I'm going to be applying this year and I was wondering how I'm supposed to write and format my activity/EC/resume list. Should I have a few lines of explanation for each activity or just list them off with the years and positions?
Is anyone who has already been accepted feeling generous enough to send me a copy of his/her old resume that worked? I know I'm asking a lot but I want to be sure I'm doing this right
Just to let you know, I didn't attach a resume and I got in fine. A resume might be the right thing to do, especially if you're well-rounded, though. I had a few major accomplishments instead of lots of activities/awards/etc. so the Common App fit me well.
For my daughter, the common app worked fine and she did not send in a resume for school or extracurriculars like theater etc. But she sent in a supplement for music, including a music resume. I think it all depends on what your interests and focus might be. In any case, keep it as simple and clear as you can, without sacrificing essential substance. Hope that makes sense. Good luck!
Acing the College Application: How to Maximize Your Chances for Admission to the College of Your Choice by Michele Hernandez has examples of resumes. I think they are pretty good, though my son got in without going to the trouble - he felt the slots in the Common Application did the job for the most part and his essay covered the ECs he did in depth.
Both my kids submitted resumes with their applications BUT they did not use the same style. My advice is to do some research on the net. My son's strengths, beyond his academics, were primarily impressive work experience. Because of that, his resume was very much like that you would use on a job application. My daughter's resume had too many individual components to work in that format. She had two resumes. They both had the same content but one was trimmed and smaller font, for inclusion with the application, and the other was a little more verbose and larger font for her interviews. From CC I had heard people describe theirs and they were nothing like either of my kids. You need to think about your own information and figure out a format that would convey it best.
To be honest my daughter brought a variety of things to all her interviews. Some school wanted nothing to do with any of it, some like her Harvard one wanted everything. In fact she even accidentally handed over stuff she had not meant to give.
The big thing is that on any interview resume, DO NOT included things like your scores, grades, rank, etc. Certain schools require their interviewers to be interviewing you w/o knowledge of your academic strength (or lack). For those schools, if that info is on your resume, they will now refuse your resume even if they would have liked to have taken it for the rest of the content. With the resume, my daughter also carried with her a printout of her application to the school in the event that this would be of value to the interviewer. For my son, his background was different. I mentioned his employment up above but also he had been very successful becoming an Eagle Scout w/ Gold palms. In the process there had been a lot of publicity regarding his Life Project, Eagle Project and related outside awards. He was also a tournament fisherman and alpine skier. In the process, he carried a portfolio like packet w/ newspaper articles, photos, etc. What is funny is he ended up being one of three freshman students featured in the year opening Tufts Daily. His being chosen had to be because of information from his interview and/or resume.
Basically, you are looking to have tools to generate a successful conversation with the interviewer. Of course be selective, because what you bring has to be to the point. There is not a lot of time in an interview. Remember that not every interviewer will utilize any of what you bring and just be gracious when that happens.
Foremost, you want it to be clean and clear. You want to explain the things you do (as the example does in short sentences) instead of mundanely listing them. And yes, some interviewers won't take your resume if there are scores or grades on them because they are instructed not to be influenced by these factors. However, my Harvard and Yale interviewers gladly took them despite my advance warnings. My Princeton interviewer declined to take it. Didn't really matter though because the school got it in the Common App anyway.
I agree with the last comment about length. The link to the sample resume is a very attractive resume but for most students the content of that sample is too much like a job resume. Ironically, in the process it is very much like the one my son carried with him.
Now, somewhere during last year's application process some school (I cannot seem to figure out which one it was) stated that if a resume were to be attached to the application then the applicant should use the format used in the Activities section of the common ap. This creates a very different style resume. This is the style my daughter used. I think Renaissance is right about the short sentence explanations but my daughter's list could not handle that and still fit on one page (as it was we had to reduce the font to the smallest reasonable size/type). For us the volume of what she did and the interrelations between them told as much as the sentences would have. We also had always heard that one should never go beyond one page. This also stopped us from the single sentence explanations.
"I didn't know people took resumes to their interviews... is there anything else I should bring?"
Bringing things like a a resume, an activity list, or copy of a research paper or article that you wrote that you'd enjoy talking about can help jump start an interview. Instead of using the precious interview time to find out about your interests, the interviewer can jump right in and hone in on the things that the interviewer is most interested in discussing with you.
For instance, without a resume/activities list, I would have to ask a student about their ECs, and may have to sit a long time hearing a tedious list of activities that are ordinary and that I'm not interested in hearing details about because I know those activities may not differentiate the applicant from others from our region. With an activities list or resume, I can zero in on an activity that I may realize is exceptional even though the applicant doesn't realize it is and may not have mentioned it.
For example: An applicant from my area who has worked doing some kind of ordinary job like being a supermarket bagger would be exceptional, and follow-up questions probably would give the applicant a chance to reveal some interesting things about themselves.
An applicant who has won regional or national awards in Mu Alpha Theta math competitions would be typical because most top students in my area have won such awards.