Career & Business

You Graduated With A Third Class? So?


By  Naomi Lucas

After spending two, four, six or even many more years in a tertiary institution, you’ve finally graduated. Congratulations! Right? Well, yeah, but. There’s a but, you came first from behind, you came out with a third class or worse still, a pass. Hmmm!

If I tell you I know how it feels, I’d be telling you a big fat lie. What I do know however, is what results like that can do to the psyche of the average graduate. Add that to the paper driven mentality of the Nigerian employer and you have enough grounds to wallow in perpetual self-pity. Thing is, I won’t allow you do that to yourself; there’s a way out, so keep the faith yeah?

Speaking from the perspective of someone who recruits, every time I stumble on a CV with 3rd class or Pass I find myself wondering, ‘So what were they doing in school? Where they that un-serious, that unintelligent? Even worse if it’s a lady because the immediate thing most people will think of is ‘Hmmm. Aristo’. She was too busy dating rich men! Forgive me, but that’s how the society works. No Trial, no conviction. You’re hanged at the gallows before you have the chance to sneeze or say your name.

From experience I know a lot of factors can play out and make you end up with such embarrassing scores. You didn’t like the course so there was very low interest, it wasn’t what you applied for that you were given, but having stayed at home for four years, thanks to jamb, you decide, ‘you know what? Let me just go to school!

You were victimized by the HoD who wanted to sleep with you and couldn’t have his way.

You hated Math and ended up studying computer science or never really liked English as a subject but ended up studying literature.

It could also be that you had siblings to look after, so you schooled and worked, infact, you worked more than you schooled, so your grades suffered.

Or you weren’t just cut out for school but went anyway ‘cos you think that’s the only way to get a job.

Whatever the reason, here you are, with very poor prospects in a very competitive market. In the words of an applicant who approached me with this same predicament, you may ask: Do I even stand a chance? Cheer up. The answer is an unwavering yes!

Yes because, whatever you believe will eventually become your reality. Yes, because education is more than a degree, it’s the sum total of what you’ve learnt in and outside the classroom. Yes because employers will pay for value, irrespective of where they get it, yes because in a way history has favoured your kind. Remember Wole Soyinka, Bill Gates; Steve Jobs and our very own Steve Harris?

Yes because your destiny is in your hands and you can create the future you want to see. Stop waiting for things to happen to you. Make things happen!

How? Simple.

Understand that it starts with your mind. Uh huh! No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. If you feel unintelligent, then you are. If you feel inferior to graduates who came out with better grades, then you are. If you feel there are no jobs for people like you, then there aren’t. Start by cleansing your mind of all the toxic and negative thoughts your experience and conditioning has put it through. Think of only what is bright and beautiful.

Assess yourself. What are the things you like to do? What skills do you possess? What’s your personality type? What kind of work will you thrive in? If money or opportunity or your grades were not a challenge, what would you be doing? Allow yourself to think and dream big …

You do have more to prove than other graduates because of your background so you have to go out of your way:

  • Read like your life depends on it.
  • Go online and look for free e-books, materials that you can download and consume. Offer your services free for a period of time, to a company within the industry where you want to work. Ask them for an objective assessment at the end of that period.
  • If you can afford it, learn a vocational skill; keep yourself busy and productive so you can account for your time when an employer asks.
  • Be honest to potential employers about why your grades are poor and ask for a chance to prove your mettle.
  • Start a business if you have the wherewithal.
  • Get professional certification and join industry associations. It expands your network.
  • Attend employability trainings so you can understand the secrets of successful job hunting.

Experience is critical if you want to get a job with those grades; so stay productive and focused.

Don’t get it twisted, a third class is not the end of the world; it could have been a lot worse, there are people who haven’t been and would never be in the four walls of a university classroom. Com’on, that’s something to be thankful for.

Finally, eat the humble pie. Pride and a third class don’t mix. Be teachable, flexible and ready to learn.


Writer: Naomi Lucas blogs at which exists to bridge the gap between tertiary education graduates and the workplace by effectively addressing  challenges responsible for low intake. Twitter – @graduatepro

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    Unyime-Ivy King

    April 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Academic laurels/grades are a poor measure of one’s true worth/success in life. I say this because I have seen many successful/wealthy people, who made a third class in school, and I have seen people, who came out with first class or 2nd class, who are struggling; in Nigeria for instance, we have a lot of graduates, who came out with great grades, but cannot defend those grades in the larger society because, to use the Nigerian parlance, they ‘sorted’ their way through. The real world outside of the confines of the Tertiary Institution determines if one actually got an education, or merely passed through the school. I came out of school with fantastic grades because I actually studied, and did not ‘sort’ my way through; but I also have course mates, who were hardly in class, who specialized in cheating during exams and paid people to write exams for them, who came out with top grades too. How do you figure out the difference, because on paper, a good grade is a good grade whether you studied hard, or you cheated hard to get it.

    In summary, finding your true purpose in life, and dedicating yourself towards working and improving on your talents/gifts will make you successful in the long run, than wasting time to whine about your poor grades. The Richard Bransons and Bill Gates of this world did not excel academically, but they have made major contributions to humanity that so many first class materials cannot rival.

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