There are colleges that require you to submit a résumé with your application. Many other colleges don’t require a résumé but encourage or allow you upload one and will consider it along with the rest of your application materials. When you submit a résumé you should view it as another opportunity to enhance your appeal to admissions officials. Submitting an effective résumé enables you to present your best self by allowing you to emphasize your most noteworthy accomplishments.
Application Form Limitations
Many students have difficulty with application forms because there’s insufficient space to include all the information they want to provide. They need more space for the extracurricular activities, awards, and achievements that contribute to favorable admissions decisions. This information enhances other “soft” factors such as essays, letters of recommendation, and interviews in building your case for admission that supports your academic record.
The Activities Section of the Common App has space for you to describe 10 activities, but you must do so in no more than 50 characters per activity. This causes two problems that can be resolved with a résumé:
- The space available on applications doesn’t accommodate a description of your leadership role in an organization, which is something that colleges value, and,
- The Activities Section inhibits your ability to describe activities that are uncommon because you can’t identify them in your own words. It forces you to select from a pull-down menu.
Colleges vary in their policies regarding résumés. Some require a résumé; some will review your résumé if you submit one, and others don’t want a résumé at all. If a college you’re applying to states that a résumé is optional, you should submit one.
Examples of College Résumé Policies
Below are examples of colleges that fall into the different categories:
- Require a Résumé: Cornell, Michigan, Florida State, and MIT.
- Encourage or Request a Résumé: Rutgers, Boston University, Washington State, UPenn, Princeton, Vanderbilt, St. Johns (MD), Texas Christian, Trinity College, Connecticut-Storrs, Massachusetts-Amherst, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of St. Thomas, Vassar, Washington University of St. Louis, and Xavier.
- Will Consider a Résumé if Submitted: Columbia, Brandeis, Georgetown, Catholic University of America, Loyola (MD), Dartmouth, George Washington, Lafayette, Northeastern, Oberlin, Colgate, Bucknell, Rensselaer, LaSalle, and Johns Hopkins.
- Will Disregard a Résumé if Submitted: Harvard, Yale, and Chicago.
Tips for Developing Your Résumé
Don’t be tempted by shortcuts. Don’t use a template downloaded from the web. They inhibit your ability to present information in the manner that suits you best.
Avoid the tendency to be verbose. We advise that you keep your résumé as short as possible; no more than two pages and preferably only one with lots of white space.
Your résumé need only include the activities that you want to emphasize. Your résumé is a selective representation of your activities, not a dumping ground for everything you’ve ever done.
Avoid bragging on your résumé. Among our culture’s social norms is the assumption that a person should be modest. If a person isn’t modest, it upsets expectations. If an admissions officer thinks you’re pushing too hard, they may be turned off — the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.
There are opportunities for you to brag about yourself on applications, in interviews, and on résumés. Below are tips to help you to avoid bragging in your communications with colleges while still coming across as upbeat about yourself and your qualifications.
- Be likable: An unlikable student may have difficulty gaining admission no matter how good their academic record. Colleges have many other applicants who are equally qualified but seem more likely to fit in well with other students.
- Let others brag about you: Let your teachers and others who are writing letters of recommendation sing your praises.
- Describe what you did, not what you are: Which sounds better, “I’m a great humanitarian” or “I set up a food bank in my town after a hurricane”? One of the problems of bragging is that the reader doesn’t know if they should believe you. Give them verifiable information and they will have a reason to believe you.
- Share the glory: Regarding the food bank example above, we recommend that you be sure to add something along the lines of, “…with the cooperation and assistance of other caring people in my town”.
- Be kind: Never say anything negative about a person or organization in your résumé. Colleges prefer not to have judgmental people in their student body.
- Be confident: Come across as having confidence in yourself and your accomplishments, but avoid preening.
Your goal is to maximize your chances of being accepted by colleges. Your résumé is one of the ways to do that. Louis Educational Consulting, as an experienced college admissions consulting firm, has the expertise to guide you through all stages of your admissions campaign. Part of our contribution to your success is assistance in creating a résumé that ideally suits your profile and the expectations of colleges.