How to Create a College Admissions Resume

Mother helping daughter fill out College Applications
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Like most resume writing, writing a college resume can seem much harder than it really is. The most important — and difficult — part of writing a resume is getting started. The best part of getting your college resume done early is that you can also use it to apply for internships and jobs while you're studying.

If you find yourself sitting at your computer and just don't know how to begin, take a look at some of the suggestions below. They may point you in the right direction.

What to Include on a College Application Resume

  • Heading: This should include all your personal information like your name, address, phone number and email address. If you have a website as well, you may want to include it in this section.
  • Academic profile: This is where you list your high school and the dates you attended.
  • Summer programs: Add any additional programs you attended here.
  • Recognition: Include your achievements including any honors, awards, AP and IB courses you've completed.
  • SAT/ACT scores and class ranking
  • Co-curricular activities: Any school clubs, music or sports you took part in which was part of your school.
  • Extracurricular activities: Any out-of-school groups or activities in which you participated. This, along with your co-curricular activities, show you have a diverse background and aren't one-dimensional.
  • Employment history
  • Volunteer experience: This is such an important section. Having volunteer experience shows you care about the world around you and are willing to work for the betterment of your community.
  • Hobbies, interests, travel
  • Skills: Include any languages and how fluent you are, computer skills, software skills and anything else that may help you get accepted (or get a job.)

    Once you have this list, edit it down. Remember, this is just a guide, so you don't have to include all these sections — especially if they don't apply to you. Make sure you have the most important details to make you the most attractive candidate for the program. Ask someone for help if you're having trouble deciding what stays and what goes.

    College Application Resume Tips

    While the look is totally up to you, there are a few general style tips your resume should follow:

    1. Make sure your experience is run in descending order. That means, you begin with your most recent experience and work your way backwards.
    2. Mention any unique experiences to help set you apart from other candidates.
    3. Be consistent in your writing. If you use abbreviations, periods and capitalization, stick with the same format throughout. The same applies to dates, using bold font and italics. Keep the spacing and the font style the same between sections.
    4. Provide anyone who has agreed to write a recommendation with a copy of your resume so they can be prepared.
    1. Have one or more people look at your resume before to sending it out.
    2. Last but not least — proofread! Don't just rely on one glance — look it over several times. Try leaving it for a day before going back to proofread. And go backwards — going from bottom to top will help you find any errors or typos.

    What the Admissions Department Wants

    Like any job, you should tailor your college resume for the program and school to which you're applying. But there are a few general consistencies when it comes to what they're looking for:

    1. Your writing skills. It also forces you to condense what you've done so far in a short writing sample. The college resume speaks volumes about you through your personal skills, interests and values.
    2. Brevity. Keep your resume to one page. After all, you don't have that much experience yet. If you absolutely must go to two pages, make sure the content is worth it and fill the second page. No one wants to see a lot of blank space. Finally, make sure you put your personal information-header on the top of the second page as well in case it gets separated.
    1. Style. Make sure you resume is professional and well-written. A poorly written resume may be rejected no matter how accomplished you are.
    2. Coursework.
    3. Activities. Are you an athlete, play music or are an artist? Did you do any volunteer work or fundraise during high school? The college wants to know that, too. As mentioned above, this shows what things you value as a person.

    Tips for Writing an Effective Resume

    As mentioned above, make sure you include any and all information to make you stand out in the admissions process.

    1. Include whatever information that would be valuable for the admissions department to know. Highlight your major accomplishments — if you graduated third in your class, include that on your resume. While you don't want to brag, modesty can be a killer.
    2. Don't embellish your accomplishments. Making up or exaggerating things on your resume can be very damaging.

    Use Bullet Points

    An effective way to demonstrate your experiences is by using bullet points. This makes your resume easy to read and more pleasing to look at compared to long sentences.

    When you use bullet points:

    • Begin each with an action verb. And don't repeat them. So if you use "Studied" in one bullet point, find another word for your next bullet point.
    • Write each bullet point using specific concise language and omit articles like an, and, and the whenever possible.
    • Include your skills and accomplishments in your bullet points rather than focusing on your responsibilities. For example, "Researched, wrote and presented laboratory findings of water quality using samples from Hovey Pond in Chelsea, Massachusetts."

      Essential Information Makes a Positive Impression

      Since you only have one page (two at the most) to highlight your experience, it's crucial to include information that shows your grades, awards, leadership activities and presentation skills as well as individual creative capabilities like music, art, writing, and/or excellent communication and interpersonal skills. These attributes will make you stand out from the other candidates.

      Here are a few examples:

      • Wrote a 5-page essay to be published in high school art magazine.
      • Led 45 students in high school’s weekend leadership development program.
      • Participated in scientific laboratory study to establish survival instincts of rats.
      • Treasurer, Student Government Association, Grades 9-12
      • Flute Player, St. Georges High School, Laramie, WY, Grades 9 - 12
      • Captain, Soccer Team, St. George’s High School, Laramie, WY, Fall 20XX – Spring 20XX
      • Organizer, St. George’s Marathon Dance, Laramie, WY, Spring 20XX
      • Helped raise over $20,000 for scholarships for underprivileged students

        Examples

        There are many resume examples you can use as templates for creating your own.

        Education:

        • GPA: 96/100
        • Graduated third in class of 425 students
        • Attended Harvard University ‘s Summer Pre-Law Program
        • Experiences:
        • The experiences below provide information that highlights writing, leadership, and research experiences that could be very useful in college.
        • Co-Curricular Activities:
        • Treasurer, Student Government Association, Grades 9-12
        • Captain, Soccer Team, St. George’s High School, Laramie, WY, Fall 20XX – Spring 20XX
        • Volunteer:
        • Fundraiser, Make A Wish Foundation, 20XX
        • Volunteer, Domestic Violence Shelter, 20XX

          The Bottom Line

          Your resume should be a brief snapshot of you are at this point in your life. As a college applicant, your resume should be no more than one page. Make it easy to scan and easy to read as you make yourself memorable. While you don't want to add everything, make sure you are including all the relevant experience and accomplishments that will make the recruiter want to accept you. And finally, don't exaggerate or make anything up. You want to be honest and professional.