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How To Write An Amazing Resume For Your Common App

by John

The resume (aka “brag sheet”) is often overlooked by high school students in the college admissions process.

It is simply a summary of your activities and background in high school. It serves a very important role in the Ivy League admissions process.

If you want to get into Princeton, you’re going to need a great brag sheet.

Here are the main components:

First, keep it short!

Never, ever have a brag sheet/resume that is longer than one page.

Keep in mind that elite admissions strategies need a lot of work and the help of people who know what they’re doing!

Second, focus on providing more detail than the Common Application covers.

This means listing out important extracurricular activities and explaining very briefly what you did.

It doesn’t matter that you were in the art club. Write one or two sentences about exactly what you did there:
-Did you double the size of the club?
-Did you find two teacher advisers?

Don’t just say you were on the debate team:
-Did you win the regional policy debate?
-Were you vice president of the club?
-Did you participate in National Forensics League competitions?

Give details! Admissions committees love details!

The third thing you should do is demonstrate your length of commitment and intensity of commitment.


Remember that, in the end, the committee will add up the numbers. If they feel the numbers are too high (and my personal rule of thumb is it should never average out to more than 4 hours a day) they’re going to know you’re lying. That’s never good!

The most important thing is to show the duration of commitment. If you were in the forensics club for four years, talk about that. If you started the international culture club and were a member for three years, say so.

Ivy League schools love committed students.

Fourth, format it nicely.

Pay attention to the details of your brag sheet/resume. If you don’t pay attention to those details, the committee will assume you can’t pay attention in class. This means you can’t be a good student.

Make sure to ALIGN your paragraphs, DOUBLE CHECK for spelling errors, use BULLETS where appropriate, and keep FORMATTING of dates and titles consistent. Make it look like a truly professional resume.

Get help from an older brother or your parents, or even search online for good resume templates. Resumes are also known as curriculum vitae or CVs, for short.

Finally, write down things that you didn’t have a chance to communicate in your admissions essays, your short answers, or the Common App.

If you really love cooking French food and didn’t have a chance to show that, it’s okay to write about that in your brag sheet.

If you’re a black belt in tae kwon do, definitely write that down. The brag sheet is an opportunity to show another side of yourself, and trust me, admissions committees will read it.

They will love it if you add interesting details.

Just make sure you spell tae kwon do (or whatever you claim your favorite hobby or activity to be) correctly!

Want to attend Ivy League schools? Check out my insider’s course and guide to getting into Harvard, even with a 1360 SAT from a public high school. Comes with 50 ACTUAL apps and essays from students admitted to Brown, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and more!

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