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College Application Resumes

If you already have a resume at seventeen, great. But: don’t send it off with all of your college applications automatically. Only send a resume if a school specifically requests one (most don’t) or if the Common App doesn’t convey everything about you that you believe is important for schools to know.

Send other supplementary materials instead. As the Yale admissions page reads, “We will accept audio recordings, musical scores, art samples, writing samples, scientific research papers, film, and dance. We generally do not encourage you to submit additional letters of recommendation, resumes, or personal essays; these are less likely to shed helpful new light on your application.”

Most of the information contained in a resume will already be included in the various sections of your Common App: your name, your school and graduation year, your GPA, your extracurriculars and activities, your jobs, etc. This makes a resume redundant. While admissions officers do like to have as much information on you as possible, they don’t appreciate extra paper to go through. A resume may look desperate or pretentious if it doesn’t add anything.

That said, it’s great if you have a resume because the process of making one will help your applications. If you don’t have one, make one: brainstorm a long list, organized by grade, of everything that you might put on a resume. Don’t be selective, you’re just brainstorming. You can include that A- you got in Calculus, the new muffler you put on your dad’s old truck, even those short stories you wrote last summer. Any accomplishment that’s significant to you is great.

Making a list of everything you’ve done that’s important to you, and then deciding which things are the most important, is a great way to hone the story or motif of your application. It will also help you in deciding what to put in your Common App extracurriculars section and how to order it.

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