How to Write a Resume for a College Application
These tips can increase your chances of getting accepted.
If you’re college-bound, you’ve made a great choice for your future, and a resume for a college application can help you make the grade—as in getting accepted. College graduates typically earn more, experience greater job satisfaction, and are less likely to face prolonged unemployment than those with less education.
Whether your resume accompanies your college application or you present it during an admissions interview, it can boost your chances of getting accepted into your preferred college or university. Follow these tips to write your college admissions resume.
Steps to Write a Resume for a College Application
1. Customize the Resume Headline
Positioned beneath your name and contact information, the headline is the place to state your goal, including the name of the college you’re applying to and your desired program of study (if known). If you’re applying to more than one college, customize the headline for each resume you send. For example:
2. Pitch Your Strengths in a Summary Section
After your headline, write a brief summary section that captures why you are an excellent candidate for admissions. Whether you format this section as a bulleted list or use paragraphs, the summary should convey who you are and where you want to go. For example:
- Upcoming graduate of St. Mary’s High School with a strong drive to excel. Maintained honor roll for the past three years, earned “Employee of the Month” at summer job, and held varsity soccer team captain position.
- Passionate entrepreneur named runner-up in statewide “Emerging Enterprisers” competition as co-inventor and marketing plan developer or a novel pet safety device.
- Highly driven professional eager to embark on entrepreneurial career, beginning with acceptance to UNC’s Business Administration B.S.B.A. degree program.
3. Position Education Prominently
Unless you’re applying to college after spending time in the workforce, the education section comes next on your resume for a college application. Once you’ve earned your degree and started your career, your education can be moved lower on the page beneath the experience section.
Besides the name and location of your high school and expected graduation date, include details that demonstrate academic achievement and involvement in school activities. Examples include:
- GPA and/or class ranking (if it’s top 25% or better)
- SAT/ACT scores
- Academic awards, honors, and scholarships
- Noteworthy coursework such as AP classes or courses related to your career goal
- Clubs or other extracurricular activities (include leadership roles, if applicable)
- Student government service (include offices held)
- Participation in sports teams, cheer squads, and music/theater groups
4. Include Experience—Paid and Unpaid
If you’re in high school, you likely don’t have much real-world work experience. But if you think about it, you probably have other unpaid experience to include, such as internships, externships, and volunteer service.
If you worked while in high school but are concerned that the jobs are irrelevant, you should still include them on your resume for a college application—admissions committees will be impressed by your work ethic. Highlight standout accomplishments versus day-to-day responsibilities. For example:
Dog Walker, 2020–2021
Found and grew popular dog-walking and pet-sitting business, providing daily exercise and loving care for neighborhood pets. Ensured that all dogs were safe at all times and having fun.
- Built a loyal base of repeat clients, winning praise for reliability, rapport with pets, and positive attitude.
- Generated so many referrals that a waiting list was formed within eight weeks of business launch.
5. Add Additional Sections
You may have unique skills or activities that didn’t fit into the previous sections. At the bottom of your resume, add appropriate sections for technical proficiencies, foreign languages, other skills, hobbies, and interests. Focus on information that’s relevant to the course of study you intend to pursue in college. Check out this sample resume of a high school student for more guidance.
6. Follow Application Instructions
After writing your resume, carefully proofread it and ask teachers, guidance counselors, or other trusted professionals to review it as well. Your resume should now be in great shape and ready to go.
Remember that you might not be submitting a resume to every school—follow the college application instructions to the letter before submitting it. If the college admissions application doesn’t request a resume, bring it with you when you’re on campus for interviews—it will be a powerful leave-behind that’s sure to make a positive impression.
Get Accepted—then Get Hired at Your First Job
Now that you’ve got a resume for a college application under your belt, you’ll be better prepared for the inevitable job search that’s sure to follow. Looking for more real-world experience? Join Monster for free to get career advice sent directly to your inbox. When it’s time to start your looking for your first job, you’ll be primed for success with Monster.