The final marks for the first year of my BA English degree have come in.
For the exam I received another mark of 69, being the highest score for an Upper Second (where 70 means a First).
After getting a string of Firsts, I can’t pretend this isn’t frustrating. I even worry – half-jokingly – that I may have hit my peak, and that I might be getting worse as a student. But no, it’s still a good mark for my first attempt at an academic exam since Margaret Thatcher was in power.
And it’s still good enough to bring my final overall mark for that particular module into the realms of a First. They don’t give you a single mark for each year of the degree: instead you receive overall marks per module.
So, of the three modules that made up the first year, I received 72, 72, and 73. All Firsts, for my first year.
These results don’t actually count towards my final degree mark – students just have to pass all three modules in order to progress onto the next year. But I’m pretty pleased with the results. I don’t find academic work at all easy, and there’s still plenty of room for improvement, such as my exam performance.
The main thing for me is that I now feel officially justified in deciding to do a university degree at this stage in life, and for choosing English literature as a subject. I always liked the idea of having an English degree. I thought I was the sort of person who you’d think had done an English degree. Now it looks like I am actually am that sort of person. So much of education is about giving you self-belief and confidence in life, and becoming yourself; on top of the acquiring of skills and knowledge.
The plan now is to try and convert this personal form of success into the kind of success the world actually cares about – using it to find appropriate paid work, the sort I can do alongside the studies. The benefits people have sent me a letter saying they are about to make me jump through various undignified hoops. It’s part of the government’s drive to get as much people as possible off benefits and into jobs – even though the jobs are thin on the ground. My only fear is being cut off from benefits altogether, perhaps by my refusing to take a job that doesn’t fit with the degree. With these results I’ve proved I actually am good at something, and I want to continue down this path. One hopes even Mr Cameron, with his talk of making people ‘realise their potential’ won’t begrudge me that.
I’ve even bought the official Birkbeck college tie to celebrate. Many of the staff and students aren’t aware that Birkbeck, a college which specialises in evening classes for mature students, has its own colours and tie. But it does, and in this Olympic climate of heavy branding and rooting for teams (and indeed, of London mayors who come from the world of the old school tie) I thought it made sense to wear it:
Tags: birkbeck, results