I returned to university through Clearing

I had to apply through Clearing to return to university. I'm sharing my story to show that Clearing isn't a bad thing and can help you get on the right path.

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Meet Kayleigh

I dropped out of uni in my second year. When I decided to go back to complete my degree, I applied through Clearing.
Photo of Kayleigh Atkinson
Kayleigh Atkinson

I wasn't sure about my course

I got straight A’s in my A-levels back in 2008. I had applied for a few photography courses, but none of them felt quite right. I had applied to Photography at UCLan as well, which is how I found out about combined degrees. I discovered I could combine Photography with Fashion Promotion. This felt more like me – a bit of photography, as well as creative and strategic thinking.

I decided to apply for a combined degree in Photography & Fashion Promotion through Clearing. I just called up Clearing and was given an offer. I remember it all being pretty easy and straightforward.

At the end of my first year, I decided to switch degrees to study Fashion Promotion on its own. I really enjoyed the branding aspect of the course and that it covered all kinds of lifestyle brands, not just fashion. I spoke to the course leader and was allowed to switch course.

I dropped out and worked in industry

My second year didn’t go quite as planned. I was working on an assignment in the library when I lost my USB stick. It had a full module of work on it. I got in touch with my lecturer and asked if I could get an extension. When they said no, I dropped out of university in a panic.

After I had dropped out, I went straight into industry. I have recently worked as a sub-editor at a magazine. Even though I was doing well in my career, part of me wished I had finished my degree. This was because I couldn’t get my dream role in branding without a degree. This drove my decision to go back to university.

My ADHD diagnosis helped me get funding

I was also diagnosed with ADHD and PMDD whilst I was working. This explained why I had struggled with university. My diagnosis supported my application to get my Student Finance reinstated, as I could show that it affected my studies.

Once I knew that I could get funding, I contacted the course leader to see whether I could come back. She was very understanding and said yes, but that I would have to apply through Clearing. This is because I was applying later in the year, so had missed the application deadline.

The Clearing process was really easy again. I did it all via email this time. I had to fill out a slightly different application form, because I was returning to university and didn’t have a UCAS account. I declared my ADHD, as this was part of the reason I was able to return. I emailed my application form to the Clearing team and was accepted. I was able to restart my second year in September.

There's a lot more support now

The main thing I have noticed since coming back to UCLan is how much support there is now. I was juggling work, family life and studying when I first started. I could not have done it all without the support from the university.

I would also encourage anyone who is neurodivergent to declare it to the university. I know it can be scary, but it opens up so many avenues of support for you. This can include learning aids or more flexibility with deadlines, depending on your needs. I have even spoken to one of my lecturers who also has ADHD. These kind of open discussions have really helped me.

The support at UCLan has been amazing.
The support at UCLan has been amazing.

Clearing isn't a bad thing

My main piece of advice to anyone going through Clearing is don’t see it as a negative thing. I got 3 A’s in my A-levels and still went through Clearing – twice! People can use it to change university, switch course, apply late, or return to university like I did.

Even if you haven’t got the grades you wanted, Clearing can put you on the right path instead of studying something that’s not right for you. Take the time to think about what you really want to do.