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As a recent graduate or a student continuing your education, academic history is your strongest selling point to an admissions director and perhaps even to a potential employer. However, before you provide detailed information about your high school, college, or vocational education ask yourself the following questions (see below):

Read more about resumes in our resume writing series:

Did you excel in school academically?

If you consistently aced coursework, made the honor roll time after time, and never missed a day of school, then your academic record should certainly be detailed. Admissions directors, like employers, know that past performance is predictive of future performance.

But what if you didn’t do that well in school? Overall grades won’t work against you as much if you did well in a few courses that are relevant to the college or job you are applying. Be sure to list the final course grades for courses you did well in. Admissions directors and employers will want to know how you can handle those subjects, rather than what grade you earned in a gym class, for example.

Remember that a resume’s purpose is to provide a snapshot of you as a candidate for an admissions director or an employer, the document does not – and should not – contain data that hurts your chances. Know that few students excel at all subjects, just as few working adults can do all jobs put to them. The important thing is to showcase the areas where you shine.

Is vocational training relevant to your job goal?

If, for instance, you took auto repair in high school simply to meet a school elective requirement and you have no intention to follow up with this career upon graduation, don’t mention it in your resume as it has no relevancy to your current school or employment goal.

Of course, if you do intend to follow up with a career in auto repair upon graduation, you should include the coursework you completed and provide final grades for those specific subjects. Go one step further: write a paragraph detailing one of the repairs you made that was particularly challenging and how you overcame those problems.

The key here is to provide as much detail as you can so that the reviewer of your resume knows you have the required skill to be successful at the job you are applying for.

Is your resume going to a college admissions director or to an employer?

For either a college admissions director or an employer include:

  1. School attended, years attended
  2. Grade point average (GPA)
  3. Final subject grades to courses that are relevant to the college or job you are applying
  4. Advanced placement (AP) and honors classes
  5. Academic scholarships
  6. Technical Certifications

If you are using your resume for employment, make sure you include final subject grades to courses that are relevant to the field or position you are entering. For example, let’s say you took a public speaking course and did really well. If you’re applying for a telemarketing position, include how well you did in the course so a hiring manager will know that you’re articulate and can communicate well under pressure.


Now that you know what to include, you can start building the education section of your resume. Try this format:

  • School Name (college, high school, vocational school)
  • Years attended
  • GPA


  • Final course grades
  • AP or honors classes
  • Academic scholarships

As you can see, there are certain ways to display and organize your educational information that will make you a more appealing candidate to an admissions director or employer. If you need help structuring your resume, take advantage of the talent a professional resume writing service has to offer.

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