After years of defining and refining the National Clearing Survey data, there are four distinct Clearing personas that form the backbone of the sectors marketing strategies and have been used in hundreds of campaigns. Each profile has unique identities that every student marketer needs to be familiar with, forged from demographics, education, destination, motivation, influencers and the top social platforms they use daily.

This year, we’ve added even more focus and insights, so that you can understand their motivations, barriers and behaviours even better. Our award-winning research team have examined in detail and included for the first time their barriers to enrolment, the likelihood of being first-generation higher-education students, and the emotions they’re feeling pre- and post-Clearing. Each persona needs something slightly different from universities to get their attention, and that’s why we’re here to introduce each of them to you once again - because no great marketing plan starts with a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Meet Taylor. The Traditional Clearing Student. She is 18 and a half years old, the first in her family to have applied to university, and she feels anxious and stressed for not securing her original UCAS choice because of her lower-than-expected grades. Although it’s an emotional time for Taylor, she's not alone and comes from the largest pool of Clearing students. Taylor is worried about grades, finances and travel restraints, so if you want Taylor to come to your university, cement your institution as a strong ‘plan b’ choice from the get-go. Create a strong student user journey and conversion workflows, nurturing Taylor through her turbulent results day. 


Taylor and her fellow traditional Clearing students are more likely to contact more than one institution during Clearing, which is less likely to be her original choice, and she is most likely to enrol at the first institution that she has contacted. So make sure your messaging is strong and you’re right there when she's looking for that beacon of hope. Make sure you have strategies in place to engage with her parents too, as these are the people who Taylor and her like-minded peers really listen to. 

Then there’s Ali. The Adjustment Student. He’s in a slightly more balanced emotional position than the likes of his fellow student, Taylor, and a little older at just shy of 19 years old. He received results better than expected and predicted and is looking for an institution with higher grade boundaries. Which could be your institution - especially if you’re a Russell Group. Ali is an early researcher and most likely to be exploring his Clearing options very early in the traditional Clearing cycle. So it is important that you have your Clearing brand campaigns up early. Think about content hubs with blogs, articles and how-tos aimed at Ali and his like-minded peers, using every opportunity to build a relationship with Ali, through forms and events. This way you can be sure to send him the information he needs at the right time, to the right place and increase the opportunity to enrol. 

The Adjustment student is our smallest sample size but for those who are recruiting for a Russell Group, an important opportunity for to attract the highest-qualified Clearing students and to be competitive against challenger brands who are more experienced recruiters in Clearing. It’s always a bit of a risk diverting away from your original plan, so Ali is nervous and anxious, but after he’s secured his Clearing plan, he is proud, excited and happy. Just make sure you make your course rankings known because they are a huge motivator for the likes of Ali. 

Next up we have Drew. The Direct Applicant. Drew is a little older again than the other groups of Clearing students, at the mature age of 22 and a half. She’s from one of the more complex groups we see on the Clearing scene, as she doesn’t always follow a linear pathway to her undergraduate degree. Often these Direct Applicants seem like they come out of nowhere but these decisions are often months and years in the making, being indirectly influenced by brand awareness tactics.

But with that being said, if you want to resonate with Drew and her fellow Direct Applicants, their top concerns are finances and time, so reassuring messaging around funding and support really are the cut through. Better yet, engage with this group of students who are local to your institution, as going to a university close to home is incredibly attractive to Drew and she doesn't want to consider travelling too far away. Drew is excited and most likely looking at the Post-92 and Russell group universities to facilitate her dreams.

And finally, there is Marley. The Mind Changer. She’s going through Clearing for reasons other than her grades, and she will be turning 20 years old soon. Social or environmental factors have influenced her to reconsider the location, institution or course she’s applying to. Marley looks to Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube for inspiration, and knowing others at the university is a huge motivator. How can you translate that into your own Clearing messaging on those specific platforms? She worries about finances, costs and travel so when trying to engage with likes of Marley, make sure you’re reaching out that particular helping hand.

Of course, there’s plenty more to all their stories. But there are your quick introductions. Each of them needs a considered and individual approach, and that’s why if you download the National Clearing Survey, you’ll have the roadmap to resonate with each and every one of them.

Get to know your prospective Clearing students and download the National Clearing Survey today or speak to one of our experts

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Article by

Eleana Davidson Native Author

Eleana Davidson

Marketing Executive