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Updating Your Resume

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

“You might want to update your resume.” It’s the thing people say to a person about to change jobs. It signals an upcoming transition that will involve documenting your activities, accomplishments, and background. It says, “You are about to put yourself out there in the world with people who do not know you, so you need a way to tell them your story.” And the resume is the worldwide agreed upon method for doing this.

The college search operates like this too, and you will need a resume for it. You will need to fully document how you have been spending your time since 9th grade, what you have accomplished, and what your goals are for after high school. The challenge is that you really cannot officially start putting all of these details down on paper until the application process begins in August of your senior year. In the meantime, you need to create (and routinely update) a high school resume.

This document will serve as a pre-application gathering document where you can put down each activity, honor, volunteer experience, and hobby as you experience them. This gives you three important benefits:

  1. It will make it MUCH easier for you to pull together for your actual application; there are many instances where we have been working with seniors who simply cannot remember all of the stuff they have experienced.

  2. You will be able to provide this resume to recommendation letter writers as a resource.

  3. Several colleges allow you the option of uploading a high school resume, so this document could literally help your application.

Here’s some tips to get you going:

Start early

Typically colleges are most interested in activities and honors starting in the 9th grade, so why not begin keeping a simple list on your phone or laptop that keeps track of:

  • Academic Information (name of high school, graduation date, GPA, test scores, and expected field of study).

  • School Activities and Honors (school newspaper, yearbook, clubs, sports) and dates.

  • Extracurricular Activities (outside clubs, classes, groups) and dates.

  • Volunteer Experience (Habitat for Humanity, zoo, museums) and dates.

  • Summer Activities (camps, traveling) and dates.

  • Work Experience (jobs, internships) and dates.

  • Outside Interests and Hobbies (photography, traveling, sports, reading).

Do not worry about formatting and polish at this point, there will be time for this later.

Easy to read, and professional

Ease of reading will be most important to admissions officers reviewing your resume. Remember, there is a human being on the other side of that application, who doesn’t have a huge amount of time to sift through odd fonts and pictures. Keep it simple! Brevity will be your friend, so keeping descriptions short will always be the best option. But don’t worry if your application is more than one page. Just don’t make it more than two pages.

Consider having an online content

One of the nice benefits of the flexible structure is that it opens up the possibilities of including internet links and online material. Are some of the articles you wrote for the school paper online? Include the links. Can you put together a simple online gallery with images of your artwork? Include the links. Did you get your name in the local paper for winning some award and the article is online? You get it.

A resume is as much a part of your application record as your transcript, and in the same way that you are working on your transcript all throughout high school (with each class you take) you should be similarly building your actual high school resume. You are working toward that transition to college and waiting until senior year to start gathering all of this information will just make things that much more stressful. So start today and “get your resume ready.”

Not working with us yet? Feeling stressed by the college search process? Let's chat.

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