Resumes for College Applications

Putting together the best possible application for college can mean the difference between receiving an acceptance letter and being rejected.  Creating a great resume to accompany the college application not only helps a student put their best foot forward, but also helps to organize their accomplishments into one document..

In this article, we're going to cover the topic of resumes for college applications.  As part of that discussion, we're going to review the elements of the Universal College Application, and see how the information on that document applies to a high school student's resume.  At the same time, we'll review the elements of the functional resume, which is the format most commonly used by students.  Finally, we'll pull all this information together in an example that can be downloaded free of charge.

Applying to Colleges and Universities

Traditionally, students were told to complete admissions applications for five to eight colleges.  In that mix, students might have schools they considered "stretch" targets, as well as those they considered "safe."  Applying to a mix of schools is a good way to ensure that a student is accepted to college, but it entails filling out more admissions applications, until recently.

The Universal College Application helps students through this process by creating a standardized application format that is accepted by nearly 50 colleges and universities (as of March 2016) throughout the United States.  As such, it's a great resource to utilize when deciding what to put on a resume that's going to be used when applying to a college.

College Application Contents

As part of this process, we're going to review the information to be completed on the Universal College Application at each step in the form, and capture that information below.  Later on, this bulleted list will be used as a reminder when constructing the functional resume.

  • Personal Information:  the college application asks for mailing and permanent addresses as well as telephone numbers at each address.  This is standard information on a resume.  The application also asks for citizenship and ethnicity.  We'll avoid the ethnicity information, since it's optional on the application.
  • Family Information:  since most college students rely on a parent or guardian to help finance college costs, or to be notified in an emergency, this non-standard information is going to be included in the document.  This section would include names, addresses, phone numbers, professions, employers, and college or high school degrees (if they apply).
  • Academic Information:  includes high schools or prior colleges attended, which is typically found on a resume.  It also includes a complete list of courses being taken in the current year, which is something that needs to be added.
  • Test Scores:  many colleges and universities still require students to take standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT, or Advanced Placement / International Baccalaureate exams.  This is another example of non-standard information that will be added to the document.
  • Academic Achievements / Activities:  college students should always include academic achievements on their resume, as well as activities such as volunteer work.  Extracurricular activities such as athletic distinctions are usually not included since employers should not be interested in athletic accomplishments.  This information is important to colleges and universities attempting to gain an understanding if the student is likely to be involved in campus activities.
  •  Employment Information:  another example of information asked for in a college application that is essential to a resume.

Resume Writing Tips

There are over fifty articles on this website that provide help in understanding how to go about putting together a great resume.  This includes not only resume writing tips, but also many examples that can be downloaded free of charge.  Admittedly, it's not necessary for students applying to universities to review all this information.

In the section below is a listing of the articles that contain the most valuable information for college students.

If at all possible, don't take shortcuts when it comes to putting together this document or completing an application.  The objective is to maximize the chance of being accepted to top colleges, and these documents are the first impression the student will make with the college's admissions office.


Following all of the above guidelines, we've put together an example resume for college applications.  This sample leverages work previously done in the article Resumes for College Students, which follows the functional format.  In fact, it's a good idea to compare the two documents, since this allows for a better understanding of the differences in how each is constructed.

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