Today i thought i would share an article i found in the Sunday Times (7th July 2013):

Sunday Times article 7/7/13

Sunday Times article 7/7/13

Got a 2:2? Like to get stoned? You’re hired!

GRADUATES: have you spent the past three years skipping lectures and smoking cannabis? Then you may be just what we’re looking for.

One of Britain’s most influential businessmen has said he wants to spurn “weirdo” high-flyers with first-class degrees in favour of talented graduates with 2:2s and thirds.

Rory Sutherland, vice-president of Ogilvy Group UK, a leading communications and marketing company, said: “I have asked around and nobody has any evidence to suggest that, for any given university, recruits with first-class degrees turn into better employees than those with thirds. If anything, the correlation operates in reverse.

“We could simply place ads in student newspapers: ‘Headed for 2:2 or a third? Finish your joint and come and work for us.’ ”

Sutherland, who graduated with a 2:2 in classics from Christ’s College, Cambridge, was a teacher before becoming a trainee with Ogilvy & Mather, the advertising firm founded in 1948 by David Ogilvy, an Oxford dropout.

“If you’re at university and you’re surrounded by the opposite sex, drink, drugs, parties and general entertainment and you decide to sit in your room reading Thucydides, then you’re probably a bit of a weirdo,” he said. “There may also be an argument that if you fill a business with intellectuals, then they make things more complicated than they need to be.”

Sutherland first mooted his ideas about recruitment in an article for The Spectator. he said it was “50% mischief and 50% serious” but hoped that it would provoke an “important debate”. He said he was not completely opposed to hiring graduates with firsts but degree class should not be the sole criterion.

His comments come after Lord Winston, a leading fertility expert, said he “deliberately” doesn’t hire graduates with first-class degrees for jobs in his science laboratories.

“I know scientists who are amazingly stupid,” he said. “I have appointed scientists on the whole, deliberately, who didn’t get first-class honours degrees, because i would rather have young people around me who developed other interests at university and didn’t focus entirely on getting that first.”

The number of graduates awarded a first has more than doubled in the past 10 years, according to the association of graduate recruiters.

However, many people have gone on to success after gaining a 2:2 or third-class degree. Those with thirds include the television presenter Carol Vorderman and the broadcaster David Dimbleby, while the actor Hugh Laurie failed to graduate. The writer Allison Pearson, who got a 2:2 in English from Cambridge, said: “Even after all these years, it’s painful to admit it.”

Bear Grylls, the adventurer, said his 2:2 from Birkbeck College in London had never helped him. “What did was understanding that hard work, persistence and enthusiasm are king,” he said.

However, Sir Chris Woodhead, a former chief inspector of schools, said: “There’s no evidence that i know of that people who work hard and get first-class degrees are less-rounded individuals than other students.”

Examples of lower degree class graduates: J.K. Rowling, David Dimbleby, and Hugh Laurie - from The Sunday Times 7/7/13

Examples of lower degree class graduates: J.K. Rowling, David Dimbleby, and Hugh Laurie – from The Sunday Times 7/7/13

Taken from The Sunday Times (available online if you subscribe, or via print media, which i typed up to show you)

I don’t know know about anyone else, but i was just a little bit hacked off when i read this article. As a graduate with a 2:2 undergraduate degree in English Literature and English Language, and a 2:2 postgraduate degree in Publishing, i felt that it didn’t paint me or others in a good light.

Things that bug me:

  • It suggests that people with a 2:2 or a third smoke cannabis. – I have a 2:2 and i never touch drugs nor intend to ever do so.
  • It suggests that these people skipped lectures for 3 years. – I missed maybe 2 lectures in the 4 years i spent doing both my degrees, due to illness and attending my first graduation.
  • It suggests people with 2:2s and thirds are lazy. – I studied very hard through my degrees, and i had a job part-time during my second year and during my Masters, and volunteered a day a week for my second and third years, and i had time to socialise as well but i didn’t go out as much as i would have liked to.
  • It suggests that people with firsts spent all their time in their rooms studying and not going out. – I’m sure it is possible to do really well AND have a social life, if you get the balance right. To be fair, i spent most of my first year in my room studying and got top marks for that year but i was bored!

Things that sound good to me:

  • It suggests that people with 2:2s and thirds might get lucky with jobs if employers think they are “well-rounded” because they had interests outside academia. – Yay! So it’s ok that i didn’t get a first or 2:1 if i went out with friends, volunteered in my spare time, had a part-time job, learnt a new language, and explored the area around my university!
  • It suggests that people with 2:2s and thirds are normal healthy people because they didn’t spend their whole university experience chained to their study desks like people with firsts did: “If you’re at university and you’re surrounded by the opposite sex, drink, drugs, parties and general entertainment and you decide to sit in your room reading Thucydides, then you’re probably a bit of a weirdo” – Well, i went out and did stuff but most of the time i did actually prefer staying in my room reading or watching films so i saved my student loan for more important things like rent, buying real food and visiting friends in other cities! Nothing wrong with that!
  • It provides examples of successful people who didn’t get top degrees or who didn’t graduate at all. – So i have hope that i will be ok if these people managed to be successful!

Having a 2:2 or a third shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want, it just makes the process of getting there tougher because most employers want people with top degrees from the top universities. You just have to work harder.

It is really demoralizing getting rejected because of your degree being the wrong one or your university not being a well-known top university. It is depressing being unemployable 2 years after graduating. But i will keep trying anyway!

What do you think? Did you get a 2:2? Do you feel better about your situation after reading this? or do you feel more hopeless?


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