How to Make a High School Resume for a College Application

Elizabeth Muenzen, CPRW
By Elizabeth Muenzen, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: February 13, 2024
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Your high school resume is the first glimpse admissions officers get of your accomplishments, extracurricular activities and potential as a student. 

But how do you create a resume that stands out from the crowd? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know, including: 

  • How important is a resume for a college application
  • What to include in your college application resume
  • Expert tips on how to write a standout high school resume
  • High school resume for a college application sample

How important is a resume for a college application?

While not required by all colleges, a strong student resume can be a valuable addition to your college application and help you present yourself in the best possible light to admissions officers.

A well-crafted resume can provide context for your application, highlighting areas of strength, leadership and passion that may not be immediately apparent from your academic transcript or test scores.  

Additionally, a resume can demonstrate your ability to manage your time, prioritize tasks and work independently — all valuable skills for college success. We recommend exploring our library high school resume templates to get started. 

Even if the colleges you are applying to do not require a resume, there are additional reasons you may choose to make one:

  • To share with a teacher who is writing you a letter of recommendation
  • For scholarship applications
  • To bring with you to a college admission interview

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What to include in a high school resume for college applications

The goal of your high school resume is to showcase your potential as a college student and to provide admissions officers with a well-rounded view of who you are as a person and a student. 

Here are some key items to include on a high school resume for college applications: 

  • Contact information: Full name, address, phone number and a professional email address. See our resume examples for ideas on how to display your contact details. 
  • Education: High school name, location and expected graduation date, as well as any academic honors or awards you’ve received.
  • Extracurricular activities: Clubs, sports teams, volunteer work, internships or other organizations you’ve participated in.
  • Leadership positions: Any roles you’ve held in clubs or organizations, such as president, captain or editor.
  • Work experience: Add any work experience, such as part-time or summer jobs you’ve had, including job title, company name and dates of employment. 
  • Volunteer experience or community service: Volunteer or community service experience, including the organization, your role and the number of hours you contributed. 
  • Skills: Any technical skills or soft skills you’ve developed, such as proficiency in a foreign language, computer programming or public speaking.
  • Awards and honors: Any academic or leadership awards you’ve received, such as National Honor Society, AP Scholar or Eagle Scout.

See our guide on what to put on a resume for additional tips from career advice experts. 

Be sure to tailor your resume to the specific requirements of each college you are applying to, and seek feedback from an advisor or mentor to make your resume as strong as possible.

How to write a high school resume for college applications

1. Use a professional format

Using a professional resume format is essential in order to make a good impression and showcase your achievements in the best possible way. Here are some tips for creating a professional format for your resume:

  • Use a consistent format throughout your resume, including headings, font size and spacing. This will make your resume easy to read and help highlight your achievements.
  • Use headings to separate different sections of your resume, such as education, extracurricular activities and work experience.
  • Choose a readable resume font such as Times New Roman or Arial, and keep the font size between 10 and 12 points. Avoid using decorative or unusual fonts that can be difficult to read.
  • Use white space effectively to make your resume visually appealing and easy to read. For instance, margins of at least 0.5 inches prevent overcrowding your resume with too much information.
A great way to make a resume in minutes without having to think about design elements is to use a resume template. We have dozens of professional resume templates made by professional graphic designers. 

2. Keep it concise

A resume for a college application should generally be one page in length. Admissions officers review many applications and resumes, so it is important that your one-page resume is concise and highlights the most important information about yourself. 

If you have a lot of relevant information to include, consider prioritizing the most important information and leaving out less important details. 

3. Tailor it to the college

Admissions officers want to see applicants who have done their research and are genuinely interested in their school or program. Here are some tips on how to tailor your resume:

  • Research the program: Look up the specific requirements for the program or major you are interested in and identify how your skills, experiences and achievements would make you a great fit. 
  • Highlight relevant experience: For example, if you are applying to a business program, highlight any relevant coursework, internships or work experience in the business field.
  • Use relevant language: Use keywords and language that are specific to the program or major you are applying to. 
  • Consider including a section on relevant coursework: If you have taken coursework that is relevant to the program or major, consider including a separate section to highlight these courses.
By tailoring your resume to the college or program, you can show that you are a strong fit for the school and increase your chances of being accepted.

4. Include extracurricular activities 

Extracurricular activities can demonstrate your leadership skills, community involvement and passion for certain activities. 

Choose the extracurricular activities that are most relevant to your college application and showcase your strengths. 

Provide specific information about your involvement in each activity, such as the number of hours per week, the length of time you were involved and any specific accomplishments or projects you worked on.

5. Use strong action verbs

Using strong action verbs in your college application resume is important because it can help you stand out and make a strong impression on admissions officers. 

Admissions officers are looking for applicants who are motivated, driven and capable of making a positive impact on their college community. Here are a few examples:

  • Organized fundraising events for the volleyball team, raising over $5,000 for charity.
  • Led school debate team to win regional championship for three consecutive years.
  • Created and managed the school newspaper, increasing readership by 30% in one semester.

Notice that in addition to action verbs, these examples use numbers and percentages to convey accomplishments in a meaningful and impactful way.   

Action verbs and measurable achievements show that you are a dynamic and proactive individual who has achieved significant results in your academic, extracurricular or work experiences.

6. Highlight skills you didn’t cover previously 

If you have skills and achievements that you didn’t cover in your admissions essays, your college application resume is a great place to highlight them. 

By highlighting your unique strengths and accomplishments, you can make a strong impression on admissions officers and increase your chances of being accepted to your dream school.

7. Be honest and accurate 

Being honest and accurate in a high school resume for a college application is extremely important. Admissions officers expect applicants to provide truthful and reliable information about their academic achievements, extracurricular activities and other experiences. 

Falsifying information or exaggerating your accomplishments can have serious consequences, including rejection from a college or revocation of an offer of admission.

Admissions officers are experienced in reading resumes and evaluating applicants, and they can easily spot inconsistencies or inaccuracies. They may also conduct background checks or follow up with your references to verify the information you provide. 

By providing truthful information, you can increase your chances of being accepted to your dream school and set yourself up for success in college and beyond.

8. Proofread carefully and get feedback

After you have written your resume, make sure to proofread it carefully and get feedback from others, such as friends, family members, teachers or guidance counselors. 

Spelling and grammar errors, typos and formatting inconsistencies can make your resume appear unprofessional and may lead admissions officers to question your attention to detail.

Getting feedback from others can help you improve the quality and effectiveness of your resume. They can help identify areas where you may be underselling yourself or provide constructive criticism on areas that need improvement.

How far back should a college application resume go?

A college application resume should typically go back to your freshman year of high school.

This means that you should include information about your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, internships and other experiences from your freshman year through your senior year.

Admissions officers are looking for quality over quantity, so make sure to prioritize experiences that demonstrate your strengths and fit with the college or program you are applying to.

When should you write a college application resume? 

You should start writing a resume for college applications at least a few months before the application deadline to ensure that you have enough time to identify your experiences and get feedback from others. 

By starting early and taking the time to create a strong resume, you can increase your chances of getting accepted to your dream school.

Check out our comprehensive guide on how to write a resume and our expertly crafted high school graduate resume examples for additional guidance. 

Where do you submit a college application resume? 

The submission process for a college application resume may vary depending on the college or university that you are applying to. Here are some common ways to submit a college application resume:

Online Application: Many colleges and universities allow you to upload your resume as part of their online application process. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully and upload your resume in the appropriate format, such as a PDF file or a Word document.
Email: Some colleges and universities may ask you to send your resume via email as a separate attachment. Make sure to label the attachment with your name and the word “resume” to ensure that it is easily identifiable.
Postal Mail: In some cases, colleges and universities may require you to mail a hard copy of your resume as part of your application. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully and use a professional-looking envelope or folder to submit your resume.
Supplemental Application: Some colleges and universities may require you to submit a supplemental application, which may include a separate section for your resume.

It is important to check the application requirements for each college or university that you are applying to and follow their instructions carefully to ensure that your college application resume is submitted correctly and on time.

Example high school resume for a college application

Here is a sample high school resume for a college application that demonstrates how to organize and present your experiences effectively:

High School Student Resume Example

This example showcases the student’s academic achievements, extracurricular activities and work experiences in a clear and organized manner. 

It uses bullet points and concise language to highlight accomplishments and responsibilities, making it easy for admissions officers to quickly understand the student’s strengths and interests. 

Additionally, the resume includes relevant details such as GPA, test scores and leadership positions, providing a comprehensive overview of the student’s qualifications for college.

Key takeaways

  1. A high school resume for a college application gives admissions officers an overview of your achievements, extracurricular activities and potential as a student.
  2. Your resume should include relevant information such as academic achievements, extracurricular activities and volunteer experience. 
  3. Use a professional format for your college application resume to ensure that it is engaging and easy to read.
  4. Tailor your resume to the college or the program or major that you are applying for.
  5. Be honest and accurate on your resume.
  6. Proofread carefully and get feedback from friends, family members, teachers or guidance counselors.

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