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After school I went to college. I studied there for 2 years (the program was of 4 years) but for some personal reasons, I dropped out and then got myself enrolled in a different college and program.

I will graduate in a few months and am not sure if I should mention the previously halfway completed program I dropped out of. Since am a fresher I have no idea how this works.

Can an experienced person please help me with this?

  • Does this answer your question? Incomplete Degree - How to phrase this on resume or cover letter? – gnat Apr 9 at 8:32
  • It's different than my case. – Jack Apr 9 at 8:35
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    Did you do something else while doing this course? Is the course relevent to the jobs you apply to? – guest Apr 9 at 9:11
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    @Jack Could you explain why you think it's different? Seems to me the answers there would apply in your case as well. – Philip Kendall Apr 9 at 10:01
  • Did any of the classes you took in the first attempt transfer to the 2nd program? – mhoran_psprep Apr 9 at 11:45
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No. Leave it off.

In the long term, all future employers will care about is the degree that you were awarded, and for that all they need to know is the name of the degree, the institution where you earned it, and the year you graduated.

In the short term, it will raise questions about why you did not complete it. Even if there are valid reasons, it can't strengthen your resume - you didn't complete the degree, and years spent at college aren't convertible to years of professional experience. Sorry.

If there are skills relevant to the job you're applying for which you learned during that time then it would be a good idea to include them, but in a separate "skills" section, unrelated to your education.

For what it's worth, I spent way longer than normal earning my degree as well, and while it was a little more difficult to get my first job, it has not impacted my career after that at all. Don't stress about it.

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  • I liked this answer better, because the OP left the first degree for personal reasons. Having a half finished degree on your resume, invites questions about why the OP left the program and that might not be very comfortable to talk about for the OP. – jcmack Apr 9 at 11:25
  • @jcmack I left it for financial reasons. I also went into depression because of this and messed up my entire life that time. I obviously don't have anything to prove this to potential employers. – Jack Apr 9 at 11:46
  • I always include incomplete studies, using the carefully crafted words "studies undertaken", which they were. If interested, they can ask and I'll tell. Much of the time, it's a fight just getting past the HR drones. – enhzflep Apr 9 at 23:52
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There is really no one good answer to that.

Did you learn something valuable during the 2 years at the first college? If you did then do include it and be prepared to explain it and to answer the question why you quit the program.

If you didn't, leave it off.

As someone correctly points out in a comment, a factor you might also want to consider is whether you will have a gap in your CV if you don't include the college. If you worked at the time and can include the job you won't have a gap, so you should only include the college if it brought you something really valuable.

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  • I didn't work that time so what to do about hap in resume? – Jack Apr 9 at 11:53
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Including it in your resume or not is up to how you want to handle questions regarding that period in time.

Leaving it in:

You may have to explain why you left the program early. The trick is to put a positive spin on it -- you had personal reasons for leaving. Stating that alone will not help you though. After leaving and completing your education elsewhere, what did you learn from it? Showing that you can learn from a bad situation puts a positive spin on it.

Likely, they won't even care after a few years of job experience. You could even be proactive during the job interview when asked about your schooling and explain it right at the start.

Leaving it out:

You may have to explain the gap between your last education (assuming high school) and the post secondary institution you graduated from. Again, putting a positive spin on it and show how it gave you personal growth helps. Maybe you were working on FOSS during that time, your own little pet projects, traveling etc..

My personal experience:

I was actually in the same situation as you. I finished high school and went to university for two years. Due to personal reasons I left the school and went to a college instead. I'm from Canada, so a 4 year university degree and a 3 year college program in computers is not considerably different.

If prompted specifically about the two years at university, or about my education in general I would go lightly into it. Generally following the theme of I wasn't the right fit for the program and so decided to switch to a program that matched better. Then focus on where I did graduate from and what I studied and learned.

Few interviewers bothered to ask in detail as it really wasn't important. Don't doddle or put emphasis on dropping out.

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  • I like your advice in general, but I don't think there's any need to worry about explaining a gap between the end of high school and the graduation date of your degree - once you've earned a degree then there's no need to include your high school education on your resume at all IMO. – Player One Apr 10 at 12:07
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I will speak from my experience.

I left a Computer science degree on the last year in Brazil because I had an opportunity to move to the USA. I did this after getting all subjects complete, with the exception of the "filler" laboratories (chemistry and so on) and the final thesis.

I moved to the USA and completed another degree. I still keep both in, adding a note on my incomplete one that explains "All major subjects completed".

This did cause me to be discarded in some cases, but, in most others it allowed me to start a conversation and explain what happened.

So, in short, if your reasons to leaving are good and show your qualities rather than negatives, then I would take the chance.

Also, as @BigMadAndy said on their answer, if you learned anything valuable, then keep it.

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  • Not worth the risk! Yourself, it worked against you. It would be bad advice to leave it in... – vikingsteve Apr 9 at 21:57
  • To address @Nat , yes. I was discarded of positions where a computer science degree was a requirement despite that. I also had an occasion, before my other degree, that I was discarded for "not having formal education in the field". – ZektorH Apr 10 at 5:13
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You need to get used to putting a positive spin on just about everything that happens in your career, truthful or otherwise. This includes previous studies that were not completed. This is especially true if you are trying to break into a highly competitive career path where it's tough for graduates to get a start. I once moved to a place in Australia where jobs were extremely hard to come by, I soon discovered that I was up against hundreds of liars who would say anything to get their foot in the door ahead of a person who actually had the experience and then when I got the job, a horde of back stabbing jealous psychos who were traumatised the company went to market to get the skills they didn't have but desperately wanted to get. It can be tough out there, good luck

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