With students starting to work on their college applications in the next few months, I thought this would be a good time to look at the college application resume. What is it, what needs to be included and how long should it be? Most importantly, do you even need a supplemental resume?
Before discussing the resume, I want to discuss the question of whether you even need to have a resume included with your application. The answer, for most students, is NO.
Yes, I recognize that this is heresy. Everyone you know is putting together a resume. It would be application suicide for you not to do so. But, let’s forget for a minute what everyone else is doing and look at this logically.
The vast majority of the most selective colleges use the common application as the application to their college. Colleges don’t have to use the common application; they choose to do so. The common application has a place to list up to 12 of your extracurricular activities. This list allows students to provide information as to which years they participated in each activity as well as the number of weeks per year and hours per week for each activity. Finally, students can list the positions held and honors won for each activity.
By submitting a supplemental resume, you are saying to the college that your activities are so extraordinary that they can not be listed in the form that the college themselves have approved. Do you really think that everyone you know who is submitting that supplemental resume has qualifications that are so far beyond the normal applicant to the most selective colleges that they can’t use the form provided by the college?
Remember that the average application reader will spend 15 to 20 minutes reading your application. That includes reviewing your grades, classes taken and test scores as well as your application and all of the essays. Do you really think they have time to review a 5 or 10 page detailed resume?
Does that mean that no one should submit a supplemental resume? No, there are a few students whose accomplishments really can not be adequately listed on the outline resume of the common application. It is not that there are too many activities, but rather that the involvement in each of a limited number of activities is so extensive that it can only be listed on a supplemental resume.
I know, you are still worried that not completing a supplemental resume will make you look less accomplished than your peers. I can tell you that the vast majority of the students with whom I work are applying to, and getting admitted to, some of the most selective colleges in the country. Rarely, do my students submit a supplemental resume.
Still think you are one of the extraordinary students who require a supplemental resume? In my next post, I will give more detail about what to do with a supplemental resume to make it enhance your application rather than distract from it.
Great article! I am looking forward to the follow up blog on how to construct an adequate supplemental resume.
Does this apply to graduate school as well? Should students follow these same guidelines for graduate admissions as they would for undergraduate admissions?
Todd Johnson says
Thanks for the comment. My focus is on undergraduate education but I believe that the rules for graduate/professional school may be different. Because you have a more specific focus in graduate school you have a greater chance that you will need a resume to establish all of your accomplishments.