I consistently secured above 75% throughout my career, which includes impressive school grades, decent undergraduate grades, and an award for "Best Academic Performance" in final-year undergraduate.

My undergraduate degree is a BSc in Computer Science & Applications from a university in India. Then I went abroad to pursue an MSc in a related field at a highly reputed university (ranked among the top ten for Computer Science in the Guardian UK rankings, top hundred in US News rankings, etc.) in the UK.

However, due to debilitating personal problems, I had to repeat two modules and my MSc dissertation just to pass the course. Due to that, it took me almost another entire year to complete my MSc, which is actually only a year long.

  • How will this affect my career and employment prospects in India? What about applying to developed countries such as the USA, UK, Australia, etc.? How do employers there judge this?

  • Will MSc exam-resits and bad results seriously hinder my prospects despite my strong practical skills and other academic achievements? If so, how can I present my profile in a more compelling and convincing way?

  • Also, would they ask me about why I scored less on my MSc and/or whether/why I had to resit? If so, what is the best way to answer? Would I need to reveal personal reasons?

Other than this one bad result, I have very strong practical skills and I'm extremely well-prepared (I participate actively on Codility and topcoder, do a number of personal programming projects, and enjoy problem-solving, tough math/pattern riddles, tough crossword-puzzles, etc.)

closed as too localized by ChrisF, Jim G., enderland, jcmeloni, Amy Blankenship Apr 28 '13 at 4:08

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    Don't think "stellar" is appropriate in this context. Nor is the word "career" applicable to your education. What matters is your practical work. As long as you can boast (yes, that's one thing you apparently like to do!) about successfully completing some non-trivial projects (and have the proof), you are fine. Hope you are not applying for a job of crossword-solving. – Deer Hunter Apr 27 '13 at 7:05
  • Thanks for the useful advice in the third sentence, @DeerHunter. Why isn't "career" applicable? During my summer break, I did apply for a crossword-solving job during with a retired rich old man. He paid me really well, but it got boring. – user8853 Apr 27 '13 at 7:34
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    @user8853 - Because going to college cannot be included in your professional working career. A summer job is work experience. You do understand that 75% is only a average score right? I wouldn't agree that scores "above" 75% are impressive – Donald Apr 29 '13 at 12:27
  • @Ramhound: Ah! And I always thought a broad definition of "career" included academics and work (employment). Even with that score, I got called for interviews at some good companies, so that's decent enough for me. Also, my scores on core programming modules exceed 90% so, apparently, that helps! – user8853 Apr 30 '13 at 4:48
  • @user8853 - Only people with not actual experience include the time they spent in college as experience in the cs industry. People who actually got summer internships and actual work experience while in college just include that. – Donald Apr 30 '13 at 10:59

It depends on

  • Employer

    This, IMO is the primary factor. We've all heard of Fortune100 shops that place higher premium on the brand of graduate degree a candidate is carrying, as against the quality of the candidate itself. While the wisdom or origin of such an outlook is out of the scope of this question, it is what it is: Some employers just prefer a shiny certificate and ranking to a seasoned, 80th percentile candidate.

  • Role

    The role you're applying for might require your employer to set certain standards with regard to your qualifications. If you're being hired for what is primarily an academic role, it may be important to your employer that you've previously demonstrated academic chops. If you're being hired in a technical, hands-on capacity, chances are your prospective employer couldn't give a toss what you scored in your GMATs, as long as you can deliver on tasks and have a proven track record of doing just that.

  • Culture

    This is the least important factor IMO, but it's still a thing. Depending on where you live and what programme you underwent, it may have some bearing on your career progression (not necessarily your initial employment). I often hear crap like "First in his law class" or "Top 5 in his MBA class". Catchphrases like these have nice rings to them and an employer might want such slogans associated with their top lieutenants/line managers. IMO, it's crap. What you did in class only proves you know how to read a textbook.

    In the technical world, we've all had to learn that theory usually doesn't translate well into practice. If it did, there'd be no reason for a StackOverflow.SE or Programmers.SE; all we'd need to do is read a couple of textbooks and start banging away at the keyboard.

I wouldn't worry, if I were you. And I wouldn't make excuses for my results to an employer either. I'd pride myself in my body of work, years of experience and anything else I'd gotten right along the line. Any employer who's more interested in the number of assignments I turned in on time in university is probably not going to value my blood and sweat

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