Graduating: Why a Desmond isn’t so dismal

I got my graduation classification today. I am graduating with a 2:2. Second Class: Lower Division. Also known as a Desmond.

At first, I’ll admit I was gutted. I still am a little upset. I have worked myself ill at times throughout my degree, and worked despite being ill, and at first glance it all seems for nought.

A 2:2 is regarded as a less than desirable degree classification. I get it. It doesn’t seem that great. But, and it took me a long time and a lot of people telling me it for me to really believe, it’s not the end of the world.

In my third year at university I struggled a lot. I found the jump from pre-honours to honours huge. It was hard to keep up with the workload. My mental health suffered a lot. It wasn’t the first time I’d been bad at something (thank you, Higher Maths, for preparing me for this moment) but it was the first time I’d struggled so much and felt so helpless to stopping it.

I got better, my grades went up, I started getting high Bs and As. I was happy. I was healthy. Unfortunately it didn’t last and I got ill again. I had reached out for help and received little in the way of constructive advice, so I was on my own again. But I wasn’t. I have the most incredible friends, family and flatmates that anyone could ask for, who made sure I got through it. I got a 2:1 for my dissertation. I handed in every piece of coursework. I finished uni.

See, that’s something that I didn’t realise at first was so important. I actually finished four years of a university degree. I was in two minds about returning for 4th year. I didn’t see the point because my grades were so varied in third year. I focussed on the classes I did badly in, not my successes.

I finished uni.

I am graduating. I’ll have a degree behind me, regardless of the classification. I stuck it out for 4 years despite wanting to throw in the towel so many times. I did it. I actually did it.

I finished uni.

So I’m not going to wallow in self-pity about my average grade. My grades range drastically – a 30% difference from highest to lowest. My enjoyment of university has ranged just as drastically. But my dad always stressed one thing from the very beginning:

You don’t go to university for the certificate on your graduation day.

Sure, getting your degree is great and will open lots of doors and give you a major leg up when it comes to finding a job and hopefully you learned something. But, more importantly, university is about growing up. It’s about living in a strange city with strange people doing strange things for four years.

It’s about going out. Getting drunk. Having fun. Spending too much money. Exploring new places. Having cups of tea at four in the morning. Making the most of your student discount. Debating politics at the dinner table. Ordering more Dominos pizzas in a week than a person should eat in a lifetime. Never learning to leave your card at home when you’re going to a bar or club. Getting too drunk to get into The Hive. Being too sober to contemplate going into The Hive. Library hysteria at 1am in a pod on the ground floor with your friends. Deep meaningful conversations with strangers in club toilets. Sitting in lectures with your drunk friend who’s braless and muttering insults about your lecturer while she draws cartoon pictures of you and being very proud of her artwork. Living with the same girls for four years and walking into a flat that feels like home.

Going to university isn’t about learning a degree subject. It’s about learning who you are. Who you can be. Who you are yet to become.

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