When applying to colleges, one of the admission factors that is given lots of consideration is the applicant’s résumé. While the process of crafting your resume is pretty simple, many struggle with finding activities and details to include, and older students often regret not doing X, Y or Z activity that may have helped give their resumes a boost.
First of all, every applicant has to make his résumé organized and visually appealing. Organize personal facts by different categories, with headings like “education,” “activities,” “awards and honors,” “community service” and “experience.” Under “education,” include your school name and address as well as your graduation year, class rank, ACT or SAT score, and GPA—this section is just your vital stats.
The rest of the categories are fairly self-explanatory, but always be sure to explain any points or activities that an admissions officer may not be familiar with. For example, when I put “FastWeb student contributor” on my own resume, I explained in 3 or 4 bullet points how I was selected for this position, what FastWeb is, and what I do for the web site. Not only will this clarify your résumé, it will make it meatier and add some length.
Adding a simple border to the pages is an easy way to make your résumé more visually memorable to an admissions officer and will add a touch of professionalism. Just keep it basic, only one or two lines around every page—everyone loves funky borders, but admissions officers don’t usually appreciate them!
Thinking of activities and awards to include on your résumé can be one of the more difficult tasks. Because the more the merrier applies to activity lists, don’t hesitate to include any achievement or extracurricular, no matter how insignificant it seems or how little you enjoyed it. I put a family and consumer sciences award that I received three years ago on my resume, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a senior who hasn’t joined a club or participated in something just so he could tell about it on his resume.
Did a group volunteer project for NHS? Write it in. Helped decorate the school for a dance one year? Include it. Were you a teacher’s aide for a semester? Perfect. Never, never doubt whether to put something on your resume.
If you’re an underclassman just beginning to think about college and scholarships, the number one piece of advice any senior can give you is this: get as involved as you can without becoming overwhelmed. While this may be easier said than done, most after-school clubs are very accessible, with one or two short meetings after school and activities which are often planned for the weekends or low-key times of the year so more members can attend.
Community service is a great way to fulfill graduation requirements and make yourself more desirable for anyone reading your résumé. Even if you’re not a fan of often-competitive intramural sports, joining a YMCA or club team will give a little something extra. A good rule of thumb when deciding whether to start an activity is this: don’t be shy about participating–if it seems to you like it could be fun or beneficial, at least give it a try!
So, résumé writers, to sum up: keep an open mind to different activities and an open memory for even the smallest participation. And take advantage of any helpful teacher’s open door, because a conscientious editor is the biggest asset you have when writing your résumé.