Is a student-submitted resume suggested? How/when/where?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Is a student-submitted resume suggested? How/when/where?

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Follow the directions

This is one of those times when you need to go directly to the admissions page of the college's website. Research to find out if supplemental material is encouraged or discouraged and follow the directions. Admissions officers dislike it when students disregard clearly stated instructions. If there is no specific advice and you really cannot fit the information in the allotted areas on the application, then you can upload the resume in the additional information section. Always use a print preview to make sure everything had been uploaded correctly.

Trevor Creeden
Director of College and Career Counseling Delaware County Christian School

Is a student-submitted resume suggested? How/when/where?

I am a big believer in the resume. The resume should be one page in length, include a profile picture and include anything and everything you have done outside of your core academic classes in school. Even electives that student took could be included in the resume. A college wants to know how you are going to benefit their school and be involved. They don't want students who are going to stay in their room all day and study. They want students who are going to be an asset to their campus and get involved. A picture is important because it forces them to put a face to the name. At a lot of big universities, an applicant is just a number. When they see a picture, it personalizes you a bit to them and can make a small difference. I send the resume in with the transcript to make sure they get it. You can also use the resume to give to teachers when asking for a letter of recommendation, a college rep when they visit your school, an internship or an interview you have. I have sample resumes if you would like to see one.

Wendy Kahn
Principal Wendy Kahn College Consulting, LLC

Is a student-submitted resume suggested? How/when/where?

Sometimes it can be hard to explain your activities and interests outside the classroom on the typical college application form. The Common Application and many colleges’ own applications have grids to list your activities. But the space is small and the format restrictive. A possible solution is to create your own resume that presents the details of your achievements organized the way you want. But there's a catch: While some colleges welcome or even require resumes, others specify in their instructions that they won’t accept any extra materials. And even at colleges that don’t directly say “no resumes,” the current trend is somewhat anti-resume. Many schools say they just don’t have time to read them, and they want students to limit their activity lists to what fits in those little cells on the application and expand on activities through their essays. If in doubt about a school’s preference, ask the Admissions office! Even if you’re not going to make it part of your formal application, creating a resume is a good exercise: It lets you organize and prioritize what you’ve accomplished outside the classroom, and it gives you a template to work from when you tackle the “Activities” sections of your applications.

Lauren Carter
Director of College Counseling Louisville Collegiate School

A resume is an opportunity to tell more

I believe all students should create and submit activity resumes. This is a great opportunity to further explain an involvement or honor you have received. Organize your resumes by type of activity, include years of participation and hours completed. Also make sure to add descriptions if needed but be clear and concise in your descriptions. The resumes can be easily uploaded to a Common Application under the Additional Information section. In addition, you may also hand out a resume to an alumni representative after you have had an interview or as a follow-up with an admissions officer. Make sure your school counselor has a copy of your resume and in some cases teachers who are writing your recommendations may ask for one.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Resumes: A Way to Showcase Who You Are

Supplementing the colleges’ own pointed questions, a well-crafted resume can help complete the picture of the applicant. In writing a resume students should avoid endless lists. Instead, the resume should highlight the things that really matter to the student, the activities and recognitions that illustrate their true talents and passions, not their ability to be a joiner or a follower. Effective resumes give the admissions people a better sense of who an applicant is and what they offer the prospective college community, since in the end, whether applicants are what the shapers of that community want is what the admission process is about.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

Simple is Better

I think that it's important to know how to compile a solid resume because resume writing is definitely an important life skill. However, I don't recommend submitting a separate resume along with your college applications for the following reasons: 1. some colleges expressly tell applicants NOT to submit separate resumes; 2. most applications (including the Common Application) provide ample space for you to list your activities, accomplishments, and honors; 3. most of the student resumes just repeat information that is already set forth in the application; 4. some application readers find having to read additional materials annoying; and 5. many resumes are not read at all and therefore are a waste of your time. If you do decide to submit a resume, make sure that the colleges to which you are applying do not expressly request that you do NOT submit them. Also - craft your resumes with care. Do not list the same activity/accomplishment more than once in order to "beef up" your accomplishments. Many students will list membership in "honor" societies under "honors" and "activities." Once is sufficient. "Double dipping" just makes your look bad. In my many years of interviewing applicants for Harvard, I found that having to wade through 3-4 page resumes only to find that the same activity was listed two, three and sometimes four times -- was a truly negative experience and duly noted on my interview report to the school. Don't make it difficult for admissions officer to find out who you are. Keep it simple and direct and put forth your best efforts on the application. If you have the time to devote to agonizing over a resume, you have the time to craft an elegant application that sets forth the best version of you. Your application readers will be able to "get" you quickly and THAT is the goal -- right?

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

Is a student-submitted resume suggested? How/when/where?

Short Answer: A “resume” is a great idea. But make sure your extracurricular activities and achievements do not outshine your academic achievements. One or two extracurriculars in your area(s) of interest with strong leadership involvement, coupled with great grades and board scores, makes you a wonderful candidate for admission to most colleges. Detailed Answer: For those colleges that look for something other than numbers in their admissions process, a resume is a terrific opportunity to show that your personal passions reflect your college search. In other words, if you are applying to vet programs, your resume should reflect an interest in the welfare of animals, i.e. involvement in 4H, working for a veterinarian, etc. Likewise, if you are pursuing a very competitive Pharm.D. program, and you have great grades and board scores, pharmacy or pharmaceutical company experience (via a coop program, or part-time work) will set you apart from other top students. In other words, you want to make it clear to any college that you are serious about the major you wish to pursue. But here’s the problem: We see too many college applications that have a lengthy list of extracurriculars, but the grades have clearly suffered as a result of misplaced focus. You usually won’t be rejected by most colleges if you have great grades and board scores and few or no extracurriculars; however, you WILL be denied if your grades are low but you have a long list of extracurriculars. It’s more important to have one or two strong areas of extracurricular interest and pursue leadership positions within those areas, than to over extend your energies into many areas and not have any leadership examples on your applications.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

Is a student-submitted resume suggested? How/when/where?

On the Common App if the college asks for any additional info you'd like to submit. Just make sure it's not too many characters. Otherwise, submit it directly to the director of admissions, or give it to the interviewer at the beginning of your interview.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

Is a student-submitted resume suggested? How/when/where?

I do not work in an admissions office, but it is my understanding that a student-submitted resume is neither recommended nor desired. It is conceivable that a college or university could for some reason request a resume, but I've never encountered that situation. Colleges/universities gather the information they want through their institutional applications, the Common Application, and/or the Common Application supplements specific to the schools. A student-submitted resume would merely be extraneous in this context; they will already have the required information. If a student submits a resume anyhow, I don't know how or even IF it would be considered in the application review process.

Kristina Dooley
Independent Educational Consultant Estrela Consulting

Is a student-submitted resume suggested? How/when/where?

Though some schools do ask for students to include a resume, this is generally unnecessary. The items that you would include on a resume (club memberships, work experience, awards, etc.) are all things that are already being asked of you on your application. Though a resume does streamline this information, some admission officers may just bypass your resume as an additional piece of paper with repetitive information.