How To Write a High School Resume for College

hands exchanging a resume paper
October 24, 2022
What To Include on Your High School ResumeHow To Write a High School Resume for College ApplicationsWhat Not To Include on Your High School ResumeHigh School Resume ExampleFAQs: High School Resume for College

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

Did you know that a strong high school resume could help your chances of getting the admission offer you wanted? This article will share with you all you need to know about how to write a high school resume for college applications.

Applying to college is a long journey that requires a lot of preparation and dedication. When gathering everything you need to finish an application for your education after high school, it’s common to overlook the high school resume.

Resumes are not just for seeking jobs or internships during the final later years of college. They also have many uses for high schoolers, especially when it comes to applying for college. High school resumes are often used as supplementary material to increase your chances, but some schools require applicants to submit their high school resumes

What should you include in your resume? How can you make sure your resume stands out? This article will guide you on how to write your resume for college applications.

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What To Include on Your High School Resume

When writing a high school resume for college, it’s always important to be mindful of what to include and highlight. A resume should be no longer than one-page long, so you have limited space to work with. A poorly done resume could end up harming you, much like other components of your college application profile. 

Your high school resume for college provides a condensed overview of your academic and extracurricular experiences. Much like any other resume, it really is up to you to decide what you want to include. However, to craft a well-written high school resume, it is strongly suggested to at least include the following:

At this point, you might be thinking: “Hey, these are just stuff that’s typically included in college applications!” You’d be right, but it’s one thing to have all the information and a whole other to formulate it, organize it, and present it as a well-composed document. 

Furthermore, a high school resume allows you to include more information and details about your job experiences and career aspirations, both of which college application committees deeply care about.

How To Write a High School Resume for College Applications

Now that we’ve provided a list of everything you should include, let’s go through each section in more detail. 

Note that your resume does not need to include all of these sections; these are just highly recommended ones. You can decide which information to put on your resume, based on your experiences and accomplishments.

Objective

The objective section of your high school resume is where you outline your reasons for applying to college. Making your objectives known is important even for high school students because it tells the admissions committee your plans and goals for yourself. Your objective should indicate your ability to self-reflect and demonstrate your responsibility and passion for what you hope to become.

As such, this is usually the most critical component of your resume. For this part, you should include your dreams for your future, why you think the school and the program you apply to will help you, and what you plan to do about your career after you graduate. Outlining these three things will help the committee understand your reasons for applying.

If you have a clear career objective and sound confident and eager, it can benefit your chances of getting admitted. 

Experience 

In this section, you should include any valuable experience that you are involved in. This can include work, internships, volunteering, academic projects, extracurricular activities, or even hobbies. 

However, when it comes to experience, quality matters over quantity. Having a bunch of shallow experiences where you didn’t do anything noteworthy will only clutter your resume instead of helping you at all.

When choosing which experiences to include, keep this list of criteria in mind: 

When writing your experience and activity section, make sure you include the following:

In essence, your experiences should clearly express what you’ve done and how long you’ve done it for. It’s strongly recommended to put the details in a bullet list to make the information easier to read.

Education

Providing an overview of your education history is important when applying to college. Give the admissions committee a picture of your educational background, so they have a better idea of your skills, learning experience, personal interests, and whether or not you’re a fit for them. 

You only need to include education during your high school years and onwards. For each part, put all the details in bullet list form. These details include your:

However, if you’ve taken any form of education outside the regular school curriculum during your high school years, such as any classes (including AP and IB courses), lessons, certificates, or development programs, feel free to include them. 

Like with your regular school education, including important details like fields and areas of study, how well you did, achievements, and prospective graduation date. Any standardized test scores that you have taken, such as the SAT or ACT, can also be included in this section. Be sure to include the test name, score, and testing date.  

Skills

A resume is an excellent place to showcase your skill set. When it comes to high school resumes for colleges, your skills are a great addition to building your applicant portfolio. It tells schools what you’ve gained from your education and all your experiences. 

Your skills can include your capabilities, strengths, or simply anything you’re good at. This section can just be a list. Not many details are needed as long as you make your skills easy to understand. Don’t write anything too vague or confusing, but don’t be too wordy. This section is meant to be a rundown of your skill set. 

Another thing to think about is your hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills involve specific abilities and talents, such as web design, digital animation, software creation, or scientific experiment design. Soft skills are more generic, vague, and difficult to measure that can be applied in many different scenarios, such as communication skills, problem-solving, and brainstorming.

Awards and Achievements

Participation and experiences are good in and of themselves, but you must go somewhere with them to stand out in front of the admission committee. They love individuals who can make an impact or a difference. That's why you should include your awards and achievements in your high school resume as well.

This section can include awards, positive contributions, noteworthy advancements, and other things you've accomplished. Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be limited to academics. However, if you want to bring up anything already mentioned in other sections, make sure to include more details, so you're not repeating yourself. 

Make sure to list the honor and who gave it to you, and be specific. Don't just say something vague and broad, as that can make your achievement look weak. Try to include a date or a statistic.

What Not To Include on Your High School Resume

Now that we’ve gone through what you should include and how to write them, let’s go over some things you need to avoid.

Anything Lengthy

Like many other resumes, high school resumes must be as short and concise as possible. Unnecessarily lengthy sections are devastating to a resume’s effectiveness. This mistake is especially easy to make when describing experiences or details of something. Remember: your resume is a portfolio, not a story.

So make sure you only include the needed details in a concise and easy-to-read manner. Scan your resume whenever you’re finished writing it. If something is not needed, cut it out. 

Repetitive Information

Repeating yourself unnecessarily should also be avoided in your high school resume. If you find yourself repeating something in different parts of the resume, either paraphrase or remove it entirely. 

Of course, sometimes, you may need to repeat things. In fact, repeating can reflect emphasis or importance. But make sure you add in enough variety and minimize saying the exact same things over and over again.

Insincerity

Dishonesty is one of the worst things you can do for yourself when writing a high school resume for college. It might seem tempting to blow things up a bit to impress the admission committee, but lying not only makes you look bad, but it could also get you in big trouble if you submit anything false in your application.

Therefore, it’s very important to be honest in your resume. Have faith in your true self and your abilities. You’ve already been through so much throughout your high school years, and that’s something you should take pride and confidence in.

High School Resume Example

Here is an example of a high school resume for college applications:

Sample high school resume

Make sure you include everything necessary, as well as additional information to help your case, and then structure your document in a style easy to read!

FAQs: High School Resume for College

And there you have it! We’ve gone through what to include in your high school resume, how to write it from head to toe, and what you shouldn’t include in your resume. Still have questions unanswered? Perhaps the FAQs can provide what you need.

1. How Do I Make My High School Resume Stand Out?

Be your unique self. To make your high school resume stand out, you have to make yourself stand out, and put it on your resume. Let the college admission committee know who you really are as a person. 

Don’t be too restricted by conventions and assumptions. Being generic and conforming to some mental image of an “ideal candidate” is only a disservice. Don’t try to imitate others in hopes that you can replicate others’ success. You have your bright spots, so make them seen on your resume in your way.

2. What Is a Good Objective for a High School Resume for College?

A good career objective is one that best suits your situation and profile! There is no one-size-fits-all answer to a resume objective. Why do you want to apply? And what do you hope to do with your university education in the future? Answer these two questions with introspection and honesty, and you’d likely already have an answer to the best objective for you.

3. How Long Should a High School Resume Be?

A high school resume, just like a typical resume, should never be longer than three pages. Any longer than that and your resume will drastically decrease in effectiveness.

Ideally, your high school resume should be as short as possible while containing all the important information. As for what counts as “important,” it is up to you to decide what you believe is vital for college admission committees to know about you.  

4. When Should I Prepare My High School Resume?

For your high school resume, it’s very important to keep track of all the important things related to your career goals, experiences, achievements, education, and activities you participated in.  

Because your high school experiences are the most important part, you should start your preparation in your freshman year. Keep track of everything you think will help your case. Once you have a list, you can begin writing things down on your resume. 

Your first draft should be done before your high school senior year. You can then edit and adjust your resume’s content according to what happens during your senior year, or whatever is needed for the program or school you’re applying to.

5. What If You Have No Experience?

Remember: experiences don't have to be work-related! Extracurricular activities, community service, projects outside of school, or even your own hobbies, can all count as experiences!

Sure, experiences of work, internship, and volunteering can be good, but they’re not essential. If you’ve done any activity outside of studying that you find fulfilling and eye-opening, feel free to put that as an experience!

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, now you have an idea of how to write your high school resume. Your high school life is a journey, and your high school resume is a storybook. Select all the highlights and the most impactful and influential moments, garnish your resume with writing, and present it proudly to the admission committee as your portfolio.

When you think you can hand out this resume confidently and say, “This is who I am! This is what I’m made of! This is why you should admit me!” Then your resume is ready. But even if you aren’t feeling your best, have faith in yourself and always put your best foot forward.

Good luck on your college applications!

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