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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Sending Resumes to UVa

Common App has a great upload feature for resumes. They also have a great feature that lets colleges turn that function off if they don't need applicants to upload resumes.

UVa turned the feature off. We don't need resumes.

Here's the thing: we have a pretty large applicant pool (just over 29,000 people applied last year). It's helpful when information is presented in a consistent format. We really like how activities are organized in the Common App. We know where to look for the facts and we don't spend time sifting through extra information to get to the good stuff. Resumes tend to restate a lot of information that is presented elsewhere in the application. Repetition is totally unnecessary in this process. What's more, I think students divert a lot of time and energy to crafting a resume when they could be working on school work or putting the finishing touches on their essays.

Here's an early draft of what the activity section looks like on my side of the Common App. This was a test application from a few months ago. There have been a few changes, but you can get the idea...
An early draft of the activity page on the Common App

We also like that there are ten spaces for activities on the Common App. So many people think this part is about documenting every step you've taken over the last four years when we are really interested in seeing where you have your deepest involvement. We don't need intense detail about your activities. Short summaries are perfect.

There's a school out there that only has five spaces for activities and I think that's a great idea. It coveys the message that this isn't about having a long list, it's about sharing your favorite ways to spend your time when you aren't involved in classwork.

Students have taken to emailing resumes because we don't offer the upload function. I got one the other day that was four pages long and the first two pages listed details about the same activity. It was as if the student whose activity sheet is above listed statistics about every game in which he had played. The detail provided (three years on varsity, elected caption) helps me understand the involvement far better than knowing a batting average does.

Keep it simple. Remember that schools ask for the things they need and they usually tell you the format they prefer. Use the activity section of the Common App and don't email a resume. If we wanted resumes, we would have allowed them to be uploaded in the Common App.