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I didn’t get the degree result I wanted, what now?

Whether you just missed a first or scraped a third, getting your degree result might have left you feeling disappointed or worried. You may have a job offer or PhD place which required you to achieve a 2.1 or above or you might feel worried that no-one will consider employing you if you have a 2.2 or 3rd. But don’t despair, even if you didn’t get the result you’d hoped for there are many options open to you.

Suzanne Blog

  • I didn’t meet my offer for a job or postgraduate course

If you were holding a conditional job offer or course place and you haven’t met the terms of your offer, don’t panic.  Major graduate employers invest a lot of time, effort and money into their recruitment processes and they will already be very confident that you have the qualities and skills they are looking for. It’s not guaranteed but there is still a chance that the employer will take you – particularly if you have only dropped one classification and/or the university can verify that there were reasons for your underperformance. There may be less flexibility with funded PhD places but for self-funded PhDs or MSc/MA courses, again, it’s still possible that you will be able to start your course if you’ve just missed your offer.

  • I got a 2.2 does this mean I can’t do a graduate scheme?

It’s common to see ads for graduate training schemes where a 2.1 degree or above is an entry requirement.  However in 2014, 24% of graduates on full-time courses were awarded a 2.2 degree.  So, first of all, you’re not alone and secondly there are still plenty of options open to you.  Not every major employer requires a 2.1 or above – most public sector training schemes, such as the NHS or Civil Service Fast Stream, ask for a 2.2 or above and, if you do your research, you will find other graduate training schemes where employers are happy to consider candidates with a 2.2. Remember too that graduate training schemes are not the be-all-and-end-all. The majority of graduates will begin their careers working for small or medium-sized employers (SMEs), many of whom offer excellent training and experience without requiring candidates to have a specific degree result (which is also good news if you have a third!).

  • Will getting a third mean employers won’t even look at me?

First think about the reasons why you got a third. Employers and admissions tutors may be sympathetic if you have verifiable extenuating circumstances – particularly if your academic performance has been consistently better in your first/second year. Be honest with yourself – if you know that your result was due to lack of effort or that you tried hard but struggled with your course then this can help you with your career planning. For example, if you found certain parts of your course difficult or boring then avoid jobs that focus on these areas. Employers are individuals and will really differ in their attitudes to graduates with a third. Some will automatically filter out candidates who don’t meet their degree requirements but others will be open-minded and be more interested in your personal qualities (and some may even have thirds themselves!).  How you present yourself is very important – a graduate who neglected their studies but ran a successful student society or set up a business venture will be viewed more favourably than a graduate who didn’t appear to do anything while at university.

Finally, remember that if you get a 2.2 or a third it doesn’t mean you can never work for a major employer. Degree classifications are usually only used as a filter for graduate entry jobs – once you have some experience under your belt recruiters will be far more interested in your skills and experience than how you performed at university.

To find out more about options open to you if you have a 2.2 or a third, sign up for our webinar on Tuesday 14 July at 12.00.

Suzanne Ball is the Careers Adviser for the School of Creative Arts and the School of Health & Social Work at the University of Hertfordshire.  She regularly tweets on all things creative via @careerview.

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