How to Create a Great High School Resume 

A photo of a student working on her great high school resume.

Whether a high school student is looking for a job or an internship, applying to college, pursuing a scholarship, or seeking to attend a study abroad program, they may be asked to submit a resume.

It’s never too early to start working on a high school resume. Whether a student is just starting high school or looking toward college, the best time to start working on a resume is now!

Not only will students then have the resume ready to go but they will also have a document in which they’ve kept track of their experiences, knowledge, skills, and accomplishments. Filling out applications – from summer programs to college admissions – will be easier when students have a master list of their accomplishments, organized by date and categorized by activity.

The high school resume should include all extracurricular activities, such as involvement with school clubs, work experience, and volunteer work, as well as academic achievements. Other sections can include interests, certifications, world language abilities, and skills. In other words, the resume should be able to answer the question, “What do you do with your time?”

Other purposes of a resume include:

  • Many colleges and universities require the submission of, or provide the option to submit, a resume with applications. Additionally, most college applications limit the amount of activities you can list, as well as the length of the descriptions for each, so submitting a resume can help present a much fuller, more comprehensive view of your accomplishments.
  • Writing, reviewing, and reflecting on your resume may spark ideas for an essay topic.
  • Sharing your resume with references, such as teachers, supervisors, or coaches, will help them write a more effective letter of recommendation for you.

How to write a high school resume:

The goal should be to create a concise and easy-to-read document that best presents the student and their accomplishments. Here’s how to do just that:

1.    Start with a list. Begin with ninth grade and write down all activities, honors, memberships, and academic enrichment programs by semester. Don’t forget summers, too, including the summer before ninth grade.

2.    Organize the list into general categories. Categories should include honors and awards, extracurriculars, service work, summer classes and programs, special skills (e.g., languages spoken), certifications, and work experience. Not all students will have experiences for all these sections, and that is okay! Personalize it to best reflect your involvement.

3.    Arrange information into subcategories and organize by date. Pertinent details to include are grade level(s) and time commitment (i.e., how many hours per week and how many weeks per year). Follow each entry with a few sentences describing your role in the activity or accomplishment. Be specific about positions, titles, organizations, and locations. Additionally, spell out any acronyms so the reader knows exactly what is being referenced. Focus less on what the activity is (for example, there is no need to describe what Model UN is) and instead, highlight your role in it. Quantify participation as much as possible—for example, if the student raised money or increased member participation, include the number or amount.

4.    Keep formatting consistent and clear. The document should be organized in a simple and attractive manner. Use an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial, or Cambria. At the top of the page, students should include their name, home address, phone number, and email address. They should also include your school name, graduation year, and GPA (if it is above a 3.5). Try to keep the resume succinct and 1-2 pages in length.

Here are few additional tips to keep in mind:

  • Begin each bulleted description with an action verb such as created, launched, managed, guided, or assisted. Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business offers this list of 843 action words. If an activity is ongoing, use the present tense.
  • Present activities and accomplishments in descending order from most central to a student as an applicant to least. For example, if a student is a dedicated thespian applying for a degree in drama, do not first list organized beach clean-ups first. Similarly, if a student is applying to major in computer science, do not list experience in junior varsity soccer at the top of the resume.

Lastly, make sure to have an expert, like an advisor at International College Counselors, proofread your resume and provide feedback.

For any and all help with creating a resume, writing college admissions essays, or navigating the college admissions process, contact International College Counselors. Visit or call 954-414-9986.