High School Resume: What to Include When Applying to College

Student Holding Stack Of Books

The high school resume you send with your completed application to colleges can help highlight your adolescent achievements, including academic successes, extracurricular commitments, and community involvement. Your resume is a summary that showcases your strengths and priorities.

If thoughtfully constructed, your resume is a supplement to your application that can help your submission truly shine among the thousands of others in the stack.

Alternatively, including the wrong information can leave a negative impression with college admissions.

Students know to dedicate time to writing their essays, and to study for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. Comparable time and dedication should be applied to your student resume.

By following the guidelines and advice below for preparing your high school resume, students will maximize their chances of standing out as a star applicant to college admissions offices.

What to Include in Your High School Resume

Understanding the general format of a high school resume will help you prepare. Included below is a list of items college admissions counselors are accustomed to seeing on student resumes, in the order they typically appear.

Start with the basics.

Include your name, email, and phone number at the top of the resume, so admissions offices know how to reach you. Your address is included in your application, and it isn’t necessary on your resume. You can list the city and state where you live if you prefer to include it.

Education information is next.

You are applying to further your education, so it’s important to give schools an idea of where you stand academically at your high school. Include the name of your high school, and its address. List your GPA and class rank, if your high school has one.

Do not forget to include college courses, if you’ve taken any.

Going above and beyond to take college courses while in high school will certainly show colleges your interest in learning and continuing education.

Extracurricular activities help highlight your interests and show you are well-rounded.

This is where you include participation in sports, school clubs, church youth groups, marching band, and other activities you regularly attend. It is also important to highlight leadership roles, such as being the captain of a sports team, or the president of a club.

Remember to include part-time jobs and volunteer work.

Perhaps you can’t participate in as many extracurriculars, because you help support your family through work. On your resume for college, you should include your job title, the name of the business where you work, the number of hours you work per week, and mention any promotions. Volunteer work is a great way to showcase the causes and community initiatives you care about, so include the name of the volunteer organization, the hours you dedicate per week or per month, and briefly describe your responsibilities.

Awards and accolades show colleges your work and efforts have been recognized.

Whether you’re the most improved player on your sports team, the employee of the month at your job, or you were selected for an honors band for your musical talents, make sure to include a list of achievements and awards on your resume.

Provide a list of the skills that are not included in any of the sections above.

For example, if you mentioned playing basketball in your extracurriculars, you do not need to list it again in the skills section of your resume. Rather, list skills that were not provided already, including graphic design, foreign language mastery, photography, computer coding, and more.

You can also provide references on your resume.

This is a list of adults who can vouch for you and shine a positive light on you as a student, athlete, employee, volunteer, etc. Include each references’ name, title or their relationship to you, phone number, and email address.

What Does Not Belong in Your High School Resume for College

clipboard on desk with Do's and Don'ts of Resume Writing

As important as knowing what you should include, it is important to consider what should not be part of your resume. Consider the following recommendations.

Misspellings and grammatical errors leave an impression that a student is careless.

Make sure to have at least two trusted people review your resume to check for errors your eyes may have missed. Parents, guidance counselors, teachers, or other mentors in your life are usually happy to proofread your college resume and other application materials, such as essays.

Long paragraphs are not a good fit for resumes.

You want each section of your resume to be concise. Consider using bullet points and short phrases rather than lengthy descriptions. Think of your resume as an infographic summarizing your life rather than a multi-chapter auto-biography. Experts say the average recruiter or employer spends six seconds reading a resume. Assume the same of college admissions and use your resume to quickly summarize your greatest achievements and qualifications.

You do not need to include photos on your resume.

A resume should be short, preferably one page, and certainly no more than two pages. Photos take up precious space that should be used to highlight all the wonderful things you have accomplished.

Save the flowery language for your college essays.

There are appropriate spaces for creative writing, but your resume is not one of them. Recruiters are looking at your resume to see that you have excelled at academics, that you are well-rounded outside of formal education, and that you have taken on responsibilities and executed them successfully. Excessive use of adjectives and wordy sentences are distracting and take up space.

You do not need to include job descriptions unless they are unclear based on your title.

For example, if you worked as a cashier at a grocery store, most admissions counselors will have a general idea of your day-to-day responsibilities simply by writing “cashier,” along with the name of the store. You don’t need to write a job description that says, “Scanned and bagged grocery items, and collected payment from customers.”

Do not overstate your expertise or include dishonest information.

You never know whether a college admissions counselor will call one of your references, teachers, or school counselors to confirm the information you provided. You are better off being honest and consistent. If you volunteer 5 hours a month, don’t say you volunteer 15 hours per month. If you took one semester of Spanish, it is unlikely you can claim to be fluent in the language. Tell the truth.

Choose Your Resume Format Carefully

The format of your resume should be clean and organized, and divided into subsections that make it easy for the college admissions counselor to read. While you don’t want your resume to have distracting graphics or images, students can edit fonts, colors, and page formatting to showcase their style and personality.

Fortunately, there are countless customizable resume templates available online, like these samples from Canva.

Let CFNC Help You Every Step of the Way

Your high school resume is just one step of the process when you apply to college. While the to-do list can feel overwhelming, there are a wealth of resources available to high school students who are ready to prepare for post-secondary education.

College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) is a free service that assists students with education and career planning and applying and paying for college. As you prepare for college, you’re excited, but you must stay organized. CFNC can help you complete each step of college enrollment, including residency, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA, and applications.

Get started today!

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