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This is a guest blog by current student Toby, who applied through Clearing and now studies BA (Hons) Film.

University is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. It’s an experience I’ve always wanted to have. I had always planned to go into the Gaming industry, the art side of it, so when I secured my first choice university on this exact course I felt like I had things pretty well figured out and sorted, dare I say it!

The problem is, I had actually changed quite a lot from the 15 year old boy who had dreamed of doing games art (and I hadn’t realised this). All I knew during the lead up to starting uni was that I was feeling incredibly uncertain. But how could I feel so uncertain about something I had felt so sure about, researched and dreamed of? And being uncertain is normal right? Everyone gets those jitters? Maybe it was just the feeling of excitement that I was getting mixed up?

My student finance was sorted, my accommodation was selected, reserved and my deposit made. To consider changing my course then felt way too scary. But…I realised I really wasn’t happy with my university or course choice. When you get your results and you get into your first choice of university you should feel happy and excited, but instead I found myself making many distressed phone calls to friends and family. I sat down and really thought about university as a whole. Four years. What did I truly see myself studying?

I decided having a look online wasn’t committing to anything so I searched ‘Clearing’ into Google. It felt a little overwhelming. There were tons of different university’s all talking about being open, their great courses. Information overload.

With a pen in my hand, I turned away from the screen and thought about my choice of course. If I didn’t want to do games, where was my passion? Film. I wrote this down straight away. One step closer to narrowing my search. I returned to my screen and typed ‘Clearing for Film’.

I’m from Essex and I knew whichever university offered Film would need to be relatively close, or close enough for me to commute back for the holidays. That’s when I saw Bournemouth University. I clicked the link and went straight through to a page which provided more information on the course. It looked good. Exciting modules. New facilities. Broad range of staff with different interest areas. So what next? I assumed the course must be in Clearing because I was sent to the web page. Breathe. I scrolled back to the top of the page where some numbers were jumping around saying for me to call. I pulled my mobile from my pocket and dialed. As it turns out I ended up having a phone interview with the Faculty of Media and Communication there and then. You first have to give some of your details, your name your grades and then you get put through to someone who oversees the course. Now, as daunting as this sounds, everyone was calm and friendly.

‘Right, because you are currently holding an offer with another university, we cannot offer you a place. You will need to release yourself into Clearing and call us back’. Erm gulp. I had to first release myself into Clearing which essentially meant rejecting my confirmed uni option. As you can imagine, this was fairly terrifying.  If this didn’t work I would be without a university place entirely. I swallowed my doubts, put down the phone and dialed the number of my first choice university. I rang BU back and soon found myself talking to the original staff member who had told me I would need to release myself. ‘Right’, he had said. ‘You’ve now got a verbal offer with BU and have 24 hours to refer yourself through UCAS’.

I felt a million things. Really happy that I now had a place. Worried because I had so much to sort out. Anxious because I had to cancel everything else with my first choice of university.

I will be honest, that day was fairly hectic. But as everyone knows, once you make a decision you have to see things through to the end. And I did. I got everything sorted. I was able to cancel my accommodation and get accommodation at BU. I signed up for a Clearing Open Day so I could actually see where I had just agreed to living! It’s now the end of my first year and I can’t quite believe how quickly it’s flown by.

Good luck to anyone at this time of year. It’s life-changing. Just know if you’ve got into your first choice and are having second thoughts, it’s not too late to change your mind through Clearing… Have fun, you’ve got this!

If you would like to hear more from Toby, you can check out his podcast.

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