The Graduate Epiphany

In one week I will graduate from the University of Gloucestershire with a 2.1 in History and Religion, Philosophy, and Ethics; and I am so proud to say that. I’m not proud simply because it is, by university standards, a decent grade, but because I know how hard I worked to get it.  I chose to write this blog today after finding a note on my iPhone written in the middle of the night during the depth of my final year depression. On this note I wrote how sad and worried I was about the possibility of gaining a 2.2, which in hindsight was a waste of tears.

During my final year I was a student mentor to sixth formers at a local school in Gloucester, and although I encouraged higher education as an option after sixth form, but I made it very clear that university is not the be all and end all of life. Throughout our time at secondary school we are indoctrinated with the notion of higher education and the fact that we may not get a job without a degree, and as a result of this many students are filled with anxiety over the possibility of not gaining a place. From my own perspective, I certainly felt the pressure of university, not from my family but rather from my school. I agree it is a great path to follow and I will never regret my decision to go to university, but looking back I cannot remember any other options given to me regarding life after sixth form.

 

The same applied to university.

 

I would lie awake night after night with my heart racing and trying not to cry over the thought of gaining a 2.2, mostly because I was worried about how I was going to explain why I didn’t get the  desired 2.1.  In many ways students are led to believe that gaining a 2.2 or lower in university is a failure. We are shown statistics over and over again to provide evidence before our eyes that 2.1’s will gain you a job and it the 2.1 you need to succeed.  In my opinion, this is cruel.

Students should be celebrated no matter what the grade for their hard work and commitment to three years of tough education, because that is what it is, it is tough. Not only are we continually reading and writing essays, but we are doing this all on our own. Making adult decisions in an adult world.

I tormented myself for the entire third year to get my 2.1 because I was told that there is a lesser chance you will be given a place at Postgraduate level with a 2.2; an option that I want just as much as I wanted to go to university, and when I go up to collect my certificate at Graduation I will be the one most proud of myself because I know how hard I worked for it.

So to all students and all graduates, my advice to you is to not be disheartened if you don’t get a 2.1 or a 1st, it won’t be the end of the world for you. It is simply an opinion.

 

Congratulations on your hard work!

Winter is Coming

November 1st and all is just swell in my post university life (touch wood). It is just what I expected. Dull and slow.

Actually no, that’s a lie, it is actually moving quite fast. When I changed the calendar in the tearooms this morning I couldn’t quite believe that it was November, I have been living at home for just about 6 month now. Wow. The summer season has officially ended now, so my hours managing the tearooms have been cut quite a bit. Not that I mind too much. Living in a small tourist community always means that there is more work in the summer than in the winter, and just like Game of Thrones, “Winter is Coming”.

I should probably look for another job, but is it bad to admit that I really don’t want to? Since university I haven’t really stopped, and for now I want a little break (as lazy as that sounds).  I will start looking, but for now I want to read all those books that I have collected from countless charity shops; I want to write down all these ideas I have building up in my head; and maybe one of these days I will come up with a plan for my future.

As a graduate there seems to be pressure upon you to have a plan. Everyone (especially random customers) always ask “So, what are you going to do now?” and most of the time I tell them the same old line of working to get some money, might do a Masters, and that I plan to move away soon. There is always that pressure to have a good answer.

But graduates, it’s okay not to have a good answer and its okay to just not do anything, for a little while at least. Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s wrong to take a breather. How can we be expected to pick a future when we are not given a chance to sit back and think about it? Yes, university is over and we have had to accept that but we need time adjust and think about the next part of the journey.

And…Breathe.