How to Write a Resume When You’re Still in College (With Examples)

Should you include an objective statement? The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) states that there is no real agreement on this. Some employers look for an objective and others think it is unnecessary. NACE goes on to state that if you do include an objective, make sure your objective is well crafted and tells potential employers the kind of work you hope to do. Tailor it to each employer you target and every job you seek.

how to list education on a resume

Honors & Activities

  • You should include two separate subsections for each educational degree: “Honors” and “Activities.”
  • Be sure to include a brief explanation on any awards or distinctions that are not familiar to most readers.
  • At most, you should include three to five entries; listing too many detracts from the most relevant activities or honors.
  • The “Honors” section should list any awards or distinctions you received, such as Dean’s List, cum laude or Phi Beta Kappa. Because they are Latin phrases, magna, summa, and cum laude should always appear in italicized, lower case letters. (Note that honors such as Dean’s List may seem redundant if you also graduated with Greek or Latin honors.)
  • In the “Activities” section, indicate any student organization memberships, reading groups, elected offices, activities or sports in which you have participated.
  • Do not include your undergraduate grade point average unless it is specifically requested by an employer or not well-reflected in honors received. An impressive GPA is often self-evident from your honors — if you graduated magna cum laude for instance. If you do choose to include your grades, do so in brackets next to honors: such as cum laude (GPA 3.7).
  • Of note, public service employers are interested in much more than how you perform on tests. While they may ask you about grades during
    an interview, they almost never impose strict grade cutoffs.
  • LSAT and other standardized test scores should not appear on your resume.
  • List your work experience in reverse chronological order, with your most recent work experience listed first, going back no more than five jobs.
  • Clinical work during law school, internships and even part-time work may be included under your “Experience” section, particularly if you came straight to law school from college. Remember that volunteer work counts equally in terms of experience and need not be singled out under a separate heading on your resume. On the other hand, if you have a significant number of work experiences, you may want to create a separate heading such as a “Community Service” section on your resume and group your volunteer work there.
  • Do not feel compelled to list every job you have held before or during law school, as your resume should be designed to highlight your most significant and relevant experiences. The most obvious omissions should be your earliest work experiences, particularly nonlegal work that has little to do with your current job search.
  • You can choose to exclude more recent work experience, such as one part of a split summer, but be careful; gaps may grab an employer’s attention. If you leave out a bad work experience, you still may find yourself having to explain the gap in your resume.
  • Descriptions are everything in this section, since they capture the essence of your experience and any recognition and accomplishments. Paint a dynamic picture of the type of work you did and the extent of your responsibilities.
  • Try not to exaggerate your responsibilities and avoid self-aggrandizing descriptions. Detail what you did in each job. For example, if you worked at a legal services center, list the type of clients with whom you worked and the scope of cases you handled.
  • The proportional length of each job description is key. Use the longer descriptions to accentuate those work experiences most critical to your current search. Employers will assume that the longer the description, the more priority you give to the experience. Thus, you can downplay certain experiences by either merely listing them on your resume or by abbreviating their descriptions.
  • Do not make the employer search for information on your resume. Just as you do not want him/her to have to decode your resume format, you also do not want to leave the employer confused about your responsibilities or the type of work you did.

Fall 2008 – Present
Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
Represent tenants facing eviction and other housing issues such as application denials, transfers, and reasonable accommodation in Housing Authority grievance hearings.
Advise tenants of legal rights by telephone.

Summer – Fall 2007
Austin, TX
Served as student page in University of Texas archival library. Retrieved archival materials for researchers. Entered data in a biographical newspaper database, compiled newspaper clippings for vertical files, and assisted with special projects.

Fall 2005 – Spring 2007
Austin, TX
Provided support, peer education, conflict mediation, policy enforcement, emergency management, and event planning for a floor of 40-50 student residents. Performed administrative shifts at residence hall front desk.

Choose a well-organized resume format

In the past, classic resume formats followed a boring standard layout with limited flexibility. In today’s market, pertinent information and good design have set the standard for catching employers’ attention. Why not stand out from other candidates with a catchy design? If you’re looking to get your creative juices going and develop a resume format that stuns while also fitting your aesthetic, Canva has some very cool designs to get you started. Check out this one by Stella.

According to Indeed, “The best resume formats are well organized with only the most relevant information and should make efficient use of blank space to avoid clutter.” Stella has made great use of the one-page space, even including a photo to showcase her unique style and personality. She’s also included a section labeled “Relevant Experience and Training” in place of the traditional “Job Experience” to emphasize her involvement in school teams and committees that have provided her with applicable skills in lieu of an official job.

Keep in mind that if you include a photo on your resume, it should reflect the style and dress for your industry. If you’re entering a more formal career, be sure to adjust your resume accordingly. You can still have a great design while keeping it professional, like in Avery’s resume below. As a new face in the accounting and finance world, Avery wants to make an impact on employers while still representing himself as a reputable professional. His resume stands out yet also does a great job of fitting the expectations and standards for his career.

Benefits of Listing Education at the Beginning

New college graduates benefit the most from listing education at the beginning of the resume. This is because you want an employer to know you have a degree (and, when specified, the degree required) right from the start.

Some candidates place the resume education section last—after experience, a summary of qualifications, and any other sections deemed necessary. The problem with this is that employers receive many applicants who aren’t qualified education-wise.

Since employers often read through resumes quickly, it’s helpful to list your education at the beginning. This way, hiring managers know immediately that you meet basic education requirements.

As an added note, employers are finding that applicants frequently fabricate nonexistent degrees. This has resulted in employers making efforts to verify that applicants do indeed have a college degree. Asking candidates for a college transcript and comparing it with the listed educational background is a great way to filter out applicants.

You might be surprised by the number of job seekers whose resume contradicts their submitted transcript. Another common issue is that applicants apply to a job listing only their high school diploma, despite the fact that the job requires a college degree.

The bottom line is that you should let an employer know right away that you have the right educational background by placing it at the beginning of your resume. To ensure that you also have the right skills, upload your resume to Chegg CareerMatch and receive a list of your employable skills.

Listing Education at the End

Is it ever appropriate to list your education at the end of a resume? Absolutely. For job postings that list no education requirements, instead citing specific skill sets or experiences as crucial (e.g. two years of sale experience), education can certainly appear at the end of the resume.

When a job posting is focused on required skill sets, include a “Summary of Qualifications” after the heading. There, you can list relevant skills and experiences. Our article “ The Importance of Resume Action Verbs ” will show you how to enhance your list of skills.

We also recommend placing your resume education section last when applying for a part-time job or a job unrelated to your degree. If you’re seeking a part-time job in the service industry or retail sales, a degree is generally not required. For this reason, you can place your education last in such instances.

Likewise, let’s say you have the required skills for a job, but your degree isn’t one of the degrees listed under “preferred qualifications.” In this case, placing education at the end could help lessen the impact of your degree not being a perfect fit for the job. By the time employers reach your education section, they’ll already have read about all of your other excellent qualifications.

Another scenario is if you have a graduate degree and are seeking a part-time job in sales or retail to pay the bills. Similarly, perhaps you’ve been laid off or fired and are looking for fast work outside of your field.

In either case, don’t list your graduate degree. Some employers may see a graduate degree and reason that you aren’t planning to remain at the job for long. As a result, they will likely look at other applicants to avoid repeating the hiring process in a few months.


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