The university where I did my undergraduate studies in informatics in has basically three independent requirements for graduating:
- Finishing a certain number of all the courses available (some are required, some were optional). Each course has a final exam at the end of the semester and many of them also have several exams during the semester.
- Completing a 6-month placement in an actual workplace, relating to the subject of the university course.
- Composing an essay on a subject that the student and a professor agree on together, then presenting it to a committee.
I was successful in (1) and (2), but I never completed the essay to the professor's liking and gave up. Presently, it wouldn't be possible to "go back" and complete it or begin another even if I wanted to.
The main reason I did not complete the essay was that I really hate essays. I began it, continue to work on it through employment and during an MSc course, but in the end the professor thought it was still too short so I gave up.
After my 6-month placement as a software developer, the same company re-hired me as a regular employee and remained there for 4 more years.
Afterwards I successfully obtained a Master's degree (the course for which didn't require an undergraduate degree nor writing another essay).
I believe these facts are enough to demonstrate that the reason I never graduated was not incompetence in my chosen profession.
My question basically has two parts:
a) How to describe my undergraduate studies in a CV? I could simply list the university's name and the years I studied in it, even my average grade for my studies, but I think that may mislead people into thinking I did graduate.
b) If I get to the interview stage, how do I explain the reason I never graduated? I feel that "I hate essays" wouldn't be a very appealing explanation, but it's the truth.
I think matters are further complicated by the fact that the country I live in now is not the same as where my undergraduate studies took place and as a result prospective employers will be unfamiliar with the way that university worked, which means that not graduating would sound worse to them than I believe it is unless I explained (as I did above).