College Advice: Common Resume Mistakes to Avoid

Unigo Expert Network

The Unigo Expert Network is a group of top education experts from across the US answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school.
Including a resume along with the application can illuminate some of the interesting and unique activities or jobs that a student has outside of the classroom. In this week’s column, experts weigh in on the most common mistakes students make on their resumes, so that you can avoid them.
This week’s question: What are some common mistakes students make on their resumes?” —Allison Williams, Somerville, MA
A: Highlight what makes you tick, and keep it brief
One of the biggest mistakes students make is filling their resumes with information that can be found in the application or on transcripts, like grades, names of classes, and test scores, to name a few. Remember: A resume should expand on, not repeat, information included elsewhere in the application. If it doesn’t add anything, it’s wasted space (and time for the reviewer). Another pitfall is poor organization. Make sure the order and grouping of activities highlight what makes the student tick. Aside from that, keep it simple! Brief and informative is better than overly packaged any day. — Nicole Oringer — Partner – Ivy Educational Services  A: Resumes:
A Way to Showcase Who You Are
Supplementing the colleges’ own pointed questions, a well-crafted resume can help complete the picture of the applicant. In writing a resume students should avoid endless lists. Instead, the resume should highlight the things that really matter to the student, the activities and recognitions that illustrate their true talents and passions, not their ability to be a joiner or a follower. Effective resumes give the admissions people a better sense of who an applicant is and what they offer the prospective college community, since in the end, whether applicants are what the shapers of that community want is what the admission process is about. — Bill Pruden – Head of Upper School, College Counselor – Ravenscroft School
A: Resume no-no’s
Resume Rules: Don’t do a sloppy job of proofreading. Misspelled words and incorrect punctuation can undermine the effect of an otherwise strong record. Don’t assume that your reader is familiar with the particular language and abbreviations of your high school. (EdStrat Chair is a meaningless title unless the reader knows what EdStrat is.) Don’t include anything except accomplishments and activities from grades 9-12. The fact that you won an art award in 6th grade doesn’t belong on a high school resume. Don’t include anything that you don’t want to talk about in an interview. If you list it, you’re inviting your interviewer to ask about it. –Susan Marrs – Director of College Counseling – Seven Hills School
A: “We want depth, not breadth!”
Students often think that they need dozens and dozens of clubs, activities, awards, and leadership positions to impress admission counselors. A long list of these things on a resume is not what we are seeking – and we can’t tell at all what is important to the student. What we are looking for is a student that is passionate – and involved – in a few things. Articulation of these passions is what we are looking for – and what impresses us most.
–Roby Blust – Dean of Admissions & Enrollment Planning – Marquette University