Want to get into your dream college? Writing a tailor-made resume for the college of your choice can make your dream a reality! Often, college applications fail to illuminate what makes you a great addition to the campus. Customizing a resume to fit the mission, vision, and culture of a college can earn you a spot in the incoming class of freshmen.

Also Read: How to Write the Best College Essay

The benefits do not stop there! You can update and repurpose your resume during your time at college. This will make the process of job-hunting and applying for internships a lot easier!

Of course, the most difficult part of any form of resume writing is to get started. Luckily for you, we’re here to help.

Components of a College Resume

Remember, the purpose of this resume is to convince the admissions committee that you have the potential to thrive academically and socially at their university. So, how do you go ahead and do that?

Also Read: How the College Admissions Officers Read Your Application

First, you need to examine what to include in your resume. A good resume gives the admissions committee a concise overview of your academic profile, work experience, volunteer experience, leadership activities, honors and awards, creative abilities, and interpersonal skills. The college is looking for most attractive candidates and curating the following items to fit the program you’re applying to can help you join that list:

  • Heading:
    • Should have all of your personal information (ie. name, address, phone number, email address).
    • If you have an online portfolio or another online website/profile that showcases work relevant to your application, include its link here as well.
  • Academic profile: 
    • List your high school with the date you started to the expected date you will graduate. For example, if you go to Wilson High School and are in the class of 2022, you would list “Wilson High School 2018-2022”.
    • If you graduated the top of your class, make sure to include that here. Examples include “Graduated in the top 10%” and “Ranked 4th in a class of 502”.
    • Highlight any Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses you’ve completed or are expecting to complete by the end of the school year. Emphasize high scores.
  • SAT/ACT scores:
    • List your highest score if you took the test more than once.
    • You can choose whether or not to include both an SAT and ACT score depending on whether it will strengthen your application.
  • Co-curricular activities:
    • School-affiliated clubs
    • Musical groups
    • Sports teams
  • Extracurricular activities:
    • Any out-of-school activities you have participated in.
      • Examples include:
        • Academic organizations and/or competitions
        • Career-specific programs
    • Any volunteer experience you may have.
      • Tells the admissions committee about the causes you care about and the value system you operate under.
      • This can help them understand whether you would be a meaningful fit to their campus.
    • Any work experience you may have.
      • Part-time jobs
      • Internships
      • Summer programs
      • Shadowing programs
      • Study-abroad programs
      • Research experiences
  • Honors and Awards:
    • Want to highlight some special achievements? Here’s the place to emphasize it.
  • Skills:
    • Languages with proficiency
    • Specific-program related skills
      • For example, if you’re a computer science student mention any proficiency in programming languages.
    • Leadership skills and/or communication skills
    • Other course-relevant soft skills
  • Hobbies and interests:
    • Emphasize hobbies and interests that are indirectly related to your major of choice. A data science student could discuss their affinity for puzzle-solving. On the other hand, a public policy student could discuss their love for debate.

Of course, we do not expect you to have relevant information for all of the above components. However, you will be up against students who have molded their life experience to fit these categories. As a result, we suggest to try to find a way to at least include 1-2 bits of information to each section.

If you are having trouble finding experiences and activities that display your love for your program of choice, consider tutoring students in that area of expertise. This a great way to earn money, work experience, and a spot in that accepted pile! Find out more here.

Research about your School of Choice

college resume writing

Although this goes without saying, you must research about the college you are applying to! While most colleges do not require applicants to choose a major to apply for, they will ask you which division or school you plan on pursuing. For impacted majors, like engineering, your university’s school of engineering may have prerequisites for their applicants. Make sure to check whether your school has any extra requirements.

Moreover, with colleges that have specialized programs, like a graphic design and illustration program, you may need to send supplementary materials like project portfolios of your work.

It also helps to research potential organizations on campus you would like to get involved in. This will allow you to curate parts of your resume that will remind your admissions officer about said organizations.

You can find most of those requirements/recommendations on your college’s admissions website.

Ensure that you highlight those prerequisites or unique requirements in your resume, should they apply to you.  This will make it easier for the admissions officer to see how well you will fit in the incoming class of freshmen.

Tips and Tricks on Writing the Perfect Resume

Now that you are ready to start writing your resume, here are some guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Your resume should not be longer than one page.
    • If people like Sheryl Sandberg can keep their resume to one page, you as a student who has not had much experience yet, should also be able to limit your college resume to one page.
  • Be precise and concise.
    • No prose here please! Your admissions officer does not want to be wowed by your writing skills here. That’s for your college essay.
    • You want to impress the admissions officer with your accomplishments so make sure to highlight them!
  • Highlight specific achievements and experiences over general statements.
    • Unique experiences can help your college resume stand out.
    • Frame your accomplishments with context. Instead of saying “tutored ESL students”, say that you “equipped ESL students with the skills necessary to succeed in high school English”.
  • Use active voice.
    • Emphasize your involvement.
  • Proofread your resume!
    • Do this multiple times. A silly grammatical or punctuation mistake could be the reason why a university rejects you. Your resume creates an impression of you. Make sure you do not lose out on your dream school because of something as trivial as this.
    • Also, ask one or more people in your life to look over your resume before sending it out. It is good to have another set of eyes checking your resume. It might be helpful to get a professional resume writer to take a look at it. 

Ready to start writing? Take a look at our Ultimate College Application Checklist to make sure you are on track for everything else college. Good luck and happy writing!

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Posted by Irfhana Zakir Hussain

Irfhana Zakir Hussain is an undergraduate student in Computer Science and Engineering with Big Data Analytics. A lover of both STEM and humanities, she combines the two by writing analytical pieces on essential topics in education. In 2016, she was one of 15 students worldwide selected to speak at the inaugural TED-Ed Weekend. There, Irfhana navigated the complex issue of solving the effects of racism and intersectionality on educational opportunities.