We hear so many stories in the news, on social media and possibly through your mate’s mam’s friend so that, when it comes to Clearing and university, it’s difficult to establish what’s true and what isn’t.

Here we aim to dispel some of the most common misconceptions around applying through Clearing and going to university.

‘I’ve missed the UCAS deadline, so I’ll have to wait until next year to apply.’

15 January is the official UCAS deadline but, if you’ve missed it, don’t despair! There are still opportunities to apply to study at university after the deadline has passed. Clearing opens in early July, this is where universities advertise courses that still have places available to start that September. Register with UCAS (if you haven’t already) and start to narrow down your course and university choices. If you have questions, check out open days or contact the university (online chat, email or social media). The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to apply when Clearing opens.

‘All the good courses are full by Clearing.’

Not true. You may need to make compromises, such as considering a university you hadn’t previously, moving away from home when you had planned on staying or completing a foundation year first but, if you are determined to follow your passion, there are opportunities for you. Make a start on researching your options early so you are ready to go as soon as Clearing opens and bag that place you didn’t think would be available.

‘£9,250 a year – how can I afford that?’

Yes, this is a lot of money that is unlikely to be sitting in your bank account. But don’t panic. You take a tuition fee loan through Student Finance England. This covers your course fees each year and you don’t start paying it back until you have graduated and are earning over £26,575*. You can also apply for a maintenance loan to help with living costs, and make sure to check out if they are any university bursaries and scholarships that you might be eligible for.

‘How will I manage my student debt? Will I always be skint after finishing uni?’

The main thing to remember here is that your repayments are in line with your earnings. The more you earn, the more you pay back. The less you earn, the less you pay back. Your degree is meant to work for you. A graduate with a salary of £35,000 will pay back around £63 a month. When you think about what you might pay for your mobile phone bill, this might not seem that much.

‘I’m too old to go university now –  I won’t fit in.’

50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30 and so on. The truth is, you’re never too old to learn something new. Many mature students choose to go to university for lots of reasons – a career change, to earn more, learn new skills or follow a passion.  Over 62% of Teesside University students that started this year are over the age of 21. University is for everyone.

‘People tell me I’d never get a job after university.’

University isn’t just about getting a degree, it’s about developing transferrable skills that employers value, such as leadership, critical thinking and problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.

Many courses at Teesside University are developed in partnership with industry, so we know what employers are looking for and shape our courses to reflect their needs, ensuring our graduates are ‘job ready’. This is really important to consider when researching your university options – does the course give me the skills, knowledge and experience I need to be successful in today’s market?

‘You have to move away to university to get the full experience.’

University is what you make it and for students choosing to study close to home, there are just as many opportunities as for those who move away. Apply to work with a student ambassador scheme or in the Students’ Union. Check out what sports clubs and societies are running and get involved in nights out. Instead of heading home after lectures have finished, go for a coffee with people from your course and involve yourself in study groups or WhatsApp groups that can help support you. It may seem a bit daunting at first, but putting yourself out there means you can enjoy the same university experience as everyone else.

By Kate Nelson.