The Pressures Associated With Achieving The 'Right' University Grade
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The Pressures Associated With Achieving The 'Right' University Grade

Alex Fletcher May 29, 2022

University is a fantastic place. People often join at a young age and can obtain a completely different perspective on their entire life. They live away from home, they make new friends and they learn so many new and wonderful things about the world and themselves. In spite of all this, university is first and foremost a place of learning. A place for individuals to flex their academic muscles in the hope that it will set the scene for a happy and successful career. So, with this, I was wondering how much pressure university students face from themselves, their peers or even their families to obtain the best grade possible. 

I would say, first of all, that in no way would I expect students to all be aiming for the top grades at university all of the time. Some students will have different targets and expectations for themselves and no one should be shamed for that. This question is more about if there is a significant amount of pressure on students to obtain top grades to feel worthy amongst their peers. I know I have at times felt a certain degree of imposter syndrome when surrounded by successful and intelligent individuals at university. This has then led to subconscious pressure to achieve grades as good as them to feel worthy. While I can see that this is not relevant, I can understand if others feel similarly. 

Pressure is undeniable

To understand this issue further, I sat down alongside Mark to gain a different perspective on the pressures associated with graded work. He said: ‘There is pressure there. Certainly there exists a perception that anything less than a 2:1 is somehow an “unworthy” degree, a waste of three years particularly with present grade inflation. I’m sure that real life proves such opinions nonsense’.

Mark, like myself, can see the silliness around such pressure in the long run but understands and acknowledges that the pressure does indeed exist. 

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This was similar to the view of Loz, who felt it had more to do with personality and individual aspiration. ‘It’s gotten to the point where I don’t care as much but a lot of my friends feel they need it to get a good job,’ they said.

‘I don’t think you necessarily need those grades to get a good job. For certain jobs of course that will be the case, but I think it is overplayed a lot. It also depends on things like mental health. If you need to focus on self care you can’t devote so much time to achieving that grade’.

Different circumstances

Of course it is so important to take into account someone’s mental health, as well as the fact that they may have other commitments which prevent them from devoting so much time to their degree. 

It would seem that a lot of students understand that getting the highest grade possible is not the be all and end all of university. However, I still found it fascinating that students still feel pressure to perform at the highest level, despite knowing that it may not be as important as they are making it out to be. The take home really is that students should feel happy and comfortable at university, while also being able to achieve their goals. Perhaps it’s the former that may require just a little more care than before.

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Hi, my name is Alex Fletcher. I’m a second year history and politics student at the University of Birmingham, originally from Portsmouth. My main passion is sport and I am a big supporter of Portsmouth football club and the McLaren F1 team. I also take an avid interest in music, theatre, politics and current affairs and I have a strong passion for writing and presenting.