On track for a first? 2:1s are for people who have a life

You’d be better off putting the time in getting work experience

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Like many other people, I want to achieve the highest grade I can. I want to do well and prove I am a lot smarter than I actually come across.

In my first year I spent hours on end trying to write the most perfect essay, trying desperately to get the highest mark available on my exams. I locked myself in my room, avoided life outside of my degree and ultimately I excelled in some subjects and did shit in others.

I realised that, despite what our lecturers say, university is not about burying yourself in books and journal articles: it’s about gaining independence, becoming adults, learning who we really are and what we really enjoy. Would you rather get that extra five or 10 per cent in an essay, slightly boosting your overall grade and nothing else, or take an extra shift at work, earning more money and gaining more real life experience that will actually be useful on your CV?



University is a lot harder than school. You might have less hours, but on top of learning about your chosen subject – without the option of being spoon-fed the answers by your teacher – you have to learn how to live without your parents doing everything for you, how to fund yourself and not run out of the limited money you have. You have to remake friends and find your way around an entirely new city.

Being an adult is hard, and forcing yourself to achieve the ultimate grade makes it even more difficult. I’m not saying that you should strive to only achieve a 2:1. I simply believe that, at the end of the day, an employer would much prefer a solid 2:1 with loads of work experience and skills in comparison to a First with none of that.

Who wants to be greeted by this?

Who wants to be greeted by this?

In 2012 the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) revealed 76 per cent of graduate employers expected a 2:1 as a minimum degree classification, and there is a lack of statistics indicating the percentage of employers who prefer a First. But in August this year, firms such as Ernst and Young were moving away from requiring candidates to have a minimum degree classification of a 2:1, instead focusing more intently on the experience of candidates. Graduate employers are caring less about whether you get a First, or even a 2:1 for that matter.

I’m not trying trying to make excuses for the fact I’m too lazy or stupid to get a First. I simply believe we’re only on this planet for a minimal amount of time, and the experience we have at university is far more important than the grade we ultimately achieve. At the end of the day, very few people, if any, will give a shit about whether you got a First or a 2:1.