Things Not To List On Your College Resume

students playing video gamesAs you prepare your resume to apply to college, it is good to think about all of the things you do and list them all at first.  Ask your family and friends to help you, and don’t be shy about including everything.
Once you’ve got a full list of all the ways you spend your time, then the next step is to look at the list and remove any things that are duplicates, anything that makes the list too long, anything that looks like fluff, and especially anything that can actually work against you.  Let’s talk about some of these “items not to list on your college resume.”

Things you only did once
These are actually kind of annoying to read, so I think it strengthens your resume to leave the filler type stuff off of it and highlight the activities you actually did. If you attended a special event that was only offered once, then that’s different.  But if you went to the volunteer car wash one time, then that’s not very significant, so focus on things you did frequently or repeatedly.

Things you meant to do but didn’t actually do
This is bad, really bad.  Don’t list these things because it is important to be honest and do the right thing–especially when no one is looking.  You are only as good as your word and misrepresenting yourself on an application is not worth the compromise to your character.  Additionally, dishonesty and lies always catch up with you, so do the right thing and tell the truth.

Video Games
This is one of the biggest loss-of-life-time-suckers known to mankind, so certainly do not highlight any amount of time you spend detached from reality and actual human interaction.  This is in no way attractive to college admissions officers and it is doing nothing to help you get ahead in life.

No matter how much time you spend doing this or thinking about it, you really can’t talk about it.  If you want to become a Fashion Merchandising (etc.) major, then you can say that you study trends and marketing campaigns, but outright referring to your hours at the mall is not an extra curricular activity.

Hanging out with friends
Everyone hangs out with their friends in their free time–even adults–but this is not something you list on your resume.  If someone ever asks you what you like to do to relax or have fun, then this is a fine answer.  But when they ask (like a resume) what do you do for hobbies and intellectual growth, then the answers they expect to see are more along the lines of clubs, sports, reading, fishing, knitting, etc etc.

We all love to eat but this really isn’t an extra curricular pursuit.  I’ve actually seen kids try to list this.  The only time this would be acceptable is if you were thinking of going to culinary school or into the restaurant management industry, and even then I can think of better ways to phrase it.

Working Out
Yes, you should be staying healthy, but unless you want to become a physical therapist I’m not sure I would list this as an extra curricular activity.  It looks like you’re really grasping at straws…

Concerts and music
Unless you’re planning to major in Media Business or some form of entertainment Marketing, listing hobbies like attending concerts just makes it look like you like to have a good time.  We all like to do fun things with our friends, but the resume is not the place to detail the 25 times you’ve seen your favorite band live.

Focusing on only one interest
Colleges are in the business of putting together a freshman class of nice people who will make good friends, classmates, and roommates.  Be careful that your resume doesn’t make you look like a person with only one extracurricular pursuit.  For example, even if you are religious, steer clear of making this the sole focus of your application. This can make one wonder if you have any other interests, and what kind of roommate you might be.  No one wants to room with a kid who might try to push his/her beliefs and interests onto another person, so be careful about how you look on paper.

If you focus on your clubs, sports, hobbies, reading, research, and volunteering, you’ll find plenty to create your resume.  A good idea is to start thinking about creating your list of activities as early as freshman year, and be sure to do what you love!  Don’t worry about doing what “looks good”.  Follow your heart and you’ll always end up in the right place for you.


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