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  • Writer's picturePirie McIndoe

How to Build a Stellar Resume for High School Students

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

Have a high school sophomore or junior?

Share this with them! Share this with them!

This article was originally published March 8, 2020. It was last updated in March 2022.

You need a high school resume
Start a resume by your junior year.

Few students know that they should have a resume by the spring of their junior year. The resume serves multiple purposes.

  1. It sets the student apart from others. Having a resume will make it much easier for teachers and counselors to write their recommendations. Good recommendations include details about the student beyond the standard information about being academically prepared for college. Those writing the recommendations can use this extra information to make the letter more personal and specific about the student. These recommendations carry more weight in the admissions process.

  2. It shows that the student is responsible and takes an active role in their future success. Since a resume highlights past experiences, the resume will delineate the roles and responsibilities the student has had including employment, school-related activities and outside activities. It would list honors, awards, and certifications that may otherwise go unnoticed.

  3. If a student is planning to pursue any scholarships, a resume is a must. Evaluation committees expect students to have a solid resume and students normally provide a copy at any interview. Furthermore, most colleges expect students to develop a resume early on to assist with internship placement among other things. Starting one in high school will make it easier when students need one in college.

The High School Resume: Simpler is Better

There are an unlimited number of formats that can be used, but simpler is better.

It should be clean, easy to read, and well-formatted. The resume should capture a student’s experiences and achievements. It may include an objective, although that is not critical right now. It should include:

  • Education – which is most often at the top and includes the school name, GPA, class rank and SAT/ACT scores.

  • Work Experience – just as anyone would put on their resume.

  • Activities and Leadership – this is where students highlight all the cool things they did outside of the classroom. Don’t just list them, explain in a sentence or two what you did and what impact you had on the activity.

  • Awards/Recognition/Certifications – List any awards here. if you took CTE courses and got certified in anything put it down. You are not bragging, just listing the things you accomplished. Colleges look at things like this and expect you will continue to look for ways to expand your knowledge on their campus.

As with most resumes, avoid using personal pronouns - they know it’s your resume. Use action verbs like "assisted", "organized", "planned", "managed", etc. Talk about what you accomplished and what you learned. The resume is not just a list of stuff. It helps paint a portrait of who you are and where you want to be in the future.

Finally, always have others read the resume. Parents, teachers, and counselors can all provide excellent feedback and can find the last typo the student missed.


NC State’s original colors were originally Pink and Blue, before changing to Brown and White for one year. In 1896, the students voted for Red and White and it has been the same for 125 years!


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