Updated: Jan 12, 2021
Riddle: What do college applications, internships, scholarships and summer jobs all want?
Hint: It is one page and has you written all over it.
Answer: Your resume!
Your dream college has just asked you to upload your resume as part of the college application process. At this point your resume is just a collection of thoughts and activities that are still floating freely in your head. So how you do start to synthesize all of this information into a format that will knock the socks off the admissions reader? Let's break it down.
What is a resume?
First understand that a resume is a compilation of your educational background, work experience, credentials and activities.
Where to start?
A good rule of thumb is to keep your resume to one page. You may be thinking that it is impossible to squeeze your life onto one page, but if you are creative it is
possible. Next find an online resume template that you find eye catching and easy to read. Ultimately you want the resume to be easy on the eye, not so dense that a reader will shy away from reading it.
Next, gather your information…..
Make a list of all of the activities that you have engaged in during your high school years. Talk with your parents to make sure that you have not missed any activities as sometimes they might remember an activity that you accidentally overlooked.
Definitely include any community related activities (e.g. internships, mission trips, volunteer work, study abroad) and jobs (e.g. babysitting, youth sports instructor). Finally, if you keep a scrapbook, look through it and write down any certificates, honors or awards that you have received.
Let’s write it…….
The header should include your first and last name with a professional-sounding email address and contact information. The header should be bold faced and a larger font than the rest of the document.
Next, include information about your educational background - the high school that you attended and its location, as well as your expected graduation date (e.g. Costa Mesa High School, graduation expected June 2021)
Under this heading make sure to include any academic honors or awards that you would like to share (e.g. GPA 3.93, California Scholastic Federation member).
Finally, you can also include relevant coursework under this header. If you are applying to a college as a history
major then you may want to
include courses that you took such
as AP US History and
Under this section include any job, internships or volunteer experience that you have worked at during your high school years. Ideally you want to put these experiences in chronological order, but sometimes you may want to put your most relevant experience first. List the title of your job, the location and the years that you engaged in this experience. Next, list three bullet points and develop short phrases about your duties. Start each phrase with an active verb such as “responsible for” “helped children” or “maintained.” Again keep this section as ‘readable’ and ‘easy on the eye’ as possible for the reader. Stray away from using the first person in your resume (e.g. I was a youth tennis instructor).
For this section list your high school and community activities in chronological order starting with your senior year. Include any leadership positions that you have held while participating in an activity. Again include those active verbs in describing your participation in the activity. Instead of dates you may want to
use freshman, sophomore, junior or senior year to specify the timeline of your activities. Example: "Organized food drive for local homeless shelter (2 hrs/wk, sophomore)," or "Competed in state cheerleading championships (9 hrs/wk, senior)."
For this section you can include any other relevant information that you want the admissions reader to be aware of. Feel free to include if you are bilingual or competent in another language and any certificates for skills that you have received (e.g. CPR, first-aid, lifeguard, sailing instructor). Also add in any software packages or coding that you are skilled in.
Finally, proofread your resume several times and then have a parent or teacher read it as well. Misspelled words/incorrect grammar are the number one mistakes that are made on a resume. Keep your resume up-to-date, as I guarantee you that you will need this on more than one occasion in the future!