Help! I did not finish my studies – what should I say on my CV?

Dear Aunty,

Because of some issues with my family I was unable to finish my degree. I completed 2 years but had to drop out at the start of my 3rd year. I am now desperately looking for a job so my question is what can I put on my CV?

Please help.

Aunty says,

This is a problem that many people face. They go to school, college or university and are unable to complete their studies for whatever reason. You will have learnt lots during your studies so the question of how to best show this on your CV is an extremely valid one.

Firstly, I would like to ask you whether you gained any form of qualification from your time at university. Sometimes courses are structured so that a qualification is awarded on completion of each year. For example, you may gain a certificate for completion of your first year, a diploma for completion of your second year, a degree for completion of your third year etc. If you did receive a qualification simply include this on your CV. If you are unsure as to whether you received a qualification contact the college or university and ask them to clarify the situation.

If you were not awarded any form of qualification then there are still a number of options available to you. For example, you write something such as:

  • 2012-14 University of Somewhere, BA (Hons) Subject, completed first and second years;

or if you are hoping to return to university to complete your degree in the future you could write something such as:

  • 2012-14 University of Somewhere, BA (Hons) Subject, pending completion of final year;

You may also want to include a list of modules that you did complete – if this is relevant to the role.

Remember that your CV is an advertisement of your skills and experience so whatever you choose to say try to make it sound positive. Also, remember that qualification requirements are often just one of a number of requirements stipulated in a job advertisement. If you do not meet the educational requirements 100% focus on the other requirements and clearly show how you meet as many of these other requirements as possible.

You may also want to check the following articles as they may be of assistance to you when applying for jobs in Zambia:

I hope that this information will be of use to you and others in Zambia and wish you all the best for the future.


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