Applying To College

College Essay Writing and Interview Skills

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Choosing the Right Words for Your Resume

Job vs. Work?

Experience vs. Skills?

How do you choose the best words to use on your resume?

Grammar checker Grammarly looked at 500 job postings, and then examined the language those companies used to express their hiring priorities. What did they learn?

The words that companies use in their job listings can convey the companies’ values and the type of employee they’re looking for.

Knowing that can be a big plus when you’re crafting your resume and cover letter.

Take a look at the infographic. You may find your resume is ready for an update.

Watch Your Words in the Job Search!


Sharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy nominee, Sharon teaches students how to write memorable college application essays, write outstanding resumes, and master interview skills. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit her website for more information and connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.



Should You Include a Resume with Your College Application?

Today’s post is a guest blog from a colleague: Eric Dobler, founder of Dobler College Consulting in Cheshire, Connecticut. For twelve years Eric has been working with college-bound high school students and their families as a college admissions counselor and academic advisor.

I asked Eric to share his insight on submitting resumes with college applications. Here’s what he said:

I often have students ask me if they should submit a resume with their college applications. Some feel they might be doing too much by enclosing a resume while others fear a resume won’t say enough about them to even matter. My take on it is that resumes, or activity lists as some like to call them, can be quite valuable IF the college wants you to submit one and IF you make sure that it actually provides value in your application.

Let me explain.

The job of an admissions counselor is to try to evaluate and understand each applicant as best as they can in a very short period of time. Your grades and SAT scores are the quantitative piece of this review. They allow the person reviewing your file to get a feel for your abilities as a student. However, it is the qualitative parts of your application, such your resume, which afford you the opportunity to show what kind of person you are.

Some colleges, mostly large state schools who have incredibly large applicant pools, rely more on a student’s grades and SAT scores when they render decisions. In fact, when you look on their websites, you may often find that they don’t mention anything about applicants needing to submit a resume. If this is the case, don’t stress about putting one together. Chances are, it won’t be used in the review of your application anyway.

On the other hand some colleges, like smaller private, liberal-arts schools and the most selective schools in the country, will review a resume and may actually go looking for very specific information. And this is where the value piece of the equation comes into play. If someone is going to read your resume, you need to make sure it reveals things about you that matter. A resume that simply repeats information you have already provided in the application does not matter.

3-items-to-include-on-college-resumeHow do you make sure that your resume matters? A well-written resume will showcase the activities you are most passionate about and it will be apparent to the reader for two reasons. First, the activities should span not just one semester of involvement, but several and second, they will contribute towards your brand. Whether the activities are sports, student clubs, internships, volunteer work or even part-time jobs, colleges want to see that you’ve done things because you care about them. Not because you want to pad your college application. It’s a simple equation of quality over quantity.

So, here’s what you do. Sit down with pen and paper (or a nifty little spreadsheet on Excel) and think about everything you’ve done during your time in high school. Write it all down and qualify each activity by asking yourself a few questions:

  1. How long were you involved in this activity?
  2. Were you actually involved in the activity or did you just sign up because your best friend did?
  3. Did you hold a leadership position?
  4. Did you like the activity? Did you love it?
  5. Is it relevant to what you think you want to major in?

Once you’ve done this, you can then organize everything into easily identified categories such as High School Organizations, Athletic Teams and Non-School Service. Pay special attention to awards, honors, and leadership positions. Make sure you include how many years you were involved and even the number of hours you invested in each activity on a weekly basis. Also make sure you include your name, address and contact information at the top in case your resume gets separated from your application somewhere along the way.

At the end of the day, your resume can be a very helpful piece of your application if, and I stress IF, the college you are applying to wants to see one and IF you have compiled a list of activities that truly matter to you.

If you have any additional questions on resumes or would like some assistance on putting one together, shoot me an email at

related posts
Resumes and Activity Sheets: Good Idea When Applying to College?
Attaching Resumes or Activity Sheets to An Application — The Right Way

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Attaching Resumes or Activity Sheets to an Application – The Right Way

In my last post I talked about an interesting LinkedIn discussion among college professionals as to whether or not students should have a resume or activity sheet. Now I want to tackle another question:

Should students attach a resume or activity sheet to their college application?

For that answer I turned to friend and colleague Betsy Bell, a college consultant whose company is Acorn Educational Consulting in Wilton, Connecticut. Here’s what Betsy says:

“I have my students create a resume so I can see what their activities are and their level of commitment in each activity. If their activities are easily covered on the application with all the necessary descriptions included, their resumes are not included in the application.

If there is not enough space on the application for good descriptions, and their resume has more in-depth descriptions of their leadership roles, then we will upload their resume.

If the student is applying to the very top schools they might be asked to restrict their resume to one page, or not include one at all. I read the fine print just to make sure we are following the rules.

On the common application there are 12 spaces for activities. Usually that is plenty for most students, but there is limited space for descriptions, and in these cases I would have the resume uploaded in the “additional information” space which is after the essay on the common application. Each school might have very specific requirements and I read them very carefully as we do not want to irritate the admissions people.”

To summarize:

DO include a resume/activity sheet:

  • If there is not enough space on the application and the resume has more in-depth descriptions of a student’s leadership roles
  • Upload to the “additional information” space on the common application

DON’T include a resume/activity sheet:

  • If activities are easily covered on the application with all the necessary descriptions included
  • In other words: Don’t Duplicate Information

READ the fine print and  follow the rules

  • You don’t want to annoy the college admissions people

Thanks, Betsy!

Read  Resumes and Activity Sheets: Good Idea When Applying to College?


Resumes and Activity Sheets: Good Idea When Applying to College?

Are resumes or activity sheets a good idea to use when applying to college?

This question recently sparked a lively debate among admissions professionals on LinkedIn.  Interestingly, the answers were split.  Here’s a representative sampling:

Admission CounselorsAdvice:

Joanne Robertson, Assistant Director, Transfer Admissions at Quinnipiac University, says yes to activity sheets but no to resumes: “Although it is a great icebreaker for the student to provide us with an activity sheet, unless they are applying for one of our majors that need documented hours for the admission requirement, a resume is definitely overkill. I have had the unfortunate experience of talking to parents who overwhelm us with details on “internships” etc. Seriously, then why is your child applying to college? Sounds like they are already set.”

Warren Harman, Admission Professional at Clarkson University, says yes to resumes and activity sheets:  “Every time I open an application I ask “Who are you?” Hopefully, the student’s application will answer that question. The resume gives our team a better idea of what the student is most passionate about. Call it what you will, a resume or activities sheet gives us a better feel for how happy the student would be to attend our school.”

Ken Higgins, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Sacred Heart University, also says yes to resumes and activities sheets: “Oftentimes I’ll ask a student if they have any sort of resume or an activities sheet so we can go over that and discuss each bullet or topic. That gives me a sense of their extracurricular activities as well.”

Opinions differ, so what should you do?

  • When admissions professionals didn’t like resumes it was usually because of their unnecessary detail and length (some they saw were six pages long). If your resume is more than a couple of pages, try putting together an activities list that doesn’t include the typical resume stuff like where you go to school, GPA, scores, etc.
  • Don’t include huge explanations and don’t include every single thing you did in the past four years.
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking you definitely need a resume/activity sheet. If everything you want to say is easily conveyed through what they ask on the application, then don’t include anything extra.
  • Don’t duplicate information already provided in the application.

Look for part two: “Attaching Resumes or Activity Sheets to an Application – The Right Way”