Think resumes are only for job seekers? Think again. High school resumes give colleges a snapshot of your accomplishments, extracurriculars, hobbies, and work history. They can also be a useful tool for prepping for a college interview or to give to the teachers who are writing your letters of recommendation.
Not sure how to get started? Follow our tips for crafting a standout resume for college and scholarship applications.
What should go on a college resume?
Any of the sections below could appear on your application resume. Pick an assortment that works for you!
- Heading with your name, address, and e-mail
- High school information with your graduation date, GPA (weighted), class rank, and SAT/ACT scores
- Academic awards, publications, honors, and other achievements
- Coursework (summer programs, college courses, or other specialized workshops that do not appear on your high school transcript)
- Extracurricular activities
- Community service
- Work experience
- Special skills (e.g. foreign language fluency or HTML expertise)
When should you submit a resume?
Some colleges and scholarship committees request or recommend that you include a high school resume with your application materials. (But don’t submit a resume if they don’t ask for one—following instructions is a key application strategy.) Bring your resume to college interviews and give copies to your college counselor and teachers so that they can write you the strongest possible recommendation letter.
Tips for Composing Your College Admissions Resume
1. Keep it concise.
Pare down the activities you showcase to the most brag-worthy and most representative of you as a candidate. Do colleges need to know that you were on the field hockey team for one semester in Grade 9? Probably not. The standard rule of thumb is to stick to one or two pages.
2. Focus on depth and length of commitment.
When deciding which activities and accomplishments make the cut, keep in mind that colleges would much rather see you excited about one or two key experiences than sporadic involvement in 20 clubs. If having an after-school job limited your ability to participate in clubs or sports, make sure your resume plays up your work responsibilities, training, and on-the-job skills.
3. Provide detail whenever possible.
The details are what set a resume apart from a list of extracurriculars on a standard college application. For example, when describing your involvement in the French Club make sure to include:
- your role
- school years/hours per week you participated
- specific contributions (e.g. “ Organized a successful after-school film series to introduce our community to French cinema and culture")
- leadership roles (e.g. " Treasurer, Grade 12")
- unique details that will make you stand out
4. Highlight things you weren’t able to write about in your college essays or short answers.
Use your high school resume to show colleges something new. If your devotion to photography didn’t make it on the application but is a big part of who you are, then showcase your photography cred on your resume.
5. Formatting is key.
Make your resume easy to scan. Divide information into sections with clear headings, bulleted lists, and a consistent font. Use a system of organization that works for you. (Chronological, by importance of activity, or by time commitment are a few options.) Don’t forget to proofread!
6. Be honest and accurate.
Colleges know how to spot inconsistencies in your application materials, and they won’t hesitate to call your counselor to verify information that doesn't seem right. So don't tell them that you have practice for the school play for 30 hours per week—unless drama club is somehow your full-time job!
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Here’s how to translate each section:
This is the simplest part. No need for fancy footwork--just plug in information. Your resume could look like this:
High School Name, City, STATE (start year – end year)
GPA: Weighted: #.## / Unweighted: #.## SAT Subject Tests:
SAT: #### Subj 1: ###
ACT: ## Subj 2: ###
Easy as this: Copy and paste all of the components asked for in each entry on the Common App into a new entry in the “experience” section of your resume.
Here are the components that your Common App asks for:
- Activity type.
- Position/Leadership description and organization name. (50 character limit)
- Please describe this activity, including what you accomplished and any recognition you received, etc. (150 character limit)
- Participation grade levels.
- Timing or participation: (Hours spent per week, Weeks spent per year)
Example of Common App entry:
- Volunteer activity
- Chief Facilitator, International Feed-the-Youth Summit, Philadelphia
- Developed lesson plans, lobbied local businesses for sponsorships, held marketing sessions, established partnerships to run 2-wk leadership camp.
- 11th grade
- Summer 2015.
Here’s what that might look like when plugged into a resume:
Chief Facilitator, International Feed-the-Youth Summit, Philadelphia
Developed lesson plans, lobbied local businesses for sponsorships, held marketing sessions, established partnerships to run 2-wk leadership camp (Summer 2015).
Clean and simple. Feel free to break this down into bullet points and add a bit more detail so it looks like the examples in this guide. Maybe like this:
Chief Facilitator, International Feed-the-Youth Summit, Philadelphia (Summer 2015)
- Held marketing sessions and lobbied local businesses to establish partnerships to run 2-week leadership camp
- Developed lesson plans on leadership for 60 middle and high school participants
Also easy: Put all of the components listed per entry in your “honors” section into an entry into your “honors” section of your resume.
Your honors section in your Common App asks for these components:
- Honors title.
- Grade level.
- Levels of recognition.
- Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction
- 11th grade
If you were to translate this into a resume, it might look like this:
Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction, National Level (2014)
But don’t stop there. Notice you have 100-characters on your Common App, and you can use that space to emphasize selectivity. How? Like this:
Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction – National Level (2014) - Award given to students scoring an average of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams.
ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD INCLUDE ON MY RESUME?
There might be a few more things to include, if you have them. It also might depend on the purpose of your resume. Examples:
Additional Educational Opportunities
- A summer enrichment experience such as the Center for Talented Youth, the Research Science Institute (RSI), or Duke TIP
- MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses)
- Online classes from a community college or elsewhere
- Programming languages like Java, Python or C++
- Spoken languages with proficiency level
- Significant experience with software like Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, or others.
A cover letter:
- If you’re using your resume for internship or job experiences, include a short half- to full-page explanation of your goals and experience that will make you an asset to the organization.
For examples of how to incorporate these into your resume, see these examples below.
Example College Resume Template #2: Microsoft Word or Google Docs
Example College Resume Template #3: Microsoft Word or Google Docs