So, you’ve created your college list, written your essays, and secured your transcripts and letters of recommendation. But there’s one more thing you need to check off your application readiness list…your high school resume!
I’m often asked, “Is my resume really that important?” The answer is, absolutely! Your resume is a great chance to showcase your accomplishments over the past four years. While it may seem repetitive to include a list of activities when you may have talked about them elsewhere in the application, the fact of the matter is that admission officers tend to look more favorably upon students who do include a resume than on those who choose not to. In this post, we’re going to cover a few tips for creating a resume that is professional, easy to read, and highlights the most important information about you. Let’s get started!
1. Include factual information at the top of your resume.
In addition to the four basics — your name, home address, email address, and phone number — your resume should also display:
- The name of your high school and your dates of attendance
- Your GPA, standardized test scores, and AP or IB courses along with the scores you received on the accompanying exams (if applicable)
- Extracurricular activities both in and out of school (with a separate “leadership” section for the activities in which you hold a board position)
- Work and internship experience
- Summer programs, college courses, or workshops that do not appear on your high school transcripts
- Any honors or awards you have received
2. Colleges want to see commitment, both in depth and length of involvement.
That natural history museum you volunteered at for a month before deciding it wasn’t your thing? Probably not a good idea to include. The children’s soccer team you’ve coached two nights a week for the past 3 years? Now we’re talking!
A good rule of thumb is that your resume should not exceed one to two pages (Note: high school resumes for the purposes of college admissions can be three to four pages long only if what you included adds value), so focus on the activities that emphasize your dedication — whether that’s exposing yourself to the field in which you intend to major, or working hard to address a need within your community.
For each activity, provide a brief (two to three bullet points maximum) description of your roles, responsibilities, and any special contributions. If you enjoy photography, be sure to mention the trip to Alaska you took to film the wildlife. For any awards or honors you earned, describe what the designation is and what you did to earn it.
3. Organization is key!
In general, we recommend arranging each section of your resume in reverse chronological order, starting with the activities you began most recently. Always include the month and year you started, and the month and year you ended (e.g. January 2017 – January 2019). If it is an ongoing commitment, simply write “Present” in the end date column.
4. Use your resume to showcase a different side of yourself.
Save slots in your resume for the “honorable mentions” — the activities that didn’t make it into your college essays or short answers, but that you still consider important enough to share. If you love to knit, and have an Instagram page dedicated to your creations, admission officers will be interested to know this!*
*If you write a blog or manage a personal website or hobby-oriented social media page, include the links in your resume so that admission officers can view your work!
5. Be honest.
Admission officers are trained to spot inconsistencies or exaggerations in your application (spending 30 hours a week as an after-school tutor, for instance, is not realistic), and can easily contact your counselor, organization, etc. to confirm the information you provide. Save yourself the trouble by being truthful about your grades and activities from the beginning.