How to Write a Resume for Colleges Using Your Common Application (Part 2 of 2)

how to write a resume for colleges using your common app part 2 of 2

This is part two of the guide to making a simple resume.  Be sure to read part one here.

To follow along, click this link to open up a template, go to File > Make a copy and copy it to your Google Drive and replace the information with your own as you read.

To begin, your basic resume should have three sections: education, experience, and honors.

Oh hey, look. The Common App also has sections like these: “Current or Most Recent School”, “Activities”, and “Honors”. Reminder: this guide is how to translate these sections directly from the Common App into your resume sections. It’ll save you lots of time and produce a solid resume.

And if you haven’t yet completed your Common App Activities List, read this article and complete that first before going any further. 

Here’s how to translate each section:


This is the simplest part. No need for fancy footwork--just plug in information. Your resume could look like this:


High School Name, City, STATE (start year – end year)                 

GPA: Weighted: #.## / Unweighted: #.##      SAT Subject Tests:
SAT: ####                                                             Subj 1: ###
ACT: ##                                                                  Subj 2: ###


Easy as this: Copy and paste all of the components asked for in each entry on the Common App into a new entry in the “experience” section of your resume. 

Here are the components that your Common App asks for:

  1. Activity type.
  2. Position/Leadership description and organization name. (50 character limit)
  3. Please describe this activity, including what you accomplished and any recognition you received, etc. (150 character limit)
  4. Participation grade levels.
  5. Timing or participation: (Hours spent per week, Weeks spent per year)

Example of Common App entry:

  1. Volunteer activity
  2. Chief Facilitator, International Feed-the-Youth Summit, Philadelphia 
  3. Developed lesson plans, lobbied local businesses for sponsorships, held marketing sessions, established partnerships to run 2-wk leadership camp.
  4. 11th grade
  5. Summer 2015.

Here’s what that might look like when plugged into a resume:


Chief Facilitator, International Feed-the-Youth Summit, Philadelphia

Developed lesson plans, lobbied local businesses for sponsorships, held marketing sessions, established partnerships to run 2-wk leadership camp (Summer 2015).

Clean and simple. Feel free to break this down into bullet points and add a bit more detail so it looks like the examples in this guide. Maybe like this:

Chief Facilitator, International Feed-the-Youth Summit, Philadelphia (Summer 2015)

  • Held marketing sessions and lobbied local businesses to establish partnerships to run 2-week leadership camp 
  • Developed lesson plans on leadership for 60 middle and high school participants


Also easy: Put all of the components listed per entry in your “honors” section into an entry into your “honors” section of your resume.

Your honors section in your Common App asks for these components:

  1. Honors title.
  2. Grade level.
  3. Levels of recognition.


  1. Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction
  2. 11th grade
  3. National

If you were to translate this into a resume, it might look like this:

Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction, National Level (2014)

But don’t stop there. Notice you have 100-characters on your Common App, and you can use that space to emphasize selectivity. How? Like this:

Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction – National Level (2014) - Award given to students scoring an average of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams.

Anything else I should include on my resume?

There might be a few more things to include, if you have them. It also might depend on the purpose of your resume. Examples:

Additional Educational Opportunities

  • A summer enrichment experience such as the Center for Talented Youth, the Research Science Institute (RSI), or Duke TIP
  • MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses)
  • Online classes from a community college or elsewhere


  • Programming languages like Java, Python or C++
  • Spoken languages with proficiency level
  • Significant experience with software like Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, or others.

A cover letter:

  • If you’re using your resume for internship or job experiences, include a short half- to full-page explanation of your goals and experience that will make you an asset to the organization.

For examples of how to incorporate these into your resume, see these examples below.

All-star student number 1

All-star student number 2