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Academic Resume: Do I Need One and What Should Be On It?

Updated: Jun 27


For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:10



As we dove deeper into getting Makayla ready to seriously look at colleges, I came across several articles that referenced an Academic Resume. I wasn’t really sure if we needed one and had no idea how to go about putting one together. I took a slight detour from college planning to research more about what should be included in an Academic Resume.


Honestly, it stressed me out a little but once I found a template and we started plugging in what information was pertinent, it really wasn’t that bad. I thought I would walk you through what we included and how we laid it out. But, first, do you really even need one?


The short answer is NO, it isn’t necessary to have one. No college we encountered required a resume. We just decided that for our situation a resume would be an easy way to compile Makayla’s “highlights”. It was nice to have on-hand when meeting with admission counselors, some colleges let us upload a copy in lieu of typing everything in, and it was quite convenient to have everything already laid out for applications that did require her to enter all of her activities into different sections of the application. So, while an Academic Resume is not a necessity, it is a nicety.


I found the simplest way to get started is to find a template so everything is already laid out and you can just plug your information into it. You can go online and buy templates and we looked at doing that but ended up just using a template from Word. We liked the template that allowed activities to go in a column down the side to highlight some of her more impressive awards and achievements then the rest is laid out like any other resume.


Heading

If your resume is more than one page, make sure this is included on each page. This section should have your child’s name, address, phone number and email address. Makayla made a new email to use solely for colleges so nothing would get lost with her normal email and so the flurry of college emails wouldn’t clutter her personal email account. This seemed to work pretty well to keep things organized and easy to find.


Academic History

Since it is an academic resume, educational information should go first. The heading for this section should include the name of the school, class year and if they made Honor or High Honor Roll. Under the main heading, we included GPA and standardized test scores (make sure to update these as your child improves scores). Under the heading, as bullet points, list any clubs. Note if they were a member or if they held an office and how long they were involved. We listed clubs in order of highest office held and chronologically by when involvement began.

Employment History

Our next section focused on employment and should include any paid positions your child had, even if it was babysitting. Include the position, employer and dates the position was held. We then included a brief synopsis of the overall position, followed by bullet points of duties performed.


Volunteer Experience

One might argue that for college admissions, volunteer experience should go before employment. You can decide on this order for yourself. If your child didn’t have a job, or just did babysitting then you might want to highlight volunteer experience first. If your child doesn’t have anything to put down for volunteer service, then I strongly suggest you sit down with your child and find volunteer opportunities that they would be interested in, preferably in an area that will allow them to create a narrative of where they hope to be headed in their education and career. Each entry should include the volunteer position held, the organization, time served in that position and a brief description of what they did in their volunteer capacity.


Trainings

We rounded out the main section of the resume with Trainings. Your child might not have anything to include as trainings and that’s fine, you may have something completely different you would like to highlight. Since Makayla was involved in medical camps and participated in medical training at St. Jude, we felt it was important to highlight those things to further emphasize her commitment to the medical field.


Side Bar

What you include in the side bar is up to you. We chose to highlight Awards & Achievements, Certifications, Policy Changes and Extracurricular activities.



Awards & Achievements

This section was basically just a list of any awards Makayla received. We listed them chronologically from the most recent, with the most impressive achievements at the top. Things to include in this section would be The Congressional Gold Medal, Student of the Month/Year Awards, Volunteer/Community Awards, Promotion in rank i.e. Black Belt, Eagle Scout, etc.


Certifications

This section is where we put CPR Certification and EMR/EMT Certification. So, if your child has earned any certificates, highlight them here.


Public Health Policy Change

Makayla assisted her FCCLA group in writing and presenting a proposal to the City Council to make all parks in our town smoke-free, which they passed. I realize this experience is pretty unique so I would say to examine all of your child’s activities and see if there are some unique experiences you can highlight here.


Extracurricular Activities

This section focuses on any activities done outside of the normal school day or employment. This would include: sports, band, theater, martial arts, etc. Again, we listed these chronologically, including the activity, where it was conducted and dates involved.


That really wasn’t difficult. I’m not sure what I was so anxious about! I realize this walk-through was specific to our daughter’s experiences, so please don’t think your child’s resume should look the same. This was just meant to be a jumping off point to get you started and highlight things that you might want to include. My biggest advice would be to start early, freshman year would be ideal, so you can add things as they occur instead of having to think back and remember everything your child has accomplished. Starting early also gives you a chance to identify any holes in your child’s experiences and gives them time to round out their resume before time to apply to colleges. The academic resume is just one part of preparing to apply to college so I urge you to read Navigating the College Application Process and Surviving the Pursuit of Scholarships.


Applying to college can be stressful, so I’m here to help as much as I can!


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