Students want to put their best foot forward on their college application, but sometimes space can be the limiting factor in doing so. This is especially true of the ApplyTexas application, which is why UT Austin recommends students submit an expanded resume to bolster their application.
The expanded resume is basically a list of every experience a student has had that will help the admissions office get a sense of who they are as an applicant. UT expects these resumes might run three to four pages—or even more—so instead of just listing titles and dates, students will describe their activities, define their roles, and elaborate on their specific experiences.
This gives students a chance to highlight all their experiences: academic, extracurricular, professional, and personal. And it means they can show off their accomplishments in a more detailed way to pro-actively demonstrate their fit for their first-choice major.
What's Included On The Expanded Resume?
In a word: everything.
There's a reason they call it expanded—UT wants students to list everything that might be even remotely relevant to their potential at the university. All extracurricular involvement starting with the summer before ninth grade should be included. Here are some examples:
Sports (school or community)
Arts and performance (school or community)
Community involvement or service
Independent academic activities
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. If it’s done outside school hours and isn’t related to assigned classwork, routine studying, or leisure activities, it's fair game.
How Should You Organize The Resume?
The expanded resume is unlike a typical professional resume in that it provides much more comprehensive detail. No need to be concise here. In fact, the expected length for the expanded resume is three to four pages, though five to six pages may be acceptable for students with a great deal of involvement.
So how do you organize pages and pages of activities? For starters, remember that organization in the traditional reverse chronology set-up is unnecessary. However you group it, we recommend you organize the resume to highlight activities that align with your first-choice major or that showcase in-depth involvement and passion. For example, students applying to the McCombs School of Business would list any of their business endeavors and business-related internships toward the top.
If your student is struggling with how to organize their expanded resume, here are some typical sections to get them started:
This is where the student would list any school clubs or independent projects they worked on: everything from acting in a school play to participating in student government to leading study sessions for classmates.
Volunteer work/community service
Here, students should list the experiences they've had in their community. Whether it's an extended volunteer commitment or a one-time community service event, it's worth listing. Just remember: if all the student's activities are one-off, it might demonstrate a lack of depth of involvement. If that's the case, it might be best not to include a section devoted just to community service.
This is a great spot to highlight experiences that will demonstrate fit for the student's first-choice major. Even if the internship/job itself doesn't match up perfectly with the desired major, there are sure to be skills the student gained during the experience that are applicable. Think outside of the box.
Anything a student does during the summer is fair game, as long as it shows a passion for something—and some motivation (no video game marathons). This can include sleep-away camp, academic programs hosted by universities, mission trips, or even independent projects completed over the summer.
This is the recommended section for honor roll distinctions, school awards, or honors societies including National Honors Society or Mu Alpha Theta. The exception to this rule is if a student had significant leadership positions in these organizations or conducted unique projects most other schools' chapters haven't—then they could put this info in a different section.
In general, students shouldn't waste too much space on the awards section. Include a brief description of the award only if it's unique or the reader wouldn’t be able to infer its significance. For example, "High Honor Roll, Valley High School" or "Most Valuable Player, Lacrosse" are self-explanatory; "New Vision Award" isn't.
Another way to organize the resume is thematically. This can be helpful if a student doesn't have a host of awards or community service experience—instead, it highlights the experiences they do have.
Here are some examples of themed sections:
Theater and dance
Social justice/community organizing
But remember, students should create themed sections that best showcase their experiences. This is just a starting point.
How Should You Describe Each Activity And Accomplishment?
UT's preferred formatting involves listing grade level, hours per week/weeks per year, and position titles (especially if they’re leadership titles). For example:
Captain of the Canton High School basketball team 4 hrs/wk - 20 wks/yr 11, 12
Formatting it this way will also make it easier when it's time for the student to describe their activities on the ApplyTexas activities section, since it requests this same information.
Of course, it doesn't stop there. The point of the expanded resume is to list as much information as possible about the activity. Below the basic information, students will include a bullet list—using active verbs—that expands on the activity with information that the reader couldn't glean from the title.
The most important thing to remember: go beyond the obvious.
For example, if a student is describing their involvement on the basketball team, the reader will know that they attended practices and games, but nothing else goes without saying. Even if the students lists themselves as captain, the expanded resume is the place to say they were elected captain by their peers. And remember some accomplishments expand beyond the activity itself. For example, maybe the student was the only basketball player to work with the booster club on a special fundraising project.
As the student is describing their experiences, they should highlight special projects or leadership positions, but don't leave something out just because it seems tangential. Here's an example from the UT website to show the kinds of notes a student might include:
An activity note:
Captain of the XYZ soccer team 5hrs/wk 11, 12
An EXPANDED statement:
Captain of the XYZ soccer team 5 hrs/wk 11, 12
-Elected (or Assigned) position
-Arrive early and work with coach to get practices started
-Mentor new team members
-Assist with equipment
-Lead warm up drills
In the end, students should remember this is their resume: they have the freedom to present it however they feel it best highlights their strengths, accomplishments, and fit for first-choice major.