We spoke to people who finished with 69 per cent at uni about how they handled it
It’s so crushing you can’t even see the humour in 69 per cent
Welcome to The 69 Club. A slightly-less-than-elite group of individuals, who missed out on being actually elite by as little as one per cent, sometimes less. These are the people that faced the dreaded uni fate… they got 69 per cent, missing out on the golden 70 needed to award them a first class degree. As peak as it is, it’s often due to reasons beyond their control (professors who refuse to hand out borderline grades), or they never would have foreseen it affecting their overall degree classification (one deadline for a peer review in second year missed by a matter of minutes).
Either way, the moment you realise you missed out on a first is crushing. Some people still carry it to this day, some have moved on – but there’s one thing for sure: Literally no one else cares what you got in your degree once you’re a couple of months out of uni. It’s like a drop in the ocean, and it’s only relevant to people with firsts who can bring it up with bragging rights in a conversation. Plus, even that can make you look like a bit of a knob. So if you’ve met the same fate, come join The 69 Club. These are their stories.
‘I missed one tiny deadline by an hour and lost out on a first’
Ethan missed out on a first-class degree classification by, you guessed it, one per cent. “At Edinburgh Uni you attend ALG’s (autonomous learning groups) where students have to attend and grade their classmates on their participation,” Ethan told The Tab. “I missed the peer grading deadline by under an hour. If you miss the deadline, you immediately get a zero from everyone in your ALG. I emailed and complained but they insisted it wouldn’t make a difference to my overall grade. Then I got my final year grade and became obsessed with working out why – I realised that I had missed that first by exactly the amount I could have earned in that ALG. That’s why I got so stuck on it, I think. Just the sheer misfortune of that one per cent.
“I still haven’t gotten over it, two years later. Anytime anyone asks me about what I got – which is a horrible question I hate when people ask that anyway – it’s always like a little poke at my pride. When people talk about university I’m grateful that I had an amazing time at uni, but I’ll always have that little thing niggling away at me that I just got so close. I actually worked incredibly hard in my last year and was just let down at the final hurdle, which I’ll probably never get over.”
‘My professor just didn’t give borderline grades’
Michael graduated from Newcastle University five years ago, and he’s still pissed that he missed out on a first because his professor had a “personal rule” against giving borderline grades (exactly 60, or exactly 70, etc). He told The Tab: “I’ve never gotten over the fact that my professor gave me a 68 per cent in my thesis because he ‘didn’t give out borderline grades’.
“This unfortunately ticked my average down to below the amount for consideration to be a first. A year of stalwart effort, thwarted at the last moment by a professor with a pointless principle. That was 2015 and yes, I’m still bitter.”
‘I’ve made peace with missing out on it because honestly, I don’t think I deserved it’
Hannah was robbed of her first-class degree because, as she says modestly, she just “didn’t really deserve it”. Hannah was averaging a first all year, but was pulled down by her dissertation. “I got 54 on my diss. This is largely because I wrote it in one month before the deadline and only met with my supervisor once, so I can’t complain.
“I was just annoyed when I worked out all the rounding and I knew it would be 69 – which sucked, because it was so close – but I was also glad that at least I got a 2:1. For a while I didn’t think I’d even get that. I think because my disso just wasn’t that great it dragged my overall percentage down and I couldn’t fix that.
“To be totally honest, I don’t think I really did enough work to deserve a first – like when I think about people who got one, they worked so hard all year… and I just fannied about most of the time. Plus, I could have asked for it to be remarked but I was genuinely too scared that it might end up going down instead!”
‘I was gutted at first, but now no one asks me what grade I got’
Charlotte also missed out on a first from Cov Uni, telling The Tab: “At the time I was gutted. I kept thinking ‘what if I’d just tried that tiny bit harder on that coursework’ or on placement etc, because such a small amount more effort could’ve tipped me over to a first! And then when a lot of my friends got firsts it made me more annoyed.”
Charlotte’s situation was made easier because she had already been offered a job at the time, “I’d already interviewed for and been offered my first choice job so I kept telling myself it’s not the end of the world! And I’d got a first in my dissertation so I tried to be proud of myself for that.”
But there’s hope for the 69 club – because, after the few months out of uni, people truly stop caring what classification you got. And you will too. “I’m completely unfazed by it now,” Charlotte said, “I’m proud I got a 2:1 in a very tough degree and I got a job. I can honestly say that not a single person in my profession has ever asked me what grade I got. I didn’t even have to let my work know once I had heard the result so my degree classification really had zero contribution as to whether I’d be offered the job or not.”