Your Academic Resume
Your academic resume is crucial. That means writing it shouldn’t be an effort you take lightly. It sounds easy enough: a good academic resume for scholarships or college applications is essentially a condensation of your most notable academic and extracurricular achievements and activities, and it should be attention-grabbing and easy to digest. The academic resume format is standard: it should be no more than two pages.
If you’re having trouble writing something that’s more than just a list, follow our basic guidelines below. While we didn’t include an academic resume sample (each individual resume is different), we did include areas every academic resume should address. Then be sure to collaborate with your college counselor and/or your parents—since they’ve probably written more resumes than you can imagine.
Start by creating your own personal letterhead. This section of the academic resume format is also standard and should include your name, your contact information (email address, cell phone, home phone, and address), and your high school. Make sure all contact information you provide on your resume is presented in a professional manner. Your email address, for example, probably shouldn’t be email@example.com. And your voicemail message shouldn’t be clever or sarcastic. This is way too common: “Hello? Hello? Ha! Tricked you! This is just a message. Leave me one.” That definitely doesn’t do you any favors when an admissions office is trying to get in touch.
Academic resume template
Below you will find topics every academic resume should address in one way or another. But it’s important to remember that every academic essay will look different based on each person’s past experience. The following academic resume format, then, is not intended as a formal academic resume sample that you can copy and paste. Instead, it’s a guide on how to write your own.
Include your high school, and your GPA if it’s worth presenting. List any academic awards you may have won, both from your school and otherwise. Be sure to mention what organization awarded them and what distinction they recognize. Not all awards are created equal, so if you received one, as an example, for an exemplary commitment to community service, make sure you communicate that point. It adds value.
Be sure to mention any extracurricular activities you’ve participated in: emphasize clubs, societies, and sports teams, as well as community service. Make a point of further emphasizing any leadership positions you may have held. Again, this shouldn’t just be a list. Include a few bullet points on what role you played and, most importantly, what you accomplished that separates you from the pack. If you’re trying to be recruited for a sport, you can a fair amount of detail here, though you should probably assemble a separate athletic resume for communicating with coaches.
If you have any prior work experience, include it. Anything that you could consider a notable skill and haven’t mentioned as of yet in your resume, from proficiency in a programming language, fluency in a foreign language, a talent for painting, or skill in playing an instrument, should be included as well.
You can end your resume with a small section for other interests if you so desire. Include applicable things that are important to and definitive of you, especially if they’re skill-based or enlighten your academic abilities. If you’ve traveled the world with your family, for example, that’s worth including.
General things to avoid
When writing an academic resume for college applications or an academic resume for scholarships, never:
- Use buzzwords or clichés. Saying you’re “organized”, “dynamic”, or “motivated” is exactly what everyone else said, too. Stop listing adjectives and start listing examples of how you exemplify those traits. What did you do.
- Neglect the details. If you misspell words, or have bad grammar, or use a semicolon when you should’ve used a dash—well, that just shows that you’re either lazy, rushed, or don’t pay attention. None of those are good things.
- Write paragraphs. Save the narrative for your personal statement. Stick to short bullets.
Note: Remember, the standard academic resume format is one page in length. Two at most. It is a difficult exercise to put oneself down on paper in 8.5 x 11 inches, but it’s a necessary evil. It may also seem a little self-indulgent, but it really isn’t: don’t be shy about promoting yourself. The schools you apply to want to know about you, and who knows you better than yourself?
Applications and Admissions
- Choosing Colleges Home
- College Acceptance Letters
- College Admissions Advice
- Competitive College Applications
- Considering the Cost of College in the Admissions Decision
- Different Children Take Different Approaches to the College Application Process
- Early Decision Applications
- Leadership Development and College Applications
- Making the transition from high school to college
- Nagging About College Applications
- Organizing the Application Process