College application season is a long and challenging process for every student. You want to put your best foot forward and make your application stand out in order to be admitted to your top choices. One way you can strengthen your application is to boost your resume for college applications.
Some colleges and universities give a lot of importance to extracurricular activities. For instance, the University of South Florida ranks extracurricular activities as the fourth most important criterion while reviewing a college application. The other criteria are grades, standardized test scores, and difficulty of your coursework during high school. There is also the personal statement and supplemental essay portion. It’s a lot to keep in mind, so we’re going to help you out by highlighting some ways to boost your resume and boost your application as a result.
Why a well-rounded resume matters
A well-rounded resume that highlights your academic and extracurricular achievements will show colleges that you are unique and will be involved in their university community. Schools believe that a student who is actively involved outside the classroom will enrich the campus.
So, how much does a resume influence the college admission process? Let’s see what some college counselors have to say about this:
“Very often, it (the resume) can be the deciding factor to tip the scales.”
“For schools that utilize holistic review…the resume is a critical aspect of the application file.”
“A few activities…with meaningful experiences is better than many activities with little impact.”
“The resume is vital…colleges are looking for students who have been active throughout high school.”
So, obviously, the resume is not something you can overlook. Make sure to think about this early on so you can get involved in meaningful activities. The most important thing is to follow your passions!
How to boost your resume to make it impressive
Highlight your strengths and achievements
Your resume must highlight your strengths and your accomplishments. Here are some tips to help you do this:
- Keep the resume brief and to the point.
- Showcase any work experience or internship related to your interests.
- Highlight the achievements that are related to the major you want to study.
- Show your progression of responsibility and leadership (i.e. joining a team as a sophomore and becoming captain as a senior).
Include unique experiences
When it comes to college applications, the key is making your resume stand out. A college admission officer has to review hundreds of applications. They love to see something unique in your college application. Apart from the usual extracurricular activities, here are some tips to make your resume stand out from the rest:
- Highlight the community work you have done and any volunteering experience.
- Highlight any unique hobby you may have. Hobbies show your interests, and any hobby that is unique will make your resume stand out.
- Ensure your skills are presented by showing and not telling. For instance, don’t just say you have good communication skills. Did you win any awards? Did you give any notable talks or speeches?
- Your college application must highlight any extracurricular activity that showcases your skills. For instance, you may have started a club as a school student. It shows your skills in taking the initiative and your leadership abilities.
Show your involvement (or get involved ASAP!)
When you list out your extracurricular activities in the college application, do it in such a way that it gives a well-rounded picture of what you were engaged in during high school. Make sure to express the impact you made in each position. For instance, if you are into volunteering, highlight what you did while volunteering and the impact it created.
Furthermore, an important thing to note is not every student would have pursued many extracurricular activities. If you are worried about what to put in your college application, you can stop worrying. There is still time to get started. You may not apply to the college of your choice until January! It gives you sufficient time to get involved in extracurricular activities if you need to boost your resume.
Therefore, use the time that you have available to get involved! Try joining a club or being part of a cause. Remember, it is not too late to get started.
Ideas for how to get more involved
A point to keep in mind is most college applicants list similar extracurricular activities (sports, theater, volunteering). If your college application has to stand out, it must have something unique. We have some ideas to help you:
- Do something that helps people. For example, you can create an app using AI to help seniors in your community find companions. This is an activity that will make your resume stand out.
- Tutor other students in subjects or areas you are proficient in. For example, you can tutor students through Lessonpal to share your knowledge.
- Teach a class at your community center.
- Run a free after-school camp for kids and teach them something new. e.g., robotics or AI.
- Start a small business venture during your free time. It is a great activity to put on your resume.
- Carry out fundraising to help someone in need.
- Do something creative like writing a story and try to get it published.
Follow these examples to boost your resume
If you want to create a stand-out resume, you need to see examples of solid resumes. Here are some examples with extracts from great resumes that helped the student get into their top colleges.
“Passionate student writer/producer seeking to invigorate Elon University’s student body with proven leadership and organizational skills. Founded and ran a video comedy group that got 350,000 YouTube Views. Varsity swim team captain with A+ avg. in English, History, & Physics.”
In this resume, the student shows their passion and demonstrates it by explaining the achievements related to the involvement. It highlights creativity, leadership, and organizational skills with practical examples. Extracurricular activities and academic achievements are neatly blended.
“Aspiring journalist with a knack for creative writing looking to deepen their knowledge through NYU’s renowned Journalism track. Founder of my high school’s first online newspaper, the ‘Daily Prophet,’ which now has over 2,000 subscribers. Hardworking, with a grade A average in social sciences and commitment to improving.” (Source)
Here is another example that lists concrete achievements. The student added a lot of value to their high school by creating the first online newspaper and community of subscribers. This involvement definitely boosts their resume!
The big picture
Now that you know why you should boost your resume and some tips for doing so, start following the guidelines we presented and craft your resume. Participate in meaningful extracurricular activities to show you’re well-rounded and someone who gets engaged with your community. Do something you are passionate about! For example, share your knowledge and passion about a subject with students by online tutoring with Lessonpal. You can offer affordable lessons to help students gain access to affordable education! Doing unique activities like this will make your application stand out. It is a great way to get an advantage in the college admission process.
Frequently asked questions
What are the best extracurriculars to put on your college applications?
There is no “best” extracurricular. It really depends on the student! But here are some great ideas:
- Part-time jobs.
- Leadership experience.
- Participation in sports
- Being part of academic clubs.
- Volunteer activities and community service.
- Creative and artistic pursuits.
Do sports involvements benefit your college application?
Yes, sports involvement is a key extracurricular activity that can make your application stand out. A student with achievements in sports is likely to get a preference during college admission. What colleges really look to see is if you gained more and more responsibility and leadership over your time in high school. A captain position or other notable award is an extra bonus!
How much does playing an instrument help you in college admissions?
Playing an instrument is a unique extracurricular activity. It highlights your artistic side and can help make your resume stand out. If you want to be more impressive, go ahead and teach someone else these skills, volunteer in a music-related involvement, or attempt to win a distinguished award.
Do internships help your college application?
Internships are very important since they show real-world experience. Highlighting your internship experience is a good way to get the attention of an admission officer. However, internships are hard to get as a high schooler, so you can stick to having a part-time job or other work experience to show your leadership skills.
Will making a website help my college application?
Making a website is a creative activity that is unique and can make your college application stand out!