It’s June, and time for another flock of graduates to hit the job market. The lucky hardworking few will be parading their firsts; the 2.1 receivers will be eagerly sending off job applications, the 2.2. is, according to my Dad, the “drinker’s degree” (he should know, he got a 2.2.), and those who received a 3rd will most likely be worrying. But whatever you got, don’t despair…


At my graduation last June, then Durham University Chancellor Bill Bryson stated that 80% of graduates don’t go into the field that their degree is in. Well, they say your life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Well, for me and many others, finding out your dream is what happens when you’re busy with your degree.

When I went to uni, my ambition was to be the next Albert Einstein. I lived and breathed Maths and Physics. My career path was laid out before me: BSc, MPhys, PhD in Theoretical Physics then research, research, research. However, as time went on, my lectures got less and less riveting. A lot of my friends have said to me, both at the time and since going into events, that I never really seemed like an academic. I was too social, too enterprising, too engaged with the world around me to be content to be stuck in a lab peering at particles or numbers. So at my graduation I had a less-than-outstanding degree result, and my career path lay in my most prominent extra-curricular during my degree, running events.

Want another example? My boyfriend has just received his results for the 3rd year of his 4 year undergraduate masters in Physics. However he isn’t shining as he should do, considering his intelligence, due to a more intense interest in his extra-curricular St John Ambulance duties. His ideal career path? Medicine or paramedics.

Degrees cost tens of thousands of pounds, and that figure is shooting up in September. So considering that such a high proportion of people (~80%) don’t use their degree education in later life, is it really worth it? I would say yes.

Firstly, university is for most people their first experience of living away from home. Moving out is an important step for young adults, so having this to encourage them is excellent. They say the friends you meet at university are the ones you will keep for the rest of your life. I can’t imagine that not being true. Indeed, I met my boyfriend there, and something like 75% of Durham graduates marry a person they met while there. So the social opportunities are invaluable, and I have to say that since leaving university I have found it a lot harder to meet and get to know people.

As I said earlier, finding your dream is what happens when you’re busy with your degree. If I hadn’t gone to university, who knows what job I’d be doing now. Even if I were doing events, I probably wouldn’t have as much good experience as I attained during my university life. The scope of activities at university is so great, that whatever your passion, you are sure to find a way to develop it there. And of course, there’s that 20% who use their degree in their later career, for whom the education is obviously invaluable, and I’d wager no one knows who that 20% will be before they start. I’d definitely have placed myself in it.

So, what would I say to recent graduates? No matter your degree class, what matters is whether you can see yourself doing something related to your subject for the rest of your life. If you can’t, try looking at what else you’ve been doing while at uni, and you will probably find your life path hidden in your extra-curriculars.

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