You never get a second chance to make a first impression: The impact of a strong student resume

by Deb Coco on August 7, 2014

college resumeAs college admissions coaches, we begin talking to our students early in the process about the importance of a strong high school resume.  For rising sophomores and juniors, it might seem much too premature to begin putting their achievements on paper, but actually it’s quite the opposite.  Colleges want to see active students engaged in a variety or pursuits and at no time does it display better (or come up short) than when printed in resume form.  We are not encouraging students to participate in things they aren’t interested in for the sake of expanding their resume, but we do ask that students think outside the “school box” early in their high schools career and consider how they will be viewed on paper.  A resume is also a great tool to present to the teachers from whom you are asking for a recommendation.  They may know you in their classroom, but a strong recommendation requires more inside knowledge of you as a person and a resume works well here.

A strong resume first boasts your academic achievements by listing your GPA, your class rank, any high SAT/ACT scores and curriculum highlights.  We help our students decide what is appropriate to display and if they have worked with us since early in their high school career, their scores may be higher than average as test prep is a large part of our process.

Achievements are listed next along with any honors.  This is the place to note if you are a member of the National Honor Society or maybe you’ve reached Eagle Scout status.  Achievements of that caliber are what we’re looking for.  Extracurricular activities come below these, along with any community service and then your sports.  Last but not least, employment of just about any kind is appropriate to list.

Doing a resume is a great way for students to find their weak spots too! It’s important to be well rounded but most important to show commitment to an endeavor that you truly believe in.  Beware – if you begin thinking about this too late in the game (say the fall of your senior year) colleges see through it.  They are on the lookout for resumes that are full of only senior year involvement.  A good resume shows not only a strong academic candidate, but one who has been engaged in the community and volunteer endeavors along with extracurricular activities ALL through high school.  This is when it pays to start working with a collage admissions counselor; we help you focus on these issues early enough in the process to make an impact when it really matters.

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