2:1s are nothing but a passport to a dull, uninspiring life
I bet it was in Sociology
Graduation day 2014. Parents from across the country have made the long, tiresome journey to a campus on the outskirts of a decaying midlands town – probably Loughborough – to watch their darlings cross the stage. And like the journey to Loughborough, the rest of these grads’ lives will be bleak, grey and punctuated with McDonald’s and shame.
The vast majority will beam at the camera, clutching their reward for three years work and £45,000 – the prized 2:1.
But why? A 2:1 is nothing. It’s boring, it’s the norm. A 2:1 says either you were too stupid to get a first or you weren’t fun enough to get a 2:2. It’s become the acceptable benchmark of being bang average. It’s the degree grade that says the worst things about you as a student.
Throughout your three years, the general consensus is that as long as you get a 2:1 you’ll be fine. Avoid the Desmond, make you parents proud. That’s the mantra that’s drummed into the heads of every 18-year-old wearing a leavers hoodie that passes onto a uni campus.
And that’s true. But what is fine? Is fine working as a recruitment consultant, marrying a girl called Becky (who works in HR) and hating every second of the job that stops you getting boozy with dirty Mike and the boys? In which case, yes. You’ll be fine. Fine in the same way that people who listen to Capital FM, go on holiday to Turkey and live in places like Basingstoke are technically fine.
At uni, you’re exposed to the world, you’re given a chance to make something of yourself, spread your wings. But no, you plod along, on the slow march to an unexceptional future. You proudly update your Linkedin in the middle of July, telling the world and everyone who’ll listen: you, James from Guildford, were social sec of Cricket AND still managed to get your 2:1 in Psychology from Leicester. A warm fuzzy glow will wash over you as you think that the jobs will come knocking, followed by the girls, the cars, the house in the suburbs. Just because you’ve got a 2:1.
There’s no work in the 2:1. No real hard graft, no going the extra mile, no pushing yourself and the very idea that this disgustingly pedestrian qualification entitles you to anything other than a life of lower middle class self-hatred is a fucking joke.
People that are interesting don’t get 2:1s. To be recognised, to be adored by millions, to change the world, you need to be special. The 2:1 is anything but. Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Phillip Green, James Dyson – the billionaire faces of the last 50 years didn’t get 2:1s. In fact, they didn’t even get degrees. They’re unique in how little they care about what the world thinks of them, they laugh in face of societies’ conventions, you slave away trying to fit them.
At the other end of the spectrum, those with firsts are the ones making the important decisions.The David Camerons of this world, the Prime Ministers and Home Secretaries, the ones with the real power over your day to day life didn’t get there with 2:1s, they got there because they had a deep academic respect for their degree or they cared enough about their future to fake it and end up with a first.
I have more respect for the dropouts, the flaming car crashes of students who fall by the wayside after giving uni their all, managing to somehow doss out of their first year sociology modules in a fantastic blaze of glory and Ketamine. At least they do something with conviction.
And there’s the real problem with the 2:1. It’s not just a symbol of a lack of effort at uni, that you went out too much or did too much for your society or even that you’re too dumb. A 2:1 is the most expensive piece of paper you’ll ever buy. It’s a piece of paper that will scream for the rest of your life “I don’t care”. You don’t care enough to do better, you’re middle of the road, vapid, bland.
The level of apathy is so intense that you don’t care about the fact that from your 22nd birthday till the day you die your life will be nothing of note, just like every other mindless drone working in recruitment or HR or marketing or any number of dead end jobs that robots will be doing in five years.
But please, go on being proud of your mundane, dull, thoroughly average degree, because that’s all you’re ever going to be. Average, unexceptional and not worth the time of day.