As written in the title, I'm thinking of applying for masters in Europe (I myself am from Serbia), but I made a mess of my undergraduate career, so I'm looking for advice how to present this in my CV and SOP.
Here's my background:
Back after finishing high school, I applied for a relatively well respected local electrical engineering school (University of Belgrade School of Electrical Engineering). Out of 500 students, I was 250ish. So far so good. My intent at the time was to study computer engineering.
Then came the first academic year. I passed a number of exams (mostly those I could pass with no studying at all, so as a result my grades were pretty bad, with my grade average being 7.0 out of 10, with 6 being passing grade), but I didn't have enough credits pass to the second year.
No big deal, I thought, since statistics show that the four year program there usually lasts around seven years, with first year being the most difficult. I took some exams from the second year and tried to pass first year exams again. At the end of the year, I passed none of the first year exams, but I did pass some of the second year exams. Third time's the charm I thought, got some more second year exams and tried to pass the first year again. At the end of the year, situation was the same as last time: I passed none of the problematic first year exams, but I did pass some of the second year exams.
By that time, I was pretty depressed, had gained quite a bit of weight, was having big problems with procrastination and was fed up with school politics.
At that point I decided that it was time to switch schools. I moved to a younger, less-respected school (Union University School of Computing) and got admitted (barely) into second year there due to exams I passed at my previous school. I moved to a telecommunications study program there.
In the second year, at my new school, I had around one and a half year worth of exams, but I managed to pass them. The downside was that my grades weren't all that good. They weren't bad, but nothing exceptional either. Third year went well for me. I passed all of the exams, raised my average grade to 8.0 out of 10 and became one of the best students in my (relatively small) class. In one particularly hard exam I was the only student that year to get a 9 with nobody getting a 10.
Right now, the exam season for the winter semester of my fourth year is approaching and I'm thinking of what I'm going to do next. I've spoken to few professors and they all believe that I should definitely continue my education. I wouldn't have any problems continuing my education at my current school, but I don't think that it's best equipped for the field in which I want to study further. The focus of my current school is computer science, while the telecommunications program seems to have taken a back seat.
I have read the question about getting a Ph.D. with bad transcript and fortunately for me course structure was such that just a few professors taught a large number of exams (for example six to eight hours every day for the whole semester with same professor and TA), so there are people who know me well and have a good opinion of me.
I don't think that I could do much to improve my average grade. Perhaps the best I could do would be around 8.3 out of 10.
I don't think that I would have any problems with IELTS exam and I do think that I could prepare GRE well enough. I do understand that good grades there won't help me much, but on the other hand I at least hope that they won't have a negative effect.
I'm thinking of applying for universities that aren't very highly ranked, for example some from the bottom of the top 200 from the Shanghai list, but I'm not sure if that's low enough. Also I'm thinking of applying for two-year masters, but I'm coming from a four-year undergraduate school, if that matters.
Finally my question:
What I really don't know is how to present me dropping out of my first school in my CV or SOP. I've been basically studying 6 years now, much longer than expected, with not that good grades and I really can't think of any way to present that in favorable light. I think that I matured in the meantime and my grades did improve, but on the other hand I moved a weaker school.