How To Build the Perfect Resume for Your College Application

In your college application you’ll already be submitting college essays, letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, and high school transcripts - so how important is the college resume to your college chances? The answer is “very”. The college resume provides a clear snapshot of your achievements, abilities and a demonstration of your potential based on past performance. For colleges that look to determine admissions also through the use of a resume, this document can be a deciding factor when faced with a crowd of supposedly similarly qualifying candidates. Make no mistake, the resume can be critical to most college applications.

What is the Resume?

Let’s briefly discuss what the resume should be. It is a clear summary of your achievements both academic and extracurricular of your time in high school. To get you in the mindset of what the admissions committee is looking for, recognize that your life at college is something beyond the lecture halls and the score you receive at the end of it. College life constitutes things beyond academics: sport, community service, student body leadership, alumni activities, and being an example of the college to the wider world. Everything included in your resume should show how you will be able to contribute to the above, should you get admitted - admissions officer should be able to show this piece of paper to other admission officers and clearly demonstrate the caliber of individual who gets admitted to this college.

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What to Include

While you might see the resume as a list (how hard can that be to compile, especially as it’s on yourself?), you might find an initial brainstorm useful. Start with a blank piece of paper, separate it into the following seven different sections and fill in as necessary:

Profile Summary

Look to include a couple sentences briefly introducing who you are. Something such as: “I am a high-school senior with interests in X and Y, hard-working and committed to excel in whatever I put my mind to, with my next ambition to be admitted to a college where I can study Z.”


This should be the easiest section to fill in: include your SAT scores, GPA, and AP Courses completed.

High School Honors and Awards

This will be the academic achievements beyond your scores mentioned above: honors, awards, and school leadership positions such as class president.

Extracurricular Activities

Within your extracurricular activities, mention membership of any sports teams, after-school clubs and groups (e.g. debating society or model UN), leadership roles within these particular activities, special projects, or publications you’ve achieved. You can also include group awards and successes here (e.g. Division 1 Soccer Champions 2019/20), as it’s always good to indicate your ability to work in a team.

Volunteer Work

Community service is a great addition to your college application, so look to identify any roles within this regard, such as charity work or unpaid roles.

Employment/Internship Experience

This might be limited, but if you are applying to a combined BA/MD program for example, it will be advantageous to include any clinical internships or nursing experience you’ve had.

Any Additional Relevant Information (e.g. medical training, certifications etc)

There could be certifications or training that does not fit neatly into the sections above, such as a programming certification done outside of school, or a first-aid course you completed in your spare time. This is the place to include it.

Formatting and Other Tips

Once you’ve brainstormed, streamline what you’ve produced so that your resume is:

A. 1 - 2 pages long (but more towards one page rather than two)

B. Relevant to the college you’re applying for. For example, if you’re looking to apply to a STEM-focused college, prioritize achievements related to science experiments, math competitions, etc.

Try to expand the points you’ve mentioned into some further detail. So for example, rather than just saying “Elected Soccer Captain 2019/20”, you could say “Elected by thirty teammates to serve as Soccer Captain 2019/20”.

When it comes to formatting, there’s an abundance of resume templates available online, but anything that presents the above information clearly is fine.

Finally, be sure to proofread your resume yourself AND with another reader such as your admissions consultant or teacher so as to avoid any unnecessary spelling or grammatical mistakes.

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