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I have completed 225 credits (out of 250) for my Bachelor's degree programme back in year 2008 and due to financial difficulties, I have withdrawn from the programme. Prior to that, I was awarded with a Diploma.

I have always stated that I have completed 225 credits in my resume. When prospective employers ask me what exactly does that I mean, I would tell them that I have withdrawn from the programme; full-stop without any additional detail unless they ask me to elaborate.

I am looking at my resume now and wondering does stating "completed 225 credits" gives me an added advantage compared to just stating Diploma as my highest qualification?

  • I think it's going to be a personal one, but a complete diploma does probably sound better than an incomplete (never to be completed) degree. Alternatively... Can you top it up using a distance learning program? – StackExchange What The Heck Apr 20 '14 at 16:47
  • I am curious to see how others weigh in. As for myself, I did not get serious training in my major until the last two years of the four-year program, so I would look at one year of college and shrug. There is a throng of individuals in the US who knock a college education but at least, the college educated have an ability to communicate - that's critical in work environments such as a hospital or a formic acid plant - formic acid is the most corrosive acid around, by the way - where the consequences of miscommunication can easily be disastrous up to life threatening. – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 20 '14 at 19:13
  • @yochannah Yes, I applied got a few offers for part-time Bachelor's degree programme (evening and weekend classes). – Walt Boggis Apr 21 '14 at 0:42
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No. It doesn't give you an advantage.

Here's what I think you should do.

  1. Can you still complete your course? Many universities will let you transfer credits from other institutions. Look at what it will take to get your degree.
  2. Instead of listing your credits - list the courses you took and completed. As an employer, I don't know what 225 credits means - but I can understand what "Advanced Economics", "Introduction to Algorithms", etc means.
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Advantages:

  • It's something to put on your resume

    If you don't have a lot of things to put on your resume, having something else to add could be quite significant.

    This could be especially relevant if you don't have another degree and/or you don't have much work experience.

  • It doesn't leave a gap in your resume

    Looking like you didn't do anything / much for 3 or 4 years (or however long the degree was / you did it for) is unlikely to come across well.

    If it's obvious that there's a gap from your resume (e.g. 3 years between school and starting your first job), what you did during that time is not unlikely to come up during the interview process, in which case it probably would've been better to just include it on your resume.

    If you had at most a "casual" part-time job (something not in your field), the question may still be why you did that for 3 years instead of trying to get a job in your field.

    If the gap is roughly as long as a relevant degree typically is, some may assume you dropped out anyway.

    This is primarily relevant if it was somewhat recently (e.g. last 5-10 years).

  • Not listing it may eliminate you from consideration from select positions early on

    For example, for some positions you may be eliminated for not having a Bachelor's during pre-screening, and they might decide 90% completed is close enough (or maybe they just didn't read your resume properly).

Disadvantages:

  • It can be seen as having a lack of ability to see things through

    ... because either you're not given the opportunity to explain, e.g. before they make contact with you, or your justification isn't convincing enough.

    Generic financial difficulties (during your studies, prior to entering the workforce) should be an acceptable reason for many - I would not recommend simply saying you withdrew without giving a reason (that is, during an interview). You could also try saying it was due to personal problems, although people may be less inclined to believe that.

    You may even consider listing the reason for withdrawal on your resume itself, to reduce this particular disadvantage (although I'm not sure I'd do that).

Conclusion:

If it was your primary degree, it was recent and you don't have much work experience, I'd say you should almost definitely include it.

If it was long ago, you have another field-related degree and you have a lot of work experience, including it probably doesn't make a difference one way or the other.

For anywhere in between, you'll need to measure up the pros and cons yourself.

Also, it could be worth trying to find out whether you can still complete your degree, how many of the credits are still valid, whether there's a related degree which might be easier to complete (if you already have many of the credits for that), etc.


You should try to list some selective completed subjects that are particularly applicable to the job you're applying for, rather than just listing percentage completed - degrees vary greatly between different universities, and even internal to a university, there can still be plenty of choices, so simply listing the degree doesn't say too much, especially if you only completed part of it.

I wouldn't list all completed subjects, as that could make quite a long list - you want to highlight the parts most important to the employer.

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