College Application Resume Guide and Template

college application resume

College Application Resume Guide and Template

Published October 1, 2019 | Last Updated July 29th, 2023 at 01:17 pm

college application resume

Put one more item on your to-do list, high school seniors.  It’s time to prepare a college application resume.

Not the kind of resume you’ll need when you look for your first post-college job or a brag sheet you’ve put together for someone writing a letter of recommendation, but a resume designed for a high school senior.

Why Do You Need A Resume For College Applications?

The Common Application permits students to upload an activities resume. Roughly 1/3 of the colleges within the Common Application system allow you to submit a resume using this upload feature (for example, Colgate.) 

See the list of colleges allowing students to upload resumes. (Courtesy of Nancy Griesemer)

If the colleges you’re applying to allow you to submit a resume, don’t miss the chance. It’s a perfect opportunity to highlight things you weren’t able to write about in detail in your college essays.

Some Common Application schools will not let you submit a resume (for example, the University of Virginia), while some schools outside the Common Application system do ask you to submit one (for example, Georgetown University.) 

Even if none of the colleges on your list ask for a resume, I strongly recommend you create one for the following reasons:

  • to help you complete the Common Application
  • to give to teachers, counselors, advisors, and coaches writing your recommendations
  • to use when applying for a job or internship
  • to submit when applying for a scholarship
  • to give to the interviewer at an alumni or college admission interview

What Should I Put on My Resume for College Applications?

Here’s a guide to preparing a high school student resume, along with a sample to get you started. 

1.Center your Contact Information at the top of the page. Include your full name, your address, your email address, and your cell number.

2. Put your Educational Information in a separate section below your contact information. Include the following…

  • The full name of your high school, its city and state.
  • Your graduation date in month and year format.
  • Your G.P.A. – weighted and unweighted (note each).
  • Your Class Rank – if your school ranks.
  • Your Test Scores with dates given – SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP tests.
  • Your Academic Honors and Awards, such as honor roll or AP scholar.
  • Any Coursework that may not be on your high school transcript, such as a summer course taken at a college or a summer educational experience at a college.

3. Create a section for your Experience (activities and jobs) during your four years of high school.

  • Include your Extra-Curricular Activities at your high school and also any Outside-of-School Activities and Hobbies.
  • Include significant Work Experience.
  • Include significant Community Service/Volunteer Experience.
  • If you have limited Extra-Curricular Activities because you had to work outside of school to support your family or you had to take care of a family member, explain that here

4. List your most recent and most important activity first. (Go in reverse chronological order.)

  • For each of your High School extra-curriculars, list the activity (avoid abbreviations) by category and date.
  • Describe your specific role within the activity, including any leadership position you held and the school years and/or summers you participated.
  • Use details to show your accomplishments such as the amount of funds raised, the number of students who joined the club you founded or the impact of your campaign.
  • Put each extra-curricular in a separate section with white spaces between the sections.
  • Start each description with a strong action word such as founded, managed, provided, built, and led.
  • For any job you had or still have, give the name of the company or group, your role, your job responsibilities, and dates.
  • Omit any superficial or brief activities (such as a club you joined for six weeks in 9th grade).

5. Have a section for your Special Skills. The last section of your resume is where you should list any special skills such as your fluency in Spanish, any specific computer skill, proficiency in playing a musical instrument or athletic skill if not described in the experience section.

In the Special Skills section you could also list any time-consuming hobbies you have that do not fit in elsewhere – e.g. Spend 10 hours per week knitting baby booties to donate to homeless women’s shelter.

How to Format Your College Application Resume

Formatting is key to making your resume easy to scan. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Use a professional font
  • Make your headings consistent
  • Bulleted lists may work
  • Use a limited amount of bold and underlining; aim for a clear and clean format
  • Keep your narratives brief but detailed
  • Do not abbreviate the names of groups or organizations
  • Try to keep the resume to one page (unless you won a Nobel Prize in high school)
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread to avoid typos, spelling errors, grammar mistakes, and punctuation problems – and ask a trusted adult to do the same.

Although your resume will be a personalized one, use this sample high school student resume as a template for creating your own.

Remember that your resume is not a do-it-once-document; be sure to update it as needed. And let me stress again, you can’t proofread a resume too carefully.

You want a college admissions officer to remember you for your accomplishments, not for your typos!


Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

10 Ways a Parent Can Help Their Student Prepare for College

How to Motivate Juniors to Start the College Process

High School Resumes May Be More Valuable Than Ever for College Admissions




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