Maybe a 2:2 Just Doesn’t Matter

We might as well relax and take it easy - getting a 2:1 isn't worth the extra effort.

A recent study by jobs website Adzuna has suggested that a graduate earning a 2:2 degree or less may earn up to £8,000 less than those earning a 2:1 degree or higher. That’s a gap of £300,000 over a working life. In all honesty, I can’t say I’m surprised by these statistics.

Given the level of competition in today’s job market, employers have to do everything they can to filter through the tides of applications which come crashing through their doors. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by judging people by their grades and it’s not entirely wrong. In many cases, it separates the clever from the ‘less clever’ and the determined from the lazy; however, this is certainly not the rule, especially at an institution such as our own.

Roughly a quarter of us (depending on the subject in question), get 2:2s or lower; and let’s face it, the vast majority of us aren’t stupid, and the vast majority of us do ‘try’. It’s not enough evidence to count us out of a hope of employment.

Instead, job selection requires an extremely multi-faceted approach. Each potential employee is assessed according to their individual traits, as well as how they work as a team, and how they can make a positive impact within the firm. Essentially, the individual must be able to slot neatly into the job vacancy.

While in the years immediately after graduation I can understand why those with 2:1s may earn more, I am sceptical that this trend would continue over a life-time. A degree is an academic qualification; agreed, it teaches you extremely valuable skills such as how to think critically and rationally, but those skills alone will not get you a promotion – unless the degree is entirely vocational, it’s a lot more difficult to predict an individual’s contribution to the firm based solely upon their academic qualifications.

Although achieving a 2:1 is obviously important, it shouldn’t be what gets a student out of bed, but the bigger picture. You may want to ask yourself why you ever wanted to jump on the treadmill in the first place: is it because you find mergers and acquisitions ‘fascinating’, or is it because you just want to ‘earn a shit-load of money straight away’? I’m not going to judge, but if you’re doing it because of the latter, you may want to re-think your game plan.

Any grade isn’t as important as pursuing a career which you’re passionate about; the money should come naturally after that. Ultimately, it all comes down to finding what you really want to do. After that, if you are perseverant, eventually, somewhere down the line, someone will acknowledge you for what you’re worth and you’ll get paid for it.

It might be wise to simply relax, take a deep breath, and think beyond the tiny bubble composed of Cambridge and class divisions. After all, in the long run, you’ll probably be happier for it.

Recent graduates looking to stay in the area might want to consider browsing Adzuna who have nearly 3,000 live jobs in Cambridge

  • bhatmann

    great article, well written!

  • Freespirit

    This guy has the right idea really:

  • Advertorial?

    Liked the piece and agreed with its sentiments. Only one slight problem with it:

    The note at the bottom makes me think that piece has a slight advertorial element. I don't begrudge this at all if it's the case (The Tab has to make money to keep on running!) but it might be nice to have it signposted more explicitly.

    I'm probably being a little bit prickish though so feel free to ignore me!

    • Sam Gregson

      Stop being a prick

  • But also

    With a name like Winston, I'm surprised you've not accounted for the third factor which applies to many Cantabrigians, namely that daddy already works in finance and can help get you a job…

    • Anthroponomastic

      His name isn't double-barrelled, he'll still only start in the mail-room

  • Felix

    That's a nice sweater, Winston. Where did you get it from?

    • Primark designer


      • Felix

        What would you do if I bought that sweater, Winston?

  • Quagmire

    I hear that you are my worthy opponent in this small town…

  • all of us

    winston, why do you do this?

  • Clarification

    I agree – mostly. But I think the reason that those who get 2.1s earn more is not because having a 2.1 gets you a promotion – that's silly – but because the most high paid jobs today require a 2.1 or above, and your salary goes up proportionally.

  • Jess

    Your degree doesn't really matter once you have a few years of work experience under your belt, but the problem is getting a job in the first place with a 2:2 since most graduate employers specify a 2:1 or higher!

  • Miss Liverpool 2004

    I thought the Tab was about tabloid news and soft core porn, not this rubbish. Bring back tits, sleaze and scandal.

  • missed the point?

    Any grade isn’t as important as pursuing a career which you’re passionate about . . . Ultimately, it all comes down to finding what you really want to do

    True, but you can't change the fact that majority of employers look for a 2.1. So pursuing a career you're passionate about is simply much easier if you get one

    • irony

      missed his point? lol

  • Fliss

    I can't believe that you haven't thought of the obvious point. Those who really work to get a 2.i (or a 1st) demonstrate that they are hard-working and ambitious. Those who *could* get a 2.i (which isn't necessarily everyone), but don't make the 'extra effort' and 'settle' for a 2.ii are demonstrating that they are not as hard-working and ambitious. So when promotions come up, is the hard-working and ambitious individual more like to apply for it, or the one who apparently does not possess these qualities?

    I'm not saying this accounts for everyone – there are some very hard-working people who do difficult subjects and who might never get a 2.i. But these are the individuals who still give it their all. The same does not apply to those who think, "Why bother trying my best?"

    • 1sts are for douches

      Sitting in a library for five million hours to get that 2.i or 1st doesn't really compare to working at a job you love in order to get a promotion. People change, and just because some don't necessarily break their backs for their degrees doesn't mean that they won't for their jobs. The two don't have to correlate you know, and work in the big bad world is rarely likely to be like 'work' in the bubble…

      • Economist

        Five million? Honestly, I doubt you need more than 15 hours efficient work per week for a 2.i, maybe even a first if you're clever. I estimate I do about 20-25. I won't be a cunt and tell you what I got in my exams.

        • Anonymous

          Exactly this. It's perfectly possible to go to no lectures, do five hours max per supervision, (ten or fifteen hours a week) then cram for two weeks in exams and come out with at least a mid-2.i. I don't do the same subject as Winston, but my best mate does and came out with nearly a First without doing anything for two terms, and he's not magically bright. For a 2.i at least (Firsts are obviously a bit different in most subjects) it's absolutely not a question of killing yourself over work every week, but of being able to pull your finger out when you have to.

      • Flaccid

        Workplaces have their own bubbles too, especially if the hours are long. Degree classification is not a perfect indicator (does anyone believe it is?), but in certain senses it's the best employers have to go on. And it probably correlates (though you're correct: not with correlation coefficient 1), but just like people work harder relative to others from GCSE to A Level, or A Level to degree, the bulk of people will stay somewhat constant. Lots of people bang on about 'transferable skills', but the most universal transferable skill you can demonstrate with your degree is hard work, slogging out to the end even in a subject you may have long lost your passion for.

  • Perfect Company

    Hello Winston, I am your dream career. I offer varied, challenging, yet interesting work, pay very well and have a 40 hour week with opportunity for international travel.

    Requirements: 2.1 or above

    • Frenchman

      40 hours a week? Fuck that.

      • OK, fine…

        Copious garlic and wine included in the remuneration package

  • Diss Lexick

    I hvae to amdit eye am onn a tirhd at pesrnet but hvinag raed tihs arlitce feal cofidnnet of gtteing a too too. Tanhk yuo four teh wsie wrods.

    • Dyspraxic

      Thank you for once again promoting the idea that those with specific learning disabilities are stupid. Great work.

      • Diss Lexick

        .Tahnks for teh spuport

    • Guest

      Not funny anymore.

      • Diss Lexick

        .It raelly is'nt, poelpe nede two be mroe arawe

    • Tono Tono

      Tono Tono Tono. Tono tono tono ton ton tono tono tono tono. Tono tono? Tono tono tono ton tono tono? Tono tono.

      Tono Tono.

  • Diss Lexick

    !Y dnot yuo all fcuk of

  • conor

    m8 i gt a fukin 2.2 at cmbrge dis yr nd im ernin sik dolla. all bou da gift of da gab aint it bruv? gt shit al 2 do wiv degre man. ppl so shit man.

  • Petros

    I got a 1.1 last year…

  • Mr Cheese

    "Although achieving a 2:1 is obviously important, it shouldn’t be what gets a student out of bed"
    True. Achieving a first should be what gets a student out of bed. Otherwise you spend the rest of your life having a second-class degree.
    Spending the first 10 years of your working life working in the City earning loads of cash might enable you to clear your student debts, buy a house with only a tiny mortgage and then ease yourself into a less demanding job thereafter such that you can spend some time with your partner and offspring. I wish that I'd done that instead of sticking around to do a PhD.

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