Resume needed for college apps? | On College

My friends are all talking about writing a resume as part of their college application. Is this needed?

A resume is not a necessary component of your college application. However, I generally advise students to create one. The most important reason I ask for resumes is that it forces students to reflect back on their four years of high school and take note of all their extracurricular activities, community service, work and school involvement. This exercise allows the student to prioritize his/her involvement and organize it into a concise document that highlights the four years on a one or two-page sheet. If you are applying to private schools that use the Common Application, you will note that there is very little space on the application to elaborate on your participation. I personally despair when I see a student’s commitments and accomplishments reduced to a simple phrase under the description section of the activity list. This year, the Common Application asks students in the writing portion to mention any circumstances or qualifications not mentioned in the activity section. If I feel that the activity section does not do justice to a student’s accomplishments, I will ask that he or she upload the resume into this section. While the public institutions in our state do not use the Common Application, Western Washington University allows a student to substitute his/her resume for the activity list, while the University of Washington requires a more lengthy activity section, which would be easier to complete with a resume in hand.

Both teachers and school counselors can write a stronger letter on your behalf if they can incorporate things about you that they might not have known. I ask my students to bring their resume to an interview so that the interviewer has some point of reference about the student and can quickly scan the list to ask more specifics. I have found that when students keep a copy for themselves during the interview, they are so much less stressed knowing that they have something to reference, especially when they are anxious.

Islander Joan Franklin is the owner of MICollegeSupport (formerly The College Source), an independent college consulting practice here on the Island. Reach her at or (206) 232-5626.


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