College applications ask a lot of questions: about grades, scores, and curriculum, but also about non-academic activities like volunteer experiences, paid employment, extracurriculars, and so on. And most high school seniors are hard-pressed to remember every student accomplishment they’ve done since freshman year of high school. Let’s face it, most parents are too.
Parents And Teens, Start Your College Brag Sheet Early
That’s why David Levy, editor of the Edvisors Network—and an expert on college admissions —recommends that parents keep an “accomplishments resume” (what many high school counselors call a “brag sheet”) for their adolescents. (You can also encourage your teenager to do this for him or herself. But make sure they keep up with it.)
“Sit down with your teenager at the end of the academic year and say, ‘What were you involved in?’ Keep it as a running list,” Levy says. “It’s much harder to recreate when you’re a senior in high school.” Levy recommends parents start this task in middle school.
Store the accomplishments resume on your home computer, so when your teenager is applying to college—or for scholarships or summer opportunities or whatever—she can easily access the information. You’ll save time. And your teenager will be much less likely to forget something important, perhaps the very thing that would catch an admission counselor’s eye.
What to include in a college brag sheet? Pretty much everything your teenager does outside the classroom on a regular basis, as well as any academic items (awards, honors) that won’t appear on the transcript. This includes everything from music lessons to volunteer activities and clubs. Don’t forget paid work either. The Common Application specifically asks about work experience. Also include any awards or honors your teenager may have won, academic, sports or otherwise. Every student accomplishment you can think of. You may not end up using all the information on the application, but at least you’ll have it at your fingertips.