Scholarship Resume Writing Tips

Every year, billions of dollars in scholarships are up for grabs. Tip the scales in your favor.

Scholarship Resume Writing Tips

Follow these strategies for your scholarship resume.

Every year, billions of dollars in scholarships are available to students to help offset college expenses. Of course, you’re one applicant among many; a scholarship resume could tip the scales in your favor.

Scholarship opportunities run the gamut from merit and academic-oriented awards to ones that focus on financial need, athletics, community service, or other interests or abilities.

While college scholarships are often competitive, that doesn’t mean you can’t win and shouldn’t try. Give yourself an advantage by following the rules, paying attention to deadlines, and submitting the right supporting documentation.

That’s where a resume comes in: The application may require a resume or allow supplemental documents, in which case submitting a scholarship resume is a smart decision. Follow these tips to learn how to write a resume that impresses selection committees.

Modify Your College Admissions Resume 

If you created a resume for college admissions applications, you have a head start. Your scholarship resume will contain similar sections, such as:

The primary difference is that a resume for scholarships should emphasize how you meet the scholarship criteria. Each scholarship looks at different factors, so be prepared to create multiple resume versions.

For example, what you emphasize on a resume for an academic scholarship (e.g., top grades, AP classes, and scholarly pursuits) will differ from what you emphasize on a resume for a community service scholarship, where volunteerism is the main focus.

Whether you’re modifying an existing resume or starting from scratch, here are the main sections and strategies for your college scholarship resume.

1. State Your Goal

After you’ve created a resume header with your name and contact information at the top of the page, follow with a headline or goal statement. Include the name of the scholarship you’re applying for as well as the name of the academic institution, company, or organization sponsoring the award. The headline or goal can be brief, but be sure to incorporate a key strength or two. For example:

— Objective —
High-achieving high school senior and aspiring theatre arts major seeking an ABC College freshman merit scholarship.

2. Tailor Your Summary to the Scholarship Criteria

Your summary comes next. Written as a brief paragraph or a handful of bullet points, the summary should position you as a top contender for the scholarship. Study the judging criteria for clues regarding eligibility, attributes, achievements, talents, and experiences that align with the scholarship’s values and goals.

Here’s how one student wrote a summary for a legacy scholarship that had a performing arts component:

— Qualifications Summary —
Prospective ABC College student eager to follow in the footsteps of family members to become a third-generation graduate. Recognized leader in the classroom and on the stage. Achievements include:

  • Top 10% ranking in a senior class of 423 (weighted GPA: 3.8/4.0).
  • Induction into the National Honor Society and award recipient for “Outstanding Peer Mentor.”
  • Selection for lead or featured roles in high school musicals and community theatre productions.
  • Distinction as the sole high school student cast in DEF Festival productions two summers in a row.

3. Emphasize Education

Since this resume is designed to help you win a college scholarship, the education section is crucial. For most scholarship seekers, education should appear below the summary.

Use the following example as a guide, but only include content that makes sense for you. You will likely submit your transcript as part of your application, so avoid including less-than-desirable academic information such as a low GPA or class ranking. But if you shined in the classroom, it doesn’t hurt to reinforce strong academic performance.

High School Name | City, ST
High School Diploma, Month/Year (or “Expected Month/Year” if not yet earned)

GPA: ____ | Class Ranking: _______ | SAT (or ACT) Score: _______

  • Honors & Awards:
  • Relevant Courses:
  • Special Interest Workshops/Electives:
  • Activities & Leadership Roles:
  • Athletics:
  • Study Abroad:

4. Include Work Experience and Volunteerism

Paid employment, internships, and volunteer service are all excellent content for a scholarship resume. You can group work experience and volunteerism together under one section header or separate them if you have room on the page.

Write your experience section in reverse-chronological order, leading with your most recent role and progressing back in time. Here’s how you can format your experiences:

Job Title, Start Date to End Date

[Write a brief overview of your responsibilities here, followed by a list of your top accomplishments.]

  • Accomplishment #1 (Awards you earned, praise you received, goals you met/exceeded, or other ways that you went above and beyond in fulfilling your duties).
  • Accomplishment #2 (Continue writing notable accomplishments, but keep the list short. Three to five accomplishments work well).

5. Add Optional Sections

Scholarship committee members will likely be skimming through your resume, so brevity is key—a one-page resume is usually sufficient. If you have room, you may want to include additional sections that support your scholarship application.

Optional sections include:

  • skills
  • foreign languages
  • activities
  • testimonials
  • memberships
  • interests
  • special projects that didn’t fit elsewhere on the resume

Proofread and Submit Your Scholarship Resume

Before submitting, review your resume to ensure it’s complete, accurate, and error free. Seek feedback from others as it’s not easy to catch your own mistakes. When you’re ready to submit your resume and supporting materials, follow the scholarship application instructions to the letter. The time and effort you dedicate to the process could provide you with much-needed scholarship money. An added bonus? Winning a competitive scholarship looks great on your resume. 

Could you use more help preparing for your future? Monster is a great resource. Join for free and you’ll get career advice and job search tips that can set you on the path to success.