College Application Resume for 2024 [With Examples, Tips & Template]

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They say college is the most exciting time in a student’s life and we couldn’t agree more! 

The only thing standing between you and your dream university, though, is a college application resume.

You open the resume document, get ready to start writing…

And nothing comes out! After all, how can you even make a resume when you haven’t worked a day in your life?

Worry not - you don’t need any work experience to write a compelling college application resume. In this article, we’re going to teach you just how you can do that!

What Should a Resume for College Application Contain?

  • 5+ College Application Resume Formatting Tips
  • How to Write a Resume for College Applications?
  • 3+ College Application Resume Tips

College Application Resume Template

So let’s dive in! 

Before we get into the knits and grits of writing a resume for college application, let’s first do a quick review of what your resume should contain: 

  • Contact information , including your full name, address, phone number, and professional email.
  • A resume objective , where you state the goal of your college application resume.
  • Education section , where you list the history of your grades and exam scores.
  • Relevant activities , including any work experience you might have.
  • Skills relevant to a resume for a college application, e.g. soft skills such as active listening, interpersonal skills, communication skills, or hard skills such as public speaking, MS Office, or computer skills.
  • Additional sections , such as awards and honors.

6 College Application Resume Formatting Tips 

Before we dive into the nits and grits of CV making, let’s talk about formatting. Here are our top tips on how to format your college application resume: 

  • Choose the functional/skills-based resume format. This format is perfect for those who lack work experience , as it focuses more on your skill-set. If you DO have some work experience, though, then you can opt for the chronological format.
  • Keep your college application resume one page long . As a rule of thumb, this is the optimal length for a resume—professionals with 10 years worth of work experience stick to the 1-page limit, so there’s no excuse for someone with little to no work experience to go overboard.
  • Add plenty of white space , especially around your resume’s margins. It will make your resume look less cluttered and more reader-friendly.
  • Include clear section headings and use the same heading for each section.
  • Use an easy-to-read font. Some resume fonts (such as Ubuntu or Overpass) are resume friendly—professional-looking, easy-to-read, and yet modern. Others, like Comic Sans, are just one big NO.
  • Save your college resume as a PDF. You might be used to Microsoft Word, or even think it’s the safest alternative, but MS Word has a good choice of messing up your resume format if opened in different computers or operating systems. PDF files, on the other hand, remain the same no matter what computer opens them.

How to Write a Resume for College Applications? (With Examples)

Once you’ve got the formatting done right, it’s time to get to writing your college application resume.

In this section, we’ll walk you through that process, starting with:  

#1. Order Your Contact Information the Right Way 

As we already mentioned, your college application resume should start with your contact information. 

These are your contact information section must-haves :

  • Full name and address
  • Functional phone number where you can be reached.
  • Professional email address, preferably consisting of your first and last name.

And here’s what this looks like in practice: 

Sharon White

123 Main Street

New York, NY

Phone Number: 553-123-1234

Email: [email protected]

#2. Write an Attention-Grabbing College Resume Objective

A resume objective is a 2-3 sentence long paragraph that should communicate your motivation for getting into college or for studying a specific major.

As such, a well-crafted resume objective can instantly attract admission officers to read the rest of your college application resume. 

There is, however, a right and wrong way to write a resume objective.

A convincing resume objective is:

  • Tailored to the university/major you’re applying to, instead of looking like a one-fits-all kind of statement that you can use to apply to several colleges.
  • Highlights the achievements that give you an edge over the competition.  

The following example does that right: 

Aspiring journalist with a knack for creative writing looking to deepen their knowledge through NYU’s renowned Journalism track. Founder of my high school’s first online newspaper, the ‘Daily Prophet,’ which now has over 2,000 subscribers. Hardworking, with a grade A average in social sciences and commitment to improving. 

Now compare it to the following resume objective, which although articulated looks like a one-fits-all kind of statement that you can just insert into several college applications. 

Very committed high-schooler with a calling for social sciences. With an SAT score of 1400, a passion for psychology, and experience as a peer counselor, I am confident that my hard work and motivation will shine through as a college student. 

See, the resume objective is your chance to show exactly why you want to attend that college, right from the start. 

So, even if you don’t have many achievements to highlight, make sure to personalize your statement by expressing a genuine interest in your application.  

job search masterclass novoresume

#3. Put Weight on Your Education

Taking into consideration that, as a student, you most likely lack significant work experience, your education is the first thing admission officers will look at. 

As such, you should give your education its due importance in your college application resume. 

For starters, make sure to include this must-have information:

  • Your high school’s name and location
  • The date of your graduation

In addition, though, combine that with some relevant achievements that can make your education pop out. 

Let’s take a look at two examples. The second student has simply listed out the essential education information, whereas the first has taken their education section to the next level. 

Dunnellon High School FL

2017 - 2021

  • 3rd place at the International Mathematical Olympiad 
  • Vice-President of the Science Club
  • SAT Scores: 1350 (650 Verbal, 700 Math)
  • SAT Scores: 1400

#4. Showcase Relevant Activities

Extracurricular activities have a great number of benefits when it comes to your college application resume. Most importantly, they:

  • Demonstrate you who are outside of the classroom
  • Provide an opportunity to showcase your skills

Any activity and/or interest related to the college you’re applying to has a place on your college application resume,  but you don’t have to necessarily stop there. 

Any kind of interest, field, or activity where you’re good at can be of benefit to your application. 

That’s because it can prove that your interests are not focused solely on your favorite subject or desired career path and that you are engaged and well-rounded . 

So, don’t just list your college resume activities dryly (e.g. “reading” or “swimming”). Instead, be specific and creative about your interests, and rest assured that you will get extra points for diversity and commitment. 

Don’t believe us? Compare for yourself how the activities sections of two different students look like: the first has put minimal effort into it, whereas the second has put his A-game into writing it.

  • Passionate about science
  • Co-founder of the Astrophysics Club

Activities 

  • Two-times winner of my high school’s Science Fair
  • Co-founder of the Astrophysics Club, finalists of the MIT-founded THINK challenge
  • Swimmer from an early age and member of my high school’s swim team during junior and senior year 
  • Traveling; I have so far visited 10 countries and 15 states in the USA. 
  • Photography, with a focus on architectural photography. 

#5. Highlight Your Work Experience

Now, if you’ve spent your summer holidays working any type of job for teens , that means that you also have some work experience under your belt. 

Although work experience is not necessary when you’re applying for college (meaning that you won’t get left out of college if you don’t have any), it does help to include it if you have it. 

Here’s how to list work experience in your college application resume:

  • Start with the company name (e.g. if you worked at Starbucks), your job title, and the period you worked there. 
  • Put your job title first if you worked, say, as a high-school tutor or camp counselor. 
  • Include 1-2 of your main responsibilities in bullets. If you have achievements to show for, however, make sure to put them first.  

Let’s see how that works in a practical example.

Starbucks Coffee 

  • Awarded employee of the month for 3 months straight
  • Fielding customer complaints and questions
  • Maintaining good customer service and speedy delivery

Even if the above position isn’t related to the student’s desired field of study, the work experience still highlights some of their skills such as commitment, time management, effective communication, and motivation.  

#6. Include Your Skills 

Skills—we all got them, but not everyone knows how to demonstrate them effectively in a college application resume. 

There are two things to consider when you include skills in your college resume:

  • Know the kind of skills that are relevant to your major/field.
  • Prove your skills, instead of just listing them 

Let’s show you how that works through practical examples:

  • Time management
  • Critical thinking

Are these great skills for a college applicant? Sure! 

But anyone can claim to have those skills (and frankly, most people do).

Rather than just listing these skills, you want to also back them up with achievements and experiences like so: 

  • Attention to deadline: managed to update the high school’s online newspaper daily
  • Leadership: successfully led a team of 6 reporters.
  • Creativity: won the 2021 Young Writers competition 
  • Self-motivation: founded the high school’s first online newspaper

Now, this is a skills section on a college application resume that proves you deserve a spot in your favorite university.

College application resume skills 

Wondering which skills to include in your college application resume? Here’s a list to draw some inspiration: 

Soft Skills

  • Good judgment 
  • Open-mindedness
  • Communication  
  • Self-motivation
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Active listening
  • Problem-solving

Hard Skills

  • Computer Skills
  • Programming
  • Public Speaking

#7. Use These Additional Sections

If you’ve followed all our tips till now, congrats - you’re around 90% into creating a top-notch college application resume.

Now, let’s talk about how you can take that to 100%!

In addition to the conventional resume sections we’ve covered till now, you can include the following to help you stand out in a sea of other applicants:

  • Awards. Here, you can list any awards won in competitions (spelling, art, storytelling, math, etc). 
  • Volunteer experience . Did you clean up your town, or maybe you volunteered at an animal rescue center as a high school student? Any kind of volunteering can help your college application resume because it shows you’re a responsible community member. If it’s somehow related to your field or future major, that’s a big plus. 
  • Projects. Be them individual (e.g. you built a website from scratch, or started an informational podcast), or school-related (e.g. an art portfolio for a class, or a history documentary), projects can show that you’re passionate and creative. 
  • Sports. Poet Juvenal said “ a healthy mind in a healthy body. ” This means that physical exercise is an important part of mental and psychological well-being (which is why sports in a college application resume make all applicants look good). Do you excel at specific sports? Include them in your resume!. 
  • Languages. Being fluent (or even just a beginner) in a foreign language is another plus for a prospective college student. Make sure to show it in your college application resume. 

5 College Application Resume Tips

Finally, here are some of our college application tips that didn’t fit anywhere else in the article:

  • Be direct and to the point. Your college application resume is not the right place to show how many SAT-level words you know. Keep your language simple, direct, and to the point. Let your achievements and results speak for themselves. 
  • Don't lie about your academic background or accomplishments. Lying about the awards you’ve won or your achievements won’t get you into college. More often than not, admission officers will see through your lies by asking behavioral interview questions . 
  • Proofread your college application resume.   Spelling and grammar mistakes can make you appear like a less serious applicant. Imagine telling recruiters that you have great SAT scores and GPA but having spelling mistakes in your resume. Kind of contradictory, isn’t it? To avoid these kinds of mistakes, use spelling and grammar apps such as Grammarly and Heminway . 
  • Have one or more people look at your resume before you send it out. There are kinds of mistakes that Grammarly or Hemingway cannot catch. To avoid such mistakes, have one or more people that know you give your college application resume a look. 
  • Emphasize specific achievements over general responsibilities. As mentioned before, emphasizing your achievements over your responsibilities is the best way to set yourself apart from other candidates. The reason is that your achievements effectively show how well you handle responsibilities and they are uniquely yours.

Making a resume from scratch can take what feels like ages—especially if it’s your first time doing it.

You’ve got to tweak the formatting. 

You make a change at MS Word and the layout falls apart in front of your eyes. Or you end up using a bland and outdated template. 

Well, you don’t have to worry about any of these things with Nóvóresume’s free resume templates . 

With 8 free templates to choose from - college application resume included - you don’t have to worry about anything other than inputting your information.

Let our resume builder do the rest! 

college application resume template

Key Takeaways

And that’s a wrap on college application resumes. We hope to have made the process of writing yours easier and even more enjoyable. 

For good measure, let’s go over the main points we covered: 

  • Your college application resume should contain the following sections: contact information , personal profile , education section , relevant activities , your skills , and additional sections , such as awards and honors. 
  • In terms of formatting, the functional resume template fits your college application best. Additionally, make sure to keep your resume one page long and save it as a PDF. 
  • Write a resume objective that doesn’t surpass 3 sentences and that clearly communicates your motivation for getting into college and your most relevant skills. 
  • Make sure to give your education section its due importance by being thorough about your grades, SAT scores, and achievements. 
  • Don’t forget to list all your relevant activities and passions, as well as soft and hard skills.
  • Instead of writing your college application resume from scratch, use one of Nóvóresume’s ready-made templates to save yourself time and effort!  

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Resume for College Application – Examples & Template

July 8, 2024

resume for college application

College application resumes are different from professional resumes. There’s a certain way your resume for college applications should be to ensure your profile stands out. In one page, your resume will need to cover your academics, background, extracurricular activities and achievements. So to be asked to complete a resume, on top of everything else that goes into the college application? We know, it sounds like a lot. If you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Down below, we’ll dive right into what a college resume is and how to write a college resume. You’ll even find three college application resume examples and a college application resume template to help you start your own.

Let’s have a look at how to begin your resume for your college applications.

What goes into a college application resume?

A resume for your college application, otherwise known as your high school resume, should be one page long. It’s a space for you to show colleges all of your most important activities and achievements that they wouldn’t necessarily know in other parts of your college application. The overall objective of the college application resume is to demonstrate the bigger picture of who you are. It’s essentially a summary of what you’ve done, assembled in a way that serves as a snapshot of your greatest achievements.

There are a few core sections that will go into your college application resume:

– Contact information: Your full name, home address, email and phone number should be at the very top of your college application resume. The header of your resume should have all of this information. This includes any LinkedIn page or personal website that showcases your achievements. – Educational details and academic accomplishments: The full name of your high school and the dates of when you attended should go here. This is where you’ll include your GPA, your AP or IB courses, your ACT or SAT scores and your class ranking, if it’s significant.

College Resume Template (Continued)

Extracurricular activities and work experience: Any special volunteering, internships, part-time jobs, or even had a unique experience studying or working abroad? You should mention those moments here. This section of the resume will amplify what kind of person you are in the community around you. To better understand you as an applicant, admissions officers want to know where you spend your time outside of school. Did you have any leadership positions? Was there a special job or position you had? – Awards and honors: If you have any accomplishments that you’re proud of, you should list them here. This is the part of the college application resume to list achievements like your first prize in a district-wide writing competition or your Most Valuable Player award in your tennis team. Remember, both academic awards and extracurricular awards can be mentioned, so be sure to include any relevant recognitions. – Special skills and interests: Let’s say you speak more than one language and you’re passionate about all things student leadership. Perhaps you know everything about computers. This part of the college application resume is where you should list those unique skills. Think of strong skills and interests you possess, while making sure they reflect your overall college application profile and ambitions. If you have any particular interests or even hobbies that can strengthen your application, then go for it.

Putting together the resume for your college applications can be a tedious process, so it’s best to pay careful attention to every line. You’ll want to focus on the format , style of language , brief but concise descriptions and crucial details .

Resume for College Application – Examples & Templates

College resume template #1.

Here are three different resume examples for college applications. They’ll go from the most basic college application resume to the most detailed:

1) For a standard college application resume, take a look at this student interested in studying anthropology or literature in college. The following is a very standard college application resume:

Dakota Lee 909 Park Avenue Portland, Oregon (012) 345-6789 [email protected]

Bloomington High School, Class of 2024 GPA: 3.85

  • Lead students (K-6) in all camp-related activities relating to literature immersion.
  • Organize art projects three days a week with senior counselors.
  • Coordinate students’ final art show for parents.
  • Assisted graduate students in their anthropology research 4 hours every week.
  • Presented at the end of every month my own research findings between literature and anthropology.
  • President, Student Anthropology Club: 2021-Present
  • Vice President, Bloomington Book Club: 2022-Present
  • Team Captain, JV Tennis Team: 2021-Present
  • First Chair Violinist, Symphony Orchestra: 2022-Present
  • High Honors List: 2024
  • Principal’s List: 2023-2024
  • National Honors Society: 2021-2024
  • Most Valuable Player, JV Tennis Team: 2023-2024
  • Languages: Spanish, French, Japanese
  • Computer: Microsoft Word, Excel, Adobe Photoshop

College Resume Template #2

2) The next college application resume includes more details than the resume above, with a different layout. You’ll find that there is a short description of the student’s character and interests under a section called “Educational Goal” at the top:

Jon Jackson 678 Orange Street Austin, Texas (123) 456-7890 [email protected]

Educational Goal

Diligent, driven student with a passion for business and economic development. Dedicated to improving the livelihood of small businesses across the state of California. Focused on collaborating with business leaders, community organizers and students across the country to create a stronger, more sustainable economy.

High School Diploma                                                                                                                    2024 Springfield High School Austin, Texas GPA: 3.98 Courses: AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP Macroeconomics, AP US History, AP Spanish

Austin Chamber of Commerce – Student Representative                                                     2021-2024 Austin, Texas – Served as representative of public schools across the city of Austin, advocating for student perspectives on Austin’s economic initiatives. – Developed campaigns and city-wide initiatives to encourage more student involvement in local elections, distributed pamphlets door-to-door to invite neighborhoods to participate in city-wide census polls. – Relayed information from commerce meetings back to our school district. – Advocated for the support of small businesses. – Created a bimonthly “Student Visit Day” to continue open communication between decision makers and high school student leaders across Austin.

  • President, Business Club 2021-Present
  • Treasurer, Young Economists 2022-Present
  • Student Volunteer, Save the Children 2022-Present
  • Editor, Springfield Student Gazette 2022-Present
  • High Honors List 2024
  • Principal’s List     2023-2024
  • National Honors Society     2021-2024
  • Best Student Entrepreneur, Business Club     2023-2024
  • Languages: Spanish, German, Arabic
  • Advocacy, Debate, Public Speaking
  • Microsoft Word, Excel, Adobe Photoshop

College Resume Template #3

Now let’s look at a college application resume that has a different structure and even more details. Keep in mind the first two resumes you just saw above:

Cassandra Zimmerman Los Angeles, CA ✦ (012) 987-6543 ✦ [email protected]

Driven student with a track record of community and student leadership. Passionate about women’s rights and girls’ education, eager to make a difference through service and mentorship. Committed to applying my leadership and communication skills to contribute to my college community, I am excited to major in business marketing and sociology to create a better working environment for women around the world.

High School Diploma                                                                                       Expected in June 2024 Valley High School Los Angeles, CA GPA: 3.88 – Awards: Academic Achievement Award (2021-2023), Community Service Excellence Award (2022-2023), Student Role Model Award (2024) – Courses: AP Microeconomics, AP Literature, AP European History, AP Spanish, AP French – Clubs: Journalism Club, UNICEF Club, Girls Empowerment Club, Entrepreneurial Club – Sports : Track and field team captain

  • Critical thinking
  • Innovation and adaptability
  • Project management
  • Organization and coordination

Professional Skills

Leadership – Led a team of 10 senior students across the Los Angeles School District to meet with the Mayor of Los Angeles and discuss our hopes for women in business. – Steered the track and field team as team captain, maintaining a positive spirit throughout every season. – Initiated the weekly column of our student newspaper to focus on areas of local community improvement. Communication – Showcased results from community polling to 50 members of the school district leadership. – Proactively participated in journalism club, leading student investigation pieces on local incidents affecting women-led businesses. – Collaborating across different school clubs to foster an interdisciplinary education and promote a united community. Computer and Technology Proficiency – Highly skilled in Microsoft Excel to aggregate and process data, while also proficient in the entire Microsoft Office Suite applications. – Adept in creating social media campaigns on X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram and TikTok.

Work History

University of Southern California, Young Leaders Internship                                      2022-2024 Los Angeles, CA YMCA Girls Leadership                                                                                                 2021-2024 San Francisco, CA

Volunteer Experience

UNICEF Local Chapter Volunteer                                                                             2021-2024 Volunteered as a student leader UNICEF member for our local chapter every month. Disseminated pamphlets and helped organize Los Angeles events that focused on girls’ education. Mentoring freshmen with All Hands On Deck                                                            2022-2024 Served as a mentor to freshmen students across the Los Angeles Unified School District. Coordinated activities with arts organizations and businesses across the city to help struggling students have more access to educational and extracurricular resources. Dog Rescue Volunteer                                                                                                 2021-2024 Participated as a weekly volunteer at the local animal shelter to help clean, feed and walk dogs. Promoting adoption events and animal rescue awareness across the city.

College Application Resume Styles

By looking at the resumes for college applications above, you’ll see that the three are quite different from each other. The first was a very simple college application resume example, while the second was a bit more informative, though not entirely. The third college application resume example provided more background information and relevant details. However, it’s always important to keep in mind that you’ll want your college application resume to be around one page.

The top general tips for writing your resume for college applications are:

1) Write your contact information and professional email address. Make sure your email address is something that colleges won’t have to think twice about.

2) Begin with education . Colleges know that you won’t have a lot of work experience. They’re academic institutions, so first and foremost, they’re interested in your academic performance. Start your college application resume with your education.

3) Bulleted lists over paragraphs. Elaborate on your achievements and experiences with brief descriptions in bullet points, not in lengthy paragraphs . Admissions officers will want to read clear and concise descriptions that are straight to the point.

4) Use strong action verbs that empower you. If you led a group of children at camp or presented your research in front of a committee, use an action verb that encapsulates your responsibilities. This means that instead of writing “It involved leading groups of children…” try something like “Directed groups of children to…”

5) One page does the trick. It’s tempting to want to make your resume as long and informative as possible. But the moment that happens, the quicker the reader will lose interest. College admissions offices are looking through thousands of applications. Keeping your college application resume concise will only work in your favor. Doing so is also a great exercise for future job applications and helps you decide what you really want to focus on sharing.

As seen from the examples above, you can personalize the style of your college application resume. But a general college application resume template will look like the following:

Your name Home address, City, State (Your) phone number | [email protected]

The name of your high school                                                                City, State, Year of Graduation

GPA: Your score ■  SAT: Your score  ■  ACT: Your score

Relevant Coursework : The names of any relevant, important classes

Your role, The name of your experience                                                                      City, State, Year

  • Description of your experience.

Awards/Honors

  • The name of your award: Date you were awarded

Description of your award. Any specific numbers and information that provides more context.

Additional Skills

List your skills that are relevant to your overall college application. They can be both professional and unique skills.

Resume for College Application – Examples & Template – Additional Resources 

  • How to Complete the Common App Activities Section
  • How to Complete the Honors Section on the Common App 
  • 300 Best Colleges in the US
  • Common App Essay Prompts 2024-25
  • 10 Instructive Common App Examples 
  • How to Brainstorm a College Essay 
  • Application Strategies

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Joanna Hong

With a BA from Pitzer College and an MA from University College London, Joanna has worked in London, Berlin, and Los Angeles covering many cultural and political issues with organizations such as Byline Media, NK News, and Free Turkey Media. A freelancer for The New York Times, her work has also appeared in Newsweek, Dazed and Confused Magazine, and The Guardian, among others. In addition, Joanna was the recipient of the 2021 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship in Fiction and is currently completing her first novel.

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How to Write a Resume for College – A CollegeAdvisor Guide

How to write a resume for college – introduction.

Standing out as a stellar applicant in the college admissions process is tough. One way to separate yourself from the crowd is by crafting a strong resume for college. Your college resume can highlight information about your background, activities, and achievements. Some of these might not be indicated elsewhere in your college application or recommendation letters . 

In this article, we will teach you how to write a college resume. We’ll highlight 5 simple steps to building your college application resume. We will also discuss what a college resume is and why you may need a resume for college. Additionally, we will provide examples on how to write a resume for college by reviewing college resume examples. Finally, we’ll walk you through some college resume templates in our example college resumes.

So, let’s look at how to write a college resume and explain what makes a good college resume, why you should include a resume for college in your applications, and more!

What is a college resume? 

A high school resume is typically a one-page document that complements your college application . Your high school resume (or college resume) can help you showcase your achievements and extracurriculars for college. It does this by sharing information that is not elsewhere within your college applications. The goal of a college resume is to show the college admissions officers who you are and how you spend your time outside of the classroom . 

Before we jump into how to write a college resume, let’s examine some things that make up a good college resume.

A good college resume should include: 

  • Clear structure
  • Concise language (bullet points over essay-style)
  • Relevant details
  • Strong formatting

As we discuss how to write a resume for college, you might wonder what purpose a college resume serves. In short, a college resume is a summary of experiences that you can use to add depth to your college applications. You can also think of a college resume as your high school resume, or a resume for college. Your college resume will include a brief description of each of your experiences and extracurriculars for college. 

While we examine how to write a resume for college, you should first note that your college resume should include key details like your educational details, GPA , extracurricular activities/jobs, and honors/awards. As we’ll discuss, your college resume will have other key features. We’ll go through each of these as we learn how to write a resume for college. 

Many colleges list a college resume within their college application requirements. But, even if a college resume is not listed in the college application requirements, we recommend creating one anyway. 

We will look at a sample college resume later in this article, along with a 5-step guide to creating a resume for college that you can use as you begin writing your college resume. 

Do I need a resume for my college applications? 

No, you do not necessarily need to include a college resume with your college applications. However, a high school resume or resume for college can be a helpful tool in the college admissions process. 

So, how could including a resume for college application be beneficial? First, including a college resume in your college applications can help highlight your skills, experiences, and qualifications to the admissions office of your dream school.  

Having a college resume can help you showcase your extracurricular activities in your college applications. You can highlight leadership positions, accomplishments, interests, and activities on your college resume that might not appear elsewhere in your college applications. 

Creating a resume for college application can also demonstrate your accomplishments and experiences to college admissions officers. Even if a high school resume is optional in the list of college application requirements, including one in your college applications can help you stand out. Standing out is incredibly important in the admissions process, especially if your ideal college is high on the list of college rankings . 

It is a good idea to start putting together your college resume as you near the end of high school.

You may forget the names of clubs, supervisors, mentors, teachers, etc. as you get ready to apply to college. So, the earlier you can gather all the information for your high school resume, the better! That way, all of your experiences are fresh in your mind, and you can create the strongest resume for college possible. 

When should I prepare my college resume? 

As you begin the process of applying to college, you might be wondering when to prepare your college resume. The ideal timeline for creating your high school resume can start as early as 9 th grade. 

In general, you won’t want to include anything on your high school resume before 9 th grade. Like other college application requirements, college admissions officers are only interested in the activities you have participated in during high school. 

Keep a list starting in 9th grade

As early as 9 th grade, you can start keeping a list of your accomplishments and activities. Even though you won’t need to format this list into a college resume yet, it will be the basis for your future college application resume.

As you begin the college admissions process, you can use the list you created and turn it into a college resume. As you apply to college and prepare your college resume, research which college resume format works best for you. Reviewing a sample college resume or college resume template can help you find the perfect college resume format. 

As you look through college resume examples, think about which aspects of the college resume template you like the best. Then, adapt things from those college resume examples to fit your college resume. Once you have decided on a college resume format, list your accomplishments, jobs, and activities within that college resume format. 

Summer before senior year

The best time to create your high school resume is during the summer before your senior year. This gives you plenty of time to perfect your college application resume. 

We’ll examine the necessary components of a successful college resume in the next section of this article. So, read on!

What should a high school student put on a resume? 

As you begin the college admissions process, you may be asking yourself what to include on your high school resume. You can start the college application resume writing process by brainstorming how you spend your time outside of your courses. 

Think about everything you have done or achieved since you started high school and write it down. Your high school resume should highlight your activities, interests, and skills. Pay particular attention to these factors as you consider what to include on your high school resume.

Your high school resume will be organized categorically. Some of the most common categories for a resume for college application include personal information, work experience, extracurricular activities, volunteer experience/community service, education, and skills.  In addition to the categories listed above, below is a list of some other things that high school students should list on their resume for college.

Top ten things to list on your college resume:

  • School name and address
  • Contact Info
  • GPA or Class rank, if applicable
  • Internships & volunteer roles
  • Awards and honors
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Leadership positions
  • Language competencies

As we mentioned earlier, you may not have information or experiences for every category listed above. That’s perfectly fine! Focus on what applies to you and what you can include on your high school resume as you learn how to write a college resume. 

What does not belong on my high school resume? 

Now that we have examined what to include on your high school resume, let’s discuss what does not belong on your college application resume. 

Keep it current

In general, you should avoid including any activity or achievement from before 9 th grade on your resume for college. However, it’s okay to include something that is particularly impressive and/or attached to a current activity. 

For example, if you have 12 years of experience in playing the violin, you will want to include that on your high school resume. However, if you joined your middle school band for a semester, you should likely leave that out of your college resume. Your resume for college should reflect activities that matter to you now.

Avoid listing daily duties

There is no need to include informal everyday activities on your college resume, such as cooking for your family or cleaning around the house. When you are crafting your resume for college, it’s best to stick to things that are relevant to admissions committees or future employers. 

Note that this is one area where your college resume differs from your activities list. For instance, if you spend considerable time caretaking your three siblings, you may choose to include that on your activities list within the Common App. However, the same responsibilities likely shouldn’t appear on your resume for college.

Keep it clear

As you examine college resume templates and college resume examples, take note of the language and structure in a sample college resume. It’s important to use concise language and clear structure throughout your resume for college. 

Additionally, do not include excessive text or overly detailed explanations on your college application resume. You want your resume for college to be simple and clear. In general, you should limit your high school resume to one page, or two at the absolute maximum. Most people who review your college resume will spend about 30 seconds with it. So, your resume for college should be easily scanned, above all. 

When you use concise language throughout your college resume, it will make it easier for your reader to understand your accomplishments. Because most people will skim your high school resume, having a clear structure throughout will make it easy to read. Keep it simple and keep it consistent. 

Steer clear of images and graphics

While you might come across this in your college resume format research, it’s best to avoid including images or graphics in your college application resume. Although this is a new trend and can be seen on multiple college resume examples and college resume templates, it can be distracting and take up valuable space on your high school resume.  

For instance, if you volunteered at twelve different soup kitchens, there is no need to list each one separately. That will become tedious and take up too much space on your essential resume for college application. 

Finally, you should never misrepresent your qualifications on your high school resume. Be honest about your involvements, however many you have. It’s not worth potentially getting caught in a lie or an exaggeration during a college interview.

Where do I submit my college application resume? 

While you apply to college, you might be wondering what to do with your resume for college applications. Many college application portals will include a section for your college resume, especially if a resume for college is listed as one of the college application requirements. 

Most college application portals list the high school resume section as optional. While you are applying to college, you might notice that most colleges require that you fill out an activities section as part of the application process. The activities section will ask you to list your extracurriculars for college. Often, your activities section will serve the same purpose as your college resume. 

If you choose to include a high school resume with your college application, it should reflect your accomplishments in more detail than your activities section. Additionally, if you choose to include a resume for college with your application, make sure it adds something new to your activities list. 

You will receive access to your college’s application portal once you have completed the process of applying to college but before you receive a college acceptance letter and officially enroll . When it’s time to upload your high school resume, be sure to upload it as a PDF rather than a Word document. That way, you can ensure that your formatting of your college resume stays consistent on every application. 

We’ll provide more details about the college resume format later in this article, when we examine college resume examples and college resume templates. 

How often should I update my college resume? 

It may be helpful to update your resume (or other records) every six months to a year in order to avoid missing any important details. You can use your college resume for more than just your college application requirements. In fact, there may be internships or other opportunities you seek out in high school that will ask you to submit a high school resume. Updating your college resume often will help you keep track of your experiences and accomplishments. 

In general, you should update your high school resume as often as it works for you. However, when you are almost done applying to college , you will want to make sure that your college resume is up-to-date and accurate before including it with your application. 

No matter how often you update your resume for college applications, we encourage you to keep copies of any old college resume examples you might have. Having old copies of your college resume can help you in the future as you begin to tailor your college resume for potential reviewers. 

How to write a resume for college

Now that we have a better understanding of what makes up a college resume, let’s focus on how to write a resume for college. You can begin writing your college resume by creating a list of your key details . Your key details will be the starting point for your college resume. 

First, you will include information about where you go to school, as well as your current GPA and any Honors statuses. You will also want to list your academic interests on your high school resume, including what you hope to study or pursue beyond high school. 

You will also include your extracurricular activities and the years you engaged in them on your resume for college. Additionally, you will want to add any jobs or internships you have had and the dates you held them. You can also list any leadership positions and the years you held them on your college resume. 

Finally, you will want to include any special skills you have on your resume for college. This can include certifications as well. 

Once you have a list of your key details, you will want to organize these details into sections on your high school resume. For some, these sections might include Objective, Education, Leadership Positions, Work and Internship History, and Special Skills.  

College Resume Walkthrough

Linked about is our college resume walkthrough. Let’s do another walkthrough of these sections here to see what kind of information to include in each one. 

Your objective is the reason why you are writing your college resume. This section will vary depending on where you send your resume. 

If you are creating a resume for college applications, you should include information about your intended major or future career in this section. However, if you are sending your high school resume to a potential employer, your objective section will include information about why you are uniquely skilled for the job. 

Education 

The education section of your college resume should include all high schools you have attended, along with your GPA and anticipated date of graduation. 

If your high school provides you with a class rank, you can also include that piece of information within this section of your resume for college. 

Additionally, you can include your SAT or ACT score within this section, especially if you are submitting your resume for college applications. 

Leadership Positions 

Be sure to highlight any leadership positions you have held in your college resume. This includes any appointed positions you have received and even informal leadership positions. 

For example, if you were voted Class President of your Student Council, you can include that information here. Or maybe you are a peer mentor on your soccer team—you can include those details within this section of your college resume. 

Work and Internship History 

This section of your high school resume will list your whole work history, including internships , summer jobs , or part-time jobs. 

You will want to include the job title, company, dates of employment, and a brief outline of your duties for each of the work or internship experiences in this section of your resume for college. 

Special Skills 

Finally, this section of your college resume will outline any technical or soft skills you might have. Soft skills include things like teamwork, communication skills, and conflict resolution. 

In this section of your resume for college, you can also include any languages you speak or certifications you have. 

After you have organized your high school resume into sections, you will want to include a bulleted list detailing your responsibilities within each of your engagements/leadership roles. Be sure to include only relevant details in your descriptions, as it’s important to be concise on your college resume.  

Remember to include the years for every role/activity on your college resume. You will want to list them with the most recent positions/activities at the top of your resume for college. 

College resume format

Your college resume format is one of the most important features to consider as you apply to college. As you construct your college resume format, make sure that it’s readable. 

Most people won’t look at your college resume for more than 30 seconds. So, any reader should be able to skim your high school resume and come away with a relatively clear idea of your qualifications and background. 

The ideal college resume format will have the name of the student clearly listed at the top of the college resume. Another aspect of a strong college resume format will have clear sections with strong headlines. Additionally, the best college resume format will include bulleted lists where appropriate. 

We will look at the college resume format in action as we review some college resume examples and college resume templates. 

College resume examples

As we review our sample college resume, we will explain how to use it to craft your own college resume when you apply to college. Use this sample college resume as a reference point for your resume for college. Then, adapt it to fit your own unique needs. 

We will discuss the sample college resume in the next two sections of this article. As we review the sample college resume, pay particular attention to what makes this college resume clear and effective. You can use this sample college resume as a college resume builder while you apply to college. 

At first glance, you can see that this college resume is organized. This resume for college has clear sections and a concise structure. What makes this college resume clear and effective is its formatting, language, and length. Be sure to incorporate these same elements into your own high school resume as you apply to college. 

Remember, this sample college resume is just one of many college resume examples available. Figure out what you like best about this sample college resume and use it to craft your own college resume. 

Sample college resume – What works? 

The key features of this sample college resume are its formatting, language, and length. Focusing on these in your own college resume will ensure that your resume for college stands out. 

Clear delineated sections

The formatting in this college resume works so well because it includes clearly delineated sections and organized by year. Keeping your information and experiences organized by year is an effective format for a resume for college applications. 

Simple and straightforward language

Another feature of this college resume that works well is the language. There is clear language and details throughout this resume for college that provide context for each role and accomplishment. For example, each of the work experiences in this high school resume feature a brief description of the student’s role and duties/responsibilities. 

Concise structure

Additionally, this resume for college application features a concise structure that helps the reader clearly understand the purpose of each section. The descriptions within this college resume are brief but comprehensive. Having a concise structure and clear language throughout your college resume is key. 

The final key feature that works well in this college resume is the length. This resume for college is just one page in length. Ideally, you want your college resume to fit on one page, but that is not a hard and fast rule. If you have a wealth of experiences and extracurriculars for college, your college resume can go over the typical one-page length. 

Even though this high school resume is a little over one page, it does not have any irrelevant details or extraneous information on it. As you begin writing your college resume, be sure to only include relevant details on it. 

As you learn how to write a college resume, keep track of what features work well and incorporate them into your own college resume. If you are unsure if the sample college resume will work for your college resume, don’t worry. There are plenty of college resume examples and college resume templates to choose from as you are applying to college. 

College resume template

There are multiple college resume examples that you can review as you start your college resume or college application letter . Looking at a college resume template can help you decide on the formatting, language, and length that works best for you. 

Hunter College has a web page with college resume examples and college resume templates. Use it as a resource as you build your high school resume. 

If possible, you should avoid using form templates as you construct your college resume. Instead, think of the college resume template as a guide. You should aim to format your resume for college in the way that works best for you. 

It’s best to be a bit unique as you create your high school resume. Looking at a college resume template can help you find your own distinct style. You can also incorporate different aspects from a college resume template into your own college resume. 

However, be sure to avoid any hard-to-read fonts or unnecessary details in your formatting as you learn how to write a college resume. While your resume shouldn’t look like it was made using a stock college resume template, it also should not be overly crowded.

College resume builder

There are also college resume builder resources, like this one from Wheaton College , that will help students build their college resumes. You can use a college resume builder to format your own resume for college. 

At CollegeAdvisor.com, we host webinars on topics that help you apply to college. We have a webinar on how to write a resume for college, with plenty of college resume examples. We also have a webinar with advice from former Admissions Officers on how to build your college resume. 

Once again, you should generally avoid a pre-formatted college resume builder or college resume template. Instead, use these college resume examples as a jumping off point as you begin the college admissions process. 

Formatting your high school resume yourself makes it easier to make any quick edits or fix any formatting quirks. If you were to use a college resume builder or college resume template, these adjustments may be a challenge. 

Build your College Resume in 5 Simple Steps

Having examined some college resume examples, let’s review 5 simple steps for how to write a resume for college. 

Five Steps to Build your College Resume

Make an accurate list of your experiences, awards, education, and qualifications. You will use this list as the outline for your resume for college. 

Choose the best college resume format for the job. Before you finalize your choice of college resume format , review a college resume template or college resume examples for guidance. Then, create a resume header for your college resume. 

Add your accurate information by section on your resume for college. Reference the college resume examples you reviewed previously to choose the sections you will use on your high school resume. Organize each list by year, placing the most recent item at the top of your resume for college. Be sure to separate your extracurricular experiences from your awards/honors, creating two lists (or more if necessary). 

Format your lists to be clear and readable , and add your name and contact information as the header of your college resume. 

Ask a friend, family member, or mentor to copy edit your resume for college! Having another set of eyes on your high school resume will help you create the strongest resume for college possible. 

How to write a college resume – Final Thoughts

In this article, we reviewed how to write a college resume. As we discussed the purpose of a college application resume, we examined college resume examples and described key features that work in a college resume. We hope the college resume examples we featured in our article on how to write a resume for college help you craft your high school resume as you apply to college.

Need help crafting the perfect college application resume? CollegeAdvisor.com can teach you how to write a resume for college. Register for a free CollegeAdvisor.com account and receive access to hundreds of articles and webinars. These resources will help you craft your college resume as you begin applying to college.

This article was written by  Claire Babbs . If you want to get help with your college applications from Claire or other  CollegeAdvisor.com  Admissions Experts , click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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how to write resume for college admission

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College Admissions Resume Example & Writing Guide for 2024

how to write resume for college admission

In a highly competitive college admissions landscape, a college admissions resume can be crucial in setting an applicant apart from the rest. It offers admission officers a concise and clear picture of a student’s achievements, skills, and experiences.

C. Tips for Writing an Effective Resume

Writing an effective college admissions resume can be overwhelming, but with the right tips, it can become a manageable task. Some of the essential tips to keep in mind when crafting your resume include highlighting your accomplishments, showcasing your skills and experiences, avoiding ambiguity and vagueness and paying attention to formatting, and using appropriate keywords. By incorporating these tips, your resume will stand out and resonate with the admission officer.

This guide provides detailed information on each of these tips with examples to help you create an impactful and winning college admissions resume.

In the rest of this article, we will discuss each section of the college admissions resume and provide useful tips and examples to help you create a winning one.

Understanding the College Admissions Resume Format

When it comes to applying for college, the admissions resume is an essential component of your application package. This document provides admissions officers with a snapshot of your academic and extracurricular achievements, professional experiences, and personal accomplishments that set you apart from other applicants.

To create a stand-out admissions resume, it’s crucial to understand the basic elements and guidelines of the college admissions resume format, as well as how to avoid common pitfalls.

how to write resume for college admission

A. Basic Elements of a College Admissions Resume

The following basic elements should be included in your college admissions resume:

Contact Information: Include your name, address, phone number, and email address.

Objective Statement: Provide a brief statement describing your career or academic goals.

Education: List your most recent education first, including your high school name, location, GPA, and anticipated graduation date.

Extracurricular Activities: Highlight your involvement in clubs, sports teams, music or theater groups, volunteer work, or other community activities.

Awards and Honors: Showcase any academic, athletic, or artistic honors you have received.

Work Experience: Detail any relevant internships, part-time, or full-time work experience, including job title, company name, dates of employment, and responsibilities.

Skills: List any relevant skills, including computer proficiency, foreign languages, or certifications.

B. Guidelines for Formatting

To ensure that your admissions resume is easy to read and visually appealing, follow these formatting guidelines:

Use a consistent font and size throughout the document, such as Times New Roman 12 point.

Use bullet points and bold or italic text to highlight important information and make the document easy to scan.

Keep the resume to one page by avoiding unnecessary details and focusing on the most important information.

how to write resume for college admission

Include white space between sections to make the document easier to read.

C. Avoiding Common Mistakes

When creating your admissions resume, it’s important to avoid some common mistakes that can detract from its effectiveness:

Don’t list irrelevant information or include personal data, such as age or marital status.

Use specific examples of accomplishments or experiences, not vague statements.

Don’t exaggerate or falsify your achievements.

Proofread your resume carefully and have someone else review it to catch any errors or inconsistencies.

By following these guidelines and avoiding common mistakes, you can create a compelling and effective college admissions resume that showcases your strengths and helps you stand out from the crowd.

How to Choose the Right Resume Template

Creating a college admissions resume can be a daunting task, but choosing the right template can make the process easier and more efficient. Here are the steps to consider when selecting the right template for your college admissions resume:

A. Types of Resume Templates

There are several types of resume templates available that cater to different formats and purposes. Some of the common types of resume templates are:

  • Chronological Resume Template: This type of template is ideal for showcasing the candidate’s work experience in chronological order, where the most recent job is listed first.
  • Functional Resume Template: This type of template focuses on the candidate’s skills and abilities, highlighting the relevant experience and qualifications.
  • Combination Resume Template: This type of template combines the features of both chronological and functional resume templates, showcasing the candidate’s skills and experience in a structured format.

B. Criteria for Choosing a Template

When selecting a resume template, it is essential to consider the following criteria:

  • Relevancy: The template should be relevant to the job position and the industry. This will help to create a positive impression on the employer.
  • Simplicity: A simple and clean template is easy to read and understand. A complicated design may not be suitable for a resume.
  • Customization: The template should allow customization, enabling the candidate to highlight relevant information and omit unnecessary details.
  • Practicability: The template should be suitable for the online application process, as the majority of the job applications happen online.

C. List of Recommended Templates

Here are some of the recommended templates for creating a college admissions resume:

Simple and Clean Resume Template: This template is a classic and straightforward design that presents the candidate’s information in a well-structured format. It is easy to read and understand and can be customized according to the candidate’s needs.

Modern Resume Template: This template showcases a modern design that highlights the candidate’s creativity and uniqueness. It is suitable for job positions that require creativity and innovation.

Professional Resume Template: This template presents a professional layout that is perfect for job positions that require formal attire. It is structured in a way that makes it easy to read and understand.

Selecting the right resume template plays a crucial role in creating a compelling college admissions resume. By considering the types of resume templates, the right criteria for choosing the template, and the recommended list of templates, candidates can create an outstanding resume that showcases their skills, experience, and achievements.

Sections to Include in a College Admissions Resume

When it comes to creating a college admissions resume, it’s important to include all relevant information that showcases your skills, experiences, and achievements. Admissions officers want to see who you are beyond your grades and test scores. In this section, we’ll discuss the seven essential sections to include in your college admissions resume.

A. Heading and Personal Information

The first step in creating any resume is to include a header with your name, address, phone number, and email address. This information should be easy to find and visually appealing. You can also include your LinkedIn profile or portfolio website if you have one. Make sure your contact information is accurate, up-to-date, and professional.

B. Educational Background

In this section, you should include details about your academic background, including your GPA, class rank, and standardized test scores. You should also list any relevant coursework, academic awards, and honors. If you are currently in college, include your major, expected graduation date, and any relevant academic achievements.

C. Extracurricular Activities

Admissions officers want to see that you are a well-rounded individual who is involved in extracurricular activities outside of the classroom. List any sports teams, clubs, organizations or volunteer groups that you are a part of. Provide details about your roles and responsibilities, as well as any leadership positions you hold. Emphasize those activities that demonstrate your leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.

D. Honors and Awards

If you have received any awards, recognition, or honors for your achievements in any area, be sure to list them in this section. Examples include academic or athletic scholarships, awards for community service, or recognition for outstanding performance in music, drama, or art.

E. Relevant Experience

Include any relevant work experience, internships, or part-time jobs you have had. Focus on jobs that align with your academic and personal interests. Describe your responsibilities and accomplishments in each role, including how you made an impact on the company you worked for.

F. Volunteer Work and Community Service

Your volunteer work can demonstrate your civic-mindedness and leadership abilities. List any volunteer work, community service projects, or activism-related initiatives that you have participated in. Describe your roles and responsibilities, and how your actions made a positive impact.

G. Skills and Abilities

Finally, include any skills, languages, certifications or licenses you have acquired that are relevant to your education and career goals. Focus on skills that are transferable to multiple fields, such as communication skills, problem-solving, collaboration, or digital literacy.

By including all these seven sections in your college admissions resume, you will create a well-rounded picture of yourself, and demonstrate to admissions officers that you are someone with not just good grades, but also a range of experiences, accomplishments, and interests.

Tips for Writing the Perfect College Admissions Resume

As you work on creating your college admissions resume, there are several important tips to keep in mind to ensure that your document reflects your strengths, achievements, and experiences in an engaging and effective way. Here are four key areas you should focus on as you draft your resume:

A. Highlighting Strengths

One of the primary goals of your college admissions resume is to showcase your strengths and unique qualities to potential schools. Think about what sets you apart from other applicants and use your resume as a platform to highlight those things.

For instance, if you’ve pursued a particular extracurricular activity for several years and achieved significant success in it, be sure to include those achievements on your resume. Similarly, if you’ve been the recipient of any awards or recognition outside of school, don’t hesitate to showcase those accolades as well.

B. Selecting the Right Verbiage

The language you use on your college admissions resume is just as important as the content itself. Be sure to choose strong verbs that accurately describe your accomplishments and experiences.

For example, instead of saying “Participated in the school’s volunteer program,” try using language like “Coordinated and led volunteer efforts with the school’s community service group.” This not only shows a greater level of involvement but also highlights your ability to lead others.

C. Showcasing Achievements

Your college admissions resume should highlight your achievements both in and out of the classroom. This may include academic honors, leadership roles, community service, or athletic accomplishments.

When discussing your achievements, be sure to quantify them as much as possible. For example, instead of simply stating that you volunteered at a local food bank, try to include details about the number of hours you contributed or the number of meals you helped serve.

D. Formatting Dos and Don’ts

Finally, when it comes to formatting your college admissions resume, there are several best practices to keep in mind.

  • Keep your resume concise and organized. Stick to one or two pages at most and use clear headings to separate different sections.
  • Use a professional font such as Times New Roman or Arial and keep the font size between 10-12 points.
  • Proofread your document carefully and ensure that all information is accurate and up-to-date.

Don’t:

  • Use an overly creative or colorful design. Keep your resume simple and professional.
  • Include any irrelevant information or experiences. Stay focused on highlighting your strengths and achievements in the areas that matter most to potential schools.
  • Use slang or casual language. Your college admissions resume should be written in a formal, professional tone.

By following these tips and guidelines, you’ll create a college admissions resume that effectively showcases your unique strengths and accomplishments and sets you apart from other applicants.

Sample College Admissions Resumes

When applying to college, one of the most important things students will need is a strong resume. This document serves as their personal marketing tool, highlighting their academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and leadership experience. In this section, we will provide some examples of college admissions resumes and analyze their key elements to see what makes a successful one. We will also offer suggestions for improvement.

A. Resume Examples for Different Fields of Study

Depending on their chosen field of study, students may need to tailor their resumes to showcase specific skills and experiences. Here are some sample resumes for different fields of study:

Business/Management:  This resume includes relevant coursework and leadership experience in business clubs, as well as internships and part-time jobs in the industry. It also highlights the student’s proficiency in Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, which are essential skills for anyone pursuing a career in business.

STEM:  For STEM fields, resumes should emphasize technical skills and relevant coursework. This sample resume includes research experience, coding skills, and participation in science and engineering clubs. The student also lists achievements such as winning a science fair and publishing a paper in a scientific journal.

Arts/Humanities:  Resumes for arts and humanities students should showcase creativity and critical thinking skills. This sample resume highlights the student’s experience in theater productions, writing and editing for the school newspaper, and community service in the arts.

B. Analysis of Sample Resumes

All three sample resumes have different styles and focus areas, but each accomplishes its goal of presenting the student in the best possible light. Here are some key elements to look for in a successful college admissions resume:

Clear organization:  Resumes should be visually appealing and easy to read. The most important information should be at the top, and each section should be labeled clearly.

Relevance to field of study:  Resumes should be tailored to the student’s intended major or career path. They should showcase experiences and skills that are relevant to that field.

Quantifiable achievements:  Students should state their achievements in concrete terms. For example, instead of saying they “participated in a science fair,” they should specify that they “won first place in the physics category at the regional science fair.”

Active language:  Resumes should use strong action verbs to describe the student’s achievements and responsibilities. For example, “led a team of volunteers” is more impressive than “assisted with volunteering events.”

C. Suggestions for Improvement

Even the strongest resumes can be improved. Here are some suggestions for students looking to revise their college admissions resumes:

Consider the audience:  Admissions officers may have limited time to review each application. Students should make sure their most impressive achievements are highlighted near the top of the resume.

Be specific:  Students should provide concrete details about their experiences and achievements.

How to Tailor Your Resume to Different Colleges

When it comes to applying to colleges, a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t cut it. Each institution has unique admissions criteria, and applicants must tailor their resumes to showcase their strengths and experiences that align specifically with each college. Here are the key steps to take when customizing your resume for each college:

A. Researching the College

Before crafting a tailored resume for a particular college, it is important to conduct thorough research about the institution. Look for information on the school’s mission, values, academic programs, extracurricular activities, and any specific initiatives or projects that align with your interests. This information will provide valuable insights for tailoring your resume to showcase your fit with the college’s culture and goals.

B. Reviewing the College’s Admissions Criteria

Carefully review the admissions criteria for each college you plan to apply to, paying close attention to the key qualifications and experiences that are emphasized. Look for trends or patterns in the admissions requirements, as well as any unique or distinctive qualities that the college seeks in its applicants. This information will help you identify the most relevant and impactful experiences to include on your tailored resume.

C. Crafting a Tailored Resume

Finally, use the insights gathered in your research and review of admissions criteria to craft a tailored resume that speaks directly to the college’s priorities and expectations. Consider using a targeted objective statement or summary section that explicitly highlights your fit with the college and its values. Also, be strategic in selecting and presenting your experiences, focusing on those that most clearly demonstrate your alignment with the college’s admissions criteria.

When tailoring your resume for different colleges, keep in mind that the goal is not to simply make minor tweaks or adjustments to the same document. Rather, a truly tailored resume will reflect a deep understanding of each college’s unique priorities and expectations, and will showcase the applicant’s fit with the college’s culture and mission. By putting in the time and effort to customize your resume for each college, you can greatly increase your chances of standing out and securing admission to your top-choice schools.

How to Write an Effective Personal Statement

A. understanding the importance of a personal statement.

A personal statement is a crucial part of the college admissions process. It’s where a college applicant gets to showcase their unique qualities, achievements, and experiences that make them stand out as a candidate. Admissions officers use personal statements to get a sense of who an applicant is beyond their grades and test scores.

B. Brainstorming and Outlining

Before beginning the writing process, it’s important to spend some time brainstorming and outlining your personal statement. Start by reflecting on your experiences and accomplishments and identifying what you want to highlight in your statement. Consider what makes you unique and how you would like to present yourself to the admissions committee.

Once you have a general idea, outline your statement to create a structure for your writing. Begin with an attention-grabbing introduction, followed by a couple of paragraphs outlining your experiences and achievements, and concluding with a strong statement of purpose.

C. Writing Tips and Techniques

When it comes to the actual writing process, there are several tips and techniques that can help you craft an effective personal statement:

  • Be concise and to the point. Admissions officers read hundreds of personal statements, so make sure yours is clear and easy to understand.
  • Use specific examples and anecdotes to illustrate your points. Show, don’t tell.
  • Be authentic and honest. Don’t try to be someone you’re not – admissions officers can tell when an applicant is trying too hard to impress.
  • Edit, edit, edit. After you’ve written your statement, take a break and come back to it later with fresh eyes. Read it out loud and make any necessary revisions.

By following these tips and techniques, you can write an effective personal statement that showcases your unique qualities and experiences. Remember to be authentic, concise, and specific, and always take the time to proofread and edit your work.

Your personal statement is a chance to shine and show admissions officers why you would be a great addition to their college community. Use this opportunity wisely and let your personality and achievements shine through.

The Dos and Don’ts of College Admissions Resumes

When it comes to crafting the perfect college admissions resume, there are certain mistakes that can greatly diminish your chances of getting accepted. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

A. Common Mistakes to Avoid

Providing irrelevant or outdated information: Your resume should only include information that is relevant to the college admissions process. Leave out any information that is not recent or does not relate to your academic achievements and experiences.

Failing to highlight achievements: Be sure to highlight your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and any relevant work experience. These will be crucial in demonstrating why you would be a valuable addition to the college community.

Being too general: Avoid using generic language and instead provide specific details and examples of your accomplishments and experiences.

Failing to proofread: Simple spelling and grammar mistakes can leave a negative impression on admissions officers. Be sure to triple-check your resume for any errors before submitting it.

B. Examples of Bad Resumes

Here are a few examples of bad college admissions resumes:

A resume that is too long and includes irrelevant information.

A resume that is too generic and does not highlight any unique experiences or achievements.

A resume that is poorly formatted, making it difficult to read or comprehend.

C. Guidelines for Effective Resumes

To craft an effective college admissions resume, keep the following guidelines in mind:

Tailor your resume to the specific college or program to which you are applying. Highlight experiences or achievements that are particularly relevant to the college or program’s values and priorities.

Use bullet points and headers to make your resume easy to read.

Be concise and specific, using action verbs to demonstrate your achievements and experiences.

Use a professional and legible font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, and be sure to proofread for any errors.

By following these guidelines and avoiding common mistakes, you can create a strong college admissions resume that highlights your achievements and demonstrates why you would be a valuable addition to any college or university.

Frequently Asked Questions

As you create your college admissions resume, you may be wondering about certain details. Below are a few frequently asked questions to keep in mind:

A. Should I include a picture on my resume?

In general, it is not necessary to include a picture on your college admissions resume. The focus should be on your academic and extracurricular achievements, not your appearance. In fact, some colleges may even discourage applicants from including photos, as this could inadvertently lead to discrimination based on appearance, race, or other factors.

However, there may be some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are applying to a performing arts program and your appearance is a factor in the evaluation process, you may wish to include a headshot along with your resume. Similarly, if you have a professional social media presence (such as on LinkedIn) and your profile picture is appropriate, you could consider including a link to your profile within your resume.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to include a picture on your resume should be based on your individual circumstances and the expectations of the colleges or programs to which you are applying.

B. Can I include non-academic achievements?

Absolutely! In fact, including non-academic achievements can be an excellent way to showcase your character, leadership abilities, and diverse interests.

When compiling your list of achievements, be sure to include any extracurricular activities (such as sports, clubs, or community service), volunteer work, internships, part-time jobs, or other relevant experiences. These may not be directly related to your academic coursework, but they can demonstrate your dedication, work ethic, and ability to balance multiple responsibilities.

Remember that college admissions officers are not just looking for students with high GPAs and test scores; they want to see well-rounded individuals who are passionate about their interests and have the potential to contribute positively to their campus community.

C. How long should my resume be?

The length of your resume will depend largely on your level of experience and the number of achievements you wish to highlight. In general, a college admissions resume should be no more than one to two pages in length.

If you are a high school student or recent graduate with limited experience, your resume may be shorter (one page is typically sufficient). Focus on providing a clear overview of your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and any honors or awards you have received.

If you are a college student or have relevant work experience, your resume may be longer (up to two pages). Be sure to include detailed descriptions of your job responsibilities, relevant coursework, and any research or publications you have participated in.

Remember to prioritize the most important and relevant information on your resume, and format it in a clear and concise manner. This will allow admissions officers to quickly and easily understand your qualifications and achievements.

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Susan Shor

College Admissions resume examples & templates

College Admissions resume examples & templates

The college admissions landscape

Choosing the best resume format for college admissions.

You’re looking beyond your high school career or maybe you took some time off and are ready to move onto university. You need a college admissions resume that tells admissions officers that you’re up to the academic challenge. But how do you develop a document that caters to the college and study program of your choice?

Entry-level College Admissions Resume Example

Resume.io can help. Our powerful resources include resume guides such as this and resume examples for 300+ professions, backed up by an easy-to-use resume builder. Take advantage of these tools to create a resume that makes the grade!

This resume guide, along with the corresponding resume example will cover the following topics:

  • How to write a college admissions resume (tips and tricks)
  • The best format for a college admissions resume
  • Advice on each section of your resume (summary, work history, education, skills)
  • Professional resume layout and design hints.

How to write a college admissions resume

The very first step in writing your college admissions resume is understanding what sections to include. Your resume should contain the following elements:

  • The resume header
  • The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
  • The education section
  • The employment history section
  • The resume skills section

You have one or two colleges that are your top choices and you have your heart set on them, but you may also have a few other schools you’re applying to. Each school deserves your full attention. That means you need to tailor your college admissions resume for each school by doing your research. Get to know the makeup of the student body, what the program you intend to enroll in focuses on and what the school is known for.

A college admissions resume that will get you to the head of the class does the following:

  • Speaks directly to the college in question and explains why you want to go there and how you will add to the student body.
  • Pays attention to design and layout to give it a polished, mature look.
  • Highlights the top criteria college admissions officers seek.

What do college admissions deans look for?

Applying to college in this post-lockdown era may be a bit different. Colleges understand the constraints of COVID have had lasting effects on young people. This is what they say they are looking for in candidates now, according to Grown & Flown :

  • Academic achievement but with an understanding that many students suffered performance slippage during online learning.
  • Contribution to the community
  • Contribution to family life
  • And as always, extracurriculars and summer activities

Admission to the top tier of colleges is highly competitive and has only gotten more so in the past year. The numbers of applications are up, but the numbers of admissions are down. Less selective colleges admit many more of their applicants than those top tier colleges, so if you’re not looking to go to Harvard or Stanford and you are looking at smaller, lesser known colleges, you have a much better chance of getting into the school of your choice, according to the New York Times .

Stanford University had the lowest admissions rate of any U.S. college, at 4%. Columbia, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Harvard followed with 5% admission rates. You can see the entire list at U.S. News and World Report .

You can find details for any college in the United States at the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator .

For a job hunt resume, we recommend the standard reverse chronological order format most of the time, but your college admissions resume is likely to veer from that format. Unless you are returning to school after participating in the workforce for some years, you should choose a resume that focuses on your skills and academic achievements so far.

You may also consider a hybrid resume format, which begins with a skills or experience section before moving on to the employment history.

Resume summary example: you’re more than your GPA

You will write your college admissions essay with an eye toward illuminating what makes you an excellent candidate for your chosen university, but your resume summary gives you another chance at it. It’s likely there was something you wanted to say in that essay that did not fit in 500 words. You have 3-4 lines at the top of your resume, so say it here!

Try not to repeat information you offer elsewhere and remember that your goal is to answer the question: “How will you contribute to the student body and academic environment at our university.”

These other education resume samples may give you more ideas: 

  • Early Childhood Educator resume sample
  • College Student resume sample
  • High School Student resume sample
  • Student resume sample
  • Academic Librarian resume sample
  • Health Educator resume sample
  • ESL Teacher resume sample
  • Tutor resume sample
  • Teacher Assistant resume sample
  • Substitute Teacher resume sample
  • Middle School Teacher resume sample
  • Elementary School Teacher resume sample
  • College Professor resume sample
  • Internship resume sample
  • High School Teacher resume sample
  • Academic Tutor resume sample
  • Teacher resume sample

See the resume example text below for summary ideas.

Motivated and passionate student with the intention of gaining admission into your renowned University. Hardworking and driven, with goals of flourishing in your respected Liberal Arts program. Bringing forth a strong academic background with a steady GPA above 3.5, and a decorated Softball career resulting in a 2017 Championship for our school. Committed to working hard and serving my school, peers, and community.

Should I put my GPA on my resume?

Knowing when and how to include your GPA on a resume can be a tricky question. Resume.io is here to help with straightforward advice that can be implemented right away.

Education section resume example: school is your job

For college admissions resumes, we recommend moving your education section to directly under your summary. Unless you are returning to college after a longer working break, this is where most of your achievements will fall. Think of your classes as work experiences and list your projects or proudest accomplishments within those classes. Highlight your collaborative skills as well as individual projects. If you have extracurricular activities, you may list them here along with your role or you may create a separate section.

Any honors or distinctions should be highlighted here as well, or in their own specific section on your resume. 

AP computer science: Created program that collected and sorted data on class demographics.

AP computer science: Completed class with an A.

See resume sample content for an education section below.

2012-2016 Westhills High School, High School Diploma Westhills, NJ

Skills section example: your talents on display

An outstanding college admissions resume, such as this example, will include a strong balance of soft and hard skills that make you stand out as a unique applicant. Choose attributes that your target college admissions officers have said they look for.

See resume example content for a skills section below.

  • Interpersonal Communication Skills
  • Love of Learning
  • Networking Skills
  • Research Skills
  • Analytical Thinking Skills
  • Photography Skills
  • Multilingual

Employment history example: show off your soft skills

If you worked in the summer or after school, this is the place to list those jobs. Colleges want to know that you are responsible and know how to manage your time. Your part-time work shows them you have those attributes, so even if you think the job was menial or if you worked only one day a week, include it. 

If you do not have any work experience, be sure to focus on your academic experiences and accomplishments. 

Here's our resume sample content that showcases high school academic and extracurricular experiences.

  • Graduated with High Honors.
  • Member of the Swim Team.
  • Member of the Softball team.
  • Staff Writer of the Sacred Heart Newspaper.
  • Member of the Photography Club.
  • Graduated with High Honors

Resume layout and design: creative yet professional

You’re taking a step up from your days of slapping stickers on your computer, or maybe not, but your resume layout and design should take a more mature approach. You may think that the way to stand out is to get overly creative, but that will just make your information difficult to read.

You don’t have to lose all personality, but make sure you present yourself as someone who paid attention to the details and takes the college admissions process seriously. You may use a bit of color or add a flourish to your contact information, but don’t go overboard. An easy way to accomplish this is by using a pre-designed resume template complete with professional fonts and an attractive header.

If you are applying to a creative department, you can err a bit on the side of artistic expression, but it is your portfolio that will show off your talents at their best.

If you don’t have one already, sign up for a professional sounding email address. [email protected] is a format that works well. Definitely don’t use the silly one that’s an in-joke with your high school clique.

Take advantage of our expert-tested resume layouts to eliminate the time-consuming job of formatting and use our online resume builder with built-in spell check to avoid embarrassing (and potentially candidacy-damaging) typos.

Key takeaways for a college admissions resume

  • Target each university by understanding what that school values and its educational philosophy.
  • Use your summary section to complement your college admissions essay.
  • Focus on your academic achievements and extracurricular activities.
  • Find a great example of page design in our college admissions resume sample.

Beautiful ready-to-use resume templates

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how to write resume for college admission

6 Tips for Your College Application Resume

Your resume will be an important part of your career life, serving as a catalog of your professional accomplishments, experience, and achievements. But even before you’re a full-fledged working adult, it’s still a good idea to start building your resume.

Many high school students use this space to record and describe their accomplishments, such as awards, volunteer and paid work, prestigious program participation, and more.

So, if you’ve taken the time to create a resume, can you submit it to colleges to augment your application? In some cases, yes. Keep reading to find out how to craft the ideal resume for colleges.

Which Schools Allow You to Submit Your Resume?

The schools allow you to submit your resume via the Common Application. This list is not exhaustive; it includes the top 20 universities and liberal arts colleges that allow you to do so.

  •     Brown University
  •     Claremont McKenna College
  •     Cornell University
  •     Dartmouth College
  •     Johns Hopkins University
  •     Northwestern University
  •     University of Pennsylvania
  •     Vanderbilt University
  •     Vassar College
  •     Washington and Lee University
  •     Washington University in St. Louis

Should You Submit Your Resume?

It’s a good idea to submit your resume if there is important information you’re unable to include on the rest of your application, such as professional experiences or special projects.

If you don’t have something new to say, then you shouldn’t include a resume. That is, you shouldn’t regurgitate information the adcom can find elsewhere on your application. You can, however, use it as a space to expand on or illustrate accomplishments if you don’t feel you’ve been able to in the activities section or your essays.

How to Write a Resume for College Applications

1. include information you feel isn’t represented elsewhere..

As you’ll find in your career, not every experience relates to the opportunity you have at hand. When you enter the job market, you’ll learn to tailor your resume to specific positions based on how your work history relates to them. This is true of your college applications, too. For each experience you include, consider how it bolsters your overall profile — and only add the ones that do to your resume.

First, here’s the essential info you should include on your resume:

  • Name and email address (no need to include your actual address)
  • Education/high school info, like your GPA and test scores 

Other info you may include:

  • Special projects related to your interests (if you’re a writer, this could be a list of pieces you’ve written with a description, or if you’re a programmer, you could also describe your projects).
  • Publications (scientific, literary, etc.)
  • Non-traditional coursework or academic activities (legitimate online certificates/courses, academic programs, etc.)
  • Extracurriculars, hobbies, and skills and interests
  • Professional and work experience
  • Family responsibilities

2. Don’t rehash your activities section.

Again, don’t use this space to regurgitate information you’ve presented elsewhere on your application. Instead, it should be a space to share unique facets of yourself that don’t fit into other places.

For example, perhaps there’s a specific job you held that you couldn’t properly describe in the activities section. You can use this space to elaborate on the responsibilities you held. Or, as mentioned in the previous section, you can describe specific projects you’ve completed related to your interests. This is especially helpful for more self-driven pursuits, like independent writing.

how to write resume for college admission

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Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

3. Keep it brief (one page) and easy to read.

Your resume should be concise. Since you probably haven’t accumulated a significant amount of experience as a teenager, you should keep it to one page (if you’re an adult student, that’s a different story). At the same time, avoid using teensy font and ultra-slim margins to cram everything into a single page — the resume should be easy to scan and read. Remember: be selective to ensure you have enough room.

Part of making your resume readable means formatting it such that it’s presentable. Use space to your advantages, along with a clear system for organizing the information; the traditional format is chronological, but you may choose to use an alternative format instead. Use headings, too, and make sure your formatting is consistent throughout.

4. Use active and specific language.

Use the active voice when cataloging your achievements. You should also be offering clear evidence. If you can, use numbers and facts to support your experiences.

For example, rather than saying, “Started tutoring business,” you might instead write, “Built a tutoring business by recruiting 15 student tutors and initiating a social media campaign targeting students in need of STEM support; personally worked with 25 students, who improved their GPAs by an average of X points.”

5. Talk yourself up, but don’t be dishonest or unreasonable.

Some students are eager to share their accomplishments. If you’re ever going to talk yourself up, this is the time to do it. You can’t be shy or reluctant to, well, brag a little. Other students will be talking themselves up, and you don’t want it to appear as though you don’t have anything to show for yourself.

At the same time, be careful of hyperbolizing your achievements. Colleges can easily verify the facts on your resume. If your accomplishments seem unfathomable, it will raise a red flag. This will lead colleges to question other aspects of your application, too.

Just as you should with the rest of your application, you’ll need to proofread your resume many times to catch any errors or typos. You should also read it over for clarity and to ensure that it’s as concise as it can be.

If you can, get another set of eyes on your resume before you upload it to your application. A peer, teacher, or guidance counselor can help you make sure your achievements are coming across the way you want them to and that you’re presenting yourself authentically.

Looking for more general guidance on the college application process? CollegeVine is here to make it as seamless as possible. Our free platform allows you to see your chances of acceptance, get essay feedback from peers, and hear from experts in daily livestreams. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account to get started.

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How To Write A College Application Resume (With Examples)

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Often college applications ask for or recommend including a resume . But how do you write a resume if you’re still in high school and have minimal work experience?

In this article, we’ll go over what to include in a college admissions resume, as well as an example resume you can use as a reference.

Key Takeaways

Include your contact information, education, and any work or volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, or other achievements on your college application resume.

A college application resume gives college admissions boards a quick overview of what you’d bring to their school.

Use your college application resume to highlight any unique skills, interests, or achievements that you believe make you stand out as an applicant.

How To Write A College Application Resume (With Examples)

What to Include in a College Admissions Resume

Example of a high school resume for college applications, how to build a college application resume, why write a resume for a college application, tips for writing an effective resume for a college application, final thoughts.

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Your college admissions resume highlights your most important professional or academic achievements and involvements. Include only high school experiences or achievements, unless there is an exceedingly impressive exception.

If you take a little time and brain energy to create a great, well-organized high school resume, your future self will thank you . Your resume can be saved as a template and record of your experiences and built upon during and after your time in college , or even fashioned into a great cover letter .

You could include any of the following sections; feel free to combine similar sections as necessary:

A Header With Your Contact Information (Required). Name, email address, and address.

Education (Required). Graduation date, weighted GPA, class rank, standardized test scores (ACT/SAT).

Achievements. Academic and scholastic awards, honors, medals, publications, and any other achievements.

Work. Summer jobs, part-time jobs, or entrepreneurship.

Volunteer Work. Community service, long and short term volunteer commitments, and any work you weren’t paid for.

Extracurricular Activities. Sports, clubs, theatre, student government, and other involvements.

Projects. Art projects, web or technology projects, activism, and any impressive creation of your own.

Leadership Positions. Include any activity or title in which you served as a leader or mentor .

Special Skills. Fluently-spoken languages , coding, web-developing, or other skills that set you apart.

Interests. Hobbies, creative activities, interests , and passions.

This example can be used as a rough guide for structuring your high school resume. You can use it as inspiration in creating your own resume, or you could even have a little bit of fun practicing by using this template to write yourself a resume to Hogwarts .

However you choose to do it, you can refer back to this example to create the perfect high school resume:

Elizabeth Bueno 216 Old Charlotte Hwy. Asheville, NC 28803 | Email: [email protected] | Phone: (219) 886-2538 EDUCATION: Asheville High School 2016-2020 GPA: 4.2/4.5 Graduated second in a class of 200 students Participated in post-secondary college classes from grades 9-12 ACHIEVEMENTS: Won first place in North Carolina State Legal Writing Competition Published two Op-Eds in Asheville Citizen-Times Achieved perfect attendance during all four years of high school VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE: Served as a volunteer animal companion at Asheville East Animal Shelter, a weekly commitment from grades 10-12 EXTRACURRICULARS: Co-captain of Asheville High School Women’s Lacrosse Team, from Fall 2018 – Spring 2020 Participated in drama club four hours per week from grades 9-12 Won lead roles in two high school theater productions HOBBIES: Avid reader and writer . Read, logged, and reviewed over 100 books on my literature-devoted Instagram (@Lizreadsbook) Pursued passion for animal welfare by becoming a registered dog foster-parent

How your resume looks is ultimately your decision and plays a part in demonstrating your unique character. However, it’s best to stick with the following conventions for an organized and professional look :

Include Contact Information. Such as your name, email, phone number, address, and any other relevant information so that they can reach out to you if needed.

Include at Least Three Sections. Seeing as though you are a high school student applying to a college, one of these sections will need to be an “education” section , and this will have to be the star of the show.

Use Bullet Points. Organize the different items on your list in a clean, easily understandable way with bullet points.

Use Active Verbs. Begin each bullet point with an action word that describes the kind of work you did or do to help the readers create a concrete picture in their head. Use a variety of engaging verbs.

Have a Clear Organization. Use an organizational structure that is easy to follow and highlights your best achievements. A great standby is reverse-chronological order (listing most recent first).

Keep it Consistent. The formatting and style need to be consistent throughout. Use the same font (something like Helvetica works great), and be consistent with capitalization, punctuation, and spacing throughout each section.

Your resume will give college admission boards a quick look at your academic achievement, jobs, leadership roles , awards, creative endeavors, special hobbies, and interpersonal skills , as well as showcasing your presentation and writing capabilities.

The purpose of this resume is to demonstrate that you are the right fit for a college environment. They want to know that you can thrive in their academic and social environment, and they want to see how dedicated you are to their university.

You may be a bit stressed now, thinking, “I don’t have any skills or experience to show off,” but you probably have more to work with than you think. Any experience, hobby, interest, or achievement that is significant to you can be fashioned into a great high school resume.

Use Specific Details. Include the details of your experiences to help colleges understand them better and make your resume stand out .

Show Off Unique Things That Didn’t Make it into The College Essay. Colleges have to process a tremendous amount of applicants, especially colleges with a prestigious reputation. Half the battle of your application is standing out from the crowd and establishing yourself as a one-of-a-kind candidate .

Highlight One or Two Commitments You Were Really Involved in. Rather than overloading your resume with every extracurricular, club, or activity you did for a short time or were semi-involved with, showcase the commitments you were deeply involved with.

Be Concise and Direct. You don’t have to mention everything you’ve ever done, and, in fact, you really shouldn’t. Including every small-time hobby, achievement, or commitment clogs up your resume and makes it more difficult to see and recognize the areas where you really shine.

Have The Right Formatting. The contents of your resume will only impress if you have an organized, visually appealing format and layout.

Keep your resume to one page , and organize it by section headings with bullet points underneath . Make sure it is easy to follow and understand with a clear organizational structure. Use consistent tenses on your resume.

Don’t Exaggerate or Make Up Details. Colleges want to use your application to get to know who you are, so don’t include inaccuracies or misleading information. Your prospective college can verify any information that seems inconsistent and it doesn’t reflect well on you.

Proofread, and Let Someone Else Read it Over. Your final step is to proofread and then proofread again. Be sure the spelling and grammar are spot-on so that you make a professional first impression . If you are using this resume to apply to multiple colleges, be sure to include all the correct college information.

Don’t Neglect the Rest of Your Application. While creating a resume is the large majority of the work, organizing your application process is crucial. Keep track of the deadlines and due dates for all of your prospective colleges, and make a plan for when and how to submit your final resume and application.

Use a Professional Email Address. If you don’t have a professional-sounding email address, make one. In fact, it can be helpful to have an email address dedicated to college applications so that you don’t miss anything.

Resumes aren’t just for landing the right job; they can also help you get admitted to your dream school. A high school resume highlighting your academic achievement, volunteer or work history, extracurriculars, and interests can help colleges get to know you in a personal and professional way.

The main goal of submitting a high school resume to a prospective college is to show off your unique and distinguished character and prove you are the type of student who will go on to make your alma mater proud. If this doesn’t sound like you, that’s okay. Crafting your resume is all about bringing out the best and most professional in yourself.

High school resumes can also be given to teachers or others for help in writing letters of recommendation , and they can even be used in landing you a part-time job or summer internship .

After you’ve started college, you can save your high school resume and update it for help in applying to internships or getting a job after you’ve graduated .

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Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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How to Write a College Resume That’ll Get You Hired (Plus an Example!)

person sitting at desk in college dorm room with laptop

When you’re in college, a strong resume is one of the first things that helps you land an internship or part-time job. It represents you to employers when you can’t be in the room (yet!) and is essential to convincing them to call you for an interview based on your previous experiences and current skills. Whether you have a resume you used for college applications or are starting completely from scratch, putting effort into your resume now gives you a higher likelihood of success and sets a solid foundation, making it a breeze to update in the future as you—and it—evolve.

If you feel like you have nothing to put on your resume, don’t worry. After advising hundreds of students on these documents, I know you have more to offer than you think! I frequently meet first-year college students who believe they can’t include many of the things they did before college on a resume. You absolutely can—and you should—until those get outranked by all the other awesome things you’ll accumulate over the course of your college career. Even if you’re a freshly minted high school graduate, you have valuable skills and experiences employers want, and this guide can help you showcase them.

Read on to learn about what goes on your resume, how to format it, and what else you can do to ensure it makes you shine—and to see our college resume example.

What Goes on a College Resume

In setting up your resume, you should use a few core sections to help you easily lay out all the information a recruiter is looking for when they make quick decisions about whether or not to interview you. (And yes, recruiters do skim, reportedly spending an average of 7.4 seconds making their first pass on a resume, so you want to make a good impression fast).

Contact Info

It’s traditional to start with your basic contact information at the top of your document including your name, email, phone, and the city and state where you live. Use your full name (and maybe bump up the font a point or two because you’re a big deal!), and if you have a nickname you prefer, you can include it in parentheses.

Use your college email as it’s typically professional and establishes your educational brand. Now is also a good time to check that your phone’s voicemail greeting is up-to-date. In case a recruiter calls while you’re busy—or you don’t recognize the number and swipe it to voicemail—this greeting could be their first impression of you. Even recording something as simple as, “ Hello, you’ve reached Christine. Please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible, ” can help them feel confident they reached the right person and that you’re able to present yourself professionally.

Your physical location can be based either on your school’s address or your permanent home address. If you’re targeting opportunities in one location or the other, include the most local address so they know you’re familiar with the area (and likely won’t have a problem finding housing).

Pro tip: Save space by listing your email, phone, and location all on one line. If you have a LinkedIn profile , you can add that in your contact information section as well. The result might look like this:

Karla Perez Stillwater, MN ∙ (000) 765-4321 ∙ [email protected] ∙ www.linkedin.com/krperez

For college students, education should be right below the contact information on your resume. This immediately orients your reader to the fact that you’re a current student and conveys important information, like what you’re studying. What you include in your education section can also demonstrate that you’re a good match for the opportunity you’re targeting, increasing your chances of a recruiter call.

The basics you should always include are:

  • Your school’s name
  • Your expected graduation date
  • The type of degree you’re pursuing: For example, you might write “Bachelor of Arts” or “Associate’s Degree.”
  • Any majors, minors, or concentrations: If you’re applying to opportunities in these areas, this will help an employer see you already have some knowledge and a motivation for working with them.

Depending on your personal strengths and what jobs you’re applying for, you might also want to include:

  • Your GPA: But only if it’s strong. (It’s usually good to include 3.5 and above.) If you stumbled through some of the general requirements you had to take but nailed all the courses in your major, consider adding two GPAs—your cumulative GPA and your major GPA—to show you have stronger grades in your chosen discipline.
  • Standardized test scores: If you’re applying to opportunities in quantitative fields, like finance or consulting, you might consider listing standardized test scores like the SAT or ACT.
  • Relevant coursework: Selecting and highlighting three to five classes that match closely with the specific opportunity you’re applying to is a really fast way to tailor your resume and make you a more attractive match. For example, if you’re targeting an internship in computer science, you can list your “Introduction to Python” and “Introduction to Algorithms” classes.
  • Other colleges or universities you’ve attended: If you’re a transfer student or you studied abroad at another university, adding these schools can signal that you have other strengths, such as cultural awareness or language skills, or give you a chance to highlight key classes you took elsewhere.
  • Your high school: If you’re shooting for an opportunity local to your high school or went somewhere well-known, then you may want to keep that as your last entry for educational experience. Otherwise, high school is the first entry to cut when you’re short on space. It has gotten you to where you need to be, but the focus should now be on the higher-level degree you’re working on and you should dedicate as much space as you need to boast about all of your amazing college accomplishments!

Here is an example of what a completed “Education” section might look like:

Candidate for Bachelor of Arts degree ,   St. Olaf College , Northfield, MN Double Major: Political Science and Economics ∙ Expected Graduation: May 2023 ∙ GPA: 3.7 Relevant Coursework: Introduction to Political Theory, Politics and Human Rights, Global Interdependence

The experience section is where the real substance of your resume lives. This is the chance to show a snapshot of the jobs and internships you’ve had (if any), the work you did, the skills you used, and your accomplishments. Let’s talk about what experience you can include, how to pull out skills and demonstrate your value, and what it should look like on the page.

Experience can cover a lot of things. It can be full-time jobs, part-time jobs, internships, or research. Unpaid work—like volunteer and community roles—counts too! Don’t discount the value these other kinds of experiences can add to your resume just because you didn’t earn money. You can leverage all of your experiences on a resume by pulling out transferable skills , or broader talents you’ve developed that will be beneficial even if you aren’t applying to the same type of role.

Take a significant class project, for example. That can be built out as experience as long as you’re clear it was for a class. If you worked on a group project, you probably collaborated on a team, organized, worked under deadlines, completed some independent tasks, presented your work to others, and had some kind of outcome. Even if you were doing something that might not seem widely applicable, like designing a rocket, many of those skills can transfer over to another role. Say you had to do cost comparisons for the materials you selected for your rocket, those same analysis skills could be useful to a business role or for a part-time job where you have to order supplies for a restaurant.

You can also create targeted headers for your Experience section(s) if there are themes that correlate with the internship or part-time job you want. Specific headers—such as “Research Experience,” “Marketing Experience,” or “Software Engineering Experience”—can immediately help your reader see that you’re aligned with the needs they have for their open role.

If you don’t have something that specific, it’s OK. You can still shift your experiences into categories like “Relevant Experience” and “Additional Experience.” For example, if you’re applying to research roles, you’d want to put any research related work under “Relevant Experience,” and your cashier job and website building side hustle would go under “Additional Experience.” These two headers are great for allowing you to bump the best of your experiences up toward the top of your resume.

Once you decide which headers to use, make sure each entry includes basic information—the title of your role, the organization’s name, the location, and the dates you worked there—along with bullet points describing what you accomplished. For example:

Intern , Minnesota State Senate , St. Paul, MN June 2019–August 2019

  • Researched prior legislation and current bills, summarized content, and identified alternate actions
  • Coordinated the schedule for Senator Harriet Maxwell and kept accurate minutes for all meetings
  • Drafted memos for important interoffice updates outside of normal meeting schedule

A skills section is a great way to make your most valuable knowledge and expertise stand out—and be easily spotted by a recruiter. Which skills belong in your own skill section depend on the jobs you’re applying for, so be sure to read the job description carefully to figure out what skills are most relevant for each particular role.

Skills that might appear in this section include (but are definitely not limited to): technical skills; software or other tools you know well; languages you can speak, read, or write; other job-specific skills like using a POS system or cash register; and, for some jobs, even your ability to drive different vehicles.

From this range, you can see why it’s important to change things up based on what job you’re applying to! Some skills—for example, being fluent or conversational in a second language—might be relatively permanent fixtures on a college resume. If you’re looking for a part-time job waiting tables, you might add the fact that you can bartend, whereas you might list your mastery in JavaScript instead when going after that software engineering internship you have your eye on.

Once you’ve decided which skills are most important for this role, you can simply list them on your resume. If you have a few different types of skills, you can separate them into categories. For instance:

Languages: Spanish (Fluent); Russian (Basic) Software: JavaScript, Python, CSS

Note that just listing your skills in a separate section isn’t always enough. You also want to make sure to describe how you’ve used key technical and job skills elsewhere on your resume (usually in the bullet points of your experience section).

Other Optional Sections

There are some other sections you can consider adding depending on your experiences and what your target employer might be looking for. For example, a consumer product firm might be looking for examples of design work. In that case you could add a section called “Design Projects,” which might include significant assignments from some of your academic classes or independent projects that you’ve developed in your spare time. Don’t be afraid to include links to your work if you’re submitting your resume online! (Just avoid hyperlinking out from important words, as this could trip up the online systems that scan most resumes.)

Another popular section is “Leadership Experience” where roles like being the vice president for one of your student organizations or being a co-captain for your athletic team would be a good fit. Employers love to see leadership themes on resumes, as it demonstrates the transferable soft skills they’re looking for like communication, collaboration, and initiative.

An “Activities” section can also demonstrate skills. If you dedicate time to learning more about consulting cases with your consulting club, you likely increased your analytical skills in a team setting, which is valuable for many business roles. If you’re an athlete, you can showcase your ability to manage your time, create or be part of a cohesive team, or organize and motivate teammates during practices. These skills gained as an athlete can be ideal if you’re applying for a heavily collaborative role. Additionally, if the activities that you’re involved in are directly applicable to the job, these are powerful to include as it demonstrates interest and dedication. So if you’re majoring in healthcare administration, adding that you’re a member of the Healthcare Society on your campus can be a major plus for an employer.

Any optional sections like these will usually need to be set up similar to your experience entries. Include the organization (or class), your role, the location, the dates you participated, and your key achievements. Here is an example of an entry you might put under a “Leadership” heading:

Head Delegate , Model United Nations , Northfield, MN September 2019–April 2020

  • Researched global topics such as human rights and sustainable energy and developed persuasive positions
  • Represented Chile as a delegate in an education simulation at a conference with 2,000+ participants; negotiated with others and collaborated on common goals to deliver resolutions on political issues
  • Liaised between the delegation and the Secretariat, serving as a first point of contact and resolving issues

6 Tips for Writing a Successful College Resume

From formatting to crafting strong descriptions, attention to detail can pay off when tackling your resume. Here are six tips to help you develop a great resume:

1. Choose the Right Resume Format for You

Your parents or other family members might share their resume and have you copy it because it has worked for them. But they’re at a different place in their career and their format may not be the best one for you.

There are three main types of resume formats for laying out your experiences, skills, and education—the functional resume , the combination/hybrid resume , and the chronological resume . The chronological format is almost always the best fit for college students.

With a chronological resume, you’ll list your experiences within each category/section in reverse chronological order (most recent to least recent, based on end date). Since this is the most traditional and common resume format, recruiters are familiar with it and can quickly see what you have to offer.

2. Be Clear and Consistent

In terms of resume formatting, there are a lot of small choices to make about things like font, style, and spacing. Whatever you decide, make sure it is easily readable, consistent, and not overly fancy. You could have the greatest content in the world, but if it’s too difficult or annoying to read, a recruiter is going to move on.

In order to make a document easy to scan, use clear headers for your sections. Maybe they’re bold and in all caps, or maybe they’re a couple font sizes larger, but they should be the same throughout your resume. The rest of your content should be consistent as well. For example, all your organization or previous employer names might be in italics, your dates all right aligned, your locations in plain text, and the titles of your roles in bold. Keeping things uniform helps the recruiter easily absorb all the relevant information you want them to have.

3. Make Sure It Can Pass Through an Application Tracking System (ATS)

Formatting is also important because your resume will likely pass through something called an applicant tracking system (ATS), a type of software that helps recruiters organize incoming candidate applications. Recruiters can apply filters or search for keywords, and the ATS will show candidates matching the desired criteria, making it easier to identify good candidates in large applicant pools.

In order for your resume to pass this first round and make it to the human who has the power to get you to an interview, the ATS needs to see you’re a good match. But there are formatting choices that can confuse an ATS—for example, some won’t read the content inside tables, text boxes, or graphics. And if the ATS can’t read your materials, your resume might be filtered out. (Read more about formatting your resume for an ATS here .)

This all means that using one of the fancy resume templates you see online isn’t necessarily the best move . Most basic formatting can be achieved with bolding, italics, and spacing, and you will still end up with a good-looking resume—meaning that starting with a blank document can actually be a better bet. (If you still want to use a template, we’ve curated 41 free ATS-friendly templates here .)

4. Create Impactful Descriptions

Give the descriptions you use for your experiences some TLC, as this is what recruiters will focus on once you’ve caught their attention. I often discover students undersell—or simply forget—all the things they’ve done that might be interesting and of value to an employer (including those transferable skills).

Here’s an exercise that can help. Reflect on an experience (such as an internship you had or volunteer work you completed) and quickly jot down what you did. You don’t need to have much structure for this—try it as a brainstorm. Think about answering some of these questions:

  • What was your role?
  • What were the goals for that position or experience?
  • What tasks did you specifically do?
  • What projects did you work on?
  • Were there any side projects or tasks you completed?
  • Who did you work with?
  • What did you contribute?
  • What did you accomplish? (Or what did/do you intend to accomplish? This can be a useful way to think about things especially when considering research or longer term projects that are still in progress!)
  • Can it be quantified? Numbers can paint a clear and impressive picture of your accomplishments to someone reading your resume. You might write that you fundraised as part of the Student Government Association, and that will generally get your point across, but if you can say you increased SGA fundraising by 30% and were able to create two new social events attended by 100+ students each, that will make more of an impact. Look for ways to quantify your accomplishments wherever possible.

Once you have a good brainstorm, take the information you gathered and try crafting several statements using this formula:

Action Verb + Subject + Outcome/Purpose/Result (i.e. Accomplishment)

So you might say:

Organized a fundraiser event for 70 participants resulting in $1,000 in donations to a local hospital

Your descriptions are most valuable when leading with an action verb that reflects specific skills. For example, swap “Worked on” for “Collaborated on” and “Responsible for” with “Oversaw.” Other verbs I often recommend students use include:

  • Communicated
  • Facilitated

5. Tailor Your Resume for Each Opportunity

Always tailor your resume to each specific job you apply to. Making it easy for the recruiter to connect your skills to what they are looking for can increase your chances of success. The job description is your blueprint and key to doing this. A couple of these exercises could help you identify what you’ll want to highlight.

  • Activity 1: Take the job description and go through and underline everything you’ve had some experience in. This might be specific tasks, software/programs/tools, or qualities. Write a quick note in the margin to highlight when you’ve done that. Underline things where you have transferable skills too. For example, if you’ve used a software that is similar to a software they’re looking for, underline it. A recruiter should be able to see on your resume that you used similar skills and would be a quick study.
  • Activity 2: If you aren’t sure which skills to emphasize, take the entire job description and pop it into a simple online word cloud generator, like TagCrowd . It automatically shows you the words most used in the description, which are likely of highest importance to the company or role. If you have those skills, make sure you mention them in your descriptions and mirror the language as exactly as possible (our friend the ATS will be looking for precise keywords!).

These activities can help you identify the right action verbs, keywords, and tools—like software—to weave into your descriptions. They can also help you decide what past experiences to include or which of your college courses are relevant to this role and which direct and transferable skills to highlight to make your resume a stronger fit for your target job.

6. Keep a Few Other Tried-and-True Tips in Mind

Here are a few other parting tips to keep in mind as you build your document:

  • Avoid writing in first person (“I,” “we,” “our,” and “my” statements).
  • Bullet points will make your document more readable—usually two to three per entry works well. But it doesn’t have to be even: Give more description space to the most relevant entries.
  • Attention to detail matters. Proofread—not just for typos, but to make sure formatting is consistent (like date dashes). Employers will use your resume to make assumptions about how detail-oriented you are.
  • Review any headers you put in all caps. Some spell checkers are programmed to assume that they’re acronyms and skip them.
  • Ditch jargon and acronyms wherever possible. Don’t assume the reader always knows what you’re talking about. Sometimes the first person reading your document is a general recruiter and not familiar with the technical side of a role.
  • Be aware of tenses. If you’ve completed an experience, those descriptions will be in past tense, and current roles can be described in present tense. (If you’re still actively involved in a role you can list the role through “Present,” and if more than one entry has the same end date, make a strategic decision to put the most relevant experience first.)
  • Acceptable margins are usually between one and 0.7 inches.
  • Pick a readable font, like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman, and try not to go below font size 11.
  • As a college student, stick to a one-page resume. However, you should consider keeping a longer version (called a master resume) for your own personal use. That’s where you keep a full record of your experiences to make it easier to pull out the relevant ones each time you tailor your resume for a specific job.

What Does a College Resume Look Like?

A college resume should showcase your education, experiences, and skills (direct and transferable!) in a clear way, while keeping in mind what is most relevant to your target employer. The resume below shows a student highlighting their relevant education and experiences specifically for internship opportunities in government and politics.

how to write resume for college admission

Download sample college resume

There are many ways to write and format a resume. Ultimately, you want one that best represents you and your accomplishments to recruiters for the job at hand. Try out some of these tips, and I hope they help you succeed in catching that recruiter’s eye!

how to write resume for college admission

StandOut CV

Resume for College Application example

Andrew Fennell photo

Getting into college and getting a degree will give you a huge head-start in your career, but getting into college isn’t easy.

This guide contains an example College Applicant resume and plenty of tips on how to create your own winning resume, so you can stand out amongst the other candidates and get into the college of your dreams.

Guide contents

Resume for College Application example 1

Resume for college application example 2.

  • Structuring and formatting your resume
  • Writing your resume summary
  • Detailing work experience
  • Your education

Resume templates 

Resume-for-college-application-1

Unsure of what your College Applicant resume should look like?

Have a look at the resume example above to get familiar with the structure, layout and format of a professional resume.

As you can see, it provides plenty of relevant information about the applicant but is still very easy to read, and brief – which will please busy college recruiters.

College Applicant resume structure and format

The format and structure of your resume is important because it will determine how easy it is for recruiters and employers to read your resume.

If they can find the information they need quickly, they’ll be happy; but if they struggle, your application could be overlooked.

A simple and logical structure will always create a better reading experience than a complex structure, and with a few simple formatting tricks, you’ll be good to go.

How to write a resume

Formatting Tips

  • Length: Recruiters will be immediately put off by lengthy resumes – with hundreds of applications to read through, they simply don’t have the time! Grabbing their attention with a short, snappy and highly relevant resume is far more likely to lead to success. Aim for two sides of A4 or less.
  • Readability : Make sure your resume is easy to read and looks professional by applying some simple formatting tricks. Bullet points are great for making large paragraphs more digestible, while formatting your headings with bold or colored text will help the reader to find the information they need, with speed.
  • Design: It’s generally best to stick to a simple resume design, as funky or elaborate designs rarely add any value to your application. A clear, modern font and a subtle color scheme work perfectly and allow your skills, experience and achievements to speak for themselves.
  • Avoid photos: Logos, profile photos or other images aren’t necessary and rarely add any value – save the space for written content, instead!

resume builder

Structuring your resume

As you write your resume , work to the simple but effective structure below:

  • Name and contact details – Pop them at the top of your resume, so it’s easy for recruiters to contact you.
  • Resume summary – Write a snappy overview of what makes you a good fit for the role; discussing your key experience, skills and accomplishments.
  • Core skills section – Add a short but snappy list of your relevant skills and knowledge.
  • Work experience – A list of your relevant work experience, starting with your current role.
  • Education – A summary of your relevant qualifications and professional/vocational training.
  • Hobbies and interests – An optional section, which you could use to write a short description of any relevant hobbies or interests.

Now I’ll guide you through exactly what you should include in each resume section.

Resume Contact Details

Resume contact details

Tuck your contact details into the corner of your resume, so that they don’t take up too much space. Stick to the basic details, such as:

  • Mobile number
  • Email address – It should sound professional, such as your full name.
  • Location -Just write your rough location, rather than your full address.
  • LinkedIn profile or portfolio URL – If you include these, ensure they’re sleek, professional and up-to-date.

College Applicant Resume Summary

Recruiters read through countless applications every day.

If they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly, they’ll simply move onto the next one.

That’s what makes your resume summary (or personal statement , if you’re an entry-level/graduate candidate) so important.

This short and snappy summary sits at the top of your resume and should give a high-level overview of why you’re a good match for the college.

This way, you can ensure that busy recruiters see your suitability from the outset, and so, feel your resume is worth their time.

resume summary

Tips for creating an impactful resume summary:

  • Keep it brief: It might be tempting to submit a page-long resume summary, but recruiters won’t have the time to read it. To ensure every word gets read, it’s best to include high-level information only; sticking to a length of 3-5 lines.
  • Tailor it: Before writing your resume, make sure to do some research. Figure out exactly what your desired employers are looking for and make sure that you are making those requirements prominent in your resume summary, and throughout.
  • Don’t add an objective: Leave your career objectives or goals out of your summary. You only have limited space to work with, so they’re best suited to your cover letter.
  • Avoid cliches: “Determined team player who always gives 110%” might seem like a good way to fill up your resume summary, but generic phrases like this won’t land you an interview. Recruiters hear them time and time again and have no real reason to believe them. Instead, pack your summary with your hard skills and tangible achievements.

What to include in your College Applicant resume summary?

  • Summary of experience: Recruiters will want to know what type of companies you’ve worked for, industries you have knowledge of, and the type of work you’ve carried out in the past, so give them a summary of this in your summary.
  • Relevant skills: Highlight your skills which are most relevant, to ensure that recruiters see your most in-demand skills as soon as they open your resume.
  • Essential qualifications: Be sure to outline your relevant qualifications, so that anyone reading the resume can instantly see you are qualified for the universities you are applying to.

Quick tip: Your resume is your first impression on recruiters, so it’s vital to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes if you want to appear professional. Use our quick-and-easy Resume Builder to add pre-written content that has been crafted by recruitment experts.

Core skills section

In addition to your resume summary, your core skills section provides an easily digestible snapshot of your skills – perfect for grabbing the attention of busy hiring managers.

As College places might receive a huge pile of applications, this is a great way to stand out and show off your suitability for the role.

It should be made up of 2-3 columns of bullet points and be made up of skills that are highly relevant to the universities you are targeting.

resume core skills

Work experience/Career history

Next up is your work experience section, which is normally the longest part of your resume.

Start with your current (or most recent) job and work your way backwards through your experience.

Can’t fit all your roles? Allow more space for your recent career history and shorten down descriptions for your older roles.

Work experience

Structuring your roles

If you don’t pay attention to the structure of your career history section, it could quickly become bulky and overwhelming.

Get in recruiters’ good books by creating a pleasant reading experience, using the 3-step structure below:

Role descriptions

Begin with a summary of your role, detailing what the purpose of your job was, who you reported to and what size of team you were part of (or led).

Key responsibilities

Next, write up a punchy list of your daily duties and responsibilities, using bullet points.

Wherever you can, point out how you put your hard skills and knowledge to use – especially skills which are applicable to your target role.

Key achievements

Finish off by showcasing 1-3 key achievements made within the role.

This could be anything that had a positive effect on your company, clients or customers, such as saving time or money, receiving exemplary feedback or receiving an award.

At the bottom of your resume is your full education section. You can list your formal academic qualifications, such as:

  • High School Diploma
  • Advanced Placement (AP) courses

As well as any specific qualifications that are essential to the jobs you are applying for. Note down the name of the qualification, the organization at which you studied, and the date of completion.

Interests and hobbies

This section is entirely optional, so you’ll have to use your own judgement to figure out if it’s worth including.

If your hobbies and interests could make you appear more suitable for your dream job, then they are definitely worth adding.

Interests which are related to the industry, or hobbies like sports teams or volunteering, which display valuable transferable skills might be worth including.

Writing your College Applicant resume

An interview-winning resume for a College Application needs to be both visually pleasing and packed with targeted content.

Whilst it needs to detail your experience, accomplishments and relevant skills, it also needs to be as clear and easy to read as possible.

Remember to research the role and review the college before applying, so you’re able to match yourself up to the requirements.

If you follow these guidelines and keep motivated in your college search, you should land an interview in no time.

Best of luck with your next application!

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How to Create a Resume for a College Application

Learn how to build a college application resume

Writing a college application resume that's geared toward the school you want to attend can help you win over the admissions committee and earn you a spot in the "accepted" pile. Once you're in college, you can update and use the same resume to apply for internships and jobs for the next phase of your career. Like most resume writing, the most important (and difficult) part is getting started.

Elements of a Resume for a College Application

Your resume should give undergraduate admissions committees a brief rundown of your grades, past jobs, awards, leadership activities and presentation skills, and creative capabilities like music, art, writing, or interpersonal skills.

The purpose of the resume is to demonstrate that you have what it takes to succeed academically and socially at the college. To that end, the resume should usually include the following items to paint a complete picture of you: 

  • Heading: Include all your personal information, including your name, address, phone number, and email address. If you have a personal website that showcases achievements relevant to your career goals, you may want to include it in this section.
  • Academic profile: List your high school and the dates you attended on your resume for a college application. Include your specific class ranking or a general percentage ("graduated in the top 10% of the class") if you think it will strengthen your application. Also highlight any advanced coursework you've completed, such as Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses.
  • SAT/ACT scores: List the highest score if you took the test more than once.
  • Co-curricular activities: Include any school-affiliated clubs, musical groups, or sports teams you took part in.
  • Extracurricular activities: Mention out-of-school groups or activities in which you participated (babysitting, for example). They, along with your co-curricular activities, will show that you have a diverse background and aren't one-dimensional.
  • Employment history: This can include part-time jobs at businesses as well as internships, research experiences, job shadowing, summer programs, and study abroad programs.
  • Skills: Include any languages you are fluent in, computer skills, software skills, and soft skills like leadership or communication to increase the odds that you will get accepted.
  • Volunteer experience : Having volunteer experience on a resume for a college application shows that you care about the world around you and are willing to work for the betterment of your community.
  • Recognition: List the achievements you are most proud of, including any honors or awards.
  • Hobbies and interests: Focus on hobbies that are indirectly related to your intended degree program (photography for a media program or travel for an international relations program, for example).

You don't have to include all the above items in your resume, but include any that would make you the most attractive candidate for the program.

Study up on Your Intended School

Most schools look for applicants who completed rigorous coursework, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work. But if you're applying to a specialized school, it may have unique requirements that you should include in your resume. For example, a performing arts conservatory may require applicants to have substantial prior artistic training.

In addition, while most schools don't ask you to declare your major in advance of admission, some large universities require prospective freshmen to declare the division of the school where they intend to obtain a degree. That particular division may have unique expectations of applicants that should be highlighted in a resume. For example, an engineering division may expect incoming freshmen to have completed physics or a certain number of years of general laboratory science.

The best way to determine what your school and intended degree program require is to review the website for undergraduate admissions, and, if applicable, the division of the school where you intend to obtain your degree. Including the recommended criteria mentioned there in your resume will prove to admissions committees that you're qualified.

Tips for Writing an Effective Resume for a College Application

When you're ready to write your resume, follow these tips to stand out in the admissions process:

  • Be concise and direct. Don't use flowery language. Remember: You're trying to impress the admissions committee with your credentials, not with your prose. Save that for the college essay.
  • Limit your resume to one page. After all, you don't have that much experience yet. If you absolutely must go to two pages, you should have enough content to cover a good portion of the second page.
  • Mention unique experiences. They will help set you apart from other candidates.
  • Don't embellish your background or accomplishments. Making up or exaggerating things on your resume can be damaging.
  • Use active rather than passive voice. Say that you "helped triple the number of customers for the lawn mowing business from 10 to 30" and not that "the number of customers was doubled," for example.
  • Emphasize specific achievements over general responsibilities. For example, rather than say you "tested water samples," say that you "researched, wrote, and presented laboratory findings of water quality using samples from Hovey Pond in Chelsea, Massachusetts."
  • Proofread the resume several times. This will help you catch spelling and grammar mistakes, which can cause your resume to be rejected no matter how accomplished you are. Try leaving the resume for a day before going back to proofread it. Likewise, scan the resume from bottom to top to catch any remaining errors or typos. You only get one chance to leave a great first impression.
  • Have one or more people look at your resume before you send it out. This will help you avoid glaring omissions or errors.

Provide anyone who has agreed to write a recommendation on your behalf with a copy of your resume so they are better prepared to discuss your background.

Resume Formatting Tips

Although the look of your resume is up to you, there are a few general organizational and appearance guidelines you should follow:

  • Arrange your educational and work experiences in descending order. You should begin with your most recent experience and work your way back in time as you move down the page.
  • Use bullet points so that your resume looks clean and can be scanned easily. Begin each bullet with an action verb, and don't repeat verbs. If you use "Studied" in one bullet point, find another word for your next bullet point.
  • Employ a consistent style. For example, if you use abbreviations, commas in lists of items, or title case capitalization for section headings, stick with the same format throughout your college application resume. The same applies to dates and the use of bold font and italics. Keep the spacing and the font style the same between sections.

College Application Resume Template Examples

Use this resume section as an example of how to write and format your own accomplishments. The Balance also provides several resume templates you can use to condense your achievements into an easy-to-read format.

  • GPA: 3.85/4.0
  • Graduated third in a class of 425 students
  • Attended Harvard University ‘s Summer Pre-Law Program

Experiences:

  • Co-Curricular Activities:
  • Treasurer, Student Government Association, Grades 9-12
  • Captain, Soccer Team, St. George’s High School, Laramie, WY, Fall 20XX– Spring 20XX
  • Volunteering:
  • Fundraiser, Make A Wish Foundation, 20XX
  • Volunteer, Domestic Violence Shelter, 20XX

The Bottom Line

Your resume for a college application should be a brief snapshot of you at this point in your life—ideally no more than one page long. Make it memorable but also easy to scan and understand to put your best foot forward.

Finally, be yourself—don't exaggerate or make information up. But do include all the experiences and accomplishments needed for the admissions committee members to form an accurate impression of you so that they can accept you without hesitation.

Related: Best Resume Writing Services

how to write resume for college admission

How to Write a Resume for College Applications

how to write resume for college admission

Watch the  Matriculate x CollegeVine webinar  to hear from Sarah (former Matriculate Advising Fellow and current Matriculate staff member) and a Matriculate alum – Wiralba (QuestBridge Match Scholar at Grinnell College) for tips on how to write a college resume. Here are some key takeaways:

“SHOULD I SUBMIT MY RESUME TO COLLEGES?”

(Start the video at 17:38 to learn more.) The short answer is, “Yes!” On the Common App, you can only add 10 activities to the Activity Section and use only 150 characters to describe them. By submitting your resume, you can share all of your activities with colleges and share far more details than 150 characters will allow. Note: Some colleges will not have the option to upload a resume to the application, in this case, use your resume as a guide to complete the Activity Section. Here’s advice from Common App on ‘Approaching the Activity Section.’

“WHAT SHOULD I PUT ON MY COLLEGE RESUME?”

Unlike a professional resume, where the reader is looking for professional skills and experience, colleges are more interested in your scholastic achievements, awards, activities, athletics, clubs, leadership, community service, special talents, and other program participation .. *AHEM* Matriculate! 🙂 The college admission resume is designed to show how you spend time when you’re not sleeping, eating, or in school, and what you’re passionate about. 

HOW TO WRITE A RESUME FOR COLLEGE APPLICATIONS?

Use this free college application resume template and verbs list to get started! Start the video at 4:12 to learn how to write the different sections of the resume.

Here are some key experiences to include on a college resume:

  • Volunteerism and Work Experience: While college resumes focus on your academics and how you spend time in school, the purpose of the Activity Section is to better know you as a student and how you spend time outside of the classroom – this includes your afterschool job, summer internship, and all volunteer work (even if it was a club requirement).
  • Leadership: Don’t forget to include your job title! In each activity description, if you‘ve had a specific job or leadership position, include that – for example: team captain, Vice President, Teacher’s Assistant, etc.
  • Family Responsibility: Many students have major responsibilities at home, including Home Health Aid, caring for younger siblings, etc – you should also include this in your resume!

WHAT SHOULD I DO TO IMPROVE MY RESUME?

Looking for advice on how to spend your summer and add more to your resume? Check out the CollegeVine x Matriculate webinar on “How to Make the Most of Your Summer.”

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Scoir – The College Resume: A How-To Guide
  • College Essay Guy – How to Write a College Resume (+ Example Templates)
  • The Princeton Review – Write a High School Student Resume for College Applications

NEED FREE COLLEGE APPLICATION SUPPORT?

If you’re a high school junior and need free college application help – the Matriculate Class of 2025 Application is open until the end of August 2024. Students are accepted on a rolling basis – so if you apply today, you could be matched with your advisor within two weeks!

If you’re a younger student and need free college application help – join our mailing list  and be the first to get access to the application for your class.

how to write resume for college admission

MEET THE AUTHORS

how to write resume for college admission

Wiralba Pichardo 

Wiralba is a current junior at Grinnell College, a QuestBridge scholarship recipient, and a Matriculate High School Fellow alumna. Currently based in Barcelona for her study abroad program, Wiralba is a political science major with a concentration in education. She is very passionate about rural and urban education initiatives and bettering education. She loves cooking and is currently exploring saffron recipes.

how to write resume for college admission

Sarah Oppenheim

S arah is from Bay, Arkansas and is the High School Fellow Recruitment Associate at Matriculate. Prior to this role, she was an Advising Fellow with Matriculate and graduated from Columbia University in 2021. In her free time, she loves kayaking, hiking, and trying new restaurants.

Matriculate © 2024 All rights reserved.

The Bell

The Complete Guide to the College Admissions Process 

 Posted on July 10, 2024 by collegecomm

  Leave a Comment

You’ve spent the last few years of high school studying hard, participating in extracurricular activities, narrowing down your college list, visiting campuses and preparing for the next four years of college. Now, it’s time to start filling out college applications. But where do you begin?  Many students worry about how to get into college before they even get started. We’re here to offer some college admissions assistance by breaking the process down into a few easy steps.  

Where Do I Fill Out a College Application?      

You have a few options for applying:  

  • Common App: Note which colleges use the Common App, an application that more than 1,000 colleges accept. You can fill out the Common App once and then send it to multiple colleges. Some colleges do require supplemental questions or essays, so be sure you personalize each one.  
  • Coalition: The Coalition App is a newer application accepted by about 170 colleges and universities.  
  • School-specific apps: Some colleges have their own specific application or university system-specific applications, like the University of California schools.  

Gordon College accepts both the Common Application and has its own application. Either way, it’s easy to start an application and apply ! 

What Are the Components of the College Application Process?   

  • Personal information: You’ll be asked to provide basic information about yourself, your school and your family. The application may include an essay; you can prepare by researching examples of college essays or working with your teachers and school counselor.  
  • Application fee: Many colleges require an application fee that typically ranges from $50-100. You can confirm exact fee amounts by searching college websites.   
  • Transcript: The transcript is a record of the classes you’ve taken and the grades you’ve earned, and it will be used to evaluate your readiness for college. Typically, your transcript is sent directly from your high school. Make sure to tell your school counselor where you’re applying and what the college admissions dates are for each school.   
  • Letters of recommendation: Some colleges will ask for letters of recommendation, typically from a teacher or your school counselor. Recommenders should know you well, not only in the classroom, but also be able to speak to your personal qualities and character. Pro tip: give your recommenders a resume or activity sheet so they are up to date on all your accomplishments! 
  • Test scores: For many colleges and universities, including Gordon, the submission of standardized test scores (such as the SAT or ACT) is optional. Make sure to note which schools require standardized test scores and how they want to receive them.  
  • Interview: Not all colleges require an interview. If available, an optional interview can be a great way to highlight your personal qualities. Research college admissions interview questions ahead of time so you are well prepared.   
  • Resume/extracurricular activities: Colleges like to see well-rounded students who participate in activities outside of the classroom. There is space on the application to list activities, but if you have more to add, you might want to upload a resume.  

At Gordon we’ve made the application process as easy as possible. You’ll notice that an application fee, letters of recommendation, an interview or test scores aren’t listed in our application steps —some of the many perks of applying to Gordon! Still have questions? Check out Gordon’s Admissions FAQ .  

When Are the Different Types of College Application Deadlines?  

  • Early Decision: Early Decision means that if you are accepted to the college it is binding, and you must enroll. These deadlines are typically in November, and students usually hear an admissions decision by December. 
  • Early Action: By applying under Early Action you’ll hear back earlier, but your acceptance is not binding meaning you can keep your options open until you’re ready to make a college decision. These deadlines also tend to be in November or December, but some schools have slightly earlier or later deadlines. 
  • Regular Decision: Regular Decision deadlines typically range from January through March. You will generally hear back in mid-March to early April. 
  • Rolling: Rolling admissions means that colleges will evaluate completed applications as they receive them and will release decisions on an ongoing basis.  

Gordon offers early decision, early action and regular decision. With any option you’ll hear an admissions decision from us within two weeks of completing your application! Keep in mind that there are certain deadlines for honors consideration , music auditions and other specific opportunities, so be sure to give yourself enough time to plan.   

Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out for College Admissions Assistance  

We hope outlining some of the college admissions dates will make the application process a bit smoother for you! Make sure to utilize your school counselor or reach out to college admissions offices to keep yourself organized during the application process. Gordon’s application and the Common Application for fall 2025 will open in August. Take the next step and apply today ! 

 Category: Uncategorized      Tags: admissions , application deadlines , college application

Copyright © 2024 · All Rights Reserved · The Bell, Gordon College

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How to get into college: practical tips and effective strategies

Published 03 Jul 2024

Entering a university is a significant milestone that requires careful planning and preparation. This article aims to guide prospective students through the intricate process of college admissions, offering practical tips on how to get into college. You will learn to select the right university, strengthen your academic and extracurricular profiles, navigate the application process, craft compelling personal statements, and prepare for the interview. We will cover college admissions strategies and tips for obtaining strong letters of recommendation. This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to gain admission to your desired university successfully.

Challenges when getting into college 

No matter your reasons why you should go to college , selecting an institute, choosing a major, and preparing for the acceptance process are significant challenges. The first hurdle is choosing the right university from thousands of options, considering factors like location, size, culture, reputation, and cost. Finding a school that fits your personal, academic, and social needs often involves campus visits and discussions with current students, while affordability requires evaluating tuition, scholarships, and financial aid options.

Choosing a major can be difficult, as you need to balance your interests with practical job prospects. Many students are unsure due to limited exposure to different fields, and your interests may evolve over time. Thus, early exploration of various disciplines can help make a more informed decision.

The admission process itself is complex, involving test scores, completing a letter of intent , essays, and passing interviews. Managing deadlines and colleges entrance requirements for each school is stressful, and writing a compelling personal statement needs introspection and creativity. Preparing for standardized tests adds to the pressure, as does securing strong recommendation letters. Navigating financial aid and scholarship applications also demands a thorough understanding of various programs and deadlines.

Indeed, success requires careful planning, guidance from counselors and mentors, and staying organized. With the right approach, you can make informed decisions and improve your chances of getting accepted into college that suits your needs and aspirations.

What do colleges pay attention to in applicants?

One of the essential questions students ask is, “What do colleges look for when considering applications?” Pinpointing exactly what makes an admission form stand out can be challenging, as the “ideal application” varies from person to person. Still, certain consistent pillars of success can guide you and offer the best college application strategy:

  • Honesty: Present yourself authentically to the admissions counselors. Share what you care about, what motivates you, and how attending this university fits into your future aspirations.
  • Strong academic performance : What grades do colleges look at the most? Good test scores are crucial. If you’re interested in what GPA to get into college, aim for a grade between 3.5 and 4.0 to increase your chances of admission. A 3.5 GPA is often sufficient for many schools, particularly state institutions. Consider starting at a community school if your grade point average is lower. You can improve your GPA in the first two years and transfer to a more prestigious university. If some of your grades are below average, compensate by excelling in other areas of your application, such as essays and extracurricular activities.
  • A well-balanced life: Participation in volunteer work, outside-the-classroom activities, or employment showcases your ability to manage a balanced schedule and develop diverse interests. The best extracurriculars for college applications are those that demonstrate your passions, leadership skills, and commitment.
  • Enthusiasm: Tell about your passion for your chosen major and the school. Highlight how your interest began and evolved, particularly in your essays and interviews. Craft a compelling “origin story” that cohesively ties your medical school application .

Don’t forget that university officers evaluate your entire admission form, not just the numbers. If one aspect is lacking, you can strengthen your overall application by excelling in other areas.

How to get into good colleges: essential strategies 

Entering the university can be challenging, requiring hard work, determination, and often support from family and school officers. Alongside earning good grades and strong ACT and SAT scores, you’ll need to write a well-thought-out essay and secure strong letters of recommendation.

However, securing admission to a good school doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Below are nine essential strategies that will be a great solution for those pondering how to get into a good college.

  • Achieve strong grades in rigorous courses: Aim for a high GPA in advanced classes like honors, AP, and IB courses. Colleges value rigorous coursework and good grades.
  • Earn a high SAT / ACT score: Good academic performance is an essential requirement for college. Prepare for standardized tests with prep books, practice questions, and possibly tutoring. Even test-optional schools may consider high scores a plus.
  • Create a compelling personal statement: Craft an essay that highlights who you are beyond test scores and grades. Use the appropriate college admission essay format to tell your unique and engaging story.
  • Demonstrate your motivation and interest: What do college applications look like? The essential task is to show genuine interest in your chosen university by visiting campuses, attending tours, and participating in interviews and online seminars.
  • Submit excellent letters of recommendation: Request letters from teachers and counselors who know you well and can speak positively about your character and achievements.
  • Apply to various colleges: Include safety, match, and reach schools in your application list to ensure a range of options.
  • Choose an early admission plan: Applying an early decision or action can improve your chances of acceptance and is an effective admission strategy for colleges. Research the specific benefits and commitments of each plan.
  • Pay attention to your virtual reputation: Keep your social media profiles clean and professional, as admissions officers may review your online presence.
  • Ask for assistance if you need it: Seek help from teachers, guidance counselors, friends, and family to steer through the entry process and answer your questions. Opt for secure admission essay writing service to get professional support.

By following these ways to get into college, you can effectively increase your chances of entering the university of your choice.

Useful resources and tips to get into college 

Entering college is a significant milestone; utilizing various resources can give you a competitive edge. Beyond the typical advice and resources, here are some unique and effective tools with college application tips to help you navigate the university admissions process.

The platform offers student reviews, scholarships, tips for applying to college, and advice for applicants. It features a vast collection of student-generated content. Users can gain an insider’s perspective on colleges and access valuable scholarship opportunities.

This website provides comprehensive reviews and rankings from current students, offering unique insights into campus life, academic experiences, college activities, and overall satisfaction. Real student feedback helps you understand a university's true culture and environment, aiding in finding a good fit.

College Confidential;

This is a community-driven forum where students, parents, and educators discuss admissions, share advice on how to write a personal statement , and provide support. Engage with a supportive community, get real-time advice about things to do to get into college, and learn from the experiences of others.

RateMyProfessors;

This platform allows students to rate and review professors, which can help them understand the quality of teaching at various universities. You can also gain insights into the academic environment and make informed decisions about where you might want to study.

College Essay Guy;

The website is dedicated to helping applicants craft compelling college essays with free resources, guides, and personalized coaching. Learn how to get accepted into college and get expert guidance on writing impactful essays that can make your application stand out.

This resource offers an admissions predictor tool and allows applicants to send diplomas and credentials electronically. It simplifies the entry process and provides insights into your admission chances.

Khan Academy;

This website provides free SAT preparation materials, including practice tests, personalized study plans, a college admission requirements chart, and instructional videos. With this platform, you can improve your standardized test scores with high-quality, accessible resources.

The platform offers online courses from top universities that help build a strong academic profile, explore potential majors, and demonstrate commitment to learning.

Take courses that can explain how to create a why this college essay and enhance your application by showcasing your dedication to academic and personal growth.

This wide array of talks can inspire your essays, interviews, and personal development by exposing you to new ideas and perspectives. Gain fresh insights and inspiration that can be reflected in your application and personal statement to get into college of your dreams.

YouTube channels;

Access free expert advice and strategies for various aspects of the enrollment process using the following channels:

  • College Admission Tips: This resource shares insights from experts in the field about how to get into college.
  • SupertutorTV: The channel offers SAT/ACT prep tips and advice about things to do to get into a good college.

LinkedIn Learning;

The platform offers courses to get the answer to the “ What is a statement of purpose ?” question and develop specific skills or interests that can make your application stand out. Showcasing specialized knowledge or expertise enhances your personal statement.

VolunteerMatch;

On this website, you can find local volunteer opportunities that align with your interests and passions. Build a strong extracurricular profile while making a positive impact in your community.

This website provides detailed school profiles, reviews, and a tool to calculate your chances of success. It helps you find institutions that match your profile and increases your chances of acceptance by targeting the right schools.

College Board’s BigFuture;

This comprehensive planning tool helps with university searches, financial aid information, and application tips. It also provides step-by-step enrollment guidance and answers the question, “How do you get accepted into college?”.

The social media platform is designed for students to showcase their personalities and talents through photos and videos. It allows you to create a dynamic, multimedia resume that can complement your application.

Utilizing these effective resources can provide unique insights, enhance your application, give information about the college admission requirements, and help you navigate the complex college admission process more effectively.

Final thoughts

University is the next step for many students, marking the start of their career and adult independence. While it’s not for everyone, it prepares you for the working world if you choose to get into top colleges. Navigating the university admissions process can be challenging, but with the right preparation and resources, achieving your goal is within reach. Each step is crucial for securing a place in your desired alma mater, from researching potential schools to crafting standout applications and preparing for interviews. When you need expert guidance and support, EduBirdie can be your best helper and offers effective partnership. With a team of experienced writing professionals, EduBirdie provides tutoring and personalized assistance tailored to your unique needs, ensuring you present your best self to admissions officers. Trust EduBirdie to help you turn your academic dreams into reality.

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Written by Stella Gary

Stella Gary is a talented writer specializing in creating comprehensive guides on various academic tasks, including literature reviews, lab reports, and thesis writing. With a sharp analytical mind and a deep understanding of academic standards, Stella offers invaluable advice and techniques to help students achieve their academic goals. Outside of her professional work, Stella is passionate about sustainable living and often explores innovative ways to promote eco-friendly practices.

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Made by History

How the College Application Essay Became So Important

Board of Admissions examining applicatio

S chool is out and summer is here. Yet future high school seniors and their families are likely already thinking about applying to college — a process that can be as labor-intensive and time-consuming as it is confusing. Students submit SAT scores, grades, references, personal essays, and more, often without a clear sense of what counts most.

The challenges facing college applicants today aren’t new. For over a century, Americans seeking higher education have had to navigate complicated admissions requirements including exams and grades as well as qualitative metrics of assessment, such as references, interviews, and essays.

Collecting so much academic and personal information has given colleges and universities greater control over the kinds of students they admit. In the first half of the 20th century, this information was mainly used to bar some applicants based on race, gender, and religion. Since the social movements of the 1960s and 70s, however, it has been used to do nearly the opposite by expanding access to previously excluded groups. In this process, personal essays have been especially valuable for the unique insights they can offer into applicants’ backgrounds and perspectives. In the context of today’s narrowing national diversity agenda, they are key to promoting inclusion in American higher education.

In the late 19th century, college admission standards were relatively low in America, even at the “Big Three” private universities, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. In an era when few Americans had more than an eighth-grade education, and even fewer could afford the cost of higher education, there was little competition for admission. Applicants needed only to pass subject matter exams, tests that were rudimentary and could be taken repeatedly until passed. Even those who failed their entrance exams might be admitted if they had elite standing and could pay tuition.

Read More: How to Talk About Race on College Applications, According to Admissions Experts

By the turn of the 20th century, however, demand for higher education was growing. Colleges worked intentionally to admit a broader range of students, dropping archaic requirements like knowledge of Latin and Greek that had previously barred all but the most privileged high school students from applying. More and more qualified applicants competed for fewer available spots, which meant that colleges and universities could be more selective. 

But with more applicants passing exams and earning entry to higher education, private universities became increasingly concerned about the demographics of their student bodies. By the 1910s, as immigration increased, and more public high schools were better preparing students of all backgrounds to meet private entrance requirements, rising numbers of Jewish students were landing spots at the historically Protestant and upper-class universities. With antisemitism on the rise, many private colleges adopted new metrics of admission that could be used to limit the number of “undesirable” students, especially Jewish ones. 

It was at this juncture that selective colleges introduced the application essay to assess students for the amorphous category of "fit." Applications in general became much more involved and intrusive. 

For instance, beginning in 1919, Columbia required prospective students to complete an eight-page form, submit a photo, list their mother’s maiden name, and provide information about their religious background. Even standardized tests could be used to screen students by cultural background. Early entrance exams were heavily biased toward American customs and colloquialisms, putting first-generation immigrants at a disadvantage.

In the wake of World War II, the passage of the GI Bill created a surge in demand for higher education across the country. Between 1950 and 1970, enrollment in colleges and universities in the U.S. nearly quadrupled. 

Although public and private universities expanded in response, they still came under new pressures to bolster selective criteria that would allow them to limit the growth of their student bodies. To ensure spots for students long considered the natural recipients of higher education — especially white, middle-class, Protestant men — private colleges continued to use quotas and other forms of preference such as legacy status to effectively limit the numbers of Jewish students, people of color, and women admitted. Meanwhile, admissions were far from need blind; applying for a scholarship could damage your chance of acceptance.

Public universities like the University of California, Berkeley charted a different course. In the post-war period, the UC system admitted all students who met basic requirements — graduation from an accredited high school along with a principal's recommendation, acceptance by exam, or completion of an Associate’s degree. But public universities now also faced more demand than they could accommodate. Indeed, the 1960s California Master Plan for Higher Education acknowledged that state universities, too, might well have to introduce a selective process for choosing applicants in the face of expanded access across much wider class, geographic, and ethnic backgrounds. 

By the 1960s, a selective application process became common across major private and public universities. But the social movements of the 1960s and 70s forced private universities to drop their formal practices of discrimination and changed the use of personal essays and other qualitative metrics of evaluation in the process. 

For the first time, in the 1960s, admissions officers at historically white and Protestant universities acknowledged that applicants’ academic profiles were deeply shaped by the opportunities — educational, economic, and cultural — available to them, and that these in turn were shaped by students’ race, ethnicity, and sex. 

While special considerations about background had once been used to systematically exclude minorities, in the 1960s they were invoked for the first time to do the opposite, albeit with some striking limitations. 

By looking at applicants from a comprehensive standpoint, which included these markers of identity, even the most selective private universities made major strides in achieving racial diversity in this period. They also dropped quotas and began to admit women on an equal basis with men. Class diversity, however, was another matter — to this day private universities continue to be comparatively socio-economically homogenous despite meaningful shifts in other areas. 

Since the 1970s, the admissions system has only grown increasingly competitive, with more students than ever before applying to college. That forced universities to choose between strong applicants while building their own brands and competitive profiles. This competitive environment has turned the college application essay into a particularly important vehicle in the admissions process for learning about students’ backgrounds and human qualities.

Read More: How the End of Affirmative Action Could Affect the College Admissions Process

In 1975, a small group of mostly East Coast colleges came together to form the Common App — today used by more than 1,000 universities. The Common App led the way in formulating what we now think of as the personal statement, aimed at understanding the inner world of each student.

For more than 50 years now, universities both private and public have evaluated essays for a range of qualities including leadership capacity, creativity, service to the community, and ability to overcome hardship, as part of their admissions decisions. The kinds of questions universities ask, the qualities they seek, and the responses they receive have changed many times and have been shaped by the cultural trends of our times. 

In 2021 for example, following the spread of a global pandemic, the Common App introduced a question about gratitude for the first time. And while the prompts remained unchanged following the 2023 Supreme Court decision in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. (SFFA) v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and SFFA v. University of North Carolina , which formally excluded race as a factor in admissions, universities began to read them for the role of race, ethnicity, and other identities in students’ profiles. In these and many other ways, the essay has only gained value as a way for students to explain the important ways their experiences and identities have shaped their academic profiles.

how to write resume for college admission

Still, there have been calls to eliminate the college essay from admissions requirements from both the right and the left, as either frivolously inclusive, or potentially exclusionary. Now, at a time when there are major political constraints on supporting diversity and inclusion at the national level, personal essays give admissions committees important flexibility. They also allow colleges to evaluate students for underrated but essential intellectual and personal qualities hard to observe elsewhere, including the capacity for growth, self-reflection, and awareness of the world around them. 

The history of modern admissions shows how institutions of higher education have sought to engineer their classes, often reinforcing harmful racial, class, and gender hierarchies. There is little objectivity in the metric of “fit” that has shaped American admissions practices. But the Civil Rights era has had a powerful and long-lasting legacy in broadening access through an assessment of applicants that is attentive to identity. However flawed the system, the essay offers something no other metric can: an account of a student’s lived experience, in their own words.

Sarah Stoller is a writer and historian. She also tutors college essay writing.

Made by History takes readers beyond the headlines with articles written and edited by professional historians. Learn more about Made by History at TIME here . Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors .

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Learn more about how to complete your application and apply to attend Penn State for your graduate education. All applicants meet minimum eligibility requirements for both the Graduate School and your intended program. Applications also need to provide all required documents and materials, and pay the application fee, before their application can be reviewed.

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We encourage applicants to submit their materials as early as possible. Every graduate program at Penn State has its own application deadlines. Please check with your intended graduate program for deadlines and other program-specific information.

International applicants must submit materials at least four months before the beginning of the semester for which they are applying.

Application Fees

  • U.S. applicants for degree and certificate programs: $65
  • International applicants for degree programs and certificate programs (for anyone applying for summer or fall 2024 admission): $65
  • International applicants for degree programs and certificate programs (for anyone applying for spring 2025 admission or later): $85
  • Nondegree admission (U.S. or international): $30

All application fees are nonrefundable.

An application will not be reviewed until the application fee is paid. Applicants should pay within the application as the final step after all other sections of the application are completed. In unique situations where an applicant or another individual needs to pay for a previously submitted application, this can be done by credit card via the Graduate School Payment Portal , or by check/money order using the Application Fee Form below. To request an application fee waiver, contact your intended graduate program directly.

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Enrollment Types

To apply to a degree program, you will select your intended program and campus on the application form and you will need to submit all required materials that are listed on your intended program's website . Applicants may apply to only one graduate degree program and campus at a time. If you submit more than one degree application, only your most recently submitted application will be reviewed.

The Graduate School does not admit applicants to concurrent double Ph.D. degree programs, concurrent double professional doctoral degree programs, or concurrent doctoral degree programs in any combination. Applicants who have already received a Ph.D. are also generally not offered admission. For more information, view policy GCAC-307 Concurrent or Second Doctorates .

Pursuing a postbaccalaureate or graduate certificate may broaden your education, advance your career, or provide specialized knowledge. Currently enrolled graduate students can apply for a certificate program by completing the graduate application, including paying the application fee. Undergraduate students are not eligible for postbaccalaureate or graduate certificates.

If you are applying for admission to a degree program and a graduate certificate, you must complete two online applications.

Applying as a nondegree student allows you to take graduate-level courses for personal enrichment or professional development. Please be aware of the following:

  • Nondegree students are not eligible to receive fellowships or graduate assistantships.
  • Nondegree students may not be able to register for all courses. Preference is given to degree students, and some courses are controlled by graduate programs.
  • Nondegree students can later submit a new graduate application to apply to a degree program. No more than 15 credits of course work accumulated in nondegree status may count toward a graduate degree.

You must submit an application when changing a major or degree, and for most (but not all) situations when you are applying to resume study.

Learn more about resuming study and changing programs .

If you are applying for Level I Instructional, Supervisory, Educational Specialist, and Administrative certification issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education upon the recommendation of the University, you must apply using the degree application. First, select your major in the application, then choose "Pennsylvania Educators Level I Certification" as the degree selection. Learn more about PDE certification .

Minimum Admission Requirements

To be eligible for a degree program, you must meet both of the following:

All applicants to a Penn State graduate program must hold a degree from degree-granting institution that is officially recognized in the country in which it operates. See below to search by country for accepted documents from institutions in that country. The degree must be one of the following types:

  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution
  • Tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution.

Check your intended graduate program’s website for specific requirements. These may be higher or more stringent than the general Penn State graduate program requirements.

Search for Minimum Eligibility by Country

View the admission requirements from a selected country by choosing from the drop-down list below. The requirements listed for each country are seen most often from institutions within the selected country. Academic credentials will be reviewed on an individual basis to determine degree comparability and eligibility for admission.

Transcript Requirements

When applying for any graduate program, you will need to upload a scanned copy of official transcripts from institutions you attended previously. Note that there is a difference between “official” and “unofficial” transcripts, and only some documents will be accepted in the application process.

Applicants will be required to upload copies of official transcripts or documents from all post-secondary institutions attended, whether the degree was completed or not.

For institutions outside the U.S., acceptable documents may include:

  • a marksheet
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Applicants are required to include copies of official English translations in addition to native language documents.

Acceptable English translations must be completed by one of the following sources:

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During the application process, you will upload scanned copies of transcripts from your current institution. Then, after you graduate from your institution, you will need to send a second set of official transcripts indicating that you received the original degree listed on your first set of transcripts.

Accuracy of Application Materials

Penn State is committed to ensuring that all applicants and students uphold the highest level of academic integrity. Any false information, omissions, and/or misstatements that are made in an application — including but not limited to the uploading of copies of transcripts that differ in any substantive way from the official transcripts/documents — will result in admission, registration, and credit(s) for course work completed being voided for the applicant. Additionally, information relating to the false information, omissions, and/or misstatements may be distributed to other academic institutions, governmental agencies, and/or other third parties.

English Proficiency

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants must submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with some exceptions. If you do not meet these minimum requirements, you may be granted provisional admission until you complete certain requirements.

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): overall score of at least 80 with a minimum speaking score of 19
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): minimum score of 6.5

Provision Admission

Applicants with the test scores below those listed above may be considered for provisional admission. To be fully admitted, students must complete specified English course work with a grade of B or higher during their first semester of enrollment. The course(s) to meet this qualification will be based on the applicant’s area(s) of deficiency in test results and are listed the graduate education admissions policy (GCAC-305 Procedures) .

Exemptions from English Proficiency Testing

International applicants who successfully complete Penn State’s non-credit Intensive English Communication Program by earning the certification will be exempted from the English proficiency test requirement. Similar programs at other institutions are not provided exemption.

International applicants who have received a baccalaureate or a graduate degree in one of the following countries are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement:

  • American Samoa
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  • Trinidad and Tobago
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  • United States
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Some graduate plans of study may have more stringent requirements.

“Penn State is a strong institution with a long history and numerous ties with other academic institutions and organizations. In the collaborative environment of Penn State, it was as easy to network across departments as it was to form partnerships with different institutions and companies – paperwork aside. Because the scope of research activity is always growing at Penn State, there is fantastic support for traditional research as well as inter- and transdisciplinary projects. Part of what makes this possible – and fruitful – is the robust sense of community and the connections therein. On nearly every occasion that I reached out to fellow researchers at Penn State, I was met with an enthusiastic interest in working together, brainstorming research questions, and simply experiencing local opportunities.”

— Mason Breitzig Doctoral candidate in Epidemiology, College of Medicine

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    Learn more about how to complete your application and apply to attend Penn State for your graduate education. All applicants meet minimum eligibility requirements for both the Graduate School and your intended program.