From Dropout to Scholar – How to Display Education on Your Resume

Whether the soundtrack to your educational history sounds like ‘Beauty School Dropout‘ or ‘Eye of The Tiger‘, addressing your education on your resume is vital. Education, like work experience is one of the resume basics that everyone needs to have.

Even Beauty School Dropouts need to add education to their resume
Even Beauty School Dropouts need to add education to their resume

Here are some tips on how you should address your education (or lack thereof) on your resume, no matter what level you’ve completed:

The Dropout

There’s no shame in being one. In fact, there’s been plenty of cases where dropouts took on their bachelor counterparts and came up on top. Does the name Michael Dell and Bill Gates ring a bell? Besides, everyone loves an underdog.

What to do: If you dropped out of school, you can still list the school you last attended. Do not list the year you dropped out. If you had any achievements while attending school, like being on the honour roll or receiving any awards, you can list them here. If the job you are applying for doesn’t ask for specific educational requirements, you can put more emphasis on your other strengths such as work experience or skills. Always present yourself as professional and a company may be even more impressed by your dedication and perseverance despite lacking the education of another applicant. 

The Student

You’re in the thick of your education and are studying to improve your status in the future. However, you’d like a job to gain work experience or just keep you afloat while you focus on school. 

What to do: It’s best for you, in the long run, to try to dedicate your focus on your current field of study if possible. Include your expected completion date and if you are receiving a degree or certification, include that as well. This will not only give the employer an insight into your expertise, it will also provide them an estimate on when to expect your full attention.

The Fresh Graduate

Congratulations! You have recently graduated and are ready to take on the world, degree/diploma in hand! 

What to do: The most cut-and-dry of the batch is pretty much a given. Flaunt that hard-earned degree along with the commendations and merits that came with it. You’ve earned it. 

The Professional
You’ve been working for a few years and it’s been a while since you’ve hit the books. You don’t want your graduation date to age you and you don’t want to seem out of the loop. 

What to do: If you’ve been away from the academic game for sometime, that’s okay! Your work experience can speak louder than your education. Simply, list your most recently attained education. In order to keep things fresh, try to take a course or two per year to keep your education and skill set up to date. 

General Rules of Thumb

Before finalizing your educational qualifications on your resume, here are some tips on how to make them generally effective in your application:


1. Be honest. If the educational section of the resume feels somewhat lacking, tell the truth in such a way that it still benefits you. Be strategic and choose your words carefully. Many hiring managers will ask for proof of degree or graduation, so don’t claim something you can’t back up.

2. Do not include subjects that you only took as prerequisites. If you did not apply it after completion or have no intention of picking it up anytime soon, it’s best to just leave it out of the picture. 

3. Put more emphasis on your skills than your educational details. Companies pay you for these skills, so if you have to choose between the two, make sure you pick the side that lands you the job.

Remember that getting this small portion of your resume right is every bit as important as the rest of your resume! Start building yours now:

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