By Brenda Bernstein
The Essay Expert
If you are a recent college or even grad school, law school or medical school graduate, your education section is probably the first on your resume (after your header and possibly a summary/branding statement). Why? Because school what you’ve done most recently, and it is most relevant to your potential employer. (There may be exceptions to this rule if you have an extensive and relevant work history. If you think you are one of those people, ask an expert for advice.)
The following are five useful tricks for organizing your Education section. Follow these suggestions to pack in lots of information without taking up half the space on your resume:
1. What should the basic format be?
a. List your educational institutions in reverse chronological order, just as you do with your employment history.
b. The most important part of each school section is the name of the school you attended. Put it in bold and/or Small Caps, followed by the city and state. Use the same format you use for your employers.
c. Next put the degree you received. If you are anticipating a degree, write “Candidate for B.A,” “B.S. expected,” or “M.A. anticipated.” Fill in the appropriate degree of course.
2. Do I need a separate line for my GPA and for each of my honors?
To save space, you can combine your GPA and honors onto one line, and even put them on the same line as your major. How much you combine things will depend on how much room you have on other lines. Here are some possibilities:
a. BA in Political Science, cum laude, 2006 (GPA: 3.41)
b. Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, concentration in Psychology, May 2005
Major GPA: 3.73; Cumulative GPA: 3.68
3. How should I list Honors and Activities?
You do not need a separate section for either Honors or Activities. Only create these separate sections if you need to fill space! Instead, put them under the appropriate school entry.
Do you have a lot of honors and/or activities? If you need space, you can group them together. For instance, you can have a bullet that says “Honors:” and follow that title with your honors, separated by semicolons. Then have a bullet that says “Activities:” and list your activities, separated by semicolons. You can put any relevant dates in parentheses after the honor or activity, and before the semicolon.
a. Honors: Undergraduate Honors Thesis Research Grant (Honors Program award); Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society; Golden Key International Honour Society
b. Honors: Dean’s List (2006-2009); Baylor University Alumni Scholarship (2005-2009); Greek Women’s Leadership Award (2009); Midwest Conference Academic All Conference Team (2008 and 2009)
c. Activities: Latino/a Student Association, Secretary (2006-2007), Delegate/Community Service Committee (2005-2007); Mexican Student Organization, Social Chair (2005-2006); South American Student Association, Member (2004-2007)
d. Activities: Varsity Women’s Basketball Team, Four Year Letter Winner; Pi Beta Phi Fraternity, Board Director (2006-2007) and Member (2004-2007); University Chapel Choir, Member (2004-2007)
4. Do I need a separate section for Study Abroad?
No! Study abroad is part of your undergraduate education. It can be a bullet, or if you want to emphasize it because of your international interest or language ability, you can bold it. Do not put a space between your undergraduate degree section and the study abroad section, unless you need to fill space.
Example of bullet format:
[end of undergraduate section here]
• Junior-year semester at University of East Anglia, Norwich, England (1993)
Example of bolded section under undergraduate section:
[end of undergraduate section here]
Reid Hall, Columbia University, Paris, France
Summer 2003 Study Abroad (Coursework: 19th Century French Painting, French Language)
5. How long should the Education section be?
Unless you’ve already earned five different degrees from five different schools, your education section generally should take up a maximum of a third of a page. This means it’s important to get Experience to put on your resume and not rely on your Education to get you a job!
Implementing these five suggestions will give you a great start on your Education section, making it both efficient and effective.