There are only a few days a year where worlds collide and politicians, academics, celebrities, teens, and student marketers can all join the same conversation. Did you guess it? Yes, it’s A-Level results day. And oh, does it bode for an interesting 24 hours. So while universities and HEI’s battled in the most competitive Clearing ever - the ‘Black Friday’ of student recruitment - we took a step back and watched how the day unfolded, including the good, the bad and the ugly.

JC TWeet

1. Corbyn hijacked the morning with a topic we already asked 250 students about. 

With a post-qualification admissions system potentially on the horizon, it was a hot topic on the day. And the leader of the opposition sought to score political points by announcing their policy on the matter, riding the waves of Clearing conversations and the news agenda.

No matter what your politics are (no comment on BoJo or Trump), or your views on whether Labour gets it right, it’s certainly a conversation worth the spotlight. We asked 250 students about this and the majority say that a post-qualification admissions process is actually their preference. 

Check out all the findings of our pre-Clearing flash poll here.

2. A Clearing apocalypse: What to do when you have one.  

Most of us have spent the last 12 months getting ready for the spectacle that is Clearing, but what happens when something completely outside of your control derails all the hard work? For example, the whole of South London having a power outage… 

The solution? Contingency plans. 

Make sure your prospective students have more than one way to contact you, whether it’s through live chat, Facebook Messenger or Email so if you’re phone lines do happen to go down on the busiest day of your year, it’s not a problem. The National Clearing Survey found that students prefer a wider mix of contact methods, anyway. 

Also ensure you and your advertising partners are ready with Plan B. So if doomsday strikes, your team are prepared to adjust budgets, change tactics and rethink timelines.


3. Make a difference, not just noise.

Move over Jeremy Clarkson with your irrelevant tweets, the humour of your 2 U’s and a C is wearing thin. Instead, we’re all about celebrating the public figures that think deeper into what students actually need in today’s world and cut through.

Stormzy awarded another two students from minority backgrounds with scholarships to study at Cambridge. Now, that’s a worthy results day tradition.

4. Ask yourself: Cringe or cool? 

A question we spent the day asking ourselves when modern-day celebrities are walking around campuses each and every day, who’s going to make more of an impact with prospective students? 

Luke Birch Youtube Clearing

Genuinely cool and creative videos with real students, or cringe-worthy appeals from a Vice-Chancellor these students will probably never meet? We’ll leave you to answer that one, but Study Tuber Luke Birch once again showed off the power of authentic relationships that influencers cultivate with your audiences.  

But it isn’t all bad news… last year we caught up with one VC who is getting it right and well worth a follow for inspiration. Starting out? Then check out our Social Media 101 Guide for Academics

Stay tuned for the Edurank August rankings too, to see who really came out on top of the Clearing Social Media arena.  


5. Paint the town yellow: Did you get the memo? 

Clearing said hello to the new kid on the block notice-me-Gen-Z Yellow. Universities all over the country painted their Clearing ads with the sunshine hue, hoping to stand out and paint the picture of optimism, opportunity and excitement. 

“Whether it's the dominant colour or used for the CTA, using yellow is a great way to encourage action. Be confident with the use of colour, but it’s important to keep in mind the legibility of text. Opting for black text on yellow for headlines is a great way to reflect the energetic nature of the students, whilst displaying the supportive essence of the client and coaxing the desired action of the messaging. And have fun! Students respond well to that.”

- Georgia Webb, Natives' Digital Creative

And while it may be Gen Z’s new uniform colour, there are plenty other ways of grabbing Gen-Z attention (and hearts) too if yellow isn’t in your colour palette. Need some inspo? Look no further.

So what do Stromzy, VC-video boycotts, Apocalypse survival tips and real-student videos all have in common, then? Authenticity. Give your brand and existing students a platform to have a voice and personality, and let that do the talking in this crowded market. Celebrate user-generated content and shout about the things that genuinely matter with your initiatives, and strive for more than just the classic Clearing cliches. Keep pushing boundaries, otherwise, you’ll be in danger of sounding like the next Jeremy Clarkson… And no student wants that. 

And that’s a wrap for our first instalment. We’ll be back with the more stories about what cuts through during the most competitive time of the year, advertising insights that will get you ahead of the game and the National Clearing Survey (hint…. Still time to sign up and it's free). 

One thing that is for sure, is that you need to plan early. As in now. Get in touch with the Clearing experts here.

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Article by

Eleana Davidson Native Author

Eleana Davidson

Marketing Executive