It’s surprising how such a small document can engender so many strong feelings. But when it comes to resumes for high school students, you’re either for them or against them. And shades of gray seldom exist in the debate over whether or not to include them with college applications.
“I find that the resume is a great tool to help students gain insight into who they really are, set goals, prepare for interviews, share more substantive information with recommenders, facilitate the completion of the activity section of applications (not just the Common App), and, finally, and share as an upload or copy-and-paste in an application,” said Judi Robinovitz, a Certified Educational Planner located in Palm Beach and Broward counties Florida. “A well-constructed resume also teaches students how to best market themselves, which they’ll have to do as they compete for spots in graduate school and the workforce.”
Most college counselors agree there’s no reason to include a resume if it exactly duplicates information contained in other parts of the college application, unless of course, the school specifically asks for one. But it’s useful to have on hand throughout the application process and can make life lots easier when you go to describe participation in extracurricular activities.
One resume-related improvement for new Common Application is a reconfigured Activities section. It’s much more generous than in the past in terms of space provided to describe involvement in a list of ten activities.
In fact, the Position/Leadership blank allows for 50 characters to give a solid indication of your position and the name of the organization in which you participate, and the Details, Honors and Accomplishments box allows for 150 characters to provide insight into what you’ve done and any awards you may have received.
But for some students, the structure of the Activities section is still limiting and doesn’t provide enough of an opportunity to showcase specific accomplishments. In this case, the applicant has a couple of options.
First, check the college-specific writing supplement. You may be surprised to find the college has made provisions for an upload of a fully-formatted resume. Or you may find other kinds of opportunities to provide documentation of extracurricular involvement going beyond what you can squeeze into a 150-character statement.
For example, several colleges including Amherst, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Harvey Mudd provide space in their writing supplements specifically for scientific abstracts. Others give more general instructions allowing submission of a paper or additional information usually limited by 500 KB’s (about seven or eight pages or a shorter document with pictures and illustrations).
If this option isn’t available to you, you can use the Additional Information section to copy and paste a simple resume or an edited version of your resume (eliminating overlap with other parts of the application) with formatting limited to what is allowed in that box. Should you go this route, however, be sure to check your Print Preview to make sure the document you’ve pasted is readable and represents you well.
A resume can be a very powerful document for pushing your college candidacy forward. It can serve to color in between the lines or provide extra detail beyond what may be crammed into a standardized application form.
If given the opportunity use it. But make sure it reflects well on you and contains accurate and up-to-date information.
For the record, here are thirteen Common Application member colleges that either allow for or actually request a resume in their writing supplements (quotes are from individual admissions websites):
8/24/2013 Note that two additional colleges may be added to this list: the University of Pennsylvania and Santa Clara University.
11/13/13 And add Colgate, Fairfield, Macalester, University of Rhode Island, Centenary College-Louisiana, Maryville University, Regis College, and Smith College to the list.