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Short (and nice) way to say I graduated off the course schedule?

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Post on TSR and win a prize! Find out more... 10-04-2014
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    I finished my undergraduate degree exams 3 years after the degree courses finished.

    This is because I studied outside the UK and I don't think it is even possible to graduate that way here. I put my studies on hold several times for employment and entrepreneurship (as well as personal issues, but I still managed to do business), so I get my degree with a significant delay.

    I can explain this in personal statements (for Masters) and motivation letters (for jobs) in great detail, but could you suggest a nice and short expression/keywords for my CV and online profile headlines (or similar) that expresses exactly what I mean in few words without coming across as "I am too stupid to finish a Bachelor on time"?

    Could I say "finished degree off schedule"? Or more specific "finished degree after on hold time"?

    I am always thankful to all the helpful and insightful people here!
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    I would suggest you don't specifically mention it in your CV/covering letter, it will only draw attention to it. Just say that you have a 1st class/2.1 degree and put in your years of study, accompanied with the jobs etc. you did in between. If asked in interview, then explain.
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    The reason I want to mention it is because they always do ask, at interviews and even before interviews, recruiters/HR call me asking why I graduated with a delay.

    Consider that they are at least curious and want to investigate the gaps; but what about those who will just find the gaps very dubious and discard the application just because of them?

    That's why I thought it would help to clarify upfront.
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    My plan has always been to write "2012 University of XX, BA in YY, 2.1" instead of writing "2008-2012 University of XX, BA in YY, 2.1"
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    (Original post by Polygoof)
    The reason I want to mention it is because they always do ask, at interviews and even before interviews, recruiters/HR call me asking why I graduated with a delay.

    Consider that they are at least curious and want to investigate the gaps; but what about those who will just find the gaps very dubious and discard the application just because of them?

    That's why I thought it would help to clarify upfront.

    Don't. Put the dates in as they are. Let them ask if they want to know why. No serious employer is going to reject you on a presumption they have to make, but may not be able to justify. After all, you could have had some tragic and disabling illness, which legally they cannot take into account.
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    Alright, but...

    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    ...which legally they cannot take into account.
    ...just out of curiosity: how would anyone know whether that is the specific reason for discarding an application?
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    I've never seen anyone put the range of dates for their university time, just the year they graduated. I don't think it's necessary, and why draw attention to the fact that you took longer. All that is important is the year you graduated, mature students attend university all the time, and gaps can just be explained by employment or entrepreneurship or whatever you have done. People take longer to finish uni all the time, some people work their way through part time, it is normal.
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    (Original post by Polygoof)
    Alright, but...

    ...just out of curiosity: how would anyone know whether that is the specific reason for discarding an application?
    As the applicant, or outside the process you can rarely tell why you have been rejected. The volume of applicants for jobs usually makes it impractical and ineffective use of staff time to give feedback. In my recent hiring experience, about 30% of applications are utterly useless, the applicant has recycled a standard CV that reflects their whole life, and has not made any attempt to demonstrate a fit with the specific job they are applying for. It is very hard to find anything polite or constructive to say about them.

    Most organisations large enough to have an HR department will have two, often three people minimum that read and shortlist CVs. The usual way of doing this is to have a list (often in online software so that a record is available) of the specific skills the job spec asked for (ie the bullet point list that many adverts have). Individually, they then scan through the CV looking for the evidence of those skills. They will have some quantifiable system along the lines of 0pt= no evidence, 1pt= some evidence, 2pt= evidence, 3pt = strong evidence. They add up the scores, then the 2/3 people get together and confirm their top scorers. The only feedback you could give to those not selected at this stage would be 'just not as strong as the people we selected'.

    In the case of different lists, which there often are around the edges, then they look back at the CVs. No-one is going to suggest making an illegal decision at that point, or if they are foolish enough to, then one of the other two is bound to politely remind them. So when someone says 'this candidate took 5 years to do their BSc - let's ditch them', someone else might point out that they don't know every degree course, maybe it was a 5 year course, maybe there was a tragedy in the family, maybe there was a health issue etc. They've still got 6 chances (for one interview panel, there are about 6 interview slots per day) and if you have scored well, that isn't a positive or valid reason to drop you.

    I accept the world is not perfect, and this isn't a 100% certainty, but making illegal HR decisions in front of other staff is

    1. Not what HR personnel are in their job to do
    2. Professionally, a one way ticket to the job centre
    3. Exposing the organisation to significant reputational and financial damage

    One of the main reasons that recruitment processes have become so automated is just so that the rules cannot be bent, that a record is kept, and that staff making decisions are forced to justify their decisions.


    *As people enter the professional world, they need to remember there is a significant difference between the iconoclastic world of the teenager who comfortably slags off all businesses and organisations as being up to all manner of illegal activities, and the individuals who work in those businesses, who would actually have to openly condone and work with such illegalities, if they were to be true.

    If you believe that you would not be one of those people that condoned illegal activity, why aren't most other people?

    And if most other people don't condone illegal activity in an organisation, who in the organisation is doing these illegal things?


    *weekend philosophy follows
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    (Original post by Polygoof)
    I finished my undergraduate degree exams 3 years after the degree courses finished.

    This is because I studied outside the UK and I don't think it is even possible to graduate that way here. I put my studies on hold several times for employment and entrepreneurship (as well as personal issues, but I still managed to do business), so I get my degree with a significant delay.

    I can explain this in personal statements (for Masters) and motivation letters (for jobs) in great detail, but could you suggest a nice and short expression/keywords for my CV and online profile headlines (or similar) that expresses exactly what I mean in few words without coming across as "I am too stupid to finish a Bachelor on time"?

    Could I say "finished degree off schedule"? Or more specific "finished degree after on hold time"?

    I am always thankful to all the helpful and insightful people here!
    I think what I would do is simply put in the dates in the main body of the CV and add a footnote "My degree was undertaken on a full-time but modular basis interspersed with the full-time employment activities noted above".

    I think you are right to deal with it. Recruiters will be interested whether you had numerous re-sits or health issues.
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    I think on a CV I would literally just put the dates and then in brackets say (studies suspended in xxxx for full time employment).
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    Thank you. I think I have got very valuable advice.
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    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    As the applicant, or outside the process you can rarely tell why you have been rejected. The volume of applicants for jobs usually makes it impractical and ineffective use of staff time to give feedback. In my recent hiring experience, about 30% of applications are utterly useless, the applicant has recycled a standard CV that reflects their whole life, and has not made any attempt to demonstrate a fit with the specific job they are applying for. It is very hard to find anything polite or constructive to say about them.

    Most organisations large enough to have an HR department will have two, often three people minimum that read and shortlist CVs. The usual way of doing this is to have a list (often in online software so that a record is available) of the specific skills the job spec asked for (ie the bullet point list that many adverts have). Individually, they then scan through the CV looking for the evidence of those skills. They will have some quantifiable system along the lines of 0pt= no evidence, 1pt= some evidence, 2pt= evidence, 3pt = strong evidence. They add up the scores, then the 2/3 people get together and confirm their top scorers. The only feedback you could give to those not selected at this stage would be 'just not as strong as the people we selected'.

    In the case of different lists, which there often are around the edges, then they look back at the CVs. No-one is going to suggest making an illegal decision at that point, or if they are foolish enough to, then one of the other two is bound to politely remind them. So when someone says 'this candidate took 5 years to do their BSc - let's ditch them', someone else might point out that they don't know every degree course, maybe it was a 5 year course, maybe there was a tragedy in the family, maybe there was a health issue etc. They've still got 6 chances (for one interview panel, there are about 6 interview slots per day) and if you have scored well, that isn't a positive or valid reason to drop you.

    I accept the world is not perfect, and this isn't a 100% certainty, but making illegal HR decisions in front of other staff is

    1. Not what HR personnel are in their job to do
    2. Professionally, a one way ticket to the job centre
    3. Exposing the organisation to significant reputational and financial damage

    One of the main reasons that recruitment processes have become so automated is just so that the rules cannot be bent, that a record is kept, and that staff making decisions are forced to justify their decisions.


    *As people enter the professional world, they need to remember there is a significant difference between the iconoclastic world of the teenager who comfortably slags off all businesses and organisations as being up to all manner of illegal activities, and the individuals who work in those businesses, who would actually have to openly condone and work with such illegalities, if they were to be true.

    If you believe that you would not be one of those people that condoned illegal activity, why aren't most other people?

    And if most other people don't condone illegal activity in an organisation, who in the organisation is doing these illegal things?


    *weekend philosophy follows
    Alright. All of this makes very much sense.

    Now, just one thing:
    What if I apply for a Master's/postgraduate degree (and I would like to, it is actually the option I prefer at the moment... actually I am aiming at doing a Master and work part-time!)?
    Will I have this same level of "protection" you talk about?

    Considering my entire situation (since it is protracted education), would I stand a chance to be accepted e.g. at a high-ranked university?

    I am asking because I would like to, but feel very discouraged to even try doing it (since there are also application fees).
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    (Original post by Polygoof)
    Alright. All of this makes very much sense.

    Now, just one thing:
    What if I apply for a Master's/postgraduate degree (and I would like to, it is actually the option I prefer at the moment... actually I am aiming at doing a Master and work part-time!)?
    Will I have this same level of "protection" you talk about?

    Considering my entire situation (since it is protracted education), would I stand a chance to be accepted e.g. at a high-ranked university?

    I am asking because I would like to, but feel very discouraged to even try doing it (since there are also application fees).
    You will be applying to post graduate courses by application form where there will be space to explain.

    If your delays were caused by academic failures, it will work against you. If your delays were caused by external events, they will be irrelevant.

    Postgraduate course offers are made on the basis of two factors, academic ability, and ability to pay. The balance between the two is a matter of constant conjecture on TSR, but common sense applies.
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    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    You will be applying to post graduate courses by application form where there will be space to explain.

    If your delays were caused by academic failures, it will work against you. If your delays were caused by external events, they will be irrelevant.

    Postgraduate course offers are made on the basis of two factors, academic ability, and ability to pay. The balance between the two is a matter of constant conjecture on TSR, but common sense applies.
    I feel I would have achieved more also academically without the external events. i.e. sometimes I prepared for exams while working or didn't prepare for them at all and only used what I remembered from lectures to pass the exam.

    On a scale where 100 is the highest grade, I have reached a final grade of 83%.

    It seems that different UK universities use different criteria to convert this into the UK grading system:
    LSE specifically requires a minimum grade of 96% from the country where I earned my degree...
    Sussex requires 90% minimum.
    Others do not specify a number.

    I wonder whether it might be better to do an MBA, which usually focuses on work experience requirements...?

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Updated: February 20, 2012
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