You may think that résumés are only for those looking for employment, but guess again. Your high school résumé is an important piece of your college admission application. It not only lists your academic accomplishments, but also highlights your talents, volunteer work, and awards; think of it as a snapshot of your life. The college admissions office will be looking through it for evidence of campus involvement, leadership skills, and other things that make you stand out from the crowd. Putting forth a professional and polished product can go a long way in helping you gain admission, but creating your first résumé can be intimidating. You may feel that you don’t have enough to even fill one page at this point, but trust me when I say your biggest problem will be keeping your résumé to no more than two pages. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll soon have a professional résumé you can be proud to submit to any college or future employer.
1. Choose a Clean Template Design
What is included in your résumé is very important, so you should not overwhelm reviewers with scented paper or busy temple designs that distract from the content. Pick something clean and simple. Also, use either Times Roman or Arial for a font, as both are easy to read. Generally, 12 pt. font in black ink should be used.
2. Include the Appropriate Sections
It helps to separate your activities and accomplishments into easily digestible sections. Depending on your personal activities and awards, you may want to add some or all of the following:
Your résumé should always include general information about who you are, such as: your name, address, home and cell phone numbers, and your email. If you have not created a professional email for use on college applications, I highly recommend creating a free Gmail or Yahoo! account now. Something simple, like Jane.Smith2012@gmail.com, will look much better than email@example.com.
If you have participated in any organized or individual sports during your high school years, you should list the type of activity, dates played, and position(s) played. Any awards or recognitions received, such as Most Valuable Player (MVP), should also be included in your listing.
Clubs and Committees
Did you participate in any campus clubs or community groups? If so, be sure to include the name of the club or organization, the purpose of the club, your role, and the dates you were involved. Many clubs have special committees that are designated to handle certain activities and/or events, so include any you participated in and the duties that were assigned to you.
Visual and Performing Arts
Any art programs, such as performance choirs, bands, and orchestras need to be included on your résumé. It’s also important to add any private or community programs you may participate in and provide details on each activity. If you have participated in any art shows or competitions, be sure to add these, as well.
Volunteer and Community Service
If you are like many high school students, you’ll need a certain amount of volunteer and community service hours before graduation, but keep in mind that quality is better than quantity in this area. List the organizations you volunteered at, their contact information, details about your service, and the total time contributed. It is better to list only those activities where you contributed considerable time or made major contributions to a project. For example, if you volunteered for only one day with a local soup kitchen, but it was for Thanksgiving, this should be added, whereas stuffing envelopes at a local charity for one or two hours total over the course of a year should be omitted. Recognitions and awards for your service should also be included in this area.
Academic Programs and Competitions
Do you take additional classes online or at the local community college? Be sure to include those on your résumé, too! Any academic competitions, such as the National Merit Scholarship program or the Siemens Competition, should also be included. List the name of the program or competition, dates of participation, and details about the program and/or contest.
Hobbies, Skills and Interests
Not everything you do will fit neatly into the above categories, so anything of special interest that you want to highlight should be included in this section. For example, you may host a blog or maybe you sell your custom-made jewelry at a local art market; these are things that college admission offices will be interested in reviewing. Anything that you are passionate about and spend considerable time pursuing should definitely be added to your résumé.
It is important that you list any paid work experience in this section. Internships that are unpaid should also be included, especially if they were required for a class or are a condition of graduation. Include the company name (or individual), contact information, your assigned duties, your salary (if applicable) and the dates of employment.
You should not use family members as references on your résumé. Instead, use teachers, mentors, employers and others who know you well and can speak to your abilities. For each reference, be sure to include the person’s name, title, contact information, and how long he or she has known you.
3. Edit and Review
Before you submit your résumé to anyone, it’s important that you review it for grammatical errors and other mistakes. After you feel you have created the best product possible, pass it along to one or two other people for further review. You may have an impressive listing of accomplishments, but if it is riddled with typos, it will give an entirely different impression than you intended.
You can create your own résumé template or use one of the many free templates offered online (just change out the section titles). If you are interested in getting additional help creating your resume, you may want to consider registering for a WiseChoice.com Plus account. Not only will you get help with your resume, but also every other aspect of the college planning process.