Parents - Results Day Rollercoaster - All Things Careers

Parents – Results Day Rollercoaster

Parents, prepare yourselves for the rollercoaster of results day.  Read in detail what your child can expect from UCAS Track and how to support them to navigate Clearing.


2020 – the year of the pandemic, but for some parent’s the hysteria and confusion of COVID-19 is a walk in the park, compared to Results Day!

August is THE month, when you know you need to step up and just be there for your child.   They’ve had a tough time this year with no exams and the underlying hysteria of what their results will be isn’t yours alone. No, your child is going to be either ELATED or DEFLATED and what you’ll be presented with will be handed to you at a moments notice on the 13th or 20th August.   Read this Survival Guide so you can get on the front foot and survive the Rollercoaster that is Results Day.


Your child might be in denial and may not want to think about the next day however, getting up early and getting straight into the day is going to be paramount. Do not sit up past midnight thinking you can log into UCAS Track at 00:01am, it won’t go live until 8:00am.   Get some sleep ready to face the day with a serene approach.


Strap yourself in. Be prepared, the UCAS website will be very busy. Stay calm and keep trying.   Get the kettle on and busy yourself with breakfast. The rush of air, and panic will begin soon enough.

From 8:00am your child will know what University, if any, they have been accepted to. (UCAS doesn’t tell you your child’s grades. They need to go into school for that or check their email, depending on how their school will be delivering the results).   UCAS Track will tell your child where they have been placed. A number of scenarios could greet you:

  • Conditional Offer Met – place offered at 1st choice Uni – Celebrate! Your ride has stopped and you can breathe a sweet sigh of relief as you get off.
  • Changed Course Offer – You have been offered a different course at the University of your choice.   If you really want to go to this particular University then research the course. If it’s NOT what you want, you can decline (self-release) and enter Clearing.
  • First Choice declined, Insurance Choice offered – Celebrate! – You’re going to University IF you still want that course. If you’ve changed your mind, decline (self-release) and enter Clearing.
  • Missed out on a Firm Offer and an Insurance Offer – If you missed out on your Firm Offer and your Insurance Offer still says Conditional, don’t panic. Your Insurance Offer is still making up its mind. Call the University; they may still accept you with lower grades. If not, you’ll be entered into Clearing.   You don’t have to go to another University if you don’t want to. You can check the courses being offered by that University in Clearing. Over 67,000 students last year got a place through Clearing.
  • No Change. Expect panic to ensue. “What’s happening Mum/Dad? Why haven’t I been told anything yet?” Keep calm. This is rare but if it does happen the University has not made any offers yet and is waiting for further information. Give the University a call (politely and calmly) to ask what the delay is.   There will be a reason.   UCAS Track will be updated throughout the day, check it again after Midday.


Pat yourselves on the back. Take a step back, get your child to eat some breakfast and regroup. Take a deep breath and prepare for the next lurch and bend; the results themselves.


Will your child want you waiting in the wings or not? Gauging your child’s mood could be tricky. Either way, if you wait in the car, take a book or catch up on some phone admin. You could be a while. A word of warning though, depending on what UCAS Track has shown in the morning, the school results pick up may need to be brief. Your child needs to head to the nearest phone and begin phoning Universities to clarify any offers or be considred for Clearing. Parents, resist the temptation to swoop in to save the day, the Universities will want to hear from the potential student directly. The lines will be busy so it could be a slow, painful process getting through to the University admissions teams to enquire about the course you want. Be on hand with cups of tea and sympathy.


What your child will need to hand:

  • Pen & Paper
  • Fully charged mobile
  • Calculator to work out their UCAS points
  • Contact details for your Firm and Insurance Universities – telephone and email addresses for the main admissions offices.
  • UCAS / UNI email with the exact working of the conditional offers for both your Firm and Insurance Universities.
  • Make sure any discussions or offers reached are sent to you via email before you make any changes to UCAS Track.   If a University offers you a place, you must accept that offer before declining any offer you currently have.
  • A polite, patient attitude is required. Wait in turn and ask the right questions when you get to the front of the queue.   (No coaching from the side lines parents, they should have all the questions they want to ask written down in advance).


Your child will enter Clearing if:

  • They self-release from any offers they have received.
  • They didn’t receive any offers (conditional or unconditional) from the Universities they applied to.
  • They don’t achieve their grades for either their CF (Conditional Firm) or CI (Conditional Insurance).

If your child is eligible for Clearing, they will be given an option to ‘add a Clearing choice’ in the next steps section when they sign into UCAS Track. Clearing offers some great Universities and Courses and can be searched in two ways:

UCAS SEARCH – a search of all the courses on offer through Clearing.

CLEARING PLUS – new this year, this is a UCAS algorithm that suggests possible courses based on your original application.   This can be a good starting point but do make sure you utilise the main search also particularly for Universities you are interested in.


Ask your child to do their research and be clear about their reasons for selecting a particular course or University. If they haven’t quite got the grades, depending on how well they plead their case, they may squeeze past the attendant checking heights and onto the ride. Being able to show commitment and an interest in the course as a really exciting opportunity rather than the ‘booby’ prize will help Universities feel confident about offering your child a place. If a verbal offer is given, wait for the email from the University confirming the Offer before declining any other Offers you have or adding it as your clearing choice on Track.

JUST ONE MORE LOOP THE LOOP – now please remember before loosening your belt

  • Clearing only allows ONE CHOICE at a time
  • Once a choice has been selected, you can’t add another unless they have been unsuccessful with the first choice
  • If they want to apply elsewhere, once they’ve added a choice, they’ll need to ask that University to cancel their place, then apply again through clearing.   So pretty much like ‘The Smiler’ at Alton Towers, think carefully before selecting a course you’ve discovered in Clearing, because it is hard to get off the ride once it’s started!

And finally, before you strap yourself in to the ride, encourage your child to:

  • Take the time to do research and phone Universities.
  • Don’t panic and remain calm.
  • Don’t be reactive and rush into decisions or courses that they are not sure about.
  • Think carefully about what your child wants to do and achieve. It is possible to defer entry for another year but if that’s to allow a return to pre-Covid days who knows what’s going to happen? We may never have a new ‘normal’ again?

Take the time to weigh up your options and don’t forget to consider doing a degree whilst working through a degree apprenticeship.   If your child really isn’t keen to accept just any old place at University, remember, they still have other options in achieving a degree.

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