By Brenda Bernstein
The Essay Expert
Is your Education section taking up too much space on your resume? Are you finding it hard to fit in all the information you think is important?
In this article, I answer some of your resume Education section questions– questions you might not even know you had! These tips will help you pack in lots of information without taking up half the space on your resume.
1. Should the Education section come first or last?
If you are a new graduate from college or graduate school, or if you are applying to graduate school or a job in academia, your Education section generally goes FIRST on your resume (after your header). Why? Because it’s what you’ve done most recently and/or it is most relevant.
If you have been in the working world for 2 years or more, your Experience section will more likely come first, and Education might be last or close to last on your resume.
2. What should the basic format be?
- List your educational institutions in reverse chronological order, just as you do with your employment history.
- The most important part of each school section might be the name of the school you attended or the degree you received. As a rule, use the same format you use for your employers.
- For the degree you received, if you are still in school and anticipating a degree, write “Candidate for B.A,” “B.S. expected,” or “M.A. anticipated.” Fill in the appropriate degree of course.
3. Do I need a separate line for my GPA and for each of my honors?
If you need to save space, there is no need to put your GPA and honors all on separate lines. You can combine these onto one line, and you can even put them on the same line as your major. How you combine things will depend on how much room you have on other lines. Here are some possibilities:
- BA in Political Science, cum laude, 2006 (GPA: 3.41)
- Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, concentration in Psychology, May 2005 Major GPA: 3.73; Cumulative GPA: 3.683
4. How should I list Honors and Activities?
You do not need an entirely separate section for either Honors or Activities. Only create these separate sections if you need to fill space or if they are very extensive. To save space, put them under the appropriate school.
Do you have a lot of honors and/or activities? You might want to group them together. For instance, you can have a bullet that says “Honors:” and name your honors, separated by semicolons. Then have a bullet that says “Activities:” and list your activities, separated by semicolons. Put any dates in parentheses after the honor or activity, and before the semicolon.
- Honors: Undergraduate Honors Thesis Research Grant (Honors Program award); Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society; Golden Key International Honour Society
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
5. 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)
6. How long should the Education section be?
Unless you’ve earned five different degrees from five different schools already, your education section generally should take up a maximum of a third of a page.
Implementing these suggestions will give you a great start on the Education section of your resume, making it both efficient and effective.