How to Write a High School Resume for College

May 9, 2024
6 min read

If you’re a teenager, writing a high school resume for college might not be on your radar. But trust us, it'll give you an edge in the college admissions process. 

This simple document can make a world of difference in your applications by helping you stand out from the crowd. 

So, let's break down the nuances of writing a solid high school resume that will catch the eye of college admissions teams.

How to Write a High School Resume for College

To write a good resume for college, you’ll need to start early and tailor it to each college's expectations. Make sure to outline your personal info, education, and any achievements, skills, and extracurriculars you’ve been a part of. To give you a better idea of writing a high school resume, let’s take a closer look at each of these tips. 

Get Started Early

Get a head start on your high school resume by beginning the process well before your senior year. Do your best to maintain an ongoing record of your activities, achievements, and volunteer work throughout your high school journey. 

Taking a proactive approach helps ensure you don't miss out on any relevant experiences. It also gives you the chance to work on areas where you might not have as many accomplishments.

Pick the Right Content

When deciding what to include in your high school resume, think about what each college you're applying to is looking for. Select sections that best show off your strengths and achievements in line with their expectations. For instance, if you're eyeing a science program, include sections that highlight your science fair wins or lab experiences.

Make your resume fit each college program by focusing on experiences that match your goals. This way, it's clear why you're a great match for each college you apply to.

Map It Out

Before you jump into writing your resume, take a moment to sketch out an outline. Think of it as drawing a map before embarking on a journey. This outline serves as your roadmap, guiding you to cover all the important aspects of your high school experience in a clear and logical order.

Share Personal Info

Begin your resume with your personal information: your full name, contact details, and address. Make sure your email address is professional and suitable for academic environments. This section serves as the foundation of your resume, providing essential contact information while maintaining a professional tone.

Summarize Your Qualifications

Create a brief qualifications summary or objective statement at the beginning of your resume. This section introduces you, outlines your goals, and highlights key skills relevant to your college applications. It's like a quick snapshot of who you are and what you offer as a candidate.

Detail Your Education

In the educational background section, detail your high school(s), including location and expected graduation year. Additionally, include your GPA and any academic achievements or advanced courses you've completed that can help you stand out. For example, maybe you’ve taken summer AP courses or honor classes.

This part gives colleges a good look at your academic performance and dedication to learning. It helps admissions committees understand you better.

Highlight Your Accomplishments

Outline any awards or recognitions you've earned during high school, like academic honors, leadership accolades, or competition wins. Emphasizing these achievements shows your commitment and excellence across different areas.

Awards and Honors

Highlight any awards or recognitions you've earned during high school, like academic honors, leadership accolades, or competition wins. For example, maybe you were runner-up in a debate, or you earned a top spot at a science fair. 

By putting these experiences on your resume for college, you show the admissions commitee what you’ve accomplished, and what you’re interested in. 

List Your Skills

It’s also important to outline both hard and soft skills that are relevant to your college applications. Highlight abilities you have, such as strong communication, leadership skills, and problem-solving.

It’s also important to mention if you have any skills in specific subjects or technologies, like math, visual arts, or writing. This section offers insight into your strengths and capabilities beyond academics.

Share Your Extracurriculars

Wrap up your resume by listing extracurricular activities, sports, clubs, or hobbies you've been a part of. Include details like your role, how long you've been involved, and any big contributions you've made. Showing what you do outside of class adds depth to your profile.

Following these steps and organizing your high school experiences clearly can make your resume stronger for college applications. Just do your best!

What and What Not to Include in Your Application

When applying to college, it’s important to be genuine about your background and experiences while avoiding clichés and exaggeration. Try to show genuine interest in the schools you’re applying to and pay close attention to the application guidelines. 

It’s also important to stay positive, focus on your strengths, and proofread carefully to make a strong impression on admissions teams and boost your chances of acceptance. To really paint a picture of how to put together a solid college application, let’s take a closer look at each of these tips. 

Be Yourself  

Your application should paint a clear picture of who you are. Start by discussing your background, experiences, and any challenges you've faced. This helps admissions officers understand your journey better. 

Don't forget to highlight any activities or jobs, even if they're unconventional. These details can really show who you are and how dedicated you are.

Stay Away From Clichés

Keep your application fresh by avoiding clichés. These are overused phrases that can make your writing blend in with everyone else's. Instead, be original and authentic. Share personal stories and unique perspectives that show who you really are. By doing this, you'll stand out and make a stronger impression on the admissions team.

Write Strong Essays

Your essays provide a platform to express your personality and goals. It's not just about what you want from the college. It's also about how you can contribute to it. So, try to express gratitude, whether that’s for mentors, experiences, or others in your life. This can leave a lasting impression on the admissions team.

Don't Exaggerate

Avoid exaggerating your achievements and experiences. We understand that it can be tempting to make them sound more impressive, but admissions officers can see through that. So, be honest and humble when presenting your accomplishments. Just try to put your best foot forward. 

Remember, it's not just about how many achievements you list but also the qualities and lessons you've gained from them. Flaunting too much could backfire, so keep it genuine and meaningful throughout your resume. 

Demonstrate Interest in the School

Showing genuine interest in the college is crucial. So, take the time to research it thoroughly. Then, tailor your essays to it by highlighting its programs, culture, and values. Try to avoid generic responses like the plague and, instead, focus on what draws you to the college. Be specific!

Skip Irrelevant Details

When putting together your application, focus on what matters most by skipping irrelevant details. Be selective in what you include, avoiding unnecessary filler that doesn't add value. Highlight experiences, achievements, and qualities that directly relate to your academic and personal journey. 

Each piece of information should contribute to painting a clear picture of who you are and what you bring to the college community. By keeping your application focused and concise, you'll make a stronger impact on the admissions team.

Find the Right Balance

Be honest and authentic in your application, but also focus on your strengths. Avoid sharing too many personal struggles unless you can demonstrate growth from them. Choose supplementary materials wisely, ensuring they add value without overwhelming the admissions team.

Don't Disregard Instructions

Make sure to follow the application guidelines carefully. Review the instructions from each college or university you're applying to, and stick to them closely. Pay attention to things like formatting, word limits, and specific essay prompts. 

Ignoring these instructions or going off track could make your application look sloppy and show that you struggle with following directions. This could weaken your overall application, so it's important to pay attention to the details.

Avoid Negative Language

Keep your application positive. When discussing challenges, stay optimistic. Avoid negative language or sounding defeated. Instead, focus on your resilience, and how you've overcome obstacles. Highlight the lessons learned and personal growth. By staying positive, you'll make a stronger impression.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

Before submitting your application, take the time to review and refine it. Check for any errors and ensure everything is clear and consistent. 

Steer Clear of Controversial Topics

Avoid controversial topics in your application. While expressing your opinions is acceptable, be cautious. The goal is to present yourself positively to the admissions committee. 

Avoid topics that might cause disagreement or discomfort. Instead, highlight your strengths, accomplishments, and unique viewpoints in a respectful manner. This strategy will bolster your argument for why you'd make a valuable contribution to the college community.

By following these steps, you can boost your chances of getting into your top-choice colleges. Just keep in mind that applying to college is all about learning more about yourself and growing along the way. So, give it your best shot and stay confident and focused.

Resume Templates

Take a look at these templates, and feel free to use them for your own high school resumes. 

Template #1

Template #2

Template #3

Template #4

Template #5


Looking to put together a strong high school resume for college applications? Keep reading for some helpful answers to commonly asked questions. 

1. When Should I Start Preparing and Applying?

Begin preparing and applying for college during your junior year of high school. This timing allows you ample opportunity to research schools, take standardized tests, and gather application materials without feeling rushed.

2. How to Format a High School Resume Without Work Experience?

When formatting a high school resume without work experience, focus on highlighting your education, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and any relevant skills or achievements. Opt for a clean and organized layout to ensure easy review by admissions officers.

3. What is the Recommended Resume Should a High School Student Use?

High school students should opt for a chronological or combination resume format. This format presents your education and experiences in a clear and structured manner, facilitating colleges in assessing your qualifications.


Understanding how to write a high school resume for college is easier than you may think. Just start early, customize your content for each college, and stay true to yourself. By checking these boxes, you can create a strong resume that shows admissions committees what makes you, you. 

Remember, the goal is to present yourself honestly and show how you can contribute to the college community. With prep, you can boost your chances of getting into your top-choice colleges and move forward confidently in your academic journey.

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