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How to Prepare for College Resumes

Resumes are no longer a tool reserved for those looking for employment. Students should begin building one while still in high school to include with their college applications. They can be used for everything from applying for internships to landing college scholarships, so you will want this tool in your arsenal to make the best impression. 

If you want your college application to earn you a coveted spot in the accepted pile, a winning resume can be highly beneficial. For many colleges, including one with your application is mandatory. For others, a resume can be included in the supplemental section.

The hardest part of crafting a great resume, of course, is getting started. This is especially true if you’ve never created one before. In this article, we will walk you through the essential elements of a good college resume and how to write one that will attract the attention of admissions officers.

Items to Include in Your College Resume

You will want to be as thorough as possible without making things too cluttered. Here is the essential information you should include when writing your resume:

Academic History

Unlike a job resume, the main focus for a college application resume should be on your education. You will want to include the name of your school, your GPA, and your highest ACT or SAT scores. You should also list any International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) courses you have taken.

If you have any specific achievements (graduating in the top 10 percent of your class, for example), it can help to list these as well.

Employment

If you have any employment experience, you should list this too. Even part-time work flipping burgers counts. Your job experience can demonstrate to the acceptance committee that you are capable of multi-tasking and have a sense of responsibility and dedication.

Volunteer Work or Community Service

If you do not have any employment experience yet, volunteer work is also a valuable section to include on your resume. You should list the dates and the exact type of work performed, highlighting any special skills that might be relevant. Admissions officers like to see a commitment to a worthy cause and any activities you undertook that help the world at large.

Extracurricular Activities

If you play a sport or belong to any clubs or organizations, this information belongs here also. Colleges are looking for well-rounded students who can add to the student body as a whole. Even if you think your knitting club is insignificant, it might be more impressive to the committee than you imagine.

Other Items

Depending on the degree you are pursuing, you may want to include a portfolio of some of your work. This is particularly true for students entering fine arts programs. Videos of your music or dance recitals, copies of your published writing, or pictures of your artwork will be relevant. However, don’t include these on the resume itself. Instead, link out to web pages or documents where the information can be found.

If you have any special skills or interests like a foreign language or extensive travel, these can be included too.

Writing the Resume

Once you have all the above information gathered in one spot, it’s time to start working on the body of your resume. You will want to choose a format or template that works for you. To do this, you can do a simple web search for “college resume examples” until you find one appealing to you. There are many helpful tools online to help with this.

Limit Your Resume to One Page If You Can

When it comes to your college resume, less is more. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience with too much information, so list your most critical accomplishments first.

Be Clear and Direct With Your Wording

You don’t need to use a lot of persuasive language. Just stick to the facts. There will be time to impress the committee when it comes down to composing your essay.

Don’t Exaggerate

There is no need to embellish your achievements or make things up. Your resume should represent you honestly and truthfully. Your accomplishments will speak for themselves.

Pay Attention to Grammar, Spelling, and Typos

This is important. You don’t want errors of any kind that could lessen your reputation in the eyes of your reader. Use a proofreading program like Grammarly before even thinking about creating your final draft.

Formatting Your College Resume

The way you choose to format your resume is entirely up to you, but there are a few basic guidelines to follow:

• Write out your educational and work experience in chronological order, so you aren’t jumping around. Ideally, you should start with your most recent experience and work backward.

• Make use of bullet points that will make the resume easily scannable to your audience. Don’t repeat verbs. For example, Don’t say you “studied” a particular subject for three bullet points in a row. Choose other words to start each sentence, such as “designed,” “planned,” or “implemented.”

• Stick with the same style throughout. If you are using an abbreviation for something, use the same abbreviation throughout the resume. If you are using Title case for each heading, don’t switch it around. Consistency is critical when it comes to a clear and uncluttered resume.

• Avoid using templates that are too visually distracting. You might like the look of bold geometric patterns or psychedelic colors; however, it’s best to stick with muted colors and conservative templates. While you want to stand out, you want the content to do that for you. Additionally, admissions staff has to read over hundreds of these each semester. Keeping your resume easy on the eyes will be appreciated.

Final Thoughts

Your college resume should be an easy to read document that is memorable and factually lists your accomplishments. Be yourself and let your achievements make the intended impression.

If you are still in high school, you will likely be revising and editing your resume each semester to reflect your latest grades and activities. Once you are in college, your resume will serve you well as you apply for internships, part-time jobs, scholarships, and more. Your resume will grow with you at each juncture of your college career and can even help you when it comes time to find a job after graduation.

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