What to Do If You Didn't Get the Degree Classification You Wanted

Rachel Tudor

Graduating from university is a daunting prospect, no matter what degree classification you earned. You’ve left education, maybe for good, and finally stepped into the big, wide world. It’s even more nerve-wracking if things haven’t quite gone to plan and you didn’t get the degree classification you wanted.

Perhaps you got a 2.2 when you needed a 2.1 to go on to whatever you had planned and now you have to rethink things. Have no fear! There are plenty of options available even if you didn’t get the result you were after.

It’s really important to remember that you should be proud of your result, no matter the outcome. It’s natural to be disappointed if you didn’t get what you wanted, but what’s clear is that exam results aren’t something that define you and your worth. You should celebrate your achievement and your hard work over three years, even if things haven’t quite gone to plan. What’s most important is that you’re getting your degree and graduating- a fantastic achievement regardless of result!

It’s also important to remember that, just like other qualifications you’ve earned, your degree class will assume less importance over time. Although some employers and grad schemes tend to ask for a 2:1, there’s actually a lot of opportunities available for students earning a 2:2 or below. Across a career, earning a 2:2 is highly unlikely to impact your career. A report by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills Graduate Labour Market Statistics highlights a 0.4% difference in employment between 2:1s and 2:2s. So, don’t despair just yet!

However, this may not stop you worrying about your immediate future plans. But don’t forget: you’re not alone! There are plenty of students finding themselves in a very similar situation. There are plenty of options if you have to rely on Plan B. It’s so important to remember that your degree still has great value. Although the reality is that some of you may have to change some aspirations and it may take you a bit longer to get there, don’t forget that you can still achieve these goals.

There are a few things you can do to help yourself out as you plan your next move.

Call anyone you need to

If you have a conditional offer, let prospective employers know your results as soon as possible. The sooner you do it, the easier it is for them to make the necessary arrangements. If you impressed them at interview there’s always a chance you’ll still be able to join their programme.

Take some time out and get things into perspective

Detach yourself from the intensity of it all and spend time by yourself or with close friends or family. It might not necessarily be helpful to be sat amongst peers who have met or exceeded their expectations. If anything, this may cause you to panic even more - but don’t worry, no one has it all figured out! Try and achieve a calmer mindset which will allow you to become more objective and allow you to really look at your options effectively and carefully. Despite having a potential impact on your immediate career plans, this shouldn’t change your long-term career goals. You may need to work harder than your peers but it will most definitely pay off in the end.

Gather some positive feedback and academic referrals

As well as these references from tutors, collate any awards or certificates that point to an otherwise impressive and consistent academic record. These could serve you well should you need to attend interviews and defend your grades. This will also help build your confidence!

Go back to Plan B

If you had a Plan B, go back to it and go through what the next steps should be if that’s a path you still want to take. Consider all your options and the viability of these in the current circumstances. If you didn’t have one, try and recall any other companies or organisations you were considering or any other options you may have had. Consider making some preliminary plans and suss out whether these new options are viable.

Consider each option carefully, including further study

It may even be worthwhile conducting a quick SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunity, threats) analysis. Think through the pros and cons of each option and how suited they are to you as an individual. It’s the perfect time go back to the drawing board and remember what you do well in order to move the job search forward. It may seem unlikely, but having the opportunity to re-evaluate which direction you head in could prove to be massively valuable.

Return to your CV

Are there any soft skills or competencies that are sought after that you can emphasise on your CV? Remember that employers are often on the lookout for skills and abilities that can be demonstrated very well through work experience or extracurriculars. See our blog or video all about nailing your CV.

Expand your horizons

It’s very worthwhile exploring start-ups and SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) rather than your typical grad schemes.Lots of start-ups often don’t specify a degree classification. Remember to network, send off speculative applications, and follow up on any leads. It’s also important to know that once you are a graduate with several years experience, looking for your next career move, many of the 2.1 degree requirements no longer apply. Get started at a start-up or SME and work your way up!