Resume Ad Nauseum

  • Captain of the varsity basketball team
  • Vice President of the Key Club
  • Choir Member
  • Sunday School Teaching Assistant
  • Head of the school recycling initiative
  • Captain of the lacrosse team
  • Lead in the spring play
  • Volunteer at the local SPCA
  • Volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club
  • Eagle Scout/Gold Award
  • Mathlete team member – Regional Champions
  • Etc. etc. ad nauseum


Look familiar? Title after title, activity after activity – I wouldn’t be surprised if the selector or committee began to question the reality of this person’s claims. Did this student sleep? Did they enjoy life? Are they a super brain or did they cheat to get that 4.1 GPA while involved in all these other things?

Or the selector starts to look at the dates –

“Oh, Captain of the varsity basketball team, one season.

Vice President of the Key Club, one semester.

Choir member, four months.

Sunday School Teaching Assistant, one year.”

You get the idea.

But committees are less interested in the student that did 25 different things than in the student who was passionate about a few things, persisted, and was elevated into a leadership role of some kind.

A Better Way

An entry on that student’s resume might look more like this:

  • Eagle Scout – awarded Spring 2015

Participated in the Boy Scouts of America since 2005, attending 5 Jamborees, being                selected to go to Philmont, and completing the Eagle Scout capstone project with a                team of three other scouts over the course of five months.

I wasn’t a Boy Scout, so maybe the details aren’t quite right, but you get the idea. That same person might only have three other activities on their resume, but the point is depth, not breadth.

  • How involved were you (or are you) in your high school activities?
  • Did they have a specific focus?
  • Are you demonstrating interest in a particular area that pertains to the type of degree and eventual job you might want?
  • Have you played a key role or held an active leadership position in an organization?

Those are the kind of questions to ask when you are putting together a resume or activity chart for your scholarship applications. And just as I mentioned in my last article, tailoring your resume to the type of scholarship you are applying for is key.

Is the selection criteria based on leadership activities? Those should be at the top of your page. Are they looking for community service? Make sure the ways you’ve been involved in your community are obvious at first glance.

A Personal Example

One scholarship I earned near the end of high school was through Guardian Life Insurance for entrepreneurship. I had run a day camp that was based on American history for three years and had a growing client base. Not only did I make money through my business, I also made money on my ingenuity. But I put together a portfolio akin to if I had been looking for investors. I had pictures, sample documents and schedules, a letter of reference – all in a professional portfolio. I wanted them to see me as I perceived myself – a serious businessperson with my eye on the prize. I got third in the competition, but third came with $3,000. Not too shabby.

Please don’t misunderstand this tip. I’m not recommending that you only put one thing on your resume. What I am suggesting is polishing your storytelling skills so that your bullet points are corroborating your main point: I’m the natural choice for this scholarship.

Of course, resumes and activity charts are only one piece of the puzzle. In the next post I’ll be talking about how to write a complementary essay that will tell the rest of your story and connect with the selector.

If you want more tips about how to write a great resume for scholarship applications, don’t hesitate to contact me via my website.