As many college students do, I took on the responsibility to pay (or, in this case, get paid ) for a large sum of my college tuition. I'm thankful and blessed to have a set of wonderful parents that set aside money each month for my future college education. College comes with a huge price tag, so their contribution was just a drop in the bucket.
Following these tips will help you and your parents out a lot and leave room for other options like studying abroad (which I'll be doing in England in January). I'm not guaranteeing you get any scholarships, but these tidbits will help your chances tremendously. I want to look out for you too to make sure you're on track to get money for college.
Why do I care?
I'm not just writing this to have another topic for my blog. Really the whole point of my blog is to help inform you about ways to make life just a little easier on yourself based on experiences I've learned from in my twenty years of living.
I was one of those high school students that was not the best test taker, and I'm not just saying that to throw myself a pity-party. I'm the type of student in class every day, an avid note-taker, and I love participating in class conversations. Even when I poured myself into each assignment, the test comes and somehow the studying never quite pays off.
Anyone familiar with how scholarships work knows that a student's ACT score practically determines how much money in scholarships you have... or how much debt you have by the end of college. Well, I was that student with an average ACT super-score of 23. Nothing great. But there's good news...
If you're in the same spot as I was, you are not your act score! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I sense a blog post about this topic in the near future, but back on topic, for those of you with a lower ACT score, or you geniuses with a 30+, I'm about to share Step 1 on how to up your scholarship chances and still get money for college by preparing in high school (even if you don't have a great ACT/SAT score).
STEP 1: Build your resume
Your first question might be, "But I'm still in high school, why do I need a resume?" This is what you're going to be submitting to colleges when you go into your senior year of high school around November or December. My sister is three years younger than me and while I've been in college, each time I come home I ask how her resume is coming. So seniors, if you're reading this because you're sitting home bored all summer, get to work! Your whole senior year while feel like a split second. Senior pictures, senior week and spring break will be calling your name and crowding your thoughts from college and scholarships. Spend some time preparing for college this summer and save yourself from some stress.
Wait, what is a resume again?
A college resume is practically sums up who you are, not just academically, but your interests, work ethic, and your level of involvement within the community. If your future scholarship committee/coordinator looks at a resuméein a stack of hundreds and sees a well-rounded, memorable student in these areas, they're going to want to give you money!
So what do I put in a 'winning' resume?
You can view my resume here. This resumé is not my current one. I just put this together for you to give you an idea on the layout and items you should include on your resume. Here are some basic rules to a resume.
1. don't bs anything, make sure you check everything, and I mean everything you put on your resume, check, and double check, don't exaggerate, and be honest!
2. space is valuable, you don't have room to play around with on a resumé when you're trying to fit everything on one page, which brings me to the next rule...
3. keep it to 1 page, no exceptions, your future employer/scholarship coordinator doesn't have time to look at the millions of reasons why you should choose me that takes up 3 pages, keep it short and sweet because less is more.
4. don't use crazy fonts that no one can read, (that was all you wanted on that font right) keep it to a standard size, standard font, standard color... I got to have a bit of fun with mine because after your college resumé you have more freedom to tailor it to your liking for different jobs and internships (but that's for another blog post).
5. make your name big, think in the 20's and the rest of your typing use 14 or so, your name should stand out on your header from the rest of your resumé, it is your name that you're wanting them to remember right?
6. make use of bold and italics where appropriate, I already 'took away' the fun of using crazy fonts, rainbow text, and borders from your resumé so you'll have to stick with bold and italics. I never realized how surprisingly useful these options are, if only for the sake of
organizational purposes. Italics and bold words help in spacing out words, without using space!
Otherwise, these words that would have run together. It's also best way to emphasize points and add some depth to your resumé.
7. keep it organized, your college resumé should not be a collage of randomness from high school! I know it can be overwhelming at first, and I've always hated the phrase "chronological order" but we need to start by organizing your skills by date with the most recent first. Next, if you have items with the same dates, prioritize. Put the most relevant info first, Ex: Honor Roll 2013-2015, Varsity Cheer 2013-2015 (obviously the Honor Roll is more important).
You've made it through the basic rules! Now let me break down the order or "levels" for you! Your resumé levels should layout something like this...
1. Include your basic information. This means your name (remember to make it big), phone number, and e-mail address. I'd probably stay away from the headshot like I have in mine. Your college resumé should have a more professional look, I know you're disappointed.
2. List your education, include your GPA (if it's decent). This is also an appropriate spot for your ACT and SAT scores, graduation date (May 2016), I believe I also listed my total amount of college credit hours here. Optional: rank in class and the address of your high school
3. List your work experience, and use the words 'work experience,' which sounds better than 'jobs'. Be sure to think this way while making your resumé; you're trying to make a good impression, so be sure not to put the job you worked for a month and a half and got fired from, use relevant experiences.
4. List your extracurriculars and interests, and no, I don't mean videogames or Grey's Anatomy. List National Honors Society, Quiz-bowl, Varsity Cheerleading, Spanish Club... these will show that you're outgoing, well-rounded, and open to new things.
5. List your community involvement, and think outside the box here. Did you rake the elderly woman's leaves next door, volunteer with the Special Olympics, tutor your little brother, or teach at VBS? It can be impressive to have the total amount of hours served at the top of your list to show your overall commitment. You need to only include unpaid work hours, not anything else just to make you look better (we talked about honesty earlier). Community service is not only a great way to deck up your college resumé, it's incredibly rewarding. You will love learning to give back, and will find that you learn more about yourself, your passions and strengths, all the while learning from other volunteers and those that you're serving.
6. List other skills and accomplishments, any awards you've received since the start of high school can count! Think about Honor Roll, leadership awards, team captains, founder of a club, or 'skilled at Microsoft Excel, Prezi, or Photoshop'... You can save some space and combine accomplishments with your extracurriculars. Ex: Bryant Choir, All-Region, All-State 2009-2013, Leadership Award
7. If you have extra space... you're either doing really well and keeping it to a minimal or you need to beef up your resumé over the next year! ;) If you do find yourself with a couple of extra lines, MAKE USE OF THIS SPACE! Include a link to your Linked In profile (don't add any other social media platform), a presentation you've developed (I have some impressive Prezis), or add another skill to your list of accomplishments.
WHEW! I know that was quite a bit of info I just covered. If you feel overwhelmed, that's why you're spacing this out. A great resumé isn't something that can be thrown together overnight. It takes time and tailoring to ensure your resumé serves its purpose for what you're applying for. Every resumé is different; just make sure that it shows you're different and right for the scholarship you're applying for!
Stay tuned for my next post on how to prepare for college in high school. I'll be covering 5 Steps to Scoring Scholarships. You'll then know where and when to apply, how to get great
recommendation letters, and other tips. If you have questions about my posts just shoot me an e-mail or comment below!