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:
-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.