Strengthen your high school resume: Let me count the ways!

Jennifer Explains College Admissions
College Admissions Counselor

High school students are encouraged to have a resume because it can tell an admissions counselor more about you than a standard application. It’s important to have a high school resume that not only states the facts (your rank, GPA, skills, etc.), but makes you stand out beyond the numbers. In competitive programs, the right “numbers” will allow you to be considered, but it is your involvement in activities that will help get you selected. If your current resume looks a little thin or ordinary or is just starving for things to list, learn what you can do so it packs more punch!

Building a Solid High School Resume

Get involved with a club and/or sport
: College admission counselors want to see that you taking advantage of your opportunities at school and are passionate about something, so join a club or sport if you haven’t already done so. It’s good to show what you can bring to college organizations from your past experience in extra-curricular activities. Admissions officers are interested in seeing commitment to your activities, so pick an activity and stick with it.

Compete & win awards: If you’re involved with a sport or club, be sure to compete in events when the opportunity arises. Awards validate your talents and skills – and they pop out on resumes!

Show that you can lead: If you’re involved with a sport or club, accept more responsibility. This will show that you can take charge and lead a group of people. If you’ve never held a leadership position, list any projects that you have spearheaded and mention the successful results. The ability to organize and lead shows you have confidence and potential.

Seek internships: Though most internships are set aside for college students, seek them and apply for them. An internship is a great way to gain career experience, and it will score you extra points on your resume. A college admissions counselor will see you as mature, responsible and highly motivated.

Volunteer whenever possible: Many schools already require a certain amount of community service hours in order to graduate, but do it regardless because it will show that you contribute to your community. You may already be helping your community and not even realize it. Church and Boy Scout projects count!

Participate in summer programs: Enroll in a summer program at a college, especially an academic-based program. It will show that you are interested in getting ahead in school and are serious about attending college.

Keep your part-time job or get a job if possible: If you hold a part-time job, keep it for a long as you can. It will show that you can balance school and work. If you’re already super busy with schoolwork and extra-curricular activities, try to hold a summer job for at least two years. List any promotions or recognition you receive on your resume. A college admissions counselor will give you extra points for your work ethic and time management skills.

Learn a language: If you already speak another language, you definitely need to list it as part of your skill set. If you don’t, think about attending a language camp or volunteer at a literacy center that helps immigrants learn English. Learning a language is not just a resume booster, it will give you a true advantage when you enter the workforce.

Take tougher courses: Take as many Advanced Placement courses as possible. These classes are weighted higher than regular classes, so even if you earn a B in an AP class it will count the same as an A in regular class. Plus, AP courses will improve your score on the SAT or ACT exam and you can earn college credit if you successfully pass the exams. An ideal high school resume includes a high GPA, a strong SAT and/or ACT score and some college credit.

Jennifer Caballero is the Director of College Guidance at Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, TX.  MMA is an all boys private college preparatory boarding school. For more information about MMA visit our website: