by Paula Wheeler
Creating a resume is a smart step for any high-schooler, even those not seeking a job right now or in the near future. For college-bound students, a resume can be essential! Read on to learn why this is a good idea, and how to get started.
Easier to build as you go: A resume is a dynamic document that evolves as you gain skills and experiences. It’s much easier to build a resume as you go than to wait until you’re applying for a job or to college and try to recall the details of your activities and experience. Get started now to save yourself some time and frustration later!
Helpful for college applications: Colleges that use the Common App, as well as many other schools, ask students to list their extracurricular activities and describe their involvement (on the Common App, you have just 150 characters or less for each activity). You’ll be much better prepared to fill in your applications if you’ve already thought through how to describe them for your resume. You’ll also be less likely to forget to include an activity on the application if you’ve got everything documented in the resume. Additionally, some colleges require students to upload a resume in addition to the Activities List, and having one done helps keep your application process moving along.
A resource for your letters of recommendation: 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. It offers your recommenders a better picture of who you are as an applicant and it can help them write a more specific recommendation. Maybe your English teacher knows you are a gifted reader and writer, but isn’t aware that you lead a monthly book club with your peers. Your math teacher knows how well you perform in her class, but might not know that you also work or volunteer as a math tutor. Having this information handy as they craft your letter of recommendation will help them highlight your strengths and abilities.
Essential for internship, scholarship, job and other applications: Most opportunities that require an application ask for some sort of resume-like document that concisely explains your experience, skills and strengths. Sometimes, an exciting scholarship or internship will come to your attention late in the game and you’ll have to act fast. With your resume prepared ahead of time, it will be easier and less stressful to put a competitive application together when an opportunity arises.
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. If you see yourself as a STEM-focused student with med-school aspirations, review your resume to make sure it reflects engagement in STEM fields and an interest in healthcare. If not, you’ll have a better idea of which opportunities you need to pursue to best show off your passions and abilities. As you prepare yourself for college admissions, building and updating your resume—and reflecting on if it accurately resembles who you are—can help you challenging yourself to meet your goals.
To get started on your resume, click here for a Google Doc template that will work for most high school students.