What’s A College Admissions Resume: An In-Depth Guide

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female teacher giving instructions to four students in a library.

What’s A College Admissions Resume: An In-Depth Guide

While resumes are documents that are mainly associated with applying for jobs or employment, recently they have become an important document in the college admission process. Many institutions have become increasingly interested in students’ resumes as part of the overall application of the process.

The purpose of this guide is to provide students with a basic understanding of the college admissions resume and how to prepare one that will help them throughout the college application process. This way, students can put their best foot forward in the hopes of getting into the university of their dreams.

What’s a college admissions resume?

Resumes are mainly associated with professional jobs so you’re probably wondering “what’s a college admissions resume?” Well, a college admission resume is a document that is used to show what type of courses the student has enrolled in as well as their level of academic achievement.

Young woman standing in the middle of the school ground with her classmates.

It can be used to explain why the student would be a good fit for an institution in which they are applying to attend. It’s also used to show how the student differs from other applicants and how an institution can benefit by accepting that student.

Unlike job resumes that mainly focus on the career accomplishments and job skills of an individual, college resumes mainly focus on the academic achievement of a student. They are used to show how a student is different from other students in their potential to succeed as well as how they differ from other students applying to the same school.

Most college admission officers are looking for several different factors when they look at a resume:

  • Academic achievement, including SAT or ACT scores, GPA, honors and awards, and class rank.
  • High school activities such as sports teams, clubs and volunteer work.
  • Extracurricular activities and clubs such as Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).
  • General information such as the interests of the student and their intended field of study
  • Personal information, including a brief introduction or statement about themselves or their interests.

Some colleges ask for multiple copies to be submitted with all major sections completed, while other schools may only want a single copy. It is vital to follow each school’s specific requirements as this will help you have a successful time completing your application.

Elements of a resume for a college application.

It is important to note that the main purpose of a college resume is to show an institution that you have the potential to not only succeed academically but also socially. As such, a college admissions resume should reveal a lot about you. Here are some of the key sections to include:

  1. Heading: This part includes the full name of the applicant, personal email, home address, and phone number. This is important as you might be sending this document out through the mail, so it is good to have the address and phone number just in case the documents are lost in the mail.
  2. Major: You’ll want to include what major or field of study you want to pursue at college. Some colleges may prefer this section to be filled out while others may not require it, but we advise all students to fill it out if they know what they want to study.
  3. Academic profile: This section gives a brief overview of your academic background. It is important to include your GPA and the classes that you have taken that are related to the major you have selected. Other things like honors and awards, as well as your rank in class, are important to include in this section.
  4. SAT/ACT scores: This section will include your SAT or ACT scores. Keep in mind that you can take these standardized tests multiple times to improve your score. You’ll want to put the highest score you’ve received on your resume.
  5. Extracurricular activities: Admissions officers care about what you’re doing out of the classroom too. So, you’ll need to include a section on your resume about any extracurriculars you’re doing.
  6. Out-of-School Activities: This section will include the activities that the student has been involved in out of school other than extracurriculars.
  7. Hobbies and Interests: This is a section on what you are interested in. It is important to focus on the hobbies and interests that are directly associated with the degree that you’re intending to study.
  8. Employment history: In this part, a student should mention any part-time jobs they’ve had over the years, including during the summer. You’ll want to include some specifics of the role such as your title and responsibilities.
  9. Skills: This section should include the skills that you have had experience in and is something important for an admissions officer to review. Some colleges may require this section to be included and others might not.
  10. Volunteer experiences: Here, the student should mention any volunteer experiences that they have had. This is another section that some schools really want to see while others aren’t too interested. But, it never hurts to add it.
  11. Personal Statement: This is a section that explains why the student wants to attend their intended college. It should explain how they will benefit both academically and socially by going to college. This is a good time to elaborate on the information you provided about yourself in the academic profile and interest sections.

While students do not need to include all the above-stated sections in their resume, it is important to ensure that the resume details what will make an applicant the most attractive candidate for admission.

Study the college that you are intending to join.

When admissions officers are reading through college admissions resumes, they’re not just looking for information about an applicant. It’s not that this information isn’t important. In fact, it’s critical. Colleges want to know as much about you as possible. However, it’s important to explain things about yourself in relation to the college to which you’re applying.

View of a student smiling at the camera.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, admissions officers aren’t just looking for applicants with stellar grades, fantastic standardized test scores, and impressive extracurricular performance. These are important elements of a great application, but schools are also interested in how a candidate fits into their school.

As a result, it’s important to include some information in your college admissions resume that demonstrates your knowledge of the school and why it would be a good match for your academic pursuits. It’s helpful to conduct some research about your intended colleges before writing resumes so you can custom-tailor the information to match.

Tips for writing an effective college application resume.

Like in job resumes, candidates should ensure that their college application resumes stand out from the rest of the crowd. Fortunately, there are several ways that applicants can achieve this:

  1. Be concise and direct: Ensure that your resume is short and to the point with all the most important aspects. Mention your previous academic qualifications. Describe any achievements that you have made, such as winning a race or making a donation to charity, with pithy wording.
  2. Limit the resume to one page: As a rule of thumb, college admissions officers will only spend about 15 seconds per resume. If your resume is excessively long, it sends the message that you are trying to exaggerate your achievements and accomplishments.
  3. Keep it simple: A college application resume should always be easy to read. If you feel that you must use lots of jargon or special terminology, try to find a simpler way to say the same thing. It’s possible most of the time!
  4. Highlight your strengths and unique achievements: You should highlight any sort of success and accomplishments in your past. Maybe you won an academic competition, received an award for your art, or mastered a new skill.
  5. Keep it original: Don’t repeat too many details in your college application resume as this will make it less interesting and less appealing to the reader.
  6. Be honest: Tell the truth about yourself. Resist the urge to embellish or fabricate anything. Remember, you’re the most important part of the application, so stick to the truth.
  7. Proofread your resume several times: Errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation can be the difference between getting accepted and not getting into the college of your dreams. Have different people proofread your work:
  8. Never rush through: It is a good idea to take your time in writing the college application resume. Take weeks to write the whole thing if you need it. You don’t want to write it under pressure as this is a recipe for disaster.
  9. Use active voice instead of passive voice: Use active voice instead of passive voice when you are writing your resume. For example, instead of writing “The experiment was conducted by me,’ write ‘I conducted the experiment.’ Using the passive voice is considered to be weak and vague in a college application resume.

So far, our tips have focused on how to write an effective college admissions resume. However, the way in which applicants format their admissions resumes is critically important too! Just like you’d put time into making sure a job application is properly formatted, you should take the same care and attention when formatting a college resume. Here are some tips to make sure everything looks good.

Use descending order.

Applicants should begin with their most recent achievement to their least recent. Arrange the education and work experiences you have in descending order in terms of chronology.

Make use of bullet points.

Bullet points are useful in highlighting the most important aspects of your resume. It is a great idea to make your credentials, skills, and accomplishments stand out. Bullet points can also make your resume look more organized which is always nice for admissions officers who have to sift through hundreds of resumes.

Students standing next to each other while talking.

Use italics to highlight important information.

Another tactic you can use to highlight crucial information is to use italics. This will help to grab the reader’s attention while they are going through your resume. Just make sure not to overdo it! Nobody is going to be drawn to each italicized word if it occurs too often.

Write as clearly as possible.

A college admissions resume isn’t the time or place to show off your writing chops. Leave the literary prose and big words for college essays. You’ll want to keep the wording as simple as possible for readability and aesthetics. Smaller words look better than excessively long ones.

a group of students walking at a university walkway

Be consistent in your chosen style of formatting.

There should be no more than one way to format a piece of writing. For this reason, the same formatting style should be used all through the resume. For example, if you chose to use solid black bullet points in one section, use the same bullets throughout the whole resume.

Use margins.

Margins are useful in making the resume look well-formatted and organized. Using a standard Word format should already have these margins built-in. However, you might want to double-check to make sure everything looks normal.

How important is a college resume?

Now that you have an answer to “what’s a college admissions resume?” you’re probably wondering how important t is this document in the college application process? Well, not all colleges actually require applicants to submit a resume but it may be considered good practice to submit your application with a resume.

Since most applicants won’t provide colleges with a college admissions resume, the applicants who take this extra step will stand out from the crowd. Admissions officers will automatically view a candidate who submits this extra document as an eager and worthy candidate for admission.

Female student talking to a student in a room with books.

Having said that, it is important to understand that colleges will not give applicants entrance on the basis of their resumes alone. This is because there are many other factors in the college application process.

A candidate’s grades, scores, and overall academic performance are considered more important when compared to resumes. However, some colleges place the utmost importance on a college resume.

Other key advantages of writing a resume are that it may help recommenders write apt and convincing recommendation letters about you. These letters are your real ticket to the college of your choice. Additionally resumes may be used in scholarship applications if the applicant has won any awards or if they have secured a place in any championship or popularity contests.

Key takeaways of a college admissions resume.

Many high schoolers have been wondering “what’s a college admissions resume?” and “how do I write one?” We hope this article has answered most of these questions. Let’s recap some of the key points covered so you can nail this part of the college admissions process.

  1. What admission officers look for in a college resume: Admissions committees do not look for specific skills in an applicant’s resume. Instead, they are looking for a candidate who has the opportunity to contribute at the college level and who can fulfill their roles and responsibilities.
  2. Elements of a college resume: The most important sections of a college resume include the heading, intended major, SAT/ACT scores, academic profile, extracurricular activities, volunteer activities, and personal information.
  3. Tips for writing an effective resume: The college application resume should be written professionally to make it appealing, attention-grabbing, and engaging. To write a resume properly the student should keep it simple, concise, highlight their key achievements, and ensure that it addresses their unique traits.
  4. How important is a college resume: A good college resume highlights the achievements and abilities of an applicant. As such, it is important for applicants to ensure that their college application resumes are short but effective and engaging. This will help them make an impact on the admission committees who will then be persuaded to admit them.

College Resumes: The bottom line

Hopefully, this article has helped you determine “what’s a college admissions resume?”  and why these documents are important in the college admissions process.

These documents can have a major impact on your chances of getting accepted to your dream college.

The key is to not only be clear, concise, and engaging but also to highlight your achievements and let them speak for themselves. Plus, you want to custom-tailor this information to the college you hope to attend. The easier you make it for college admissions officers to imagine you attending the school, the better your application will appear.

If you’d like some help preparing the perfect college admissions resume, the experts at AdmissionSight have you covered! We’ve helped dozens and dozens of students get into their dream colleges. In fact, 75% of our students get into Top 10 or Ivy League colleges.

Contact us today to learn more about what we offer. We’ll set up a free consultation to answer any of your questions. We look forward to hearing from you!




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