Seizing the moment was vital for award-winning entrepreneur Peter Ward when he found out he couldn’t study the course he wanted to at the University of Cambridge.
Entering the Clearing process in 1997, the former comprehensive school student picked Brunel after spotting a friend’s prospectus – and he hasn’t looked back since.
Fifteen years later, Peter’s travel website business Where Are You Now, also known as WAYN.com, has more than 20 million members in 196 countries, and has been awarded the prestigious Website of the Year award seven times in the past nine years.
As more than 60,000 students prepare to enter this year’s Clearing process, Peter says knowing what you want and going out to get it is as important now as it was then.
“You’ve got to hustle - be quick, fastidious and determined. Even if you have to go to the university, look the tutor in the eye and see exactly what the course is all about. It’s about giving it your hundred per cent best shot,” he said.
The Brunel Alumni of the Year 2010 added that his whole career could have turned out very differently if it wasn’t for Clearing.
Fully prepared to study geography at Cambridge - he had been told the course would help him keep his options open - Peter only came across Brunel during a train journey to visit UCL, where he could study a second geography course.
Travelling with his friend, who had been accepted on Brunel’s Economics and Business Finance course, he glanced at her prospectus and realised the course was for him, largely because it included a sandwich placement in industry and significant links with business.
“I knew I wanted to be a successful business person, and this was calling out my name,” Peter said. “I thought what was more important to me at the time – going to a traditional red brick university and doing it more for the prestige? Or realising it would be much more useful for my career to study a course that gave me everything I needed and the chance to have some skills I could use when I graduated?
“I got it in my head that this was where I wanted to go and that this was the course I wanted to do,” he added.
On visiting the campus that day, Peter managed to persuade the course academic that he could take his place, even though it was oversubscribed. He added: “I could always have taken the place I had studying geography, but this gave me the flexibility to do what I wanted to do in my career.”
While studying, Peter tested himself as an entrepreneur, setting up companies even before he graduated from Brunel. WAYN.com is now one of the world’s largest travel and lifestyle communities and has worked with major corporate partners such as Mastercard, Skype and AT&T.
And since graduating, Peter has been a strong supporter of the Brunel Entrepreneurs’ Society and has mentored a number of student groups.
Brunel has a dedicated hotline, +44 (0)1895 272 273, for students in Clearing. Current Clearing and Adjustment vacancies are published here to give students time to plan or research potential courses of interest.
For more information about Brunel’s Clearing offer, visit http://www.brunel.ac.uk/clearing-and-adjustment.