I am finishing my bachelor degree. I finished my exams, applied to graduate and started applying to full time jobs in my field. I had a couple of interviews and have a couple more lined up. Today, I got an e-mail and my world came crumbling down. I'm not able to graduate as I failed a class (I didn't quite pass the final exam). I thought I had one extra course in case something like this happened, but it turned out that was a miscommunication between me and the course advisor.

I'm thinking of taking the one last class at a community college. One course is usually 4 months. I need a source of income before then.

I only need one more course to graduate and ideally I want a full time job in my field, if not a part time job. I want to be upfront with potential employers. I had put that I had my degree on my resume. How should I bring this up with employers who have already seen that? How should I update my resume to show "bachelor degree minus one course?" Would altering my plan to obtain my degree help?

EDIT: I have had quite a few full time jobs, but most were through the school's co-op program.

closed as off-topic by gnat, Chris E, AndreiROM, Jim G., Lilienthal May 7 '16 at 21:46

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  • 7
    The goal of the resume is to get the interview. Don't over-explain things in your resume. Just remove your graduation date. And explain in person when they ask about your graduation date. – Stephan Branczyk May 5 '16 at 7:37
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    Even up front you should not have stated you have a degree. You should have stated graduation date. – paparazzo May 5 '16 at 9:35
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    I got my BS in chemical engineering during the oil boom almost everyone was getting jobs prior to graduation. One of harder required classes physical chemistry was taught by the chemistry department. 4 students that had jobs figured they could slack and he failed them. You can't make up physical chemistry at a junior college and it was only taught once a year. They all lost their job offers. He could have just given them D's but he failed them. – paparazzo May 5 '16 at 12:53
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    @inertiablobby "Basically told you"? You have a degree when you have a degree. You got an email that you failed a course and did not qualify for a degree. That would be you don't have a degree. – paparazzo Jun 4 '16 at 8:20
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    I wouldn't over-advertise. In some countries, they will perform a background check. But often this won't show your degree until several months after anyways. Just change the "expected" date on your resume for the degree to a new date. Explain to new interviewers you are done at university but have one more class to complete in the evenings. Don't even bring it up to anyone you already met unless they do "so you graduate at x date?" "oh you must have an outdated copy of my resume. I'm done at university but still have one night class and will be done by x." – TechnicalEmployee Jun 6 '16 at 16:27

I had a resume out while I was studying - what I did was simply leave the finishing date open ended.

I've been there. I've gone into an exam needing a 30% score to pass... and got 29%. The marker (who was elsewhere) disagreed with my answer's content, and well, yeah. I retook that module. Its not the end of the world (I got a pretty good score when I retook it!).

So, what to say? "I'm currently finishing up my degree and I'm one module away from finishing". Focus on the wins, and what you have to offer to an employer. I'd also add that depending on the job market, its going to take time to find a job, and getting your resume out there pre-graduation is a sensible thing to do.


As always be truthful up front about anything in life. On the resume you only needed to put down you were expecting to graduate May 2016 (or whenever), and that you are planning to apply for graduate courses. Now that you need to retake a single course, all you need to say you're expecting to graduate at the end of summer, or fall 2016 (or whenever).

Most small shops probably do a simple background check which would verify if you graduated college, highschool, etc. Most places probably won't dig too deeply. However it is never a wise idea to lie.

As for what to do change your expected graduation date. Don't say you failed but instead say you thought you were graduating May 2016, but you are a course away from graduating and expecting to have the degree at the end of summer, fall or whenever. All that should cover you and properly explain to the employer.


I had a similar situation but in my case, it was my second year of degree college. I wanted to apply for an internship and by being completely honest with them, I did score one in a multinational bank. I mentioned in my CV the modules I was retaking and explained in my resume the reason I wasn't able to clear my second year.

All they really look for, is whether you have reflected from your past experience and if you have sufficient knowledge in your field. They don't really care if you explain your situations right. Just two words are important here, Knowledge and reflection.

So, as a conclusion:

  1. Use this time you have got to its maximum potential and learn skills which will help you. Take this opportunity positively and as a learning experience.

  2. Consider Freelancing, part time jobs which will be an add-on to your CV and Resume.

  3. Be completely honest in your CV and explain your situation/ circumstance in your resume. Don't be too upfront.

  4. Feel grateful of this opportunity you've got to improve and after a year, look back just to smile and see how far you've come. Ups and downs are a characteristic of life.

Hope this helps, cheers!


Passing courses is not what employers really care about. The employers that put a lot of emphasis are your grades probably are not the ones you want to work for.

You have two issues:

  1. To the people you told you graduated, correct the situation as soon as possible (only if you are in contact with them). Send them a note saying, "I was mistaken. I am one course short of graduation. Please see my updated resume." Or something similar. You are surprised by the situation, so saying that you are surprised and one course short is truthful. If an employer asks what happened, then explain in more detail, but it's likely most won't ask.

  2. As others have explained, fix your resume to indicate that you need 1 more course. If you feel that an explanation is necessary, you can indicate, "1 course needed due to miscommunication with my advisor" or something. If someone asks the nature of the miscommunication, you can explain as you did here.

You obviously tried to prepare for this outcome, so be sure to explain that. Dealing with life's problems without it stopping you is what employers pay you to do.

  • With no prior job history (ie: real world experience), what would you propose a company use to differentiate candidates other than grades? – NotMe May 5 '16 at 14:17
  • As an employer for a small company, I've found grades to be a poor indicator of success "in the real world" job. I (and others) look for internships, part time jobs, extracurricular activities, etc. Some employers look at grades and care - those employers probably will not be interested in this candidate (although it depends on the employer, the job and the failed course) – Jim May 5 '16 at 15:34
  • When college graduates start making the same amount of money as everyone else, I'll vote this up. – user8365 May 5 '16 at 16:26
  • if relevant I do have work experience – inertiablobby May 6 '16 at 2:07
  • It's funny, the employer called me back and said they don't care about the technicality of missing one course but I decided not to work for them as I want the degree asap. – inertiablobby Jun 4 '16 at 7:09

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