College Application Resumes

As we are gearing up for college application season, I wanted to discuss college application resumes.

Why bother to write one when not all schools ask for one? Having a complete history of what you have accomplished in high school will help you effectively fill out college applications. Additionally, it is extremely helpful to give a copy of your resume to your recommenders because they will have access to terrific content to include in your letters of recommendation. Finally, you can use the resume to apply for scholarships, internships, and jobs, or you may be able to bring it to use to an entrance interview to use for talking points.

What should you include in a good college resume? You want to include your academic successes (especially those not included in your transcript already), major leadership positions, awards, community service, jobs (especially if the job prevented you from doing other school-related activities), and special skills.

The process seems daunting, how do I get started writing one? First, brainstorm your accomplishments and write everything down. Ask your parents, siblings, friends, counselors, and teachers for any ideas they have. Write those down. Getting different perspectives always proves helpful. Second, organize your section headers. You may want to consider using headers similar to these:

  • Experience & Leadership: Include the activity, your position, your contribution, the years you participated, and hours dedicated to the activity.
  • Awards: Include the entity granting the award, why you received it, how many people receive the award and out of what size pool (if impressive), and the date you received it.
  • Experience & Skills: Include additional experiences that you did not include above. Especially show off those that took initiative or where you faced challenges you were able to overcome. Also, include unique skills. For both, you may want to include the number of hours you committed to these endeavors.

At the top of the resume you should include a header that contains your name (larger font than the rest of the document), contact information (i.e., address, email, and phone), and name of your high school(s). You may want to look at resume examples online to identify a professional-looking header that you like. Use a simple, professional font for the whole resume.

How should I organize the material in each section? There is more than one way to do this. My advice would be to select the option that shows off your accomplishments best and stay consistent throughout your resume. You want to make it as easy as possible for the reader to navigate through your resume. Here are three popular options for the order of listing your experiences and accomplishments: 1. Reverse chronological, 2. time commitment, or 3. significance of activity or leadership role.

How can I make sure the admissions counselor or employer does not laugh at my resume? Proofread, proofread, and proofread. I would encourage you to read the content aloud when you are proofreading. Then, when you are done proof reading, please have someone else proofread. You will be so happy that you did!

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