Colleges want to know how students spent their free time outside of school. Do they stay involved with activities of interest or go home, sit on the couch, talk on the phone, and watch TV?
Involved students have spent time pursuing and developing their strengths and interests. They have experiences and skills that will help them contribute to the college community. A resume (or list of activities) shows colleges what students have done with their free time.
Now is the perfect time to update, or begin, a college resume. Take time to include all activities from last school year and account for summer activities. Remember that activities done the summer before 9th grade are considered part of a student’s 9th grade year and so on.
What should I list? List everything! Colleges understand that students might change their interest over time or participate in an event only once. Go ahead and list the variety of things done every year of high school.
Resumes typically can be broken down into the following sections:
1. Extracurricular Activities – sports, school clubs, youth group, Boy / Girl Scouts, recreational teams, band, music lessons, theater, church choir, newspaper, debate, Young Life, academic teams, NHS, drill team, etc. This includes school, church, community, and recreational activities.
2. Honors / Awards / Academic Achievements – dean’s list, honor roll, team MVP, all area team, regional qualifier, most improved, top student in a subject, Eagle Scout, Gold Key Award, high honors, state finalist, first chair, blue ribbon, etc. List all awards, honors, and academic recognition. If you don’t have any or many items in this category, don’t worry; make sure you have items to list in other sections.
3. Work Experience & Internships – Colleges recognize students can learn valuable lessons from work. You might learn customer skills, responsibility, and leadership by working 40 hours a week at a local fast food restaurant over the summer. After two months of clearing carts from the grocery store parking lot, you may have learned why you want to go to college and improve your job prospects!
Not all work has to be paid. Don’t forget internships and unpaid experiences. It is OK to list work done for family members, but don’t exaggerate to the point of lying. You may watch your siblings every day after school or work in your dad’s office over the summer; these are both work. However, it would be stretching things to list household chores like walking the dog or making your bed as work.
4. Community Service & Volunteer Work – There are many ways for students to volunteer these days. The best types of service are those that let you develop your strengths, talents, and interests while helping others.
5. Summer Experiences – Because students have so much free time in the summer, it is an ideal time to take on additional projects, activities, and experiences. Many colleges offer programs for high school students to get a preview of campus life and college classes. Summer can also be a great time for you to create your own opportunity – open your own business, explore a topic of interest to you, or take one of your regular activities to a new level. Make the most of this time!
6. Hobbies & Interests – Some students are passionate about subjects which aren’t offered in school or don’t translate into traditional club or activity experiences. Use this part of the resume to show anything that hasn’t fit into the categories above. For example, one student spent 15 hours a week rebuilding a classic car with his dad. Another student was a self-taught gourmet cook. Just because you do it for fun, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be something you brag about.
It is a good habit to update your resume each semester. Keeping an up to date resume will make interviews and applications much easier.