As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the experts. Here are their answers.
Karen Ekman-Baur Director of College Counseling Leysin American School
I am a big believer in the resume. The resume should be one page in length, include a profile picture and include anything and everything you have done outside of your core academic classes in school. Even electives that student took could be included in the resume. A college wants to know how you are going to benefit their school and be involved. They don’t want students who are going to stay in their room all day and study. They want students who are going to be an asset to their campus and get involved. A picture is important because it forces them to put a face to the name. At a lot of big universities, an applicant is just a number. When they see a picture, it personalizes you a bit to them and can make a small difference. I send the resume in with the transcript to make sure they get it. You can also use the resume to give to teachers when asking for a letter of recommendation, a college rep when they visit your school, an internship or an interview you have. I have sample resumes if you would like to see one.
Patricia Krahnke President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC
I think that it’s important to know how to compile a solid resume because resume writing is definitely an important life skill. However, I don’t recommend submitting a separate resume along with your college applications for the following reasons: 1. some colleges expressly tell applicants NOT to submit separate resumes; 2. most applications (including the Common Application) provide ample space for you to list your activities, accomplishments, and honors; 3. most of the student resumes just repeat information that is already set forth in the application; 4. some application readers find having to read additional materials annoying; and 5. many resumes are not read at all and therefore are a waste of your time. If you do decide to submit a resume, make sure that the colleges to which you are applying do not expressly request that you do NOT submit them. Also – craft your resumes with care. Do not list the same activity/accomplishment more than once in order to “beef up” your accomplishments. Many students will list membership in “honor” societies under “honors” and “activities.” Once is sufficient. “Double dipping” just makes your look bad. In my many years of interviewing applicants for Harvard, I found that having to wade through 3-4 page resumes only to find that the same activity was listed two, three and sometimes four times — was a truly negative experience and duly noted on my interview report to the school.
Helen H. Choi, Owner, Admissions Mavens
A “resume” is a great idea. But make sure your extracurricular activities and achievements do not outshine your academic achievements. One or two extracurriculars in your area(s) of interest with strong leadership involvement, coupled with great grades and board scores, makes you a wonderful candidate for admission to most colleges. Detailed Answer: For those colleges that look for something other than numbers in their admissions process, a resume is a terrific opportunity to show that your personal passions reflect your college search. In other words, if you are applying to vet programs, your resume should reflect an interest in the welfare of animals, i.e. involvement in 4H, working for a veterinarian, etc. Likewise, if you are pursuing a very competitive Pharm.D. program, and you have great grades and board scores, pharmacy or pharmaceutical company experience (via a coop program, or part-time work) will set you apart from other top students. In other words, you want to make it clear to any college that you are serious about the major you wish to pursue. But here’s the problem: We see too many college applications that have a lengthy list of extracurriculars, but the grades have clearly suffered as a result of misplaced focus. You usually won’t be rejected by most colleges if you have great grades and board scores and few or no extracurriculars; however, you WILL be denied if your grades are low but you have a long list of extracurriculars. It’s more important to have one or two strong areas of extracurricular interest and pursue leadership positions within those areas, than to over extend your energies into many areas and not have any leadership examples on your applications.