Application Process

Guidelines To Write Impressive High School Resume

Firstly, Resumes is not a required part of your college application process. In fact some universities even ban students from submitting their resumes. 

However, I strongly recommend high school students to write a resume based on your common app because it might be wise to send it to some schools that you are applying too. The resume can be sent to some universities, used to apply for scholarships, and even internships when you are at college.

So, Do Colleges Need Resumes

It’s probably the only question that you care about. So, the simple answer is that you should if your college has provided space for uploading optional resumes in the common app.

Colleges like Brown, Boston College, Georgia Tech and Carnegie Mellon provide space for uploading optional resumes in the Common App. In fact, many colleges like University of Texas at Austin strongly recommends that you send your resume in. 

In 2020, almost 25% of the 600+ colleges on the Common Application provide opportunities to upload your activity résumé.  Remember there’s really no such thing as optional in college admissions. If they give you space to submit one, I think you should.

See the list of schools that the guys at “Score At The Top” put together for colleges that recommend adding a resume. 

In short, check your list and see whether they have mentioned the resume as option. If any of them have, create a resume and attach it to your application. 

What Should I Add in My Resume

Take a look at your entire application, including your main Common App essay, your Activities List (maximum of 10 spots and 5 honors/awards), your supplemental essays, and your Additional Info section.

A resume can provide further details about your accomplishments that may not fit into above sections of your application. Is there something important about your application that is not already present clearly in the other sections of your application.  

Some content that you could add are the following:

  1. Work Experience. The common app only gives you 150 characters for work experience – that is hardly any space. If you had a significant job or internship, add the detailed responsibilities here. Also add all the part time jobs that you may have done over the years. Even if you taught your first cousin, add that since it is work experience. 
  1. Awards and Honors. Since middle schools, students win numerous awards and honors – some more important than the other. The common app only allows you to list 5 of them. List the remaining here.
  1. Community Outreach. Similar to the earlier two points: if you have had significant community service or projects, list them here. In the common app, you have to add them to the extracurricular section, so you have to only add a chosen few. Here you can add the rest.
  1. Education Achievements. You want to list the Machine Learning Course by Stanford you took by Coursera but could not on the common app. You can add all the online courses, Olympiads and the other academic courses you have taken over the years. 
  1. Skills. Students are multi-talented and have expertise and proficiencies in many skills like photoshop, video editing, Java, spoken languages, etc. You want the admission officials to know these important skills that you posses. Here is your chance.
  1. Hobbies. You have significant hobbies that make the personal you are. For example, the tour to Europe that you took by yourself after your Junior Year. These hobbies play as significant role in your like as do the AP courses, but the common app does not let you list them. The resume will.

The following are some guidelines to keep in mind when writing your resume:

1. Collect your thoughts before hitting the keyboard. Before you start writing your resume, compile all your achievements, honors, part time job s and anything else worth mentioning that you may have done since middle school. Preparing to write a resume for high school students is similar to how you think things through before writing your college application essay. You may even want to discuss it with your family or teachers about what you should include.

2. Begin with a spirited high school resume objective. Start your resume with a spirited and short introduction of yourself so that it showcases your strengths and skills, makes you stand out, and conveys how you will fit well into the college.

3. Chronology is key. Your resume must list things accurately in chronology. In doing so, you will project your clarity in thinking and attention to detail. On the other hand, listing information haphazardly, in a jumble, will not only bewilder the admissions officer, but it will also reflect poorly.

4. Keep the education information exclusive. Start by mentioning your high school GPA. However, if it is on the lower side then do not add it. Include any award or honours or membership in associations that will convey your keenness.

5. Keep it snappy. Like any other resume, your high school resume must be to the point. Try to keep it a one-pager or a maximum of two pages. The admissions officer will have hundreds of applications to go through, so a lengthy resume will tire him even before he begins to read it. Categorize the information as mentioned in the resume for students in high school above, and highlight each heading in bold so the admissions officer will grasp everything swiftly.

6. Demonstrate action. By using action verbs like ‘participated’, ‘generated’, ‘planned’, etc., while detailing your skills, you will seamlessly convey that you are a person of action. 

7. Make it honest and real. Pretensions and dishonesty won’t work here. If there are any contradictions in your narrative, it won’t take the admissions officer much effort to crosscheck. And no college will be inclined to accept a deceitful student.

8. Focus on untold information. Rather than repeating what’s already there in your college essay or answers to questions in the application form, use your high school resume to showcase something you simply couldn’t include anywhere else - it could well be your love for chess. 


While you will work really hard to come up with a good high school resume, it will help you immensely to also peruse high school resumes of successful students. Besides, you can get started with standardized resume templates on Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Read these sample resumes of successfully accepted Massachusetts Institute of Technology students. Additionally, watch this video with tips to write a high school resume:

In your absence, it is your resume that will have to work hard to sell the merchandise – you. Besides, to ensure that they have all the relevant information, you will have to share this high school resume with those who will write out letters of recommendation. 

Happy Hunting.