How Long Should my Resume be for College Applications?

Creating a resume is always a good idea. It’s a way to keep your accomplishments organized and most colleges allow students the option of uploading a resume with their application. It’s also great practice for the future.

I think we can all agree on the above. But here’s where we often get pushback. Your resume should be one page long. A resume is supposed to be a snapshot of your life thus far, and snapshots aren’t three pages long.

When we tell our clients this, they usually freak out. You probably have more than one page worth of accomplishments under your belt. You’re engaged, committed, dedicated and you want those efforts to cross the desk of the admissions committee. We completely understand. But trust us that there’s a way to make a one-page resume work.

Before you do, we’ve found that creating a master resume is helpful. Think of it as your home base. It’s a long list of your academics, honors awards, extracurricular activities, etc. This one can be as long as you want! You’ll refer back to this constantly as you start to edit things down.

Generally speaking, and yours might look a little different depending upon your areas of expertise, a resume for college applications will include:

  • A header with your name and contact information

  • High school information: expected graduation date, GPA, standardized test scores

  • Academic awards and distinctions

  • Extracurricular activities

  • Work experience

  • Hobbies, personal interests, and any special skills you might have

To shorten things down to a page, look back at your master resume and start making some edits. Don’t kill your darlings, but be honest with yourself about what needs to make the final cut. For example, that club that you were in freshman year for six months probably doesn’t need to end up on your one-pager.

Formatting, editing, and organizing your document is key. There are countless ways to do it. Condense the descriptions of your extracurricular activities to one line. Look at examples online and draw inspiration. These are skills that you’re going to rely on heavily once you graduate, so now is a good time to start practicing.  

Remember that your resume is meant to enhance your applications, so focus on the things that help explain who you are and what you care about. Focus on quality, not quantity. The goal is for the admissions committee to walk away with a better understanding of your unique interests.


Need help streamlining the application process? Contact us here.