the last year. You’ve ended up in clearing for a reason and whether it was expected or not, you will get what you need out of being there at some point. I entered clearing to do my second choice of course and through loving my 1st year so much I now have the opportunity to do my original first choice of Pharmacy. So, if it’s meant to be, you will get there somehow (and never be ashamed or embarrassed of taking a different route) and if not then go with the flow and believe you were meant for better things.
Would you recommend Ulster University to other students?
100%. Looking back I never gave Ulster University enough of a chance because I thought travelling to Coleraine everyday was too much hassle. But only in being there do I realise it was a much better fit for me as a person, which is something people don’t really think about when choosing a uni. My school has a total open door policy which is so helpful. The support I received from my lecturers, studies adviser, student support, even the library solving any last minute printing dilemmas was totally second to none. I’ve really been made to feel like I am individual student who has all the things she could need to get her degree. Oh and the Student’s Union (UUSU) gave us a room full of puppies-what more could you want?!
Any other comments you would like to make?
Clearing was the worst week of my life, I have never felt emotion like it, but it’s the people around you who will shape what you get from it. The help I received from Ulster University compared to my initial first choice was very different and that shaped my view on the uni before I even entered the door. There are people who genuinely want to help you and alleviate some of the stresses and give you the answers you want. So many people don’t realise it’s OK to be apprehensive and it’s OK to not be sure or not know the answer, but it’s important to do what feels right for you. Always go with your gut.