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.

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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.

 

6. Edit.

 

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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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.