Posted Tuesday 4 August 2015
When Sarah Mutombo, 19, opened the envelope containing her A-level results, her heart sank a little. "They weren't quite as high as I'd expected so I knew they wouldn't be good enough for my first choice university," she explained.
Unfortunately for Sarah, she didn't have an insurance place to fall back on. "I'd received other offers but had rejected them," Sarah, who is from Plaistow in East London, said. "I realise now that this was a mistake and I should have had a back-up plan but I do believe that everything happens for a reason and Clearing gave me a second chance to find a degree spot."
Sarah's secondary school had provided a lot of opportunities to visit banks and finance-related companies and this had sparked an interest in economics so she got straight on to the phone and started calling universities to see if there were any places left in this subject area.
"I called a few institutions but they just didn't really grab me," she recalled. When Sarah had dialled the Kingston Clearing hotline, though, there was a real difference in the response she received. "The person who answered the phone was very friendly and she made me feel like there was no reason at all to feel scared," she said. "She asked me what grades I had achieved and I was so relieved when she told me they were certainly good enough." The hotline operator had then contacted the relevant course tutor, Sarah said. "She made the whole process a complete breeze for me."
In no time at all Sarah was enrolled on a BSc Economics with Honours course and has just completed her first year. "My course is fascinating - the world of economics is forever changing and I love the fact that it affects almost every aspect of life," she said. Sarah was also quick to praise her course lecturers. "They have been so inspirational," she added. "I don't think they will ever know the profound impact they have had on me."
Sarah admitted that studying in the London could be expensive. "If I'm about to spend some money, I always have to remember that I've got pay my rent and other bills," she said. One thing Sarah is sure about, though, is the value of Clearing when A-level results don't quite go to plan.
"All is not lost and just because you didn't get in to your first choice it doesn't mean that you can't go to university - there are lots of opportunities and you might find a course that suits you even better," she suggested. "Going through Clearing isn't embarrassing, what is embarrassing is giving up at the first hurdle."