What should I put on my CV if I failed my degree?
September 20, 2006 12:57 PM   Subscribe

What should I put on my CV (resumé) if I failed my university degree?

More through laziness than inability, I failed my Computer Science degree in my final year (2004) and then failed the resits too a year later. What should I put on my CV? I got my current job (which I've been at for 14 months now) before I got the results of my resits (my CV had my degree listed with "pending results of resit exams" underneath) and my employers never asked about my degree results after offering me the job (not that this job requires CS skills anyway).

I'm thinking of changing jobs in the next 6-9 months and was wondering what I should put on my CV for the time I was at uni. List the course modules that I did pass? Just put the dates and "studying Computer Science at xxxxxxx University" but without listing the degree?

Is there any good answer to give if I'm asked about the degree in an interview? Or at this point will employers care more about work experience and current skills than what I did (or didn't) do at uni two years ago?

Other relevant details:
I'm in the UK
I'm 24
I'm not entirely sure what type of job I will apply for, but while it may be IT-related, it will probably not be the sort of thing I'd definitely need a degree or very good programming skills for.
In regards to work experience, not counting crappy retail jobs, I have 6 months at a small software company (being a one-man QA dept) and over a year working in the head office of a large construction company (doing general office work and the occasion bit of IT support). I believe both companies would give me good references.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you failed the final year, you have or are eligible to have the interim qualification of Diploma in Higher Education (aka two year's worth of study.) That can up spin your result.

Incidentally, you can take that Dip HE, get your credits recognised and do a third year anywhere that will accept you in order to upgrade to a degree - and many places would take you.
posted by A189Nut at 1:04 PM on September 20, 2006

From a US perspective, I always suggest people just put


Harvard University, 1994-1998 (or whatever)

And let employers draw whatever conclusions they like from that. I guess it is different in the UK in that there is a final test with a result, but perhaps you can finesse it in some similar way.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:09 PM on September 20, 2006

I failed a university computer program, however I did the same as Rock Steady suggests. I put in my CV that I went there, a small description of what I learned.
If the employer asks about it during interview, I say "Yes, I went to some school from whenever to whenever, during that time I learned blah blah blah". Of course if they ask "Did you complete your degree", you must not lie. Say the truth but be prepared to beautify the situation with something like "I didn't have the motivation to continue because I was already ahead of what they taught me, so I left the school to continue my carreer". Good luck!
posted by PowerCat at 1:25 PM on September 20, 2006

"be prepared to beautify the situation with something like 'I didn't have the motivation to continue because I was already ahead of what they taught me, so I left the school to continue my carreer'"

Not sure about this part, PowerCat.

If I was an employer I'd feel there's a big difference between a student who voluntarily left because they were too far ahead, and a student who failed their degree and resits. I wouldn't be best pleased if the former in fact turned out be the latter.
posted by matthewr at 1:36 PM on September 20, 2006

I didn't complete a degree. What i put on my resume is
"Behavioural Physics - Harvard University, 1994-1998 (degree not completed)"

I'm fortunate that the particular jobs i've been attracted to rely more on demonstrable skills than wall-hangings. I have enough work experience and references now that the no-degree thing rarely comes up.
posted by Artful Codger at 1:39 PM on September 20, 2006

matthewr, obviously this suggestion is highly personal. It depends on why he failed. He'll have to make something up that he can answer. That response was mine, which applied to my situation. It's just a matter of making it sound nicer.
If he failed and he says "Well I didn't do work, didn't listen in class, etc" he won't get hired. But if he goes "I lost motivation in what I was doing for whatever reason, and it prevented my from studying enough to pass".
It might be possible that he is asked this question, and he must be prepared to answer it TRUTHFULLY.
posted by PowerCat at 3:43 PM on September 20, 2006

I repeat - if you did two years, you are entitled to a Dip HE. You can write that qualification on your CV without doubt and say that you intend to top it up later - maybe they'll even pay.
posted by A189Nut at 3:59 PM on September 20, 2006

A friend of mine didn't finish his degree, but almost did. I don't think he ever needs CVs, but his professional bio says that he attended such and such university to study blabla. You can write something like that, with the years you were there. That way you don't emphasize that you didn't finish, and I'm sre you learned stuff there, despite not graduating.
posted by easternblot at 5:26 PM on September 20, 2006

I'd be pretty up front about it in interviews -- if they check with the school and find you have no degree, they'll be pretty upset if you didn't mention that when asked direct questions about your schooling.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:59 PM on September 20, 2006

A189Nut: Interesting, I'd never heard of the Dip. HE despite working in the sector. It's worth repeating A189's advice on transferrrability of points, perhaps you could consider the Open Uni for topping up points? That way you can transfer all your points and make up any shortfall without having to take a full year out in HE.
posted by biffa at 6:09 AM on September 22, 2006

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