A good high school resume is an essential first step to getting into college. It tells the admissions board who you are as well as what you plan to do once you get there. If it’s not well done, it could cost you your chance at a good college or possibly your scholarship. Here are some tips for crafting a winning high school resume.

high school resume

First, don’t make the mistake of thinking that a “hard” high school resume only has to tell about your academic record. A well-written, solid high school resume also includes your personal characteristics–the “soft skills” that you will need to sell yourself to potential employers. These are the things that potential employers will keep their eyes on when they’re reading your application. That means you need to have a lot of these in your application. A good high school resume also gives colleges and potential employers a quick but accurate and comprehensive snapshot of who you are both as a person and what you plan to do once you get to college.

But how do you write a high school resume that shows you have what it takes to sell yourself to colleges and potentially get a scholarship? A solid high school resume begins with an excellent cover letter that answers the question most colleges are asking: who are you? In your cover letter, answer that question specifically. Highlight your biggest strengths and tell them why you think you would be a great candidate for the scholarships and grants that many colleges offer.

Another key component of a high school resume is your community service or internship information. This part of your resume must be a two-way street. Tell your prospective employers about your community service activities. It does not have to be a whole sentence, just include it in your cover letter and you will be far better off. Many colleges and employers are looking for candidates who have participated in their organization’s activities, so if you have worked your way through a national service scholarship, talk about how you used your time and how your work experience directly relates to the opportunity they are offering. If you have participated in an internship at a local organization or volunteering at a nonprofit, highlight that as well.

A critical part of writing a high school resume is your objective statement. This is the statement that begins your essay and can have a big impact on whether or not you get the scholarship you want. It begins with, “I am interested in pursuing a…” and goes on to outline exactly what you want to study, do and what you will do when you get to college. Be sure that your objective statement mentions what you did during your community service, internship and/or volunteer time so that you can demonstrate that you have real world experience as opposed to simply stating your passion for a specific college or university.

When writing your high school resume and you have not received a scholarship yet, consider volunteering or completing an internship prior to applying for scholarships. Scholarships are often based on financial need, so if you can demonstrate that you have financial need before applying for a scholarship, you have a much greater chance of getting it. And, completing an internship can put you ahead of the pack when it comes to preparing for college applications because you’ll have some background knowledge and experience relating to the area of study you want to apply to.

High school students may also be concerned about including any work experience they may have had. Often, high school students have to write a resume with little to no work experience. However, this should not discourage you. Use your high school resume template to list any jobs that you may have held, but must be restricted to a low level or supervisory duties. List these positions under “education and skills.” This will show your potential employer that you know how to work with others and are prepared to advance in an organization.

Finally, high school students may be concerned about including their contact information and address on their high school resume. Your high school resume template may be able to accommodate this, or you may choose to include your contact information in a separate document. Include your full name, any middle names you may have used, and your original address. Remember that your cover letter is the first thing the hiring manager will see, so you want to take the time to build a good one. Let your high school resume template do the legwork so that you can focus on writing a solid application.