A-level results day may not bring the joy and relief that many students were hoping for, with around 30% failing to achieve the grades they need for their first choice university.
But the head of the national university admission service Ucas has reassured students that clearing is still an important route for many degree students.
Last year one in 10 students found their university place through clearing, the annual process which allows students to search and apply for courses that still have vacancies.
Of those who miss out on their top choice, around two-thirds still get a university place - about half through their insurance choice and half through clearing, Ucas said.
Courses with vacancies are live to view online. Universities and colleges will be keen to hear from students once they know they are eligible for clearing, and can make verbal offers to students with the right qualifications.
Mary Curnock Cook, Ucas chief executive, warned students to be fully prepared.
“Higher education is a life-defining experience, and half a million students each year now take up the challenge,” she said.
“If you think you’ll be using the clearing route to get there, don’t worry - record numbers of students were placed that way last year.
“Most universities will have some courses with vacancies, including in subjects you might not have considered when first filling out your Ucas application.
“Universities and colleges will want to talk to you - but remember to prepare and do your research before discussing your options with them. You’ll find all the information you need about clearing on our website.”
Almost all Ucas universities use clearing for some of their courses, including those with the highest entry requirements, but exceptions this year include the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and the University of Bath.
Meanwhile, half of 18-year-olds who miss out on a place at university apply again the next year - with around 90% securing a place second time round.
Full information and contact details can be found on the Ucas website and students can also speak directly to a Ucas expert on Twitter or Facebook.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, urged A-Level students not to panic because many options are available.
“It is important for students to remember that this whole process requires you to stay calm and collected,” she said.
“Whatever decision you make should be made by you and you alone and it is important that you pick something that is right for you.
“Remember that thousands of students have been through clearing before and ended up having a fantastic, rewarding and inspiring time at university. Good luck.”