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How would it come across if I list some of the exceptional achievements (top grades, published articles, awards, sponsorship) despite ultimately not being able to graduate?

I had a health reason which forced me to abandon studies and I never returned.

As long as they are relevant to my job search, will they be beneficial, and will they show that, despite not graduating, I was a brilliant student, and proactively contributed to the field while at university?

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As long as they are relevant to my job search, won't they be beneficial, and won't they show that despite not graduating I was a brilliant student, and proactively contributed to the field while at university?

Indicating your achievements may indeed indicate that you were a brilliant student and proactive in your field.

They may also call attention to the fact that you dropped out.

You need to weigh the benefits against the negatives.

If you feel that your achievements during your schooling make you much more valuable as a candidate, then include them. If you don't feel that they would add significant value, then you may wish to downplay your shortened schooling (and thus lack of graduation).

Remember that some industries/jobs value academic awards and some don't. I suspect that those employers who would place a high value on achievements during schooling, would also place a very high value on graduation, so it's rather a mixed bag.

Sometimes good grades and achievements in school translate into achievements in the workplace, but sometimes they don't. If you have real work experience, many potential employers will value that far more than anything that did or didn't happen in school.

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You should absolutely include your achievements.

I dropped out of a software engineering program. In my CV, I included my achievements, awards, competitions, etc. as well as my incomplete degree, and over the years I've gotten job offers from Goldman Sachs, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other places, some of which I accepted.

The achievements have definitely been helpful, as they are often what employers ask me about first. A few years ago, they used to ask why I never finished my degree, but nowadays they just ask about my recent work experience.

Regarding what to actually put in your CV, I've had success with the following variations:

  • Write "B.Sc. ([year] - [year]) University of XXX (interrupted for xyz)" near the end of the CV, after achievements and after work experience
  • Talk to your university, get a certificate for whatever courses you passed, and include that in your CV. I got an Associate's degree since I had passed more than half the courses, and therefore I was able to write "A.Sc." in my CV. Nobody knows what that is; some will ask, some will just assume it's a 4-year course. It doesn't really matter in the end.

To a certain extent (which varies based on which sector you're in) if you can demonstrate in an interview that you can actually do the job, they will hire you. For medicine, you should really have a degree. For software development, the degree is mostly inconsequential, especially if you have some work experience. However, you should include some sort of degree in your CV, because often there is a nontechnical HR person (or even a software program) screening the CV's who doesn't understand any of your skills and will automatically reject anyone who doesn't have a degree listed on the CV (as well as any other keywords they've been told to look for).

I will say however, that if you can go back and finish in 1-2 years, it's probably worth your while as you will likely have better opportunities.

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Do you feel comfortable discussing basics of what happened with your degree program an interview if asked?

If you can explain, as you did here, why you chose not to return in a way that doesn't sound like you dropped out out of laziness or some other poor self-attribute, include those achievements.

As you describe them as exceptional achievements, they may be worth including, and could work well toward a positive overall impression.

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