Why Write a High School Resume

by Bethany Goldszer | Last Updated: September 9, 2020

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When you hear the word resume, what do you think about? You probably think about a tool to help in the job match process. Or that it is something that you don’t have to worry about until you get to college. Guess what?! Many people agree with you, including college admissions consultants, that high school students don’t need a resume. Reasons they say include:

  • Colleges don’t or won’t read it.
  • A resume is redundant since Coalition and Common applications include activities and additional information sections.
  • High school students have limited information to add, so the resume will be empty and make them feel bad.

But based on my experience, I believe that all of these are poor excuses to not have a high school resume. If you listen to the masses, you may miss an opportunity to build a career canvas to create a successful roadmap. 

Hence, in my practice, I go against the grain and say that you need a high school resume for practical and preparedness reasons. Even if you are a freshman, have never held a job, or have participated in limited activities, there’s a lot of information that you can include on your resume. And wherever there are blanks, you can put a pin on it and be intentional about finding something to join that will round out your high school resume in the future.

In this blog post, I will review the reasons why you need to write a high school resume.

You want to Stand Out

Write a resume to stand out as a student who has ambition and is motivated to build a roadmap for success. But initially, like many students, you may feel that you have not done much since starting high school. I hear it all the time – “Bethany, I’ve only done x, y, or z.” But once we begin to write everything they’ve done down on paper, the paper fills up in various resume categories. I see student’s eyes light up, and immediately, they feel a boost in their confidence. If you haven’t tried writing a resume, you may have this reaction as well, seeing a one-page overview of how amazing you are. And for what is missing, such as a LinkedIn profile or high school activities, now that you are aware – this gives you something to work on.

Volunteer, Jobs, and Internships

If you’d like to apply for a volunteer role, internship, or paid position, a resume is a “nice have” that will set you apart from other candidates. To potential employers or volunteer and internship program coordinators, they may be hesitant to enroll or hire you, given your inexperience. When you attach a resume as part of your application, you immediately show your maturity, ambition, and seriousness about your career journey. And securing this opportunity may be the start you need to get your career kick-started and highlight to colleges (discussed in the next section).

A great resume will make you memorable and increase the likelihood of getting called in for an interview. Just remember that if you do get called in for an interview, don’t forget to print hard copies of your resume. You’ll need one for each person you’ll be meeting with so that interviewers can reference it during your conversation.

College Applications

As alluded to earlier, there is debate about if a resume is needed for college admissions. Some schools like the University of Virginia explicitly state: “We do not accept resumes, research abstracts, or writing portfolios.” Duke University also prohibits resume submission for undergraduate applicants. When you are submitting applications, check school websites to see what their policies are about submitting a resume.  

But in the year of COVID-19, with SAT and ACT scores being optional, a resume provides other criteria to “holistic” review colleges will be aiming for this admissions cycle. There’s been an increase in the number of colleges encouraging the submissions of a resume. For instance, this year, the University of Pennsylvania inviting candidates to upload a resume in the Coalition application. Other colleges wanting resumes this year include:

  • Boston College
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • Bucknell University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Davidson College
  • George Mason University
  • Howard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Northeastern University
  • Northwestern University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Santa Clara University
  • Tulane University
  • University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Vanderbilt University

With a resume, you can show your unique and extraordinary you are. You can pull words from this list of 250 action words to tell your story beyond the application or essay. The types of activities you’ve been part of, the length of time you’ve led or participated, and your position all show your responsibility, creativity, motivation, initiative, and drive. All of these qualities are what colleges look for in college students. Your resume may give you the boost you need to be memorable to admissions officers and get you the coveted “yes.” 



In conclusion, every high school student needs a resume. You may not have much to add to it at the start, but over time you’ll have plenty to fill in as you join activities and get further along in your academic studies. Moreover, the resume motivates you to get deeply involved in school and your community. Once you have a resume, you’ll be more competitive for volunteer roles, internships, and paid positions. Depending on where you apply to college, you may need one to be a standout candidate.

High School Resume Templates

Now that you know WHY you need a high school resume, it’s time to write one. Don’t start from scratch. Download all of my high school resume template files and choose one from which to build. I provide four types of high school templates in a Google Drive folder proven to impress admissions officers, volunteer and internship program coordinators, and employers. They follow different formats depending on your taste. Also, they are in editable Docs and Slides files so that you can customize them as needed. Access them here

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Bethany Goldszer is top college admissions and financial aid expert. She's been featured in HuffPost, USA Today, Newsday, Queens Gazette, and Official Black Wall Street & voted Best of Long Island. Faced with the overwhelming stress of applying, getting admitted to and financing her University of Chicago education, she started Stand Out College Prep LLC in 2012 so that no student or parent would have to go through this process alone. Over the last 15 years, Bethany has worked with over 1,500 students, helping them and their parents get into their top choice colleges and secure more than $20M in financial aid and scholarships. And each year, she continues to help more students stand out in the college admissions process and their parents navigate financial aid and scholarships.