The Truth About Getting a First
It’s not worth it.
Unless you’re a genius/have pushy parents and it comes easy, or if you want to do a PhD, or get a “top” job in one of those London offices which funds toxic tar sands pipelines *cough* Barclays *cough*, it’s not worth it. Aim for a 2.1.
Being educated means so much more than getting a top grade. Sure, if you work hard you might get a first, but has this come at the expense of valuable life experience? By which I mean, confining yourself to a computer for hours on end does not inspire a healthy active lifestyle or provide you with the opportunity to get out and meet people in a range of different settings. How can you develop a sense of empathy by looking at pieces of paper? You might be the smartest person on the course, but if you haven’t learned how to be interested in things and people outside of your own education then you’re not going to have much fun in future life, or any job interviews for that matter.
There are so many of us at uni now that when we graduate it is hard for us to get jobs that we actually want, meaning we’re all looking for ways to make ourselves stand out. Aiming for a first looks like the easy option. Academia is ma thang! We think. Having openly sobbed in University House a few weeks ago after the computer server deleted 1000 words of my essay, I can assure you, it is better to get a life than get a first.
My own time volunteering on the exec of German society, on the Student Staff Liaison Committee, teaching at the Refugee Centre and running a singing event for freshers has taught me so much more than learning a few extra phrases for an essay ever could. But it’s a hard goal to get rid of if you’ve been indoctrinated with the philosophy of “anything less than the best is the worst”.
We all pride ourselves on being intellectual; that’s why we chose to go to university. There is however, a difference between being smart and getting a first. To get a first you have to delve deep into your subject and learn how to expertly navigate labyrinth-like assessments; if you can, great! If you can’t, it’s far better for your stress levels, sanity and self-esteem to stick at a consistent 2.1 level where possible and use the rest of your time to scout out opportunities in the real world around you.
You are not defined by a number.