I started out in law school five years ago, and I attended full-time for three semesters. The school I was at got put on probation by the ABA, and the administration panicked and kicked out a bunch of students in order to increase their chances of maintaining accreditation. I got caught up in the purge and I was “academically disqualified”. I wasn’t a straight A student or anything, but I wasn’t awful, either. I was your typical B- student.

The ABA requires a two year wait before any disqualified student can reapply to any accredited law school. During my suspension, I went to a community college and got an associates degree in paralegal studies. I graduated with honors. Now I’m back in law school, at a better school for me, and I’m doing well grade-wise. (I’m also a part-time evil HR lady in training to pay the bills.)

This was a long-winded way for me to get to the heart of the question. Do I have to put my first time in law school on my resume? I’m thinking that I don’t, since I didn’t graduate. I have been employed the entire time that I’ve been in school, so there are no resume gaps to account for. I transferred those units into my paralegal degree program, but that degree came from a community college. (I do put my associate’s degree on my resume, along with my bachelor’s degree.) I have on my resume that I’m in law school at my current school, with an expected graduation of 2011.

I’ve asked a few trusted people, and I get mixed responses, but none of them are in hiring. Also, if it comes up in an interview, how should I deal with it? I’m sure I’m not the first person to do poorly in school and then do better later.

Nope! You absolutely do not have to put your first time in law school on your resume.

You should never, ever, not in a million years, lie on your resume. But, you aren’t required to put everything you’ve ever done on your resume. Remember, your resume is your way to advertise yourself. You never see a Hostess Cupcake ad saying, “Caution: If you eat 12 of thses in one sitting, you’ll be sick as a dog!” (Not that I would know anything about this.)

If you weren’t employed continuously, then you might want to consider including something because having a gap on your resume with no good explanation is problematic. But, leaving off schooling that is irrelevant is okay. Good luck with your current stint in law school and have fun in HR.

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4 thoughts on “Educational Pauses

  1. For what it's worth, an unsuccessful stint at the first school isn't so horrible. It took some courage to keep going, and the reward was to graduate with honors and gain acceptance to a school that is not on the margins of accreditation.

    As a hiring official, I view a candidate like that as someone who will have the confidence to move forward in the face of uncertainty and can find a way to adapt to circumstances and achieve success. It's nice to have gotten easy A's all the way through school, but life isn't like that.

    I understand the sense of embarassment of this "educational pause," but the way that the candidate reacted to it is so much more important than the event itself. There are many who would have just given up after the first school.

  2. Any awkward parts of my history, I leave off the resume, but bring up in the interview. For example, I was a contract employee for four years. The contact was sold for times. So technically, I worked for four different different companies.

    On my resume, I put the company I was contacted with. In the interview, I explain that each time the contact changed hands, the client specifically asked me to stay; I was not job-hopping.

    By doing this I am transparent, but I make sure I frame it in the most positive light.

  3. @Greg – You may want to include the 'r' in contract. Hopefully it's spelled correctly on your resume or you may get passed over.

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