Last week I talked about why most students do not need a resume for their college application. But, some students do have enough accomplishments that they should use a supplemental resume. Today I will talk about what makes an effective supplemental resume.
What to include– Depending on your accomplishments, there are several things that can be included in a supplemental resume. You might list academic honors with an explanation of each honor if it is not something that an admissions officer will know about. These should be true honors, however, and not a list of minor accomplishments. Won 2nd place in your school science fair? Not impressive. Won 2nd place in a statewide science fair? More impressive. Intel Science Fair finalist? Wow. The greater the level of competition the more likely that the honor should be listed.
A supplemental resume may also be appropriate for the student with a number of extracurricular or volunteer activities beyond what the typical student might have. If you are a budding film maker and have shot 6 films that have been shown at the Sundance film festival, tell me about each of those films. Made a movie that your Aunt Shirley showed to her friends? Not a big deal.
What not to include-Do not include grades, test scores or other items that are already available on your application. Also, do not include common activities that are not impressive, such as one year of a sport or other activity. Not sure if it is impressive? If you are not sure it probably shouldn’t be included.
How long should it be– As short as you can make it. Ideally, one page. If you need to, two pages. But if you have a two page resume you had better have some national type awards on that resume. I recently spoke with a student that was talking about having a 10 page resume. This would be a very bad idea.
Look at it this way. Admissions counselors spend, on average, 15 to 20 minutes per application. This includes the time to review your grades and courses, test scores, application, all of your essays and then you want them to look at a 10 page resume? It’s not going to happen. If you are lucky, they might scan the resume. They may also just ignore the whole thing and figure you have no ability to write succinctly and prioritize what is important.
Keep in mind the old saying in the admissions world. The thicker the file, the thicker the student. Enough said.
How should it be formatted– Keep the formatting simple and straight forward. Don’t try to get fancy or cute with the formatting. Include the name of the activity, a description of the activity and the dates you participated in the activity. You should also include any honors or leadership positions you held related to the activity.
Also include at least your name and social security number on each page of the resume.
Follow these recommendations and you will have the strongest possible resume for your college application.