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What Colleges Look for in a High School Resume / By: Sofia Danilovtseva

Building a resume may seem stressful, especially for a high school student who plans to attend college. However, there are tips to enhance your high school resume. Certain words, extracurriculars, and courses can boost your chances of admission. Based on data collected by the Pew Research Center, there were around 10.2 million college applications in the U.S. (75 U.S. College Statistics: 2023 Facts, Data & Trends, Bouchrika, 2022)." Here are a few ways you can make your high school resume stand out among the masses.

According to The Princeton Review, “Colleges favor leadership activities, clubs, long-term commitment, and community service” (Princeton Review, 2022).  It is better to focus on long-term commitments rather than spreading your time over many different extracurriculars throughout your high school years. Colleges will notice if you can successfully hold a job and /or sports commitment while balancing school work and social life. Seeing that you are a well-rounded person who knows how to handle difficult tasks and is involved in the school community. 

Many students start thinking about college only during their junior and senior years, which is pretty late. But what should they add if they don’t have anything to put on their high school resume? Ms. Jones, from Kenwood Academy College Lab, reports, “Working a job or an internship like One Summer Chicago, After School Matters, Gallery Program or taking dual enrollment/college courses will quickly enhance your resume in a relatively short period”.  However, if you’re just starting high school and already thinking about college, start building your resume sooner rather than later. 

In addition to having a versatile resume, having good grades will greatly impact your chances of getting in. “According to a 2019 report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), around 3 in 4 colleges surveyed considered grades in courses considerably important when making admission decisions” (9 Tips for Raising Your College Admission Chances, Weickmann, 2022).

Incorporating power verbs can also significantly boost your chances of being favored by an admissions officer. According to Allison Doyle, author of Power Verbs to Use in a Resume, entrance officers quickly skim through resumes and cover letters due to the high volume they receive… If your language is the same as everyone else’s, it will be hard for you to stand out” (Doyle, 2021). Colleges want to see that you are a well-rounded, resilient, and outstanding person in many aspects of your life. So get involved early on in your high school career and then take a little extra time when writing about your accomplishments so that your resume stands out from all the rest!  

Try It! Complete the resume template at

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