Approximately 20-25% of all first year students in Germany never graduate from tertiary education. Tertiary education drop-out is often perceived as „failure“, but the reasons for dropping out are as multifaceted as the subsequent educational and occupational careers. A number of studies exist that examine the reasons for drop-out and the short-term whereabouts of drop-outs. The long-term development of their life-courses however, is not explored. Equally untouched by empirical social research are the conditioning resources and restrictions, the resulting path-dependence and selection-mechanisms before drop-out and after. In the planned research project we aim to scrutinize on the long-term educational and occupational pathways of tertiary education drop-outs. A special focus will be on the status- and competence- attainment through job-mobility and experience, as well as further education in and outside the company. Furthermore we strive to investigate the role of own and family resources in the process of drop-out decisions and the subsequent pathways. We are especially interested if the lack of formal qualifications can be compensated or substituted by the use or acquisition of alternative resources.