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Value of "Cum Laude", "Magna Cum Laude"?

  1. Dec 18, 2014 #1
    Hello, I have a question about the value of graduating with honours.

    I don't know how this works in other universities in other countries, but here if one fails a course one usually has the chance to retake the exam in the summer before the new academic year. If one fails a second time, one has to retake the course the following year.
    Now, I'm not a genius, but I can say I was a good student, I always worked very hard and passed my exams with on average fairly good grades.

    My question is, how important is a cum laude or a magna cum laude for ones future career?
    Those who fail courses (some even do it intentionally) have way more time to study in the holidays and often have better results because they studied the material two times.

    I was hospitalised (seriously, I almost died, and my case was even mentioned on a medical conference) in my first master year and I wasted a huge amount of time and all the way trough study time and exams I had to visit physiotherapy to do horrible exercises, but I worked my ass off and (barely) passed all my exams but with bad grades, so it dragged my entire average grade down. Plenty of other people failed some of those same exams and redid them in the summer and then had better grades than me.

    So, at the graduation ceremony, I felt so, soo, sooo stupid to hear that I had a "cum laude" (just 0.5% short of a magna cum laude) while plenty of habitual failers (even two who I have helped with his second exam) went home with a "magna cum laude".
    I'm not alone, a friend had the same, always passed his exams but had less than the failers. He doesn't think much about it though.

    If I worked less that time and failed some of those courses I would have been able to retake them and have better grades. Ones resume mentions your honors, but not how many times you had to try to get it.
    I can start working on a project now, so it doesn't matter anymore, but still, I feel a bit sad every time I think about it..

    (I have made a far worse possibly career ruining mistake, but I will keep that for an other topic)
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2014 #2
    Are the resit results not capped? In England if you have to resit an exam due to failing it previously, the maximum grade you can obtain is capped at a pass usually, unless there are mitigating circumstances.
  4. Dec 18, 2014 #3
    No, but it is mentioned on the sheet of paper with your marks though but future employers usually don't see that.
    As far as I know, there are two systems. In my university, you can only resit an exam if you fail, so people deliberately fail to spread the work. In the other large university here, you can resit your exam even if you passed and the highest grade counts.

    In a way it is a fair system, but I think it's absolutely horrible.

    Everyone, parents, family, even professors say it's best to pass your exams on first try. But I think they said that because they graduated in the previous system when failing an exam was a bad thing to do.
    And in all my naivety I believed them and never came into contact with the benefits of resitting exams.
  5. Dec 18, 2014 #4
    The longer you've been out of school the less importance the "honors" have. And it doesn't take long. After you've been hired once they probably don't matter at all. At least in the real world. I don't know about academic conditions.
  6. Dec 18, 2014 #5


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    Once you get a job and have a few years in industry grades matter very very little.
  7. Dec 18, 2014 #6


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    You're on this side of the grass, rather than the alternative. You should be grateful for that.
  8. Dec 18, 2014 #7
    If you are being interviewed for a job, do yourself a favor and don't mention any of these thoughts to the interviewer.
  9. Dec 18, 2014 #8
    That is my experience as well. They might be good for getting into graduate school. Otherwise, most people don't care. I graduated with honors and its meaningless to me and my employer.
  10. Dec 18, 2014 #9


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    In some circumstances honours or having failed and re-taken a course does matter. In these circumstances potential employers will require transcripts. Official transcripts will show an accurate record of your academic history. So people evaluating candidates for a position will see exactly how many tries it took to pass a course.

    In other (and perhaps most) circumstances, all all that really matters is whether you're qualified for the position. Beyond that, employers will look for the attributes in candidates that they deem most important. This can mean anything from creativity, to fashion sense, to the ability to socialize well.
  11. Dec 18, 2014 #10
    Well, I've been hired for a project now which should give me the oh so valuable work experience (I have done a few solicitations) which will undoubtedly open many doors. But I feel like some doors went open more easily for them than for me. Especially since I barely networked (I had to work at home for my thesis though) so I have to rely on my Cv to convince unknown people.

    I'm happy with my grass, don't get me wrong. But as the length of grass is used as a tool to judge people, I regret putting in the effort of mowing it.

    I know, I know, that's what public fora are for isn't it? To semi-anonymously share grudges and bad thoughts with equally semi-anonymous people.
    In the future someone with the same petty thoughts will search google and come here to read the comments and like me learn the value of honors and see them in proportion.
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