I studied for two years in a university towards a bachelor's degree and then left because my parents and I had to immigrate to another country before I turn 21 (the age limit for an immigrant's child). Now I have to write my resume to apply for jobs. I have decided to include this college experience in my resume.

How can I describe it without using words like "drop out" or "discontinue"? How should I include a brief description of my reason for leaving college?

My draft for this part of the resume goes like this:

Sept 2008 – May 2010 XXXXX University Completed four semesters toward Bachelor of Arts in XXXXXX (Non-academic leave because of the age limit for immigration to the XXX))

  • My parents left the country and decided to withdraw me from the university, and as I had not yet reached the age of majority I could not complete the course of study. – Weather Vane May 20 '19 at 17:28
  • 3
    This feels like it goes beyond EL&U, as it entails several questions about rhetorical situation and context in a specific professional setting. (What country and industry are you writing a resume for? Are cover letters and other documents welcome in said context?) Some of these answers may determine that such an explanation is unnecessary or unwelcome in the resume. I'd take a peek and a quick search at workplace.stackexchange.com to see if anyone there has had a similar issue. I wish you the best of luck! – TaliesinMerlin May 20 '19 at 18:18
  • Thanks for all your answers. I'm writing my resume to apply for jobs in Asia. I want to get into the education field but will also consider other fields. I'm writing my cover letter too. I'll check out the workplace stackexchange. Thanks! – hei2 May 20 '19 at 18:22
  • 1. You need the past tense: before I turned 21. 2. If there was less than a two-year gap between schools, then treat it like a transfer. In the US this is extremely common. 3. This question is off topic here. Maybe it would work at Workplace. 4. In general, the resume is the place to put the facts about your employment and education history; the cover letter is the place to explain things like gaps. But in this case, the gap probably doesn't need explanation. – aparente001 May 21 '19 at 3:45

That may be suitable for purposes of accuracy but as you suggest I would leave out terms that would put your experience in a bad light. For this reason I would not even include your reasons for leaving. I have not had to look at resumes with or without such histories so such requirements may be outside my experience..

I am assuming from your phrasing that you had two universities and one subject of study. You may still take my meaning from the following. I would rephrase it more like; Sept 2008 – May 2010 XFirst University Attended four semesters toward Bachelor of Arts in XSubject. Completed studies at XSecond University.

If they later ask why you went from First to Second, or did not continue you can talk about it then.

  • Thanks for your answer. Yes. I graduated from another college this year in another major. I left the first college because I had to move to another country before I turn 21. – hei2 May 20 '19 at 18:18
  • I'm glad. In selling yourself it is best to focus on the outcome and leave any details (particularly bad ones) to be explained if (and only if) they really need to be. The dates and locations are only there to show that you were actively working towards the outcome. – Elliot May 20 '19 at 18:39
  • @hei2 Depending on the institutions involved, it’s actually a strength to have started a degree in one country and finished it in another. Your resume can tell a strong story here. – Global Charm May 20 '19 at 19:24

Giving the exact reason is probably too much information. However you want to give them enough information to make it clear that you did not drop out because you were failing. So I would write something like:

2008-2010 Completed 4 semesters of BA program before withdrawing for personal reasons.

If the company wants more details they can ask at an interview.

  • Thanks for your answer. But I was not failing in that college. I had to leave because I had to move to another country before I turn 21. – hei2 May 20 '19 at 18:15
  • 1
    That is exactly my point. You want to give them enough information to know that you were not failing, without giving them too much personal detail. – DJClayworth May 20 '19 at 21:00

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