One in Three Graduates Admit They Could Have Tried Harder


Graduation ceromonies at Southampton University start this week

A recent survey conducted by a graduate recruitment company has revealed that 35% of graduates with a 2:2 degree classification admitted that they did not work hard enough to get the grades.

Financial, health and family issues were reasons given by 21% of respondents who admitted that they could have worked harder. A further 15% felt that the course they studied was much harder than expected.

Dan Hawes is co-founder of Graduate Recruitment Bureau (GRB), the company that conducted the research. He commented: ‘This refreshing honesty among graduates is welcome and might actually help them to find ways of overcoming what increasingly appears to be a barrier to graduate jobs. Employers do appreciate frankness and those who do not stick rigidly to the 2:1 class when screening candidates may well be impressed with a candidate who admits that they could have worked harder as long as they emphasise what else they have to offer.’

Maximillian Hughes – Williams will graduate the University of Southampton this week with a 2:2 in Philosophy and Politics. He agrees with Hawes’ comments and argues that extra-curricular activities are what make graduates stand out to future employers. He said: ‘If you’ve got a degree today, it doesn’t seem to be worth anything. It’s the extra stuff that matters and makes you stand out from every other student applying for the same job.’

Hughes – Williams, who was last year’s JCR Officer in the student Union, continued: ‘Most of my time was taken up with Union, media and society activities, and that’s why I couldn’t put 100% into my degree and get a 2:1. I was involved with every part of the Union that I could, and that’s the reason why I came to University really. Some employers find it difficult to look past a 2:1 degree classification, but I think the skills that I picked up outside of my course at University can say just as much about me as a potential employee, if not more, than a 2:1 without any extra-curricular activities. It does help, however, that the University of Southampton is one of the top 25 Universities in the country, and it looks better getting a 2:2 here than at certain other universities.’

The Wessex Blog spoke to Marie Borrego from the University’s ‘Career Destionations’ team about the matter. She said: ‘The graduate market is competitive but employers will not only be looking at your academic track record. Work experience, voluntary work and involvement in university societies can give you the evidence you need to prove to employers that you have the skills that they are looking for. Remember that the big recruiters you see quoted in the media are just the tip of the iceberg. Many graduates don’t get jobs with these companies. most work for smaller organisations in the private, public and not-for-profit sector.’

Hawes added, ‘There is a growing emphasis on the need to achieve a 2:1 but employers should be reminded that the degree classification system in the UK is not intended to be a national standard so comparing one candidate with another on the basis of their degree award is potentially misleading. The results of this survey also suggest that other factors can affect individual performance. I’d suggest that recruiters of graduates, despite the rising number of applicants in the economic downturn, do their best to treat each application on its own merit and not to make assumptions as to why someone should obtain a lower second or a third class degree for that matter.’

Hughes – Williams commented that his 2:2 had not prevented him from getting a job, as he currently is employed for two positions already at the Union and the University – both places where he previously was involved with extra-curricular activities outside his degree.


Discussion1 Comment

  1. avatar

    I think grade classification assumptions undermine students who have worked relentlessly on exams and coursework for 3 years. Graduating should be the number one goal and be a very happy achievement in itself.. who cares if you fell a few marks short of a 1st? (and if you fail the year- simply retake it!) The idea that you should be disappointed with yourself and that you cannot get a job is a shambles. After much dedication, enjoyment in your studies and exploring personal interests through societies & clubs surely its only a positive thing. Everyone has differing personal circumstances/ academic experiences- yes Southampton University/ schools, health, and general life get in the way- births & deaths as usual- the world does not stop. They have a part to play too, some worse than others, but this grade myth and competition amongst peers gets tedious after a while.

    Mind you I thought the same in SATs, GCSE’s and A levels… i cannot wait to be able to do a job/role of my choosing, being assessed for the correct use of interpersonal skills, grades and academia won’t be useful in most jobs according to my careers adviser… hooray! (hat goes flying!) 😀 😀

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