How to Write a Scholarship Resume

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Creating your resume before entering the workforce is becoming more popular than ever due to the amount of competition for academic admissions, scholarships and internships. It’s never too early to begin documenting your life’s accomplishments. Learn the steps for creating a scholarship resume that will showcase what makes you the ideal candidate for whatever goal you’re working toward.

What is a scholarship resume?

A scholarship resume is a formatted document outlining your life experiences and accomplishments to date. These experiences can be ones you’ve had in your personal life, academically or professionally. A scholarship resume generally does not include on-the-job experience.

Why is a scholarship resume important?

As a student, taking the initiative to create a scholarship resume can make it easier to fill out applications due to having all the information you need. It also allows you to assess what you’ve accomplished so far and use that knowledge to set goals for yourself either for personal fulfillment or to gain more of a competitive advantage for scholarships or jobs. 

It can be helpful to have a scholarship resume ready when asking someone to write a letter of recommendation for you. Since it outlines everything important that you’ve accomplished so far, it can provide your reference with a reminder of the key areas they have the most experience working with you as well as give them writing prompts for the recommendation. 

Who should use a scholarship resume?

Anyone with limited to no real-world work experience can benefit from writing a scholarship resume when it comes to receiving scholarship awards, entry-level jobs or higher education admissions. Creating this type of resume can also give you a head start on developing resume-writing skills, which will be useful throughout your adult life. 

How to write a scholarship resume

Here are the steps you can follow to create a scholarship resume: 

1. First, create separate resume sections

Employers and scholarship committees usually receive numerous resumes, sometimes even too many for them to read each one thoroughly. It’s important to understand that your resume might be skimmed through for less than ten seconds. With that in mind, you can design your resume to make the best use of the glance your document will receive. 

Examples of sections of an eye-catching resume: 

  • Contact information
  • Career goal or objective
  • Academics/Education
  • Honors, accomplishments and awards
  • Work experience

Under each section heading, list your experiences, accomplishments or awards in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent and working backward. 

2. Second, write your objective

This is a brief statement of what you hope to achieve in the short term and the long term. These can include academic goals, an overview of your academic record, relevant extracurricular activities and your far-reaching career goals, if you have decided on them. 

The key to a successful, eye-catching objective is to show, rather than tell, the committee about your academic greatness. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. For example, rather than saying you’re an ‘A-student’ you can add more impact by detailing that you have ‘a 4.0 cumulative GPA.’ If you’ve been on the dean’s list for the most recent four semesters, specify that instead of simply mentioning your strong academic record.

3. Third, list your education

This section, by its nature, will outline the best of your academic history. Beginning with the most recent experience, you can include the best highlights of your education thus far.

Examples of items to list in your education section: 

  • Your degree (or diploma, if you’re applying for a freshman scholarship)
  • Your major and minor (if applicable)
  • Your year of graduation or anticipated graduation, if your degree is in progress
  • Your GPA (if it’s above 3.5)
  • The name of your school

Follow these details with a brief overview of your key academic achievements, favorite courses and/or extracurricular activities to make your resume stand out.

4. Next, list your honors and awards

If you’ve been recognized for your outstanding work, this section is the place to share it. 

Examples of things to list in your honors and awards section: 

  • Awards (academic or non-academic)
  • Published work
  • Honor Roll or Dean’s List inclusions
  • Scholarships
  • Team awards

Beginning with the most recent, list each recognition’s details such as the date you received it, the name of the award, how you ranked (first place, runner-up, top three) and any prizes you received for the accomplishment. If it’s a sports team or other team award, include the name of your team, your position and the division in which you played. 

5. Finally, detail your work experience

While your work experience may be limited, it’s still important to list your experiences because it can indicate that you’ve acquired some useful skills such as time management and interpersonal skills. In this section, you can list your internships as well as any long-term projects you’ve worked on as well as volunteer experiences and part-time jobs. 

Begin with the most recent experience and work backward, including the company and its location, your position and the start and end dates of the job/project/internship. Create a short bullet list of your responsibilities with three to four bullets for each experience. 

In each entry, list the name of your position, the company, the location and dates worked. Underneath every job, add up to four bullet points that describe your responsibilities. This is the place to use action keywords such as ‘developed’ or ‘created’ to add more strength to your everyday tasks. Try to integrate a skill you learned with each of the responsibilities you performed. For example, ‘Strengthened communication skills by performing customer service tasks such as taking food orders, checking for order accuracy, handling monetary transactions and greeting every customer with a smile.’

Tips for creating a scholarship resume

Here are a few additional tips for creating a resume that stands out among the rest:

  • Save your document as a .pdf to lock the formatting. If you present a Word document, there’s a chance the formatting will look different on the recipient’s screen than it did on yours.
  • Do some research on the benefactor or organization from which you’re striving to get a scholarship. When you know what the organization values most, you can subtly reference them in your resume objective to show that you’re a prime candidate for the scholarship.
  • List your references on a separate document. The list should include each reference’s name, occupation, relationship to you, how long you’ve known them and a way to contact them. Always ask someone before adding them as a reference and let them know when you do so they’re not caught off-guard when they receive inquiring correspondence.
  • Use no more than two fonts in your resume. The headings can be in a serif font, as long as it’s clear and legible, and the body font should be simple and sans-serif. Your body font should be 11-12 point with headings one point larger. 
  • Make sure your contact information is in the top header or very near the top of the page to ensure it’s visibility at a glance.

Creating an effective scholarship resume can be rather simple when you keep these tips in mind.