What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

Application Process

Our counselors answered:

What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

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

What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

Here's what to include: Sound bites - NOT sentences! Your numbers Academic accolades Community service hrs Athletic performance & awards Travel Work History Interests - academic & otherwise Special areas of expertise - math whiz, Yo-Yo Ma move over! Anything unusual in your family like 1/11 kids or Mayflower Compact descendant Something personal like - I have the respect of my peers

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

They are trying to get to know you better. Your resume may include information not present within a standard application. Some schools limit the amount of information you can include, so use this opportunity to include information about your work, volunteer and educational experience.

Steph Hart
Owner, Principle Consultant Essential Elements: Comprehensive College Planning

What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

College/university admission representatives know how your commitments each weekday during school hours. They want to learn about how you choose to spend your time outside of the classroom; how you develop your passions and your interests. And they are curious how your academic accomplishments, specifically your gpa and your standardized test scores, are in harmony (or not) with your extra-curricular activities. Do you excel in the classroom, but do nothing but study? Or are you able to balance the demands of a rigorous courseload with an active calendar of leadership, service, athletic, and employment endeavors. Quality is key, though, not quantity. Find something that interests you and explore it more deeply. Dedicate time to it. Go after related leadership opportunities. You do not have to be in every club/organization, but rather, join the ones that allow you to grow in your interests and talents.

Felice Kobrick
Owner, College Consultant, Kobrick College Consulting, LLC

What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

If a college requests a resume, it is your opportunity to showcase more of your "fit" for that school. Make sure your resume is comprehensive and includes sections for education, academic awards, athletic achievement, extracurricular activities and any paid work experience or volunteer work. Perceive the resume as another chance to shine!

Ronald Harris

What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

High Grade Point Average. Challenging College-Prep Courses. Leadership Positions in a Few Organizations Community Service. Strong Scores on SAT/ACT.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

Your resume is a one page synopsis of who you are beyond classes, grades and scores. This is an opportunity to highlight honors, work experience, community service. By collecting all of this information on one document, the college doesn't have to go hunting for information on your extracurricular life. There are no right or wrong "answers" to be included on a resume, it is simply a snapshot of who you are and what you bring to the table.

Tira Harpaz
Founder CollegeBound Advice

What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

Some colleges, generally state schools, are not particularly interested in a resume and make decisions mainly on the basis of GPA and standardized tests. However, for schools that are interested in extracurricular activities, your resume should show that your activities were long-standing and showed some depth and possibly leadership qualities. Don't just be a serial joiner of clubs. Join one or two clubs and try and become an officer or lead a project. If you feel that the leadership of school clubs is often a popularity contest, start your own school club or outside project. Schools like to see that an applicant has taken advantage of existing opportunities and maybe even created new ones. Engage in meaningful community service. If your school has a community service requirement, go beyond the hours required. This will show that you really cared about a project or population and weren't just doing it because of a school mandate.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.org

What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

Passions, passions, passions. Colleges want kids who will actively engage in all campus activities. From your academics to your activities, you will be evaluated based on your commitment to what you do and you leadership and initiative. Some kids are outliers with outstanding athletic, artistic, scientific, or other talents. The rest of us try out things but try to make a difference through our commitments. Please do not sit still. Be active. Find out what you like to do. Experiment. Get a job. Volunteer. That's what colleges are looking for: authentic, active resumes.

Brittany Maschal
Founder/Director B. Maschal Educational Consulting

What are colleges looking for in an applicant's resume?

Most colleges that use the Common Application do not accept uploaded resumés and rely on the CA Activities section to evaluate your interest in and commitment to activities over time. Some notes on creating a resumé if you do decide to create one: Here are the components that should be included on your resumé: -Name, address, email and phone number -Detailed listing of ALL activities you participate in both inside and outside of school. This should include a description of your involvement in the activity, any awards or honors, and the time commitment (hours per week and weeks or months per year). Activities can include: -School clubs -Groups you are a member of outside of your high school -School honors societies -National honors societies -Sports, school and club travel teams -Internship and work experience (paid and unpaid) -Study abroad/foreign exchange/language immersion programs -Independent research or research alongside a faculty member -Community service and volunteer experience -Independent (online, in person, MOOC) and college level course work After you compile all of the activities you participate in, you need to decide on how to group and present them. Some students may find that it is easier to group and present their activities by theme. For example, students would group all fundraising endeavors (both via school clubs and outside organizations/volunteer work) in one section, all musical activities (including school and non-school choirs, plays, independent study etc.) in another section and so on. Honors and awards related to each theme would be grouped in its respective section and not in a separate honors/awards section. This format helps students clearly highlight where their interests lie and is a way to highlight deeper commitments lasting over time. Students with less developed themes throughout their list of extracurriculars may find it best to list them in a simpler fashion — clubs/activities, athletics, community service/volunteer work and awards/honors. Of course, there is no set, standard or even preferred format for most colleges and universities. The sections really do depend on your involvements, but these are some general guidelines. What you may notice is lacking from the above list of comments is the inclusion of your academic/education information from middle and high school, including your GPA and test scores. This information is not needed, as it is included on the Common Application and is therefore redundant if included on an uploaded resumé. However, for resumés to be used outside of the Common Application or for other school-specific college applications (for example, a comprehensive athletic resumé), a small education section including your high school name, year of graduation, GPA and test scores can be added. Please note, it is important to read the application requirements for every school you apply to. If they specifically ask you “do not send a resumé,” then, of course, do not send one. A good rule of thumb is, if they have a designated section where you can upload a resumé on the writing section of the Common Application, then they will accept resumés. If they do not, it is typically best not to send one.