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Two years ago I got a BSc first class which landed me a position in a top UK university MSc programme. Due to a combination of personal circumstances and mental illness I'm now failing the course. I'm now in my second (repeat) year.

My question is: How should I mention that in an interview?

In my CV I say that my enrollment is ongoing expecting to graduate in September. This is not a lie. Things I've come up with so far:

  • Don't mention the course at all.

    This leaves me with a 2 year gap. In that period the only work I did was the website of an escort service (since I'm anonymous I might as well get it all out). I think some employers may find this morally questionable so I'm prepared to say that I've signed an NDA (which can be easily arranged with the client). No I didn't hire the client's services, I met her through a mutual acquaintance. So not much work experience to work with to explain the gap (apart from side projects I've recently started).

  • Simply mention I'm enrolled in a course.

    This is what I'm doing now. Employers expect a student to be able to work part-time or not at all, unlike me (I'm looking for a full-time position). So this solution may raise some eyebrows.

In any case, should I mention the fact that I'm failing my course, and how much detail should I give?

I'm a regular user but the issue is very embarrassing. I may not be able to add further details as I'm posting as a guest (I even went through Tor). I hope the question has the necessary details and I apologize I probably won't be accepting an answer or responding to your comments. For these reasons I'd like to thank you for your input in advance.

  • @JoeStrazzere I'll probably get a "diploma" or "certificate" or one of those things that say "I didn't get full credits". Good question though, how would you suggest I phrase that? – AnonUser Apr 7 '14 at 16:50
  • My enrollment will be terminating in September no matter what. There's a chance that I'm actually going to make it but the chances of not getting an MSc are, unfortunately, high. – AnonUser Apr 8 '14 at 12:54
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No, you shouldn't mention that you're failing, but you should mention that you're enrolled in higher education.

The simplest, cleanest way to do this is to say that you're studying for a MSc, and it is "in progress." If they want more details, they'll ask, and you can tell them your expected graduation date. If they actually do the math and ask why it's taken you longer than usual, the best response is usually an honest, but vague answer - that you had some issues come up in your personal life that you had to handle, which took time away from your studies. No need to mention that this means you failed; it could just as well mean that you took a lighter course load while tackling your personal issues. If you're pressed and end up giving up that you have failed (which you shouldn't do), frame it positively. You may have failed because of circumstance outside of your control, but you're not giving up and have learned from this experience, etc.

Regarding the escort website, I would probably not mention it, because as you note, some/many employers are likely to find this morally objectionable. If you have other work you can show off, you can include it under the umbrella of freelance consulting/webdesign/whatever, and offer up the safe-for-work projects you've done as examples of your work. Perhaps a better idea would be to punch up a slick personal site for yourself that you can use to host your CV/resume and other professionally relevant information. I've seen these given out in place of a resume (on a personal business card, for example), and when well-done, they can be a great differentiator, and a way to showcase your skills and provide a segue into what programming languages and tools you're familiar with.

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