"Having studied at Cambridge does not mean that you can sit this one out and still get a gold medal."Flickr: King's College, Cambridge

Rosie Best

Students of Cambridge, you may want to sit down for this: going to Cambridge does not make us ‘better’ than everybody else. Life, especially employment, may be a competition but having studied at Cambridge does not mean that you can sit this one out and still get a gold medal.

Emerging from the bubble, be-gowned and clutching a Cambridge degree, can cause a severe case of Special Snowflake Syndrome and unfortunately, once developed, this cannot be cured except with a bitter dose of reality and the realization that qualities such as intelligence or creativity are not exclusive to Cambridge students.

Allowing Cambridge to turn you into a Special Snowflake is only the beginning of the slippery slope towards disappointment and resentment when you inevitably discover that other graduates are equally as capable as you are.

Principally, Cambridge is a producer of academics. The intensity of our workload, the extensive reading lists and the supervision structure of our courses all point us in one direction; academia. Whilst this is all valid and is surely good preparation for those wishing to pursue a career in this area, other universities might offer a placement year or encourage their students to seek employment whilst at University.

This contrast in the functioning of Cambridge and other universities might mean that we emerge with a few more essays in our files, but in terms of real world experience of work, students elsewhere may actually have the advantage.

Finally, if you think that getting a job based on the University you have written on your CV is a reward then think again. It’s safe to say that being at Cambridge gives a lot of us an inferiority complex, and surely more than 50% of us have wondered when we will receive that email with a subject reading ‘Sorry, we made a mistake’.

Being granted a job on the basis that you studied at Cambridge would just add to this vicious cycle and put even more pressure on you to uphold the illusion of the all-round organised, intelligent, creative and generally perfect Cambridge student (a front which you’re barely managed to keep up for three years.

Lana Crowe

If the University of Cambridge was a literary character, it would almost certainly be Mr Darcy. Brooding, quizzical, mysterious. Situated in a beautiful residence that makes it all the more appealing to potential suitors. One moment ardently loves me, and the next finds me barely tolerable. Pride and Prejudice would have been a very different story if Miss Bennett was to be married to Darcy for three years and then chucked back to Hertfordshire with a pointless knowledge of Chaucerian politics and a £50,000 debt. Elizabeth Bennett’s advantageous marriage changes her life: so should my advantageous university admission.

Different careers require different skills: the university prepares its students for time-consuming, high-pressure, intellectually challenging work. Research shows, in some cases, Cambridge students work for twice as many hours as students at some other universities, a disparity that would naturally interest an employer. It would be unfair for an employer to look at class marks as an objective indication of ability and effort. University rankings are inconsequential if the benefits of going to a top institution don’t extend post-degree. We are receiving a fantastic, expert-led education here.

I didn’t arrive in Cambridge from a privileged place; my presence here is a testament to my work ethic, something that deserves to be acknowledged by employers. It is not discriminatory but, in fact, in favour of mobility for an employer to appreciate that my degree from Cambridge. If employers prioritise those with a Cambridge degree, then I have worked my way up to the same playing field as those born into privilege; if employers are not impressed by my Cambridge degree, then I return to the want of connection and lacking prospect that my social background entails.

Education is a fantastic tool for enabling people to fulfil their potential. Cambridge churns out students who, if mentally exhausted and emotionally crippled, are at least hard working and well-read. The unfairness lies in the school system: the discrepancy between educational practice and the culture in different schools means that a lot of students are not afforded the opportunity to come here. Allow Mr Darcy to meet everybody – the patricians and the plebs – and he shall fall in love with those who most deserve the advantages