How To Format and Write a Resume for University (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

New or current students may need to write resumes for university applications or to find professional positions after graduation. Writing effective application materials can improve your chance of receiving a job offer for a position or university enrollment. If you are applying for jobs or for spots in various programmes, it is important to learn how optimising your application material can improve your chances of receiving either offer. In this article, we explore what a resume is for a university student, how to write one for a university application, how to write a college resume and tips for effective resume writing and formatting.

What is a resume for a university student?

A resume for a university student can either be a resume you write when submitting a university application, or a resume you write as a university student for your professional job applications. Prospective students write the former hoping to gain admission into a university programme. This type of resume summarises your academic qualifications and can include information about your courses, majors, minors, volunteering, extracurriculars and other interests, awards or accomplishments.

As a university student who is job seeking, you may also need a resume for professional applications. Though it is similar to a university application resume, it tends to focus more on your skills, abilities and aptitude for a specific job. This resume often focuses more on your work history than your academic information and shows your ambition, maturity and work ethic.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a Resume (with Examples)

How to write a resume for university applications

A resume for university applications is a document that you submit with other materials to persuade an admissions committee to admit you into a programme or course. Follow these steps to write one for a university application:

1. Format your document and determine your headings

Consider how to format your resume. To determine what to include for headings, consider making a list of the information you plan to include. If you have several honours or awards but little work experience, for example, one of your headings may be achievements rather than experience.

2. List your current contact information at the top

Admissions experts may use the contact information you include in your materials to reach you with questions or requests for further information. Therefore, include the following information:

  • Full name: Write your first and last name in the same style as the rest of the headings and in 16- to 18-point font size. This lets them know whose resume it is.

  • City and state: While you don't need to enter your complete mailing address, mention your city and state.

  • Phone number: Ensure your number is accurate and that you have access to the number you list.

  • Email address: If your current email address does not include your full name, consider creating a new, professional email address.

The following is an example of the contact details section for this type of resume:

Ramesh Kumar Mumbai, Maharashtra
ramesh.kumar@email.com +91 1234567890

3. Include your current relevant coursework

If you are currently in school and have coursework relevant to the programme, consider including it. This shows admissions experts your dedication to the subject. It can also show them that you have the required knowledge to enter the programme. For example, if you are applying for a spot in a graduate robotics programme, you can include information about the robotics, technology or engineering courses you took during your undergraduate programme.

4. Add awards, achievements and additional information

Consider any additional information that may improve your application and show the admissions professionals that you are well-suited for the programme. This can include awards, achievements or work experience if it applies to the area of study. For example, if you are applying for a spot in a graduate writing program, you can include a list of publications that featured your work.

Related: 10 Resume Writing Tips To Help You Land a Job

How to write a college resume

A college resume is a document a current student or recent graduate can use to apply for professional job opportunities. You can follow these steps to write one:

1. Format your document professionally

Choose a professional and effective format. The format that is best for you depends on your skills, work experience and current qualifications. These are three standard formats you can consider:

  • Functional: This format works best if you have substantial skills and achievements. If you have little work experience, this format can help you emphasise your other qualifications instead.

  • Chronological: A chronological format may be best if you have a consistent work history. You can use this format to show your responsibilities and previous positions starting with your most recent work experience.

  • Combination: A combination format uses aspects from both functional and chronological formats. This format allows you to show experience and skills, but may leave little space for information about achievements, awards or certifications.

2. List your current contact information

Your potential employer may contact you for further information or to schedule an interview. Ensure that the contact information you include is accurate and shows your name, location, phone number and email address. Depending on the industry, you may also include a link to a professional portfolio or website. For example, if you are applying for a position as a social media manager, you can link to other accounts you manage or to your personal brand.

3. Create your objective statement

Summarise your short-term goals and reasons for seeking employment with an objective statement. It can briefly describe your relevant skills, abilities and achievements. You can also use your objective statement to detail the value you can bring to a position with your potential employer. An objective is usually a few sentences long, like this example:

“Recent graduate of a reputable marketing program with additional professional experience in content strategy, digital marketing and social media marketing. Currently seeking a position where I can develop my abilities and learn from marketing professionals.”

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing

4. Emphasise your relevant skills and abilities

Employers often look for specific skill sets and keywords that show your prospective value to the team. Consider including a section that lists your hard and soft skills that may be valuable in the desired role. Soft skills are personality traits and qualities such as time-management, leadership capabilities, creative thinking and interpersonal skills, while hard skills are abilities related to the functional aspects of a position, such as expertise with software or equipment. The following is an example of skills that a digital marketing specialist may include on their college resume:

Digital marketing skills

  • WordPress

  • Data analysis

  • SEO

Additional skills

  • Organisation skills

  • Creative thinking

  • Team building

  • Effective communication

5. Include your relevant work experience

Include your professional work history to help hiring managers determine whether you are a good fit for the role you are applying for. In this section, list your relevant work experience by introducing each position with the job title, name of the company, its location and the duration of your employment. Then, list your responsibilities and successes in this position.

If you do not have professional work experience, you can include non-paid work, such as internships. Ensure that every internship you mention demonstrates your ability to perform the job you are applying for. The following is an example of a work history section:

Content strategy intern
Wavewood
Mumbai, Maharashtra
January 2019 - March 2020

  • Curated social media content strategies for clients with narrow deadlines

  • Developed a training manual for future interns

  • Increased clients' social media engagement by 40%

6. Detail your education and degrees

Arrange your educational information in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent degree or educational achievement. Your educational history can also include all completed or in-progress programs and courses. A comprehensive educational history can highlight skills relevant to the job and show your commitment to learning . Your educational history can include the following sections:

  • Name and location of your university

  • The courses or degrees you're pursuing or completed

  • Established or estimated graduation date

  • Your score or examination grades

  • Honors, awards or academic recognition

The following is an example of an educational history section:

Bachelor of Arts in literature Greenroof University, 2021 4.0 GPA

Related: Action Verbs List for Resumes and Cover Letters

Tips for writing an effective resume

Prospective employers and college admission staff review materials from many applicants. It is important to separate yourself from other candidates by writing an effective resume. Here are some helpful tips to help you write an impressive resume:

  • Choose a professional font. To ensure your format is simple and attractive, use a font like Times New Roman or Georgia that is easy to read and avoids unnecessary flourishes.

  • Size your font correctly. Font size is important for optimising the space. Consider using font sizes between 10 and 12 for a readable text that doesn't take up too much space.

  • Emphasise the headings. To make your resume easily scannable and reader-friendly, consider sizing your headings larger than normal text. You can use font sizes between 16 and 18 points, bold the heading or capitalise each letter.

  • Avoid including photos. Unless your potential employer or admissions department requests that you include a photo, avoid including one. Excluding photos can make it easier to include important information and it also avoids distracting the reader.

  • Align and demarcate. Consider using left alignment and line breaks between headers to improve the appearance of your document and make it easier to scan or read.

  • Include keywords. Many employers and universities use application scanning software that can determine if you have the necessary qualifications. Before submitting your materials, compare your document to the job listing or programme requirements to ensure you have an appropriate amount of relevant keywords.

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