Master Your STEM High School Resume for College Applications

If you plan to pursue a STEM degree in college, having a STEM high school resume gives you an opportunity to show colleges what you’ve been doing during your high school years and highlight your accomplishments. It also allows you to show colleges how you might contribute on campus academically and socially.

A resume will also come in handy when you apply for scholarships, internships, and jobs.

If you have worked on STEM projects outside of school, participated in programs, had an internship, conducted research, or learned new skills, this is the time to share your achievements with the colleges you are applying to.

It is important to note that while a STEM high school resume is not required by most colleges, some will give you the opportunity to upload a resume to complement the Activities section of the Common App. This gives you a little more space to talk about your pursuits in detail.

High School Student on Laptop

Benefits of a High School Resume

I talked with Abby van Geldern, Director of College Counseling for Collegewise Greater Boston, the nation’s largest college counseling organization, about the benefits of including a STEM resume in your college application.

Abby explained there is very limited space on the Common App for students to go in depth about their STEM accomplishments. In fact, students only have 150 characters to describe each activity they are involved in. The optional resume is a great way for students to highlight their experiences when they feel as though the Activities section of the Common App does not give them enough space.

She cautions that it doesn’t mean ignoring the Activities section and submitting a resume instead. Students should always fill out the Activities section with as much information as they can. That means using the space thoughtfully and crafting your descriptions in a way that provides new information about the activity.

Abby said, “I encourage students to submit a resume when they have significant responsibilities or accomplishments that won’t fit anywhere else on the application. I had a student that conducted research every summer since freshman year. His responsibilities in the lab increased every year and by the time he was a senior, he was able to create an independent research project. We realized there wasn’t enough space on the Common App to share his experience and responsibilities so it was necessary for him to put together a resume.”

Abby points out that if you feel like you are repeating information that appears in the Activities section or in a different part of the application, you probably don’t need a resume. She doesn’t have students submit a resume very often, but when they do, it is usually pretty clear that the student needed the extra space.

How to Create a Resume

Once you have documented your STEM activities and achievements, you will have the necessary information to build a resume. If you need ideas on how to compile your activities, read about how to make your activities stand out on the Common App.

As a guideline, high school resumes should not exceed one page. Abby knows from experience that if it’s longer than one page, admissions counselors won’t have the time to go through it and you’ve just wasted your time and energy preparing it. Design a resume that is short, sweet, and to the point, and keep the formatting simple, so that counselors don’t have to search for information, only including what you think is really important for them to know.

If you need help creating your first resume, there are many free online resume resources. Check out Novoresume’s online resume builder to get ideas and build a resume.

Your resume should include the following:

  • Your STEM education, including specific classes that are relevant to your interests and potentially what you plan to study in college
  • STEM work experience or internships
  • Volunteer experience
  • Specific technical and scientific skills and interests
  • Links to samples of your work or portfolio
  • Awards and honors

Here is an example of a high school resume format you can use as a starting point and here are two examples of STEM-oriented resumes:


In addition to your college applications, a STEM resume will benefit you when you apply for scholarships, internships, and jobs. Think of this as an ongoing process, keep track of what you do during college, and update your resume each year.

Finally, if you are planning to study STEM in college, here are tips for applying to college as a STEM major.

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