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!

One Reply to “The Graduate Epiphany”

  1. Bethany,

    A 2:1 is an amazing achievement. Very well done! I know how much work goes in to achieving it… I also got a 2:1 (Hons) degree but at the age of 42; after studing part time whilst working full time for 5 years.

    A degree to me means you have attained a level of education & have stuck at studying. A huge personal achievement. We should brand our foreheads with 2:1 – so everyone knows!

    In my job I recruit all levels and I look for application of academic learnings. I favour ’employability’ ie; having a personality, a ‘can do’ attitude & being able to communicate. (Although sometimes you need that 2:1 or higher just to get the opportunity to show your ’employability’ side). …. but at sometime further along your career path your experience may outweigh your degree grade (although I’m not overly convinced on this) Chicken & egg scenario.

    My gripe with schools is the lack of careers advice. I did a study for my Masters on how to ‘attract and retain engineers at the oil refineries in Pembrokeshire’…. very few students at A Level locally knew the career opportunities for those who enjoy STEM subjects with large corporations based in Pembrokeshire; global engineering companies who offered Graduate Training Schemes. I worked for one and we recruited from Europe to come to Pembs. Very frustrating.

    I also know local 20-somethings who were always told (by school) to follow their dreams. Whilst this is fabulous; if people want to live and work in Pembs they should be given career advice to fit the location.

    Anyway…. i wouldn’t have been considered for a number of the roles I have done if I didn’t have that ‘academic certificate’…. It does give credibilty.

    You have the whole package. You’ll do great; I’m sure. Julie

    Liked by 1 person

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