Posted by James Howell on Friday, 29th of April 2016
Finals season may be here but there's no reason to get too hung up about your results.
Finals are well on their way and we feel for you, we really do. You are likely stressed about your work load, suffering through exam preparation and dreading deadlines, but one thing you shouldn't worry too much about is your final degree classification. We are here to ease your anxiety—grades aren't life-defining!
Students and graduates are often told they must achieve an Upper Second Class degree (2:1) or higher to have a good shot at a graduate job or graduate scheme, but this simply isn't true. Don't believe us? There are plenty of fantastic graduate jobs which gladly accept applicants with a 2:2 degree.
So stop fretting! Here's our top four reasons not to panic about your grades.
1. It's still a degree
During exams, there is a lot of pressure on students to focus on results and you may not be giving yourself the credit you deserve for making it this far—so here's a (pre-emptive) well done! You've worked hard to get your degree. Don't let anyone tell you it's not worth it unless you ace every exam.
Years from now, having a degree is what will matter—not how highly you scored. Degrees prove to employers that you are able to commit to something, work hard and see it through. Your time in academia has also equipped you with a wide range of skills which are valued in the workplace, such as communication skills, analytical skills and time management.
Being able to list a degree on your CV is a big accomplishment, so don't let anyone make you feel small because of a few shaky module results.
2. Good grades =/= Work place suitability
The idea that graduates with higher grades will be better employees is a misconception—and most employers know it. The theory may hold ground in some fields, such as Engineering or Science and Technology, but for most industries it's not the case.
Employers often use grades as a filtering method because there are generally more graduates than graduate jobs. If you make every effort to show yourself as a viable employee, not just an academic, you will still be a highly desirable candidate. You can strengthen your employability by highlighting specific skills picked up during your studies and seeking out opportunities for work experience and volunteer work.
3. Less people care about your degree grade than ever
Employers requiring a 2:1 degree or higher is so 2000s. The new trend amongst the big graduate employers is to take a "holistic" approach to graduate recruitment. Alongside diversity aims, employers are now starting to look at each candidate as a whole person, rather than just a name and number.
Last year one of the largest graduate employers, EY, dropped their requirement for applicants to have a 2:1 classification, while another professional services firm, Deloitte, announced they won't be taking A Levels into account when reviewing applicants.
The movement away from focusing on grades is combined with a growing distrust of the "gold standard" 2:1 degree, as reports suggest universities feel pressured to give students higher grades to improve their employability ratings. All of this means fewer employers than ever are looking at your grades.
4. Nobody cares after a while anyway
A poor degree grade is not a cross you will have to bear for the rest of your life. Employers do care about your arc through life—whether you went to school then university and are now applying for jobs. But they are only really looking at your recent past.
You should remember that your most recent job is the most important item on your CV. While it may be slightly more difficult to land your first graduate job with a lower classification of degree, once you are over that hurdle you will see it is your work ethic which matters, not your academic credentials.
So whether you are on track for a First, 2:1, 2:2 or Third, nothing is set in stone. 2:1 and First graduates will still have to work hard to land positions, as will 2:2 and Thirds. Don't get yourself in a panic about your grade, just do your best—you can do it!