Someone reached my site with the search: “Should I Lie about My Failure in School?” Most likely Google found The Tortoise because of the posts on failure in Ph.D. School. I assume this is not about high school failure. Even if it is. lying will catch up to one — especially to one with a conscience which you obviously have.
I am not an ethicist or counselor, so all I can do is speak as an individual whose been through part it. First of all, failure in grad school is nothing to be ashamed of unless you spent too much time drinking and partying. Even in that case, what is done is done. If you gave your all to the effort, then no apology to anyone is necessary. There are just too many other factors involved in failure: level of experience and self-understanding at the time, the nature of the experience itself, quality of guidance you had and just the human ability to make bad choices — even self-delusion.
Grow with it. Grad school is an option and a choice. To wash out of Naval flight school, as another example, doesn’t define a person’s ultimate worth, nor does failure to pass the bar exam. To have sought what you believed was a star and not to have found it, is no sin and maybe not even a mistake. You made a choice, took some chances and something happened — end of story. In the end you were trying to get on, right? You tried what many others would not even have attempted.
You may be worried about the resume and interview stuff. Don’t ever use a fraudulent resume. As for the interview, be honest here too. You do not have to beat your breast confessing. Chances are the interviewer won’t understand any field other than her own. No, come to terms with yourself first and be honest. Explain the experience and what you learned from failure. That takes guts. Who knows? Maybe you still want that degree and can go back and try again. Some employer might see an unfulfilled passion there just waiting on more experience and wisdom. Maybe that employer will offer you the chance. Sometimes we try stuff before we are ready for full success. We pop the wine before its time. If you’re seeking an alternative career in which the failed credentialing does not apply, it will not matter.
Finally, you are probably drowning in regrets about what might have been and kicking yourself. Don’t give yourself another bludgeon for self-punishment — like guilt over lying.
Steadfast and cautious,