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Uni Grade inflation makes me doubt myself

So I love studying, I love my subject (social sciences area) and I work hard because I’m always trying to improve.

I’ve consistently got 70%, 80% and sometimes even 90% in my first and second year, and a similar trajectory is continuing in my third year.

However, I’ve read a lot about grade inflation as of late and now I immediately feel mediocre. I know there is some chance of my grades not being specifically related to inflation. Although, despite this, it does not feel like I have truly “earned” the grades. I feel like a fraud basically.

How do I know I’m genuinely competent in my area of study academically instead of just actually being a mediocre student?

I know there shouldn’t be such a significant emphasis on grades.. but still. I was striving so hard to get a first, and now it feels pointless.

I guess, I’ll just continue doing what I enjoy and focus on the content, and always take my grades with a pinch of salt, at the end of the day, you never stop learning. Still, it’s pretty rubbish to feel like your grades are a mirage :frown:

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Original post by Anonymous
So I love studying, I love my subject (social sciences area) and I work hard because I’m always trying to improve.

I’ve consistently got 70%, 80% and sometimes even 90% in my first and second year, and a similar trajectory is continuing in my third year.

However, I’ve read a lot about grade inflation as of late and now I immediately feel mediocre. I know there is some chance of my grades not being specifically related to inflation. Although, despite this, it does not feel like I have truly “earned” the grades. I feel like a fraud basically.

How do I know I’m genuinely competent in my area of study academically instead of just actually being a mediocre student?

I know there shouldn’t be such a significant emphasis on grades.. but still. I was striving so hard to get a first, and now it feels pointless.

I guess, I’ll just continue doing what I enjoy and focus on the content, and always take my grades with a pinch of salt, at the end of the day, you never stop learning. Still, it’s pretty rubbish to feel like your grades are a mirage :frown:

If you look at it the other way and were getting 40%, 50% and 60% you would be saying that university is too difficult and that grade inflation isn’t going far enough.

I expect the grades are also getting inflated due to the impact on COVID, which is probably a good thing as it’s been (arguably) the worst thing to happen to university students in the modern era. I know people who haven’t achieved more than 40% - 50% since they started university almost two years ago and I doubt their complaining about grade inflation! Just be happy that you’ve worked hard and received a quality degree at the end of it.
I’ve seen plenty of naff transctipts under COVID. Staying engaged and performing consistently under these circumstances is no small feat.
Original post by Thisismyunitsr
If you look at it the other way and were getting 40%, 50% and 60% you would be saying that university is too difficult and that grade inflation isn’t going far enough.

I expect the grades are also getting inflated due to the impact on COVID, which is probably a good thing as it’s been (arguably) the worst thing to happen to university students in the modern era. I know people who haven’t achieved more than 40% - 50% since they started university almost two years ago and I doubt their complaining about grade inflation! Just be happy that you’ve worked hard and received a quality degree at the end of it.

When you say it like that that’s very true! I guess I just feel like I don’t deserve it and it’s not “real”. Thank you though, a very helpful perspective :smile:
Thank you! Feel a bit irritated with myself for complaining now. I think I probably feel this way because the grades do not feel real
Original post by Anonymous
So I love studying, I love my subject (social sciences area) and I work hard because I’m always trying to improve.

I’ve consistently got 70%, 80% and sometimes even 90% in my first and second year, and a similar trajectory is continuing in my third year.

However, I’ve read a lot about grade inflation as of late and now I immediately feel mediocre. I know there is some chance of my grades not being specifically related to inflation. Although, despite this, it does not feel like I have truly “earned” the grades. I feel like a fraud basically.

How do I know I’m genuinely competent in my area of study academically instead of just actually being a mediocre student?

I know there shouldn’t be such a significant emphasis on grades.. but still. I was striving so hard to get a first, and now it feels pointless.

I guess, I’ll just continue doing what I enjoy and focus on the content, and always take my grades with a pinch of salt, at the end of the day, you never stop learning. Still, it’s pretty rubbish to feel like your grades are a mirage :frown:

Compared to some people you are a mediocre student. Compared to some people you are absoutely flipping brilliant. Loving your subject, working hard, and achieving the highest grade you can get, is really all you can ask for. And yes, there will be people who aren't as good as you who also get firsts who wouldn't have five years ago, and you yourself might well not have got a first ten or twenty years ago. Grade inflation has been ongoing for a lot longer than a couple of years. It's really not an issue (speaking as someone who has no A*s or 9s at GCSE because they didn't exist, no A*s at A level because they didn't exist, and didn't get a first because only a tiny percentage of the most brilliant people did then and I wasn't one of them). Once you get a job, nobody will ever ask you what class your degree was again.
Original post by Anonymous
When you say it like that that’s very true! I guess I just feel like I don’t deserve it and it’s not “real”. Thank you though, a very helpful perspective :smile:

No employer is ever going to say ‘we won’t hire this person because his first class degree was achieved when 30% of undergraduates also achieved a first.’ They’re going to say, ‘they’ve achieved a first class degree and that’s a massive accomplishment.’
Original post by Thisismyunitsr
No employer is ever going to say ‘we won’t hire this person because his first class degree was achieved when 30% of undergraduates also achieved a first.’ They’re going to say, ‘they’ve achieved a first class degree and that’s a massive accomplishment.’

they dont care about first class or 2:1 , employers know about the grade inflation which is why the application process is harder. They dont care about your grade
Original post by Nikonikox
they dont care about first class or 2:1 , employers know about the grade inflation which is why the application process is harder. They dont care about your grade

So you're saying that OP would have been better off gaining a 3rd class degree?
Original post by Anonymous
So I love studying, I love my subject (social sciences area) and I work hard because I’m always trying to improve.

I’ve consistently got 70%, 80% and sometimes even 90% in my first and second year, and a similar trajectory is continuing in my third year.

However, I’ve read a lot about grade inflation as of late and now I immediately feel mediocre. I know there is some chance of my grades not being specifically related to inflation. Although, despite this, it does not feel like I have truly “earned” the grades. I feel like a fraud basically.

How do I know I’m genuinely competent in my area of study academically instead of just actually being a mediocre student?

I know there shouldn’t be such a significant emphasis on grades.. but still. I was striving so hard to get a first, and now it feels pointless.

I guess, I’ll just continue doing what I enjoy and focus on the content, and always take my grades with a pinch of salt, at the end of the day, you never stop learning. Still, it’s pretty rubbish to feel like your grades are a mirage :frown:

Get your classification and as long as you can move onto the next stage in life then it's all good. There is little point in dwelling on these issues. Employers really do not give a damn - e.g. a minimum requirement of a 2:1 for graduate schemes is just an easy way for the HR drones to filter folks out.

You should know deep down if you have the knack for a subject without needing to look at your transcript.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Thisismyunitsr
So you're saying that OP would have been better off gaining a 3rd class degree?

No im saying the differentiation between 2:1 and first isnt as high as it used to be, employers know about the grade inflation therefore experience and interview performance is assessed more
Original post by Nikonikox
No im saying the differentiation between 2:1 and first isnt as high as it used to be, employers know about the grade inflation therefore experience and interview performance is assessed more

Fair point. It's been like that for years though and I don't feel that OP should be should feel inferior if grades are being inflated.
Original post by Thisismyunitsr
Fair point. It's been like that for years though and I don't feel that OP should be should feel inferior if grades are being inflated.


Yeah it has been like that for a while pre covid , however imagine that on steroids too. All im saying is be prepared to be judged from interviews ALOT more and being ALOT more difficult and not to worry about grade too much
Reply 13
But in my uni in HK, getting a 2:1 is already an achievement in itself, as the median grade is a 2:2 and only 10% get a first.
Original post by 8013
But in my uni in HK, getting a 2:1 is already an achievement in itself, as the median grade is a 2:2 and only 10% get a first.

Exactly. When I graduated (in the UK), 7% of students got a first. Now it's over 30%. Employers are fully aware of this and don't differentiate between candidates on the basis of something that's wildly dependent on where they studied and/or how old they are. Not in the paying lip service sense, but because they are well aware that if they did, they'd be filtering out a big chunk of the better candidates. There are jobs where they get so many applications that they wouldn't care, but many job adverts get very few suitable applicants and can't afford to throw someone away because a few years ago they got a 2:1 because they were "only" in the top 20% of students, while today that would be a comfortable first.
Reply 15
Original post by skylark2
Exactly. When I graduated (in the UK), 7% of students got a first. Now it's over 30%. Employers are fully aware of this and don't differentiate between candidates on the basis of something that's wildly dependent on where they studied and/or how old they are. Not in the paying lip service sense, but because they are well aware that if they did, they'd be filtering out a big chunk of the better candidates. There are jobs where they get so many applications that they wouldn't care, but many job adverts get very few suitable applicants and can't afford to throw someone away because a few years ago they got a 2:1 because they were "only" in the top 20% of students, while today that would be a comfortable first.

Yes. I have a very borderline 2:1 myself as a first year.
My university uses a 4.3 point scale, and I got 2.72 points in the first semester. If only major requirements are counted, I have 2.867 points. 2.85 for major requirements and 2.70 overall is the minimum for a 2:1.
And for a first, you need 3.60 points from major requirements and 3.40 points overall. For each semester, approximately 10% of students get 3.65 or above overall. The median grade for most modules is a 2.3 or 2.7, with a few reaching 3.0 and some as low as 2.0 (I had one module last semester being like that and only got 3.0 from it despite being almost one sd above the average mark). However, some honours track modules are exceptions and their median may reach 3.7, or even 4.0. I have a module in the honours track this semester and am expecting 4.0 for it.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Nikonikox
they dont care about first class or 2:1 , employers know about the grade inflation which is why the application process is harder. They dont care about your grade

They definitely care about your grade. at least the most competitive sectors (law, IB, strategy consulting, private equity) are dominated by first-class graduates from top universities. It's not by accident.
Original post by skylark2
Exactly. When I graduated (in the UK), 7% of students got a first. Now it's over 30%. Employers are fully aware of this and don't differentiate between candidates on the basis of something that's wildly dependent on where they studied and/or how old they are. Not in the paying lip service sense, but because they are well aware that if they did, they'd be filtering out a big chunk of the better candidates. There are jobs where they get so many applications that they wouldn't care, but many job adverts get very few suitable applicants and can't afford to throw someone away because a few years ago they got a 2:1 because they were "only" in the top 20% of students, while today that would be a comfortable first.

This is broken logic. If it's easier to get a first, wouldn't employers consider it much worse if you had a 2:1 in this day and age than in previous eras? I.e for jobs that correlate heavily to academic success/intelligence/work ethic, wouldn't 2:1 grads be assumed even worse in this day and age than those who attained the same grades in previous eras? Sure, employers wouldn't discriminate against someone who got a 2:1 vs a 1st in the 90s or whatever, but they most certainly do with recent grads because they get more candidates with 1sts nowadays.
Original post by Anonymous
This is broken logic. If it's easier to get a first, wouldn't employers consider it much worse if you had a 2:1 in this day and age than in previous eras? I.e for jobs that correlate heavily to academic success/intelligence/work ethic, wouldn't 2:1 grads be assumed even worse in this day and age than those who attained the same grades in previous eras? Sure, employers wouldn't discriminate against someone who got a 2:1 vs a 1st in the 90s or whatever, but they most certainly do with recent grads because they get more candidates with 1sts nowadays.

OP isn't worried about being discriminated against for getting a 2:1, they're worried about getting a first but it not being special because lots of other people will get them too. Which is, frankly, true. 30% of graduates get firsts. It's an achievement, but it's no longer the "oh wow!" that it was three decades ago.

Employers aren't ever going to discriminate against people who have firsts because they're "easy to get" though. And, given the vast disparity in how easy they are to get in different systems and at different times, very few of them make it a requirement, either.

You might find this article interesting: https://www.ft.com/content/8a2ee9b4-bd0f-11e9-b350-db00d509634e
Reply 19
Original post by skylark2
OP isn't worried about being discriminated against for getting a 2:1, they're worried about getting a first but it not being special because lots of other people will get them too. Which is, frankly, true. 30% of graduates get firsts. It's an achievement, but it's no longer the "oh wow!" that it was three decades ago.

Employers aren't ever going to discriminate against people who have firsts because they're "easy to get" though. And, given the vast disparity in how easy they are to get in different systems and at different times, very few of them make it a requirement, either.

You might find this article interesting: https://www.ft.com/content/8a2ee9b4-bd0f-11e9-b350-db00d509634e

In my uni in HK, a mere 10% of graduates get a first in the old grading system. The new system will make it easier to get a 2:1 and 2:2 but harder to get a first. The median remains at a 2:2 regardless, and for some majors, if you get SLIGHTLY below average for just a few modules, you drop to a 3rd. To get a first, you need to be among the top 15-20% in the class for almost every module.
(edited 1 year ago)

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