Last Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Admission rates at top colleges have become more competitive over the past 10 years, with even the best students finding themselves on the waitlist or rejected from many of their top-choice schools. If you have your heart set on attending a highly selective college or university, you should start planning some ways to get your résumé and application to stand out from a crowded field.
With a little bit of creativity, you can accomplish this goal by making your résumé so intriguing that colleges can’t wait to meet you. Regardless of whether it’s published on LinkedIn or a similar site or attached to your Common Application, your résumé should give your profile an extra boost. Here are some ways you can challenge yourself to create a standout résumé before applying to colleges.
1. Get published
Proving you’re a good writer through top grades and high SAT scores is one thing, but earning a byline is another excellent way to distinguish yourself. You can get started by writing for your school newspaper or reaching out to local publications and pitching to them that you can write articles from a student’s perspective. Look up online publications that are related to your interests and pitch article ideas to them too.
If you don’t think you want to commit to writing for an established publication, you can also self-publish. Write a Medium post or personal blog about the research you’ve completed, summer camp, or volunteer experiences. If you don’t have a blog yet, you can start one for free with WordPress, Tumblr, or Wix.
2. Start a new group
Find your passion and think outside the box to bring your interests to the rest of the community. If you love doing arts or crafts, consider starting a weekly summer program for local children. You could even visit a nursing home and do simple projects with residents. Growing your group shows initiative and displays your leadership skills and resourcefulness to college admission officers.
3. Create something online
High school students who are technologically gifted might consider reaching out to a local nonprofit and offering their talents. You can help them revamp their website or build an app. Many nonprofit organizations don’t have the budget to pay for professional design and creative services, so this would be an excellent chance for you to have a significant impact while honing your own skills.
You can also offer to run a social media campaign or create marketing materials for a nonprofit. You could even offer to write blog posts. Volunteering and creating meaningful work can be showcased on your résumé, and you can link all your creations to your LinkedIn profile.
Making your high school résumé more impressive to colleges isn’t as challenging as you might think. By taking the initiative, you can gain invaluable skills that will benefit you both in college and your future career. You might also form new networking connections in your community and discover where your academic interests lie.
For more advice on making your application the best it can be, check out our College Admission section.