Opinion | Keep high school accomplishments on your resume

By Ellen Barczak, Senior Columnist

I’ve been told since the start of college to remove everything I accomplished in high school from my resume. I decided to keep it, though, and it helped me get a job.

The thought behind purging your resume of everything before college bears logic; it’s imperative to update your resume to reflect your latest accomplishments continually and, as I like to say, keep it fresh (please don’t sue me, Subway).

However, as much as you may have done in college, your most recent successes shouldn’t necessarily nullify those from your past. 

If you got into this University, chances are you had a rockin’ GPA in high school, along with participation in a multitude of clubs and activities, leadership positions in school organizations and even some actual job experience. Employers don’t mind seeing you have always been an overachiever, even before college.

It’s especially important to keep items on your resume that are, for lack of a better word, cool pieces that will spark conversation, make the interviewer or recruiter remember you and display your uniqueness, your irreplaceability. 

A dear friend of mine has just about everything a recruiter could want to see on a resume: She’s been in a myriad of leadership positions, including being the president of a not-for-profit consulting club. She’s incredible, and her resume shows it. The thing interviewers talk to her about most, though? Her first job in high school as a circus camp instructor. Go figure.

In high school, I was an Irish dancer and, later, an instructor in the field. Against the advice of some resume workshops, I kept the position on the document. 

When I had an interview for an internship earlier this semester, the recruiter did the classic 30-second scan of my resume, glazed over my hard-earned GPA, my experience as a research assistant, English tutor (and, mind you, this interview was for a position as a technical writer), etc., and landed on — guess what? — Irish dance instructor. 

The interview veered away from questions like, “What writing classes have you taken at the University?” to “Did you have to wear a wig?!” Everyone knows interviews can be stressful. Having interesting tidbits from high school on your resume can ease the tension, steer the conversation toward who you are as a person and differentiate you from other candidates.

The “cool” stuff from high school on your resume is excellent. However, those extraordinary things you did back then — whether you were the founder of the Students for Global Concerns club, president of Mathletes or treasurer for Model U.N. — are even more important to keep on that resume of yours.

You existed before college. You also live outside of your GPA and academic accolades. Make sure your resume reflects the dynamic nature of yourself, that employers know you bring more to the table than the ability to get good grades and that this well-rounded quality of yours goes beyond the scope of the last few years.

Ellen is a junior in LAS.

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