How to Create a College Application Resume

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How to Create a College Application Resume

When you think about building a college application “resume,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? How long it is? How many activities you can squeeze into 4-years of high school? How many awards and accolades you can rack up? Are you always worried about how this activity or that club or community service project will look to a college admissions officer? Do you feel overwhelmed by all you are involved with?

Before you create a college application resume, your first step is to BREATHE. That’s right, take a step back, and breathe. You are not superhuman, you do not have more than 24 hours in a day, you are only one person, and yes you DO need to sleep. It’s okay to just be a teenager. It’s okay to choose activities because they are fun for you, not because of how something will look in your college application. When was the last time you did something just for the pure fun of it? If you can’t answer that question quickly, it’s time for an overhaul.

Having spoken with many college admissions reps and administrators over the past few years, they are worried about you, and rightfully so. They are seeing more and more students who arrive on their campuses completely burned out, exhausted, and not ready to fully enjoy the college experience.

I come across this all too often with my own students. Taking every AP/IB class possible (even when it’s a struggle), playing multiple sports, involved in every club their school offers, and squeezing in community service on the weekends for good measure. Many students stay up until 2AM doing homework, and then get up at 6AM to do it all over again. They have no weekends or summers because they are filled with “college resume building” activities. And they are constantly tired, overwhelmed, and just trying to “get through it.”

The truth is, this doesn’t have to be you. Sure, there are some extremely selective colleges out there whose admissions standards require a rigorous high school academic schedule, which should be something you enjoy if you are interested in attending those colleges. But outside of academics, most colleges are looking for depth not breadth. They are looking for passions, interests, common threads that weave throughout a student’s high school experience. They are looking to see that you can commit, you have perseverance, and you’ve done a FEW things with all of your heart, not a million things “just because.”

I URGE you to sit down and reflect on all you are involved in (academics and otherwise), and what you want to get out of your high school experience. Are there places you can cut back, so that you can give 100% in the really meaningful activities for you?

Give yourself some breathing room. Not only will you be healthier and happier, it will make it that much easier to end up at the right college for YOU.



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