by Eric Lynne – Director of Essay Coaching
For some students, it may appear unnecessary to prepare a resume at this time in their high school careers, especially if they aren’t pursuing employment. However, even if a student isn’t interested in finding a summer job or an after-school gig, taking time to put together a resume is still a smart idea. In particular, any student preparing to apply to college would be wise to get started on building a resume right away!
Easier to Build as You Go: A resume is a living document: it evolves with you as you gain skills and experiences. Therefore, I’d advise any high school student—even underclassmen—to start compiling a resume. It is much easier to build a resume as you go than to retroactively try to describe what your responsibilities were during your internship last summer or what you did on your service trip three years ago. Get started now to save yourself some time later.
A Great Way to Get a Head Start on College Applications: Colleges will often ask students to provide a list of extracurricular activities paired with descriptions of their involvement—in essence, a brief resume. On the Common App, students are limited to 10 activities with a finite amount of space to describe their involvement (150 characters per activity, to be exact). Therefore, a robust resume can act as a strong first draft for this Activities List. Additionally, some colleges require students to upload a resume in addition to the Activities List, so you’d really be one step ahead!
A Necessary Document for Applying to Internships, Scholarships, and Other Opportunities:Like a job, most opportunities that require an application ask for some sort of resume-like document that concisely explains your experience, skills, and strengths. Often exciting scholarships and internships come to your attention late or pop out of nowhere; having a resume ready now will make you that much more prepared (and willing) to put a competitive application together when an opportunity presents itself.
A Great Resource for Future Recommenders: When obtaining recommendations from teachers for opportunities—most notably, for college admissions purposes—a resume can be a great document to provide for your recommenders. Not only will it give your recommenders a better picture of who you are as an applicant, it can also help them write a more specific recommendation. Your science teacher knows you are a gifted student, but they may not be aware that you explore these same interests on the robotics team. Your social studies teacher knows you are a strong public speaker in the classroom, but they might not know that you are also an active member of your debate team. Having this information in front of them as they write your letter of recommendation will help them highlight your strengths and abilities.
A Useful Reflection Tool: Because a resume is a concise document showing what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished, and the skills you have, it can be a useful tool for reflection—a way for you to see how others may perceive you. Perhaps you think of yourself as a STEM-focused student with aspirations for medical school. That’s wonderful! Does your resume show engagement in STEM fields and an interest in healthcare? Or do you need to pursue more opportunities in order to show off your passions and abilities? As you prepare yourself for college admissions, updating and building your resume—and reflecting if it accurately resembles who you are—can be an effective tool to make sure you’re challenging yourself to meet your goals.
If you are ready to get started on your resume, click here for a Google Doc template that will work for most high school students.