On your resume, listing your skills, duties, and responsibilities won’t do. To land that dream gig, you need to highlight your achievements. Here’s how.
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“But what are they going to think?”
That’s probably what runs through your mind when you think of putting your unfinished college on your resume.
Lucky for you, this is totally a case where you can control what others think.
Phrase and include your incomplete degree correctly and professionally and the only thing recruiters will think about will be when you can schedule an interview.
This guide will show you how to do exactly that.
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Here are some other education specific articles that you might be interested in:
- Make Your Resume Education Section Stand Out
- 20+ Student Resume Examples
- High School Student Resume Template
- College Student Resume
- Should I Put My GPA on a Resume?
- How to List a Minor and Major on a Resume
- Expected Graduation Date on a Resume
How to Put Some College on a Resume
Instead of focusing on how much of your degree is or isn’t done, focus instead on these questions: (1) Does your degree align with the specific role you’re applying for, (2) Would removing your education completely cause a large employment gap in your resume, (3) Were there any courses you took that could be applicable to the job you’re applying for.
These questions will help you focus on the value that even your incomplete education can bring to your resume.
Now, you’ll generally find yourself in one of two situations. Depending on which one they fall into, you can approach listing your education in your resume differently.
So here are the two different scenarios:
How to Put Incomplete Degree on a Resume
If your education is still in progress, it is much simpler to list on your resume than it may seem. It’s enough to list the degree program(s) you’re taking part in, the name of the school and its location, and your expected graduation date. Remember that your expected graduation date isn’t set in stone so if you end up graduating earlier or later, employers generally won’t hold it against you.
That said, don’t make up a random graduation date. It’s a little hard to explain why you graduated 3 years later than planned and just makes you look sketchy.
Your unfinished college on your resume should look something like this:
Currently Pursuing Degree on a Resume—Example
University of Colorado, Denver, CO
Expected graduation date 2020
If you’d like some more insight into adding your ongoing education to your resume, this guide should be right up your alley: How to Include Your Continuing Education on a Resume
Easy peasy. Let’s move on to the second scenario.
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How to Put College on a Resume If You Didn't Graduate
You don’t really want to include your college degree program and then write “incomplete” at the end. That doesn’t exactly look wonderful. Simply note down the school you attended (name, dates you attended, and amount of credit hours you finished). Skip the GPA if below 3.5.
Alternatively, you can do the same thing as option #2 above, except focus on the courses that are relevant to the role you are applying for. This option brings the recruiter’s focus to what you already know instead of the fact that you didn’t finish college.
When you’re done, these options should look similar to this:
Unfinished Degree on a Resume—Example
University of Colorado
University of Colorado (2016-2018)
Completed 25 credits towards a BA in Business
University of Colorado (2016-2018)
Completed courses: Architectural History and Urbanism, Construction Practices, Building Systems, Theory of Structures.
Now that looks pretty good! With your unfinished college listed like this in your resume, don’t be surprised if you actually get interview invitations instead of rejection messages!
Pro Tip: Don’t try to be cute and include phrases such as “Major: Finance” and then claim that you never really explicitly said that you graduated. If that comes up at an interview, recruiters are likely to get annoyed.
Want to learn more about adding relevant coursework to your resume? This guide will show you the way: How to List Relevant Coursework on a Resume
Have you managed to complete a lower level degree while pursuing a higher one? This guide will show you how to include it in your resume: How to List a Degree on a Resume
Still in college but want to apply to be in a sorority? This guide will get you there: Sorority Resume Sample and Guide
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
Whether your college is finished or not takes a back seat to the value that it can potentially add to your resume.
When listing your unfinished college on a resume, remember:
- Mention your degree program, school name, and expected graduation date if you’re continuing your education
- If you’re not going to finish your education, find an option that puts your incomplete education in the best possible light.
That’s all there is to it!
Any questions, comments, or concerns? Drop it down in the comments below!