Graduation: a time for celebrations, not comparisons.
Summer has arrived, and with it the abundance of graduation ceremonies that will be taking place all over the country. This is a time for all students to recognise and honour the achievements that you have been working hard towards.
And yet it is not a day without anxiety. Aside from worrying if you will trip when you name is called to the stage, a deeper concern often lays with students who have not done as well as they would have liked to or, worse still, are comparing themselves to fellow students who have done better. The risk is that this day of celebration will turn into a day of regrets. But you owe it to yourself not to let that happen; you’ve just completed an entire degree!
Remember now, everyone’s journey as a student is different. People arrive at university at different starting points and they face different challenges along the way. Degree classification does not tell the whole picture – it does not highlight the brilliance of your dissertation, or the strength and resilience you showed in overcoming the difficulties with a particular module, or the way you were able to bring the team together to deliver a great presentation. (And note that each one of these examples evidences skills that are in high demand in the workplace).
Remember also that graduation day is just the very start of the next phase of your life and, as we know, when it comes to career journey, success is found in how you finish, not where you start. There is no standard correlation between degree grade and career happiness (however you choose to define it) that is applicable to all examples. That person sitting next to you, receiving their First Class Honours, may not have even pondered their next steps yet or necessarily have the transferable skills needed to make a smooth transition into work.
So whatever degree you will graduate with, be sure to wear your cap and gown with pride and remember that this is the first day of the rest of your life.
Congratulations to all of you!
Hannah, July 2019
Hannah Morton-Hedges is a Careers Consultant with SOAS Careers Service.