How To List Unfinished College On A Resume
It can be confusing to figure out how to put college on your resume if you didnt graduate, but it doesnt need to be stressful. Dont underestimate the value of the education you completed, just because you dont have a degree to show for it doesnt mean its not worthwhile.
Even if youre not going to complete your degree, it can still make a valuable addition to your resume because:
- It can help to explain an employment gap
- It can highlight additional skills
- It can showcase extra qualifications and relevant coursework
If youre lacking formal work experience, any of these things could provide the extra push a hiring manager needs to seriously consider you as a candidate.
Here are some ways to go about putting your education on your resume:
Items To Include For Education In Resume
The top 4 items are must-haves. The rest will give you an edge over other candidates.
However, if you’ve got X years of experience, mentioning those extra items will look awkward as your experience is what matters to employers .
And, dont weaken your resume education section with these:
Where To Position Education On Your Resume
So, should your education or experience come first in your resume?
Think of it this way:
The top third of the resume is reserved for your accomplishments that are most relevant to the job you are applying for.
So before you continue, ask yourself: Is your education your most relevant accomplishment?
The answer most of the time will be no. Work experience will be a more important requirement for just about any position above entry-level.
However, education can take priority in some particular cases.
Education comes first if youve just graduated from college and dont have relevant work experience to list. Imagine you are an employer and the first thing you see in someones resume when theyre applying for an entry-level marketing associate position is their summer job as a bodyguard at their local town pool.
Its also wise to list education before work experience if youve recently gotten back to school to get a degree thats relevant to your potential job.
For example, if youre switching to a career in sustainable energy after having finished a related program, but have work experience predominantly in engineering, you would want your new education to be the first thing the hiring manager sees.
Getting a fresh MSc, Ph.D., or MBA is another case where you would want to highlight those degrees more than the work experience.
Not sure if you need a CV or a resume? Check out our guide on CV vs Resume and learn whats the difference between the two .
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How To List High School Education On Your Resume
If youre a high school student or dont have a higher education degree, you should list your high school education on your resume.
Heres an example of how to list your diploma:
High school diploma on a resume example
High school Diploma, 2019New York, NY
If youre still attending high school, leave out a graduation date and instead write present.
If you received a General Education Development certificate outside of high school, list the GED on your resume, the institution where it was attained, and the year you attained it.
Put Advanced Degrees First
Usually, you should lay down your educational background by listing the most recent or advanced degree first, working in reverse chronological order. But there are exceptions. Say you earned a degree in geography, but are now working in the field of online marketing. If you more recently completed coursework specific to social media or digital marketing, list that first to grab the reviewers attention.
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How To Format Your Resume Education Section
Now you have your information, how to format education on a resume is the next big question. Having a professional qualification is only half the battle knowing how to present it is key. Here are four tips:
Spacing – Unless an employer uses recruiting software , HR staff want something they can easily scan. Use spacing that allows information to be taken in easily.
Information brief and clear – No one wants to read your entire life story. Revise your education format on your resume until it is clear and to the point, without any unnecessary details.
Relevant to the types of positions you are applying for – We’ve said this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. A lot of people have 3 or more versions of their CVs, tailored to the jobs they are applying for.
Highest attainment first and the rest in reverse chronological order – You don’t need to rank by chronological order as a strict rule. List the highest education on your resume first, then use reverse chronological order for other courses.
Should You Put High School On Resume
If high school is your only education, thats fine!
Just add it as your sole education entry, exactly as in the previous example.
Here is an example of high school education on resume:
Heres how to list GED on your resume:
GED High School Equivalency Diploma
Bronx Adult Learning Center, Bronx, NY
Or a Test Assessing Secondary Completion :
TASC High School Equivalency Diploma
Brooklyn College Adult Literacy Program, Brooklyn, NY
Finally, heres the California High School Proficiency Examination :
CSBE Certificate of Proficiency
Clayton Valley High School, Concord, CA
Expert Hint: We dont recommend dates on finished degrees and diplomas, especially if theyre more than 10 years in the past, but they are useful when the program remains unfinished.
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Where To Put The Education Section Of Your Resume
Current students, recent college graduates, or career changers may want to put the education section towards the top of their resume. This is because students typically have limited work experience and want to highlight academic success.
If you have been out of school for at least a couple of years, you can move this section to the bottom of your resume. By this time, you have enough work experience to highlight that you dont need to rely on your education.
How To List High School Education & Geds On Your Resume
If youre a student in high school, the chance is you probably have some volunteer work and extracurriculars under your belt. If these aspects are relevant to the job you are applying for, you can put them before the education section.
In all other cases, the education section would take the upper hand, and would look something like this:
2015 – 2017
Dissertation: Leveraging User-Generated Content for Advertising Purposes Through Information Systems
Theres a lot more to creating a good resume than just the education section. Become an expert with our complete guide on how to write a resume.
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Option : List College Location And Details
There are a few different ways to include the fact that you attended college.
You can simply list the college and location:
Macanster CollegeCleveland, OH
You can also provide more detail. Include the years attended, the number of credits completed, and your GPA if it is very strong :
Unionville University, 2015 – 2017Completed 42 credits, GPA 3.8
You can mention the focus of your studies, if it is related to your employment objective, and the number of credits completed in that discipline:
Hannaford College, 2016 – 2018Completed 36 credits, including 16 credits in business.
How To List Education On A Resume For An Unfinished Degree
- If you did not graduate high school, write the name of your school and the years you attended as Attended school from 2013 – 2015
- If you did not finish a college or university level degree, write the credits you managed to get as Completed 63 credits toward MA in Physics
Awards, publications, and training
- If you want to show off your skills and achievements, add honors, awards, training, certifications, licenses, extracurricular activities you did during high school.
- Pick activities that illustrate the keyword skills listed
- Mention all the honors programs like graduated with Spanish honors , if any
- Acceptance into campus, national, or international honors societies
- List your publications under your degree
- Include a coursework description, add classes that are relevant to the job profile.
- A course of study that has a particular skillset
- List your recent extracurricular roles/ positions of responsibility
- Avoid adding controversial activities
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Keep It Short If You Graduated A While Ago
In most cases, your education section only needs to be a line or two underneath your work experience. The longer youve been in the workforce, the shorter it should be. Your education section should list what school you attended and what degree you obtained. If you graduated some time ago , you can leave off your graduation date from your resume.
What To Include In The Education Section Of A Resume
The information to include in your education section depends on your academic qualifications.
Here are popular educational, academic and professional development credentials to include in the education section of a resume:
- Secondary diploma, high school diploma, or GED
- College diploma
- Name of schools and location
- Year of graduation
- Awards and honors including Latin honors, Deans List and others
- Relevant coursework, research and other academic activities
- Professional development courses and certification
- Membership of extracurricular clubs and organizations
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How To Put College On Resume If You Havent Graduated Yet
You need to know how to put college on resume if you didnt graduate yet. Including your college history follows the same pattern as listing licenses and certifications. Even if pending, but the degree remains relevant, include it.
You have a few choices regarding how to list education on resume if still in college. Include the below information:
- College or university name
- Coursework completed toward or completed number of credits
- Anticipated graduation date if you plan to complete the degree
- Put the pending date with no extra wording the recruiter will understand the meaning.
An example looks as follows:
University of Wisconsin-Madison Completed 60 credits toward a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
How To Put Down Your Education In Your Resume
Now that you have an idea of where to put your education section, lets start with the basics.
In terms of structuring your education section, the general practice is to follow a reverse chronological order: list your latest educational entry first, and then go backwards from there.
Okay, but how far back should you go? Do you put your high school education in there as well?
Usually, if you have a relevant university degree, its not advisable to waste precious space on your resume by listing your high school education.
Now that weve got all of that out of the way, we can show you a general template of how to write down your education. You list the following features in this particular order:
- Name of degree : e.g. B.A. English Language and Culture, Minor in Teaching*
- Name of educational institution: e.g. University of Groningen
- Years attended: e.g. 2016 – 2019
- Location of the program : e.g. Groningen, the Netherlands
- GPA : e.g. 3,84. Keep in mind, though, that you only list education if its at an impressive scale . This shows determination and hard work on your part. If its lower, you might want to omit it altogether.
- Honors : e.g. Magna Cum Laude
- Courses that are relevant to the job : e.g. Modern Popular Literature track
- Exchange programs : e.g. Exchange Program in Oslo, Norway
* Possible ways to write down the same degree:
The full listing for this educational entry, then, is:
B.A. English Language and Culture, Minor in Teaching
University of Groningen
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Cases When You May Want To Omit An Unfinished Degree
There are cases where its best to leave an incomplete degree off your resume.
For example, if an incomplete degree is irrelevant to the work you want to do and doesnt add value to your resume, simply leave it off your resume.
Another case is when including the degree has the potential to do more harm than good.
For example, if you didnt complete your degree for reasons that dont reflect well on you , then you may want to leave it off your resume.
On the contrary, if youve successfully completed your degree, then youll want to take full advantage of your hard work by learning how to properly list a degree on a resume.
What To List In Your Resumes Education Section
When its time to create or update your resume a lot of questions come to mind. The first question is what information do I need to share about my education?
Gathering the details of what you should include about your education is simple. Heres the information that hiring managers will want to know about your education on your resume.
Degrees listed in chronological order
High School, College, or University Name
Educational Institution Location
Major/Minor/Field of Study
Honors: cum laude , magna laude, summa laude
Awards or distinctions
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Listing Education At The Beginning
That said, education most commonly appears immediately after the title/heading .
123 Somewhere Street | Somewhere, NY 00000555.555.5555 | email@example.comWest Seneca State College | West Seneca, NY | May 2017Bachelor of Science, Accounting
The above example is fairly straightforward. After the accountants name, address, and contact information, her college, and date of graduation appear along with the type of degree and major.While its acceptable to abbreviate the degree to B.A. or B.S., it looks more professional to spell out the full Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science.
Pro Tip: Applicant Tracking Systems used by many employers may distort a submitted resumes format. In particular, placing dates on the left-hand side has caused some issues with ATS. To avoid this issue, format education like the example above, with dates on the right-hand side.
How To Write An Education Section If You Never Graduated
If youre a college dropout, or if youre taking aleave of absence, this part is for you.
You should always include even unfinished education on your resume. Employment gaps always make hiring managers a bit suspicious.
Just because you dont have a degree yet, it doesnt mean you cant put it on your resume. All you have to do is emphasize that youre still working towards attaining it.
The same holds true if you dont plan on ever finishing your studies. After all, you put some effort into them. Even more importantly, you paid the tuition.
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Experience Or Education: What To Put First
Which section should go first on a resume work experience or education? Read on for advice on how to organize your resume sections.
Depending on your personal situation you may want to list first your education section or the work experience part on your resume. It could also depend on the position youre interested in or the skills you have gained from different roles in your professional and academic career.
- If you have recently graduated or are still studying, it is highly likely that you will have a short professional work history in your desired field or that most of your achievements have come from your academic experience and therefore will benefit more from a resume with the education section before the work experience section.
- This is especially true for those applicants who have an outstanding academic record with many awards or honors, even if they have a brief work history.
- On the other hand, if you have been working for several years, even if you are deciding to change careers, you would most likely benefit from a resume with emphasis on the work experience section as this is where your recent expertise will have developed including any transferable skills.
For those jobseekers who are unsure of which section should be highlighted and therefore come first, it is possible that using an online resume creator or resume template could help them to build a suitable resume for their ideal job.
Where To List Education
While the sections included on resumes are fairly standard , you have some flexibility regarding the order of each section. This is particularly true when it comes to where you list education on your resume.
Typically, the placement of education depends in part on your credentials, including college degrees and professional certifications. The extent of your education and the type of position to which youre applying are also important factors.
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How To Write Degree On Resume
First, check the job listingits the perfect cheat sheet.
Refer to your diploma the same way your future employer talks about it.
If they say BA, you say BA.
If they say B.A., add those periods.
But here’s a great trick: when talking about diplomas, use the preferred abbreviation and the whole form: Bachelor of Arts .
If the ATS expects to see bachelor not BA, this will double your chances of being understood by those annoying robots.
Lets Start With Basics Of How To List Education On Resume
In terms of a layout, a resume’s education section includes:
When wondering how to list education on resume:
- Start with your highest degree and work your way back in reverse-chronological order
- Only include high school if you did not attend college, attended a prestigious private academy or recently graduated.
- The placement of the education section of your resume depends on your graduation date, if youre a recent graduate education on your resume is more important and should be added closer to the top of your resume.
Do employers verify education? You might think that no employer has time to check references or verify education, but no matter what the level of hire, it is actually incredibly easy to do a basic check. A quick 5-minute phone call will suffice. While this isn’t industry standard, if there is any hint at all that you are bending the truth with your educational claims, it is not hard to verify what you have listed.
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