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How to Write a High School Resume for College Application [+Template]

Tom Gerencer
Career Writer
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You’re about to see the best college application resume on Earth.

 

But hear this out first:

 

I didn’t get accepted by my first pick.

 

So why should you listen to me about your high school resume for college?

 

Because if I’d known what I know now, I’d have got into Harvard, Princeton, Hogwarts, or any school I wanted.

 

If you can follow simple instructions, you can stand out like Emma Watson or Steph Curry.

 

You can literally get into any school you want.

 

This guide will show you:

 

  • A college application resume example better than 9 out of 10 others.
  • How to write a resume for college to get admitted to the best schools.
  • Tips and examples of how to put skills and achievements on college resumes so they shine.

 

Here's a sample college application resume template made with our online resume builder tool.

 

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you'll get tips and right vs. wrong examples while writing your resume. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.

 

sample resume for college application

Sample College Application Resume - See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here

 

Now this is what a college resume should look like!

 

 

Not writing a high school resume for college applications? Writing a teen resume, internship resume, or resume fresh out of college? Switch to one of our other guides:

 

 

1

What's the Best Format for a College Resume?

 

Who cares about format?

 

Well, you do.

 

You can have the best college admissions resume in the world. If the formatting is bad, it comes off like Steve Buscemi saying, “How do you do, fellow kids?”

 

Here’s how to light it up:

 

Start with the reverse-chronological resume format.

 

Why is that the best college resume format?

 

Because colleges get a lot of applications.

 

Yikes:

 

  • UCLA: 97,121 applications
  • NYU: 60,691 applications
  • BU: 57,441 applications

 

You need to show off your best stuff fast. The reverse-chronological layout does that.

 

It puts your achievements in a pair of Jordan 10s. It makes you stand out like a bowl of Oreos amid a sea of Brussels sprouts.

 

Use plenty of white space, big headings, and the best resume fonts. That’ll show your strengths fast.

 

Finally, save your high school resume for college as a PDF. (Your parents don’t know this, but they’re machine-readable.)

 

Looking for a college application resume template in Microsoft Word? Don’t. MS Word doc resumes can turn as thick as the Wall Street Journal in transit.

 

How long should a college resume be? In general, a one-page resume is best for a high school resume for college applications.

 

Pro Tip: PDFs are great, but make sure the admissions department doesn’t disqualify them. A few colleges won’t take college resume PDFs.

 

Next, you’ll learn how to make a college resume ready for the big leagues!

 

Want other professional college resume formats? See our guide: Best Resume Format: How to Format Your Resume Right

 

2

The Perfect College Resume Objective

 

How does an admissions department read 30,000+ applications?

 

Guess what?

 

They don’t.

 

They skim.

 

If your resume objective is great, they read the rest.

 

The good news? It’s not hard to write a great objective.

 

Check out these two college admission resume objective examples.

 

College Application Resume Examples [Resume Objectives]

 

What’s wrong with the first of our college resume examples for high school seniors?

 

wrong
Very hard-working student with a passion for math and science. I only have a 3.2 GPA and 1350 SAT scores, but I’m committed to working very, very hard in college. I was captain of my high school swim team.

 

That’s not TMZ bad, but it won’t get you in to see the dean.

 

Instead, follow this resume for college example:

 

right
Passionate student writer/producer seeking to invigorate Elon University's student body with proven leadership and organizational skills. Founded and ran a video comedy group that got 350,000 Youtube Views. Varsity swim team captain with A+ avg. in English, History, & Physics.

 

Who’s that, a young Jim Gaffigan?

 

Plus, it shows passion. Not by saying it. By showing it.

 

I can hear the admissions officer saying, “This kid will make us proud.”

 

But what if you don’t have achievements like that? What if you’re just mediocre?

 

Oh, you’ve got them. Trust me—please trust me—you’ve got mind-blowing achievements. The secret? They’re invisible to you.

 

We’ll fix that next.

 

Pro Tip: Can you attach a resume in The Common Application? Yes, Common App resumes can be attached in the “additional information” section.

 

What goes on a resume objective for college? See the next section or read our guide: +20 Resume Objective Examples - Use Them on Your Resume

 

College Application Resume Templates

 

You can use our online resume maker as your very own college application resume builder.

 

Just pick one of our templates (perfect for college applicants) and follow advice from this guide.

 

college resume example high school resume for college application template sample resume for college applications

That’s three. But there’s more where that came from! The Zety resume builder features 20 templates that make great college resumes. Simply pick a resume template and build a college resume here.

 

3

How to Put Activities on a College Resume

Remember I said I didn’t get into my first-choice school?

 

I wish I had a do-over.

 

If only!

 

My resume for applying to college was:

 

  • My GPA
  • My SAT scores
  • I was on the swim team
  • I like reading

 

If I had a time machine, I’d use it to slap myself.

 

Here’s how my college resume would read if I re-wrote it now:

 

  • Founded and ran model rocketry club at age 9 with 5 members for 5 years. Built and launched 50 rockets 300+ times.
  • Avid sailor
  • Co-captain, varsity swim team
  • Read 468 books from all genres since age 9
  • Avid cross-country skier, skiing 50 days a year since age 14. Maintained own skis in old Nordic style, heat-applying tar base and adding temperature-matched waxes.
  • Pursued passion for ancient castles during trip to Ireland. Visited and mapped 15 specimens.
  • Traveled to Hungary. Learned base of useful words and phrases by interacting with locals. Formed love of cold soups.
  • Avid D&D player. Led troupe with 7+ members for 4 years, creating and producing several multi-month campaigns.
  • Built video comedy group of four core writer/actors, making two 1-hour sketch-comedy specials. Disseminated them on video to audience of 100+ students with rave reviews.
  • Pursued passion for history and physics, maintaining A+ scores in both.

 

None of that was on my college application resume!

 

Why not!!??

 

I didn’t even know I did that stuff. I never thought about it. I thought, “I’m mediocre. I‘ve got a 3.2 GPA and 1350 on my SATs.”

 

I never did the head-scratching.

 

I never thought about achievements.

 

I don’t have a time machine.

 

But I can save you from the same dumb move.

 

Stop and think. I guarantee you’ve got achievements that make mine look like Carl Grimes.

 

The college resume examples below show what to do.

 

College Resume Examples [Activities]

 

The first of our resume examples for students is on fleek.

  

RIGHT

Co-Founder, Operator

Slap the Norker Productions

  • Co-founded and ran comedy video production group of 4 people for 3 years.
  • Co-wrote, produced, and acted in 20 short video comedy sketches.
  • Received total of 350,000 YouTube views with 95% positive viewer feedback.

 

Athletics

  • Avid cross-country skier. Skied 50 days/yr since age 14. Maintained own skis in old Nordic style, heat-applying tar base & temperature-matched waxes.
  • Varsity Swim Team all 4 years (Captain Senior Year)

 

Interests

  • Read 468 books from all genres since age 9.
  • Pursued passion for ancient castles during trip to Ireland, mapping 15.

 

That’s lit. The admissions officer who’d pass that up must get his news from Yahoo!

 

Notice the details that measure all those wins.

 

Massive Bonus Tip

 

Don’t just list every achievement at random. Focus on the ones that match the school.

 

For instance, are you applying to a top computer science school? Show CS achievements first on your high school resume for college.

 

Trying to get into Harvard Business School? Your college resume should highlight leadership accomplishments.

 

Or you could do it like most applicants. That’s what the next of our resume examples for students does:

 

WRONG
  • Passionate about writing comedy
  • Avid cross-country skier
  • Captain of high school swim team
  • Love to read

 

Basic. That sample resume for college application will barely make it through the door.

 

So, take the time to look into your past. What have you achieved?

 

Pro Tip: Take an hour and a sheet of paper and really do this brainstorming work. Don’t make a college interview resume like the rest. Make one that stands out like Hazel Grace Lancaster in a mortarboard.

 

Need a little inspiration for what to put on a college resume? See our guide: +20 Best Examples of Hobbies & Interests To Put on a Resume

 

4

What Goes on a Resume for College

 

What do you put on a college resume?

 

When I was a kid, and admissions officer from a big college spoke to my class.

 

He said, “People from your state don’t know how to brag about themselves.”

 

I thought he meant that I should say how great I am.

 

He literally meant I didn’t know how.

 

You don’t do it by using strong adjectives like enthusiastic, hard-working, or, driven.

 

You need to pick the right details.

 

Here are some suggestions of what to put on a resume for college:

 

  • Awards. List competitions (essay, speaking, spelling, storytelling, art) or even perfect attendance.
  • Jobs. Did you wait tables? Wash dishes? Use part time or summer jobs to show your work ethic.
  • Volunteer Work. Bake sales, GoFundMe projects, hours logged at Goodwill or the local hospital, or other work you did for free.
  • Social Media Followings. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Have you built up an impressive following? Show it!
  • Projects. Websites built, art portfolios or shows, or public service projects. Anything you put your heart into can look good on a high school resume for college.
  • Sports. List varsity teams or captainships. Show track, football, LaCrosse, powerlifting, swimming, soccer, baseball or any other sport.
  • Passions. Have you read a lot of books? Do you make models? Are you a teen guitar hero who played at two school dances? Passions look great on college resumes.
  • Hobbies. Do you collect anything? Make anything? Hobbies prove you use your time productively.
  • Leadership Positions. Are you an Eagle Scout? 4-H member? Active in your church? Official or unofficial clubs or groups can bolster college resumes.
  • Languages. If you’re fluent in French, Spanish, or German, or even if you know a little, show it.

 

Pro Tip: Use details. Don’t just say, Eagle Scout. Say, Eagle Scout with 200+ hours of community service. For Eagle Project, raised $3,000 for the homeless.

 

What else should you put on a college resume? See our guide: What to Put on a Resume to Make it Perfect

 

5

Is Your Education Section Unacceptable? It Might Be

 

Does education matter on a college resume?

 

You bet it does.

 

But not the way you think.

 

Of course include:

 

  • High school name and location
  • GPA
  • Graduation date (past or future)

 

But don’t stop there.

 

Add relevant achievements.

 

Let me show you what I mean with two college application resume examples.

 

Resume Examples for Students [Education]

 

Both these high school student resume examples for college target the same business school.

 

RIGHT

Cardinal Gibbons High School NC

2014–2018

  • Commended by 3 professors for exemplary public speaking skills.
  • Maintained A+ average in all English and Math classes.
  • Co-Captain, Varsity Swim Team
  • GPA 3.2
  • Combined SAT scores 1400 (750 Verbal, 650 Math)
  • Graduation Date 6/7/18

 

That’s not some basic applicant. It’s Moziah Bridges or Millie Bobbie Brown.

 

It shows leadership, communication skills, and a strong work ethic.

 

Don’t do like the next of our college admission resume examples:

 

WRONG

Cardinal Gibbons High School NC

2014–2018

  • GPA 3.2
  • SAT Scores 1350

 

Bland. The admissions officer will dodge a college resume sample like that.

 

Pro Tip: Should you put junior high on a college app resume? Only to show impressive achievements or an improvement in your grades.

 

Use the education section on your resume for college as a hook to grab the dean. See our guide: How to Put Your Education on a Resume

 

6

How to Show Experience on a Resume for College

 

You should be proud.

 

You made it this far. You’ve got a good start on your college resume objective, activities, and education.

 

But, as a college applicant, do you need work experience on resumes for college applications?

 

No.

 

But it helps.

 

Look at these two sample resume for college application experience sections.

 

College Application Resume Examples [Experience]

 

The next of our college resume examples for high school seniors does it right:

 

RIGHT

Pizza Hut

Waiter

2016-2018

  • Completed F.A.S.T. upselling training with score of 99%.
  • Frequent high earner, with most tips per shift.
  • Received 95% positive customer comment cards.

 

Perfect.

 

It doesn’t only show you had a job. It shows qualities that matter to admissions officers, like work ethic and interpersonal skills.

 

Don’t do it like this:

 

WRONG

Pizza Hut

Waiter

2016-2018

  • Responsible for waiting on tables in a busy restaurant.
  • Trained as cook to fill in during busy times.
  • Able to work cash register when needed.

 

Well, hello, Jesse Pinkman. That works if you’re applying to another waiter job instead of college.

 

A good college resume for high school students needs relevant achievements.

 

Pro Tip: Add only 3–5 bullet points to a college admission resume education section. Got more? List them as activities or interests.

 

Make your resume for college applications fun to read with action words. See our guide: 240 Resume Action Words & Power Words to Make Your Resume Shine

 

7

How to Put Skills on a Resume for College

 

You are important.

 

You have exactly what it takes to succeed in college.

 

You just need to show it so the admissions officer says, “Wow.”

 

Here’s how:

 

First, know what skills admissions officers value.

 

Next, don’t just list them. Prove them on your college resume.

 

These two teenage resume examples show the way:

 

College Admission Resume Examples [Skills]

 

Let’s say you’re applying to a business school that values leadership and literacy.

 

You could just list your skills, like the next of our college applicant resume examples:

 

WRONG
Skills: Strong work ethic, communication, collaboration, fast learner, listening, problem solving, computer skills, programming, public speaking, everything else I could think of...

 

But put yourself in the admissions officer’s shoes. She’ll think, “This applicant is telling me what I want to hear.”

 

So, prove it in your bullet points.

 

RIGHT

Founder, Leader

High Shots Model Rocketry Club

  • Created and led small model rocketry group with local children for 5 years.
  • Built 50+ rockets, including space shuttle and wing re-entry models.
  • Launched over 300 times, following all safety procedures.

 

Interests

  • Read 468 books from all genres since age 9.
  • Learned basic useful Hungarian words/phrases during family trip.

 

 

Do that, and you’ll be your first pick’s first pick.

 

But hold on.

 

Couldn’t you still be lying?

 

You could. If you are, they’ll catch you in the interview.

 

List of Skills to Put on a College Resume

 

Need some college resume skills to start with?

 

This list makes great resume keywords too.

 

It’s not comprehensive, so look for others in your past and online.

 

College Resume Skills

Soft Skills

Hard Skills

Strong Work Ethic

Computer Skills

Communication

Tech Skills

Time Management

MS Office

Collaboration

Math

Fast Learner

Science

Self-Motivated

Physics

Interpersonal Skills

History

Listening

Programming

Problem Solving

Social Media

Physically Fit

Public Speaking

 

Follow the plan above and your high school resume for college will look like Selena Gomez wrote it.

 

Pro Tip: Don’t just use skills from our list. Think what skills fit the school best. A customized college resume will beat a generic option any day.

 

Make your college activity resume skill section as real as Emma Watson. See our guide: +30 Best Examples of What Skills to Put on a Resume (Proven Tips)

 

8

What About a College Cover Letter?

 

Oh no!

 

Do you need to send a cover letter with your college resume?

 

Yep. Even if the admission office says cover letter optional.

 

But don’t worry. It’s painless and powerful.

 

First, make it personal by using the dean’s name.

 

Next, say why this school is so important to you.

 

Then, show what you have to offer.

 

This short sample cover letter for a high school student applying to college does it right:

 

Attending Elon University would be a dream come true. My mentor, hero, and teacher Thomas Perkins graduated from EU in 1975. He taught me everything I know about art. When I told him of my life goal to work in marketing, he strongly suggested I apply to Elon. I think I’d be the perfect fit because of my mix of leadership and marketing skills. At Cardinal Gibbons High School, I created a led a video sketch comedy group that got 350,000 YouTube views for 20 sketches. At Elon...

 

End with an offer like:

 

I'd welcome the opportunity to discuss how I can enrich the student body at Elon University.

 

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write your cover letter in our resume builder here. Here's what it may look like:

 

matching set of resume and cover letter

See more templates and create your resume and cover letter here.

  

Pro Tip: Always follow up on a college application resume and cover letter. An email or letter in a week or two works best.

 

Make your college cover letter the best they ever had. See our guide: How To Write A Cover Letter in 8 Simple Steps

 

9

Put This Contact Info in Your College Resume

 

Don’t make this mistake!

 

Of course your resume contact info should have:

 

  • Full Name and Address
  • Updated Phone Number
  • Professional Email Address

 

Like so:

 

Tim Carvalho

3193 Hannah Street

Hayesville, NC

28904

Phone: 336-215-7612

Email: timqcarvalho@gmail.com

 

Note: “professional” means no ColdPlayFan38498@yahoo.com. Use john.doe@gmail.com instead.

 

But—

 

Don't forget to add a LinkedIn profile or a personal website if you’ve got one.

 

Either can show the dean you’re more than just an application.

 

Pro Tip: If you’re reading this and don’t have a LinkedIn profile it’s not too late. Just use our guide to LinkedIn magic here.

 

Need more tips to make a standout college resume? Want to get into the school of your dreams? See our guide: How to Make a Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide (+30 Examples)

 

Key Takeaway

 

Here’s a recap of how to write a college resume that gets you through the door:

 

  • Put on your thinking cap. You have tons of flashy achievements for a resume for college applications. You just need to do the thinking time.
  • Customize your college application resume. Your experience and education bullet points should prove you’ve got the skills to make it through.
  • Write your college resume objective last. Stuff it with your best achievements to make the admissions officer stop resting his eyes.
  • Make a cover letter. College admission resumes with cover letters have a higher chance of moving up the food chain.

 

Do you have questions on how to write great resumes for college? Not sure how to describe your skills or achievements? Give us a shout in the comments! Let's get you in your dream school!

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Author
Tom Gerencer
Tom Gerencer is a full-time writer in the fields of personal finance and careers. He's been sharing expert advice on all stages of the recruitment process at the Zety career website for more than two years.