The Clearing period can be a time fraught with anxiety. Many students feel like it is a last resort option – but in reality, it is a huge opportunity. An opportunity to explore new universities, consider different courses, and to have your perceptions changed.
We’re running a series of Clearing stories to highlight the reality of applying to universities through Clearing – and to showcase what great things it could lead to.
We talked to Christopher Selwyn, who applied to SOAS through Clearing in 2017, about his experience – and what advice he has for other students considering applying through Clearing.
Hi Christopher! Tell us your Clearing story – what/where were you originally going to study?
On results day in 2017, I was horrified to find that I had missed my offer at UCL by 0.25%. I had originally planned to study European Social and Political Studies and had already chosen my halls. I was devastated as I had already taken a gap year and was very keen to start my degree.
How did you find the Clearing process?
SOAS was the first university I called during the clearing process. The people I spoke to on the phone were kind and were eager to find out more about me as a candidate. They were interested to hear about my internship experience in Beijing, China and what I enjoyed studying at school. Within a few days, everything was sorted and I was moving to London to start at SOAS.
Why did you choose SOAS?
I chose SOAS because of its reputation for academic excellence. I was intrigued by the university’s focus on Asia and Africa for the opportunities to expand my mind. My schooling before university was traditional and I was originally going to study politics with a European focus. I appreciated the opportunity to eschew Eurocentric study during my degree and learn about topics that are perhaps underrepresented in academia. However, I did not realise the extent to which my worldview would change by studying at SOAS.
What did you study at SOAS, and what did you enjoy most about your experience?
SOAS is very flexible to their students’ needs. I studied History in my first year, but took a module in International Relations. I really enjoyed studying IR and in my second year, I decided to change my degree programme to joint-honours History with International Relations. I also did an Erasmus year abroad at the prestigious university, SciencesPo in Paris, which was a huge highlight of my university experience. However, the best thing about SOAS is the people. I met so many fascinating and amazing people during my time at the university. The sense of community you get at SOAS is uncommon at larger London universities and I cherish the friends I made.
What is your current role? Describe what you do in your job.
After completing my law conversion (GDL) in June, I started working as a Funding Associate at a company that provides legal and technology services for startups which are aiming to gain funding from investors. I provide legal and technical advice to startup founders and help them navigate the Company’s tech platform. Since graduating SOAS, I have also gained placements on four vacation schemes at global commercial law firms and I am due to start a training contract at an elite international law firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, in 2023.
How did your time at SOAS help you get where you are today? Are there any transferable skills that you use in your job?
My time at SOAS is undoubtedly the reason I am where I am today. By getting in through clearing, I was extremely motivated to show the faculty that they had made the right decision in accepting my application. I worked hard and thanks to the excellent teaching, I achieved high grades from the outset of my studies. I graduated SOAS with a first-class and achieved a first in every module of my final year. My academic accomplishments helped me stand out as a candidate on job applications.
Perhaps more importantly, because of SOAS’ global approach, I am well-informed of international socioeconomic trends that influence the commercial and legal spheres. I am able to use my specialist knowledge to offer nuanced views and highlight important aspects of deals.
What advice would you give to students thinking about applying to SOAS through Clearing?
Have an open mind about your options at SOAS. The university is flexible and will try to cater to your interests and needs as far as possible.
Be polite. The clearing process is incredibly stressful but there are many others in your position. Be mindful that the person on the other end of the phone has to handle many applicants as well as you. The clearing process should be constructive and it is important to be patient and communicate respectfully.
Be excited! Not getting into your first choice of university can be heartbreaking. However, the opportunity to study at SOAS should not be underestimated. Try and move past the disappointment and immerse yourself in your studies and university life at SOAS as soon as you can.