Yes, the success rate to get into these prestigious colleges mostly depends on your profile and your educational successes. But did you know, most of the time, colleges don’t even read your college application resume?
Most good-ranking colleges, especially the ones mentioned above receive thousands of college applications from high school students, globally.
Yes, you read that right, these colleges receive applications from high school and college students from all over the globe, hence the reason these colleges have such a higher ranking in the index.
But why are we telling this to you?
Turns out, almost all these colleges use software that filters out the bad college applications, which is nothing but your college application resume.
So to help you at least surpass those filters and land an interview with the college committee, let’s dive deep into why your college application resume is being filtered out and how to fix it.
College Application Resume Example
Student digital media professional with proven leadership skills seeking to revitalize Harvard College’s student body. Run a multiple crowdfunding organization that raised over $50,000 for social causes like cancer and make a wish. A+ average on the varsity track team. Physics and English major.
Wellington High School, Chicago, Illinois
Attended Physics, English, and History classes at an A+ level.
Communication skills were commended by the school’s vice-chancellor.
Track team captain.
Combined SAT scores 1350 (690 Verbal, 660 Math).
Graduating in May of 2019.
Run a cancer-fighting fundraising campaign on social media.
Collaborated with 1,400 fighters in Mixed Martial Arts to collect donations.
To date, we have raised $27,000 for children’s cancer research.
Achieved 18000 followers on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Nuts and Bolts Robo club
Four years of leading a small robotics club with local peers.
Designed and built 15 robots with MegaPi mainboards, including a robotic arm.
Holding 40+ bracketed competitions, which increased membership by 60%.
Retail Sales Associate
Abercrombie & Fitch
Attended customer service training and scored 99%.
The highest earner of the employee of the month reward program.
Maintained a 98% positive customer comment score.
A passionate surfer. Has surfed 60 days a year since age 13. Repaired all dings/cracks with resin/fiberglass and a full-face respirator.
A dedicated cyclist. Maintain own bike and equipment, having logged 4,000+ miles.
Since age 8, I have read 473 books across multiple genres.
Passion for castle ruins developed during a trip to Hungary, mapping 12.
During our family trip, I learned 50 useful Romanian words and phrases.
Hard Skills: Writing, Video Production, Leadership, MS Office
Soft Skills: Interpersonal Skills, Time Management, Listening
How to Write a Header for Your Resume for College Applications
An industry-wide used formula called “KISS” or “Keep It Simple Stupid” surely does come in handy here.
The concept means exactly what it says, to keep things very simple as sometimes, less is more.
The header is the topmost resume space which very naturally grabs the eyes of the reader.
However, being a high school student or a college student, people tend to overdo things on their resume and end up giving a very bad first impression almost instantly.
The header serves the purpose of informing the reader, in this case, the jury or the student body who will be reading your resume, about the very basic information about you because that’s all they need from you in the header space.
What to include in your header?
- Your name (bold with large font size)
- Your location (only city and country, not the actual address)
- Contact details (phone number and a professional email address)
Surprised? This is all that is actually needed on your college application resume header.
In this digital age, high school teenagers are already working independently on the internet and creating content. If you have a blog, a professional or personal website, or any digital trace of you that can showcase your skills and talent, that can entice the reader to know more about you, then add it directly under your name and add a hyperlink to the destination.
Example of a good college application resume header:
Example of a bad college application resume:
54th Avenue Saint Jose
The admission body doesn’t need your personal address in your resume, but a way to contact you in case they like your profile.
Does Your Resume For College Application Need Your Photograph?
College admissions are no joke. The admissions department wants to see a perfect and eye-catching college application resume as even a slight mistake can lead to a straight rejection.
And the biggest one after grammatical errors and a colorful template is adding a picture to your college resume.
Adding your picture is highly frowned upon as this can tamper with the decision-making skills and it can result in biased judgment.
How to Define Your Experience on Your Resume for College Applications
Well, this goes without saying that, as a college student, your work experience must mostly consist of part-time student jobs at retail stores and food joints and that’s perfectly fine, even better actually.
Adding work experience to your application automatically boosts up your chances of getting into college. However, the task that remains is how to transform and convert your work at Abercrombie & Fitch into a sales pitch to land an interview with the school.
The trick is to emphasize your skills through these experiences, mostly soft skills as it shows the behavior you’ll be bringing into college.
Let’s take working at Abercrombie & Fitch in a sales job and scripting it in a rather professional way.
- Working part-time as a retail sales associate at Abercrombie & Fitch and currently handling client relations and sales conversion, cash register, and inventory management at times.
- Native English with conversational fluency in Spanish.
- Improved overall client in-store experience by initiating and independently implementing better promotional graphics within the boutique.
- Working as a salesman at Abercrombie & Fitch and handling multiple roles.
- Talk to customers to convert into sales.
- Do some graphic work for the store.
How to Frame Your Education on Your College Application Resume
As your college resume or high school resume’s primary focus and purpose is to push you forward to pursue higher education. Hence, the education section is primordial among all the other sections.
The reason is pretty self-explanatory as your education is the basic metric on which your profile will be judged on whether or not you are a good scoring candidate. Among all the other fields, education still tops the chart.
So how to write about the most important section in your resume and frame it the way that not just grabs eyes but also tickles the reader into taking an action (by calling you for an interview/screening)
Contents of the education section in your college application resume:
- Name and place of the school/college
- Year of study
- Your GPA/SAT scores (or any other score that is equivalent to the GPA)
- A brief but informative paragraph about your educational experience in your high school career and what all major projects and activities were you a part of.
2017 – 2021
1st place at the Regional Swimming Championship
Vice-President of the Science Club
SAT Scores: 1350 (630 Verbal, 680 Math)
What Skills to Put on Your Resume for College Application
College resumes need to follow a different structure and content framing.
Skills in a good college resume are defined very neatly and precisely. Why? To give a clear picture about what the student will bring to the table and they are a mix of both soft and hard skills (also known as human skills and technical skills).
If you think your experience or educational qualifications do not contain much substance to explain, you can space out your skills into soft and hard and mention your skills and reside the white space in your college application resume.
Here are some examples that you can present in your student resume:
- Communication skills
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Creative mindset
- Team player
- Technologically fluent
- MS Office (Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint)
- Project management
- Presentation skills
- Analytical skills
About Me: A Fundamental Section for Your College Application
About me is the equivalent of a professional summary and/or an objective in a professional resume.
This section defines your entire resume in a brief of a few lines and summarises it to entice the reader to read more about you.
This section is the most common one where high school students tend to make mistakes as they very vaguely write this section.
However, the about me section must always be treated like a well-written sales letter, a well-written sales letter whose only purpose is to sell, and not like a college essay.
The way you write your ‘About me’ section must attract your reader to read more about you. Not just flip your college application resume in the bin.
Tips to Write the About Me Section
- Keep it as brief as possible but without losing the content’s credibility.
- Mention what motivates you to apply and why you would be a good candidate.
- Write your skills while talking about yourself as this space grabs more attention.
- Use actions verbs to bring a strong point.
Additional Sections for Your College Application Resume
In recent times, resumes —especially high school resumes and college resumes— have started following a highly needed section known as “Leadership experience”.
As most students do not have work experience or aren’t good at sports, there are chances they must have been part of various academic projects and might have gotten a chance to lead at some point or be in some leadership positions.
So, as an additional and sometimes a necessary section, you can include “leadership experience” in your college application resume and explain your leadership roles where you acted as a leader and what difference it made.
There are some other sections that you can add like:
- Computing skills: Here you can mention more about your technical skills and any projects or certifications in any technical area you have.
- Languages: Having the knowledge of another language can seriously boost up your points. Hence, if you know a couple of foreign languages, don’t shy away from mentioning them.
- Volunteer work: If you participate actively in volunteer work then you can mention the community service experience you had during those times.
Tips for Taking The Resume for Your College Application To the Next Level
- Make sure your college application is a one-page resume.
- Always follow one specific resume format.
- Make sure to use an online resume builder like resume example to build it without any errors.
- Try to find a simple yet effective college application resume template.
Summary: Writing a Powerful Resume for College Application
- Don’t shy away from flaunting your academic achievements and be smart enough to emphasize specific achievements.
- Computer skills are highly in-demand so make sure you mention them.
- Effectively writing and quantifying the metrics in your resume helps you in your college interviews as well.
- You can even mention some summer programs if you have been a part of them.
- Always use a bullet point for each metric you mention.
- Reverse chronological order is the most common one to be followed.
Back Up Your Resume with a Cover Letter
Cover letters always stand in a grey area. Most recruiters and admissions committee people require cover letters as their purpose is to provide elaborated yet smartly brief information about certain specific key parts that you were not able to explain in your college application resume.
For example, if you have certain work experience on your resume, your cover letter will elaborate on those experiences with numbers and metrics.
A cover letter expands your resume objective and provides detailed information with actionable content to increase your credibility.