Ask LH: Should I Mention Dropping Out Of University On My Resume?

Ask LH: Should I Mention Dropping Out Of University On My Resume?

Hi Lifehacker, I plan on submitting my resume for a couple of new jobs soon. One thing I feel that I should put in it (but which I also feel ashamed of) is that I withdrew from university earlier in my life; even though I didn’t complete any courses within the degree or learned much from it. In fact, I left after the first week.

Leaving university picture from Shutterstock

So my question is simple. Is it wise to put on my resume that I withdrew from university, especially when I left so soon after starting my degree? I’m now forming the impression that it may be best to leave it out. Thanks, Former Student

Dear FS,

Generally speaking I’d advocate for honesty being the best policy when it comes to resumes, because you can never entirely tell what level a prospective employer will dig into your history when deciding upon a hire.

As has been discussed before when it comes to breaks in employment, there can be upsides to being totally open.

That being said, a resume is still an advertisement for your services, and it feels little odd to me to mention a single week of your life as part of an attempt to secure ongoing employment, unless by “earlier in my life” you mean “three weeks ago”, which doesn’t seem to be what you’re suggesting. In this case I think I’d agree to omit it but be ready to discuss it if it’s brought up in an interview.

But I’m also going to throw this over to the readership. What do you think? Should FS put details of a one-week Uni sojourn in a resume, or leave it out altogether?


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  • I once submitted a resume, aced an interview and finally got the job, but when looking over my resume I’d genuinely forgotten to mention that I didn’t finish the degree, it simply said I studied at a particular university for 3 years.

    I now worry that I was hired based partly on that qualification (although the course wasn’t perfectly related, it was in the same field). I decided when I realised that I would just play it close to my chest and do as best as possible to excel in the job anyway (which I have been doing) and just not talk about it :-S

    It was nerve-wracking to start with, but it hasn’t yielded any issues. In the case of only going to a particular university for a week though, I’d DEFINITELY not mention it, because there isn’t really any positives to boast about with it.

  • If it was only for one week, I don’t see how you could include it.

    To include details of whatever institution and course it was implies you studied there and learnt at least some of whatever their syllabus includes. Even with full attendance, one week would amount to about six basic introductory lectures and six introductory tutorials – hardly enough to learn any skills that would be applicable to the role being applied for.

    Worse, if I’m interviewing someone whose resume says they attended university and only find out then that it was for one week, I’d consider that a deliberate attempt to mislead me.

  • Don’t bother with it. A resume isn’t a confessional.

    The things you want on the front page are the skills, qualifications/certifications and previous work experience which are directly and immediately relevant to the position being applied for.

    Your second page can deal with the miscellany, such as work history that isn’t relevant to the position, hobbies, interests, volunteer work, blahblahblahdo you have the relevant skills and experience for the job?

    Your reviewer is going to be looking at fucking dozens, even hundreds of these things. Less is more.

  • Don’t mention it, but if you’re asked in an interview if you’ve ever done any study, explain the situation

  • I mention it, in a section underneath my study history i have a short section basically explaining that I changed my plans for studying and choice in area. So far I haven’t had anything bad come back from it, most interviews have them asking me to go into more detail about it.

  • If I mentioned every week-long project in my resume there is no way it would be of a readable length.

  • I’m half way through an IT degree (my 3rd degree) with straight 7’s and thinking about dropping it. University these days just seems like daycare for grownups (I have a 3yr old in daycare as a basis for my comparison), most of the time lecturers just tell you to find the information yourself, look on google or YouTube. Yes, you still need to become competant through some other means. I’d be more than able to look an employer in the eye and tell them I made the right call. Independent thought and the ability to stand by your decisions is a valuable quality as well.

    • I’d recommend re-thinking the dropping it. IT isn’t particularly important to have qualifications, but they DO put you ahead slightly if only because you’ve proven that you can see something through to completion. Also, depending on your school, in your third year you can often get some industry placement, which CAN be invaluable.

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