14 August 2008

Clearing Madness

Well the weeks I've heard about at work for months have finally arrived. Last week we were busy, but not as much as I had braced for. Today was a different story. If I've ever had the desire to work in a call center (and I don't think I have), or if I ever will have the urge in the future (and I don't think I will), today's experience will override any thoughts of such a job--I hope! We currently have open a "clearing hotline" of which I am most privileged to be one of the first on the list to answer calls for. Clearing is a time when students who don't yet have a place at a university call and try to find one. The English A Level results (differing for the Scottish Highers) came out today. I am so thankful I didn't have to to go through the agony that many of these students go through! Throughout the year they are only to apply for 5 courses total in the UK (either 5 unis or just all at 1). Many student's acceptance is based on what grades they achieve on these A Level or Higher exams--and those exams alone, nothing else. Before they know their grades they have to choose which 2 universities they'd like to go to based on what they conditions they were offered and what results they think they will get. If they do poorly and don't make the grades, they have no university to go to! And to top it off, they don't know until 6 weeks before university starts! Thus, the need for clearing. It's a last minute scramble to find a university still offering places in the course you are interested in. If that doesn't make your head spin, I don't know what will :)

By far the most popular course asked about today: Medicine. Unfortunately for them (good for us as a University) the program has been filled for months with a waiting list.

The best call I took was the first one of the day. The guy was upset because he hadn't made his grades and thus didn't make our conditions set out, so thought we had rejected him. I was in the process of gently "rejecting" (which we deem as being "unsuccessful") him again, saying they don't reconsider, etc, etc, etc. (not a fun part of the job!), when I typed in his details to our system and realized we had gone ahead and offered him the place (he must have been close to the grades we were asking for). I got the joy of then telling him he was accepted! A huge thanks and sigh of relief then came over him. Too bad they don't all have that happy of an ending!

And the most unusual call I took today was from a school counselor wanting to let us know about the death of one of their students so we could take them off our system. A bit sobering in the midst of the madness.

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