Written by Alexis Allison, College Essay Guy Team
How do you sum up your life’s work on a piece of paper?
First things first. Remember that you are not your college resume. You are a human being, not a human doing. If you don’t have a rockstar resume, that’s okay. Work with what you’ve got.
Now that we’ve got the touchy-feelies out of the way, let’s talk about college resume template.
How Important is the resume for college?
It depends. Some colleges require or strongly recommend that you to submit a resume along with your application. (See UT Austin.) Others forbid it. (See UVA.) You’ll need to check with individual colleges to see what they prefer. However, keeping a professional resume on hand will serve you in a myriad other ways. Your resume:
Serves as a foundation for the Common App Activities List.
Gives teachers and counselors a framework for letters of recommendation
Provides you with a list of ready-made talking points for an admissions interview
May inspire your Common App essay
Is a requirement for many scholarship, internship and employment opportunities (read: $$)
Finally, it’s like having your own business card. There’s a “professional cool” factor when you’ve got a slick resume to slap on someone’s desk.
Now, let’s make one.
To follow along, click this link to open up a template. Go to File > Make a copy, and copy the document to your Google Drive. Read along and make it your own.
How do I Pick a College Resume Template?
You’ve heard it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Well, when it comes to college resume templates, looks matter too. Think of the resume like your first impression.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to format and design.
(Don’t) Give ‘em Helvetica. Choose a serif font. What’s a serif font? It’s a font with little feet at the bottom of each letter, like Times New Roman. The opposite of a serif font is a sans-serif font, like Helvetica — no feet, see? A serif font looks a little more traditional and professional on a resume.
Create a style for each level of information. Bold or capitalize headings. Use italics or underline if you’d like. Make use of bullet points. The key here is consistency. There’s not one right way — just choose a style and stick to it.
Commit to one page. Your concision will gain you brownie points from college admissions counselors who’ve read one too many applications.
Respect white space. Leave the document’s margins at 1 inch. Keep a space between each section. White space is both a useful design tool and gentle on the reader’s eyes.
Now, on to content.
What Are The Most Important Parts of a College Resume Template?
Your basic college resume templates should have four sections, in this order: contact information, education, experience and skills.
1. Contact Information
Include the following:
Your name. If you go by a nickname, use the name that’s attached to your college application — again, consistency is key.
A professional email that you check regularly. If you don’t have one, make one. If you’re still using ZendayaLover99 from middle school, it’s time to make a change — for everyone’s sake.
Your cell phone number.
It might look something like this:
This section requires a little more work. Include the following:
High School Name, City, STATE (start year – end year)
GPA, weighted and unweighted.
Best test scores (ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, AP).
Relevant coursework. This section allows you to show off any extra classes you’ve taken in high school that reflect an interest in your major. So, if you want to be a doctor and you’ve taken Anatomy, add it!
Here’s a sample:
North Shore High School, Somewhere, TX (2015-2019)
GPA: Weighted: 5.0 / Unweighted: 4.0
Relevant Coursework: Advanced Journalism, Desktop Publishing, Multimedia Graphics
Remember those kids who started random clubs like underwater basket-weaving just so they could write “Club President” on their resumes? Even if the club never met? Right. This section is your chance to show that you’re different, because it’s not about your responsibilities. It’s about your accomplishments.
Maybe the underwater basket-weaving club president was responsible for hosting meetings, planning events and organizing a fundraiser. But if she didn’t actually accomplish any of those things, she can’t add them to her resume.
The first step for this section is to consider what you’ve accomplished, whether in a club, on a team, at a job, through a service project, etc. and then think of those accomplishments in numbers.
Here’s what I mean. Say you’re the editor of your school’s newspaper. Think back to how many papers you’ve published. How many articles? How many meetings have you led? How many students in each meeting? Say you babysit neighborhood kids. How many kids? How old are they? How often do you babysit? For how long each time? Maybe you work at a coffee shop. How many shifts per week? How many hours per shift? How many people do you serve on average each shift?
See what I mean? The numbers give context and scale. The numbers keep you honest, and make you stand out.
Now that you’ve got the numbers, think of active verbs that describe exactly what you did. Here’s your chance to show that you’ve led, managed, organized, created, problem-solved, budgeted, maintained, coached, produced, written, presented, scheduled, built, developed, traveled, bought, bid, sold, delivered, etc.
Some tips for organizing this section:
List experiences in reverse chronological order. Start with your most recent activities and then work backward.
For each activity, list the organization/business (even if it’s just your school), location, your position, and the dates of experience. The dates show much you’ve invested in that activity.
Avoid first person. Instead of saying “I managed,” just say “managed.”
Keep verb tenses consistent. So, if you’re still participating in the activity, use present-tense verbs. If you’re not, use past-tense verbs.
This final section should be short and sweet.
Focus especially on computer and language skills.
If you’re a Google Drive maven, add “Google Apps for Work”
If you can rock Word, Powerpoint and Excel, add “Microsoft Office Suite”
If you’ve taken Spanish I, include it. If you’re studying Arabic through Rosetta Stone, include it!
Avoid platitudes (things people say too much) like “punctual,” “passionate,” “organized,” “hard-working,” “team-player.” Everyone and their mother is a punctual, passionate, organized, hard-working team-player these days.
Save your resume as a PDF with a professional, clear title. Include your name, the school to which you’re applying, and the word “Resume.” Avoid titles like “asdjks.pdf” or “Resume.pdf,” which can come across as unprofessional or confusing. Remember, details matter.
Don’t write, “References available on request.” It sounds nice, but whoever reads your resume knows to contact you if he or she needs references. It’s just wasted space.
Don’t include an “Objective.” They know your objective is to get into college, get a job/scholarship/internship. Anything more specific will come across in your essays and interviews.
What do i do with my college resume?
You’ve got a slick digital resume. Now what?
If you can afford it, go to your local office supply store and buy some thick, white or off-white resume paper. Grab a professional-looking folder while you’re at it (no folders with kittens or polka-dots). Print 10 or so copies to keep on hand. When you ask teachers for letters of recommendation, give them a copy. When you walk into an interview, be it for college or a job, bring a copy for every interviewer. Hand one to your significant other’s parents (they should have your greatness documented!).
Finally, keep your resume updated. As you gain new experience, skills and awards, add them! If you stay on top of your resume, sending it out in will be a snap (after all, you’ll be in college — you’ve got better things to do).