High school pulls you in several directions at once.
Coursework. Sports. Music. Clubs. Volunteering. Jobs.
Having to pin all of that down on one single sheet of paper can feel like an overwhelming task.
You might even feel tempted to skip out on taking the trouble to put together a college resume, especially if one isn’t required.
In this blog, we’ll explain why a college resume is an important component of your college application. We’ll also go over how to create your college resume.
Why Should I Write a College Resume?
Some colleges will require you to submit a college resume with your application. The resume serves as an overview of your high school activities, job experience, achievements, etc.
Is It Required?
First, see which colleges require a resume. Many college applications will require or recommend it but not all of them.
Even if a college resume is not required, read through the application instructions to see if submitting one is welcomed or recommended. If you have the opportunity to submit a college resume, you should consider writing one to increase your chances of being accepted.
College Visits and Interviews
You’ll need a college resume for campus visits and interviews.
You’ll likely visit the colleges on your list to see which one is a perfect fit for you and to demonstrate your interest in attending. Be aware that they’ll be checking you out, too. If you can arrange a meeting with college admissions staff during your campus visit, it’s a huge boost to your professionalism and preparedness to show up with your resume in hand.
For interviews, a college resume can give the interviewer an overview of your high school background and serve as a conversation starter.
A well-written college resume will highlight your high school activities and achievements. This can be particularly useful when applying for scholarships. Some scholarships may request that you submit a college resume.
Letters of Recommendation
A college resume can help your high school counselor write glowing letters of recommendation.
When you go to your high school counselor to request a letter of recommendation, leave a copy of your college resume. A summary of your high school career can help him or her identify ways you stand out among your classmates.
Jobs or Internships
Whether you’re in need of a job to pay for school or want to take advantage of internship opportunities, you’ll likely need to create a job resume. If you have little to no job experience, your college resume can be easily adapted into a job or internship resume.
College resumes and job resumes (especially first job resumes) are very similar. Writing one helps you write the other.
How to Write a College Resume
If you’ve never written a resume before, your college resume can feel like a daunting task. But don’t overthink it. The goal is to create a summary of all the courses, extracurricular activities, and academic achievements you accomplished during your four years in high school.
To simplify the process, follow these tips for how to write a college resume.
1. Decide What to Include
The role of the resume is to highlight your leadership, activities, and achievements. However, don not list everything you have ever done in high school.
Instead, you should only choose to highlight those items that best demonstrate your academic success and will set you apart from other applicants.
Before you get started, it might help to sit down with a parent and brainstorm all the possible things you could include. Parents are great at remembering your activities and when you earned certain achievements.
Keep in mind that the resume isn’t just a list, though, however much it might seem that way. It’s a chance to highlight your leadership experience and the activities that are most important to you.
Don’t emphasize grades in certain classes or test scores here. The colleges are getting a copy of your transcript already.
Things You Might Include on Your College Resume:
- Name, address, and email
- High school information, graduation date, GPA, and class rank
- Coursework not included in your transcript (summer programs or camps, college courses, workshops, etc)
- Academic awards, honors, publications and other recognitions
- Extracurricular activities (sports, student organizations, clubs, honor societies, etc)
- Work Experience (including internships)
- Volunteer Experience
- Special skills (Examples: foreign language fluency, writing capabilities, computer programming, etc)
2. Keep It Short
As a good rule of thumb, your resume shouldn’t be longer than one or two pages. Keep in mind that college admissions officers spend an average of about eight to ten minutes per application. Keep in mind that if you submit a 4- or 5-page resume, college admissions officers probably won’t read the bulk of it.
Also keep in mind that using a tiny font size will make your resume difficult to read and may discourage college admissions officers from reading it thoroughly.
3. Concentrate on Key Accomplishments
When narrowing down what to include, focus on the items that demonstrate a high level of effort and time commitment. If you joined the debate team for two months back in ninth grade, it’s probably not necessary to include it on your resume.
Include Dates & Length of Commitment
Your resume should also include the amount of time that you spent doing each thing. Say how long you worked at each job, how many hours of volunteering you did in each position, and what year you earned those awards and recognitions.
Highlight Major Leadership Roles
Remember that your roles within a student organization, like being president of student council, are significant and should also be included in your resume.
Be as Detailed as Possible
When describing an activity or achievement, provide any other details that may help you stand out or better explain its significance.
4. Find a Format
The internet is full of great templates for resumes, including resumes just for high school students. Download a free one that appeals to you and use it. Feel free to customize it as needed. Some colleges have a preferred template, so make sure to check the college website for details.
If you do choose to use a pre-existing template, keep it simple, straightforward, and above all, easy to read.
We recommend that you submit the resume as a PDF to prevent any formatting and readability issues that could prevent the college admissions staff from opening the file or viewing it in its correct format. PDFs are also easier to include as attachments.
Save yourself the embarrassment of saying you worked at “PetSmat” in “2108.”
Go ahead and read over your resume very carefully. Make sure you didn’t make any ridiculous typos or leave out anything important. We also recommend having another set of eyes look it over.
Looking for more detailed advice on your college applications?
Work with a college counselor! Our experienced college counselors will provide detailed insight on how to create an outstanding college application. We offer several college counseling options to best meet your needs.