Avoiding a Senior Year Crisis: How to Effectively Build a Resume or Portfolio During High School

SchooLinks Staff
October 25, 2022
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In addition to strong grades and high test scores, it is common knowledge that colleges, universities, scholarship committees, and businesses want to see a well-rounded student who has had a diversity of experiences as they evaluate candidates. Extracurricular activities, work experience, service hours, and various awards are often the details that distinguish students as they apply for postsecondary opportunities. 

Though many students are aware that developing this set of activities, experiences, and skills over the course of high school is important, documenting them in a functional way to share as part of applications is often left until senior year. This delay can have negative consequences on the depth, breadth, and quality of the final product. Some students might end up excluding relevant experiences because they simply forget what they did two or three years ago; others may be unable to connect with past supervisors or advisors who could help them reflect on skills built, the impact they had, or formally write letters of recommendation or reference based on their experiences. 

Taking a proactive approach to building a resume or portfolio over the course of high school can help students more thoroughly document their experiences, serve to guide and inform decision-making through high school, and ensure they are ready and prepared with a thoughtful and personalized collection of who they are and what they have done when it comes time to complete an application.  

What Experiences to Include

Counselors can help students starting during freshman year understand what kinds of activities and experiences will build skills and qualities that will be beneficial in postsecondary life. These choices can illustrate a commitment to a cause or an issue that is important to them. Encourage students to explore passions and interests as they choose extracurricular opportunities–rather than simply focus on what they think a college would want. Help them understand that their experiences will tell a story of who they are and what they hope to do in the future. These might include:

  • Formal or Informal Work Experience including Internships and Job Shadowing
  • Volunteer Experience or Community Service 
  • Leadership Roles 
  • Clubs, Activities, and Extracurricular Involvement
  • Awards or Recognition
  • Special Skills or Industry Certifications

Best Practices for Curating and Documenting Relevant Experiences

Explain to students that taking small amounts of time throughout their high school career will save time and energy in the long run and tremendously improve the quality of what they will be able to share with colleges, scholarship committees, and potential employers. Encourage them to use these strategies and tips as they document and reflect on their experiences. 

Include Important Details

Students should document much more than simply the name of the experience or activity. They should also track the dates of their involvement along with a detailed description, location, and any relevant contacts. Doing so makes it easier as students need to list references or recall information to help inspire more detailed reflections about past experiences in essays or interviews.

Document Skills Developed or Showcased:

For postsecondary institutions, the skills and attributes a student brings are in many ways more important than the specific activity they have completed. Put differently, the quality of the experience matters more than just the completion. Help students document both the technical acumen they learned or developed as well as more abstract skills such as teamwork, collaboration, resilience, creativity, and innovation. 

Ask for Letters of Recommendation at the Time

Waiting to ask for letters of recommendation when applying for something often means there is a gap in time between the actual experience and the point of reflection from the supervisor or advisor. This delay can make it difficult to get in touch with the appropriate person to write the letter, and, the intervening time can also make it challenging for that person to remember key details of the experience to include in the letter. Even if students are unsure if they will use them in the future, it is beneficial to ask for letters of recommendation at the culmination of an experience or activity. 

Keep an Ongoing Document or Profile

Use a Word Document, Google Document, or digital folder to keep a running collection of these materials. Employing a cloud-based platform means a student should be able to easily access it over space and time. Encourage students to update this immediately upon completion of activities or experiences. Students as young as 16 might even start a LinkedIn profile to document their accomplishments. This can be another great resource once they begin applying for postsecondary opportunities.

Utilize A College and Career Readiness Platform

 A platform like SchooLinks can help students to organize and submit a resume or portfolio as part of the application process. Through SchooLinks, students can utilize the Resume and Portfolio Builder to collect information on experiences and skills built throughout high school. This functionality is seamlessly tied to a student’s college- and career-readiness goals and can inform decision-making as students consider postsecondary planning and options. 

In addition to strong grades and high test scores, it is common knowledge that colleges, universities, scholarship committees, and businesses want to see a well-rounded student who has had a diversity of experiences as they evaluate candidates. Extracurricular activities, work experience, service hours, and various awards are often the details that distinguish students as they apply for postsecondary opportunities. 

Though many students are aware that developing this set of activities, experiences, and skills over the course of high school is important, documenting them in a functional way to share as part of applications is often left until senior year. This delay can have negative consequences on the depth, breadth, and quality of the final product. Some students might end up excluding relevant experiences because they simply forget what they did two or three years ago; others may be unable to connect with past supervisors or advisors who could help them reflect on skills built, the impact they had, or formally write letters of recommendation or reference based on their experiences. 

Taking a proactive approach to building a resume or portfolio over the course of high school can help students more thoroughly document their experiences, serve to guide and inform decision-making through high school, and ensure they are ready and prepared with a thoughtful and personalized collection of who they are and what they have done when it comes time to complete an application.  

What Experiences to Include

Counselors can help students starting during freshman year understand what kinds of activities and experiences will build skills and qualities that will be beneficial in postsecondary life. These choices can illustrate a commitment to a cause or an issue that is important to them. Encourage students to explore passions and interests as they choose extracurricular opportunities–rather than simply focus on what they think a college would want. Help them understand that their experiences will tell a story of who they are and what they hope to do in the future. These might include:

  • Formal or Informal Work Experience including Internships and Job Shadowing
  • Volunteer Experience or Community Service 
  • Leadership Roles 
  • Clubs, Activities, and Extracurricular Involvement
  • Awards or Recognition
  • Special Skills or Industry Certifications

Best Practices for Curating and Documenting Relevant Experiences

Explain to students that taking small amounts of time throughout their high school career will save time and energy in the long run and tremendously improve the quality of what they will be able to share with colleges, scholarship committees, and potential employers. Encourage them to use these strategies and tips as they document and reflect on their experiences. 

Include Important Details

Students should document much more than simply the name of the experience or activity. They should also track the dates of their involvement along with a detailed description, location, and any relevant contacts. Doing so makes it easier as students need to list references or recall information to help inspire more detailed reflections about past experiences in essays or interviews.

Document Skills Developed or Showcased:

For postsecondary institutions, the skills and attributes a student brings are in many ways more important than the specific activity they have completed. Put differently, the quality of the experience matters more than just the completion. Help students document both the technical acumen they learned or developed as well as more abstract skills such as teamwork, collaboration, resilience, creativity, and innovation. 

Ask for Letters of Recommendation at the Time

Waiting to ask for letters of recommendation when applying for something often means there is a gap in time between the actual experience and the point of reflection from the supervisor or advisor. This delay can make it difficult to get in touch with the appropriate person to write the letter, and, the intervening time can also make it challenging for that person to remember key details of the experience to include in the letter. Even if students are unsure if they will use them in the future, it is beneficial to ask for letters of recommendation at the culmination of an experience or activity. 

Keep an Ongoing Document or Profile

Use a Word Document, Google Document, or digital folder to keep a running collection of these materials. Employing a cloud-based platform means a student should be able to easily access it over space and time. Encourage students to update this immediately upon completion of activities or experiences. Students as young as 16 might even start a LinkedIn profile to document their accomplishments. This can be another great resource once they begin applying for postsecondary opportunities.

Utilize A College and Career Readiness Platform

 A platform like SchooLinks can help students to organize and submit a resume or portfolio as part of the application process. Through SchooLinks, students can utilize the Resume and Portfolio Builder to collect information on experiences and skills built throughout high school. This functionality is seamlessly tied to a student’s college- and career-readiness goals and can inform decision-making as students consider postsecondary planning and options. 

In addition to strong grades and high test scores, it is common knowledge that colleges, universities, scholarship committees, and businesses want to see a well-rounded student who has had a diversity of experiences as they evaluate candidates. Extracurricular activities, work experience, service hours, and various awards are often the details that distinguish students as they apply for postsecondary opportunities. 

Though many students are aware that developing this set of activities, experiences, and skills over the course of high school is important, documenting them in a functional way to share as part of applications is often left until senior year. This delay can have negative consequences on the depth, breadth, and quality of the final product. Some students might end up excluding relevant experiences because they simply forget what they did two or three years ago; others may be unable to connect with past supervisors or advisors who could help them reflect on skills built, the impact they had, or formally write letters of recommendation or reference based on their experiences. 

Taking a proactive approach to building a resume or portfolio over the course of high school can help students more thoroughly document their experiences, serve to guide and inform decision-making through high school, and ensure they are ready and prepared with a thoughtful and personalized collection of who they are and what they have done when it comes time to complete an application.  

What Experiences to Include

Counselors can help students starting during freshman year understand what kinds of activities and experiences will build skills and qualities that will be beneficial in postsecondary life. These choices can illustrate a commitment to a cause or an issue that is important to them. Encourage students to explore passions and interests as they choose extracurricular opportunities–rather than simply focus on what they think a college would want. Help them understand that their experiences will tell a story of who they are and what they hope to do in the future. These might include:

  • Formal or Informal Work Experience including Internships and Job Shadowing
  • Volunteer Experience or Community Service 
  • Leadership Roles 
  • Clubs, Activities, and Extracurricular Involvement
  • Awards or Recognition
  • Special Skills or Industry Certifications

Best Practices for Curating and Documenting Relevant Experiences

Explain to students that taking small amounts of time throughout their high school career will save time and energy in the long run and tremendously improve the quality of what they will be able to share with colleges, scholarship committees, and potential employers. Encourage them to use these strategies and tips as they document and reflect on their experiences. 

Include Important Details

Students should document much more than simply the name of the experience or activity. They should also track the dates of their involvement along with a detailed description, location, and any relevant contacts. Doing so makes it easier as students need to list references or recall information to help inspire more detailed reflections about past experiences in essays or interviews.

Document Skills Developed or Showcased:

For postsecondary institutions, the skills and attributes a student brings are in many ways more important than the specific activity they have completed. Put differently, the quality of the experience matters more than just the completion. Help students document both the technical acumen they learned or developed as well as more abstract skills such as teamwork, collaboration, resilience, creativity, and innovation. 

Ask for Letters of Recommendation at the Time

Waiting to ask for letters of recommendation when applying for something often means there is a gap in time between the actual experience and the point of reflection from the supervisor or advisor. This delay can make it difficult to get in touch with the appropriate person to write the letter, and, the intervening time can also make it challenging for that person to remember key details of the experience to include in the letter. Even if students are unsure if they will use them in the future, it is beneficial to ask for letters of recommendation at the culmination of an experience or activity. 

Keep an Ongoing Document or Profile

Use a Word Document, Google Document, or digital folder to keep a running collection of these materials. Employing a cloud-based platform means a student should be able to easily access it over space and time. Encourage students to update this immediately upon completion of activities or experiences. Students as young as 16 might even start a LinkedIn profile to document their accomplishments. This can be another great resource once they begin applying for postsecondary opportunities.

Utilize A College and Career Readiness Platform

 A platform like SchooLinks can help students to organize and submit a resume or portfolio as part of the application process. Through SchooLinks, students can utilize the Resume and Portfolio Builder to collect information on experiences and skills built throughout high school. This functionality is seamlessly tied to a student’s college- and career-readiness goals and can inform decision-making as students consider postsecondary planning and options. 

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In addition to strong grades and high test scores, it is common knowledge that colleges, universities, scholarship committees, and businesses want to see a well-rounded student who has had a diversity of experiences as they evaluate candidates. Extracurricular activities, work experience, service hours, and various awards are often the details that distinguish students as they apply for postsecondary opportunities. 

Though many students are aware that developing this set of activities, experiences, and skills over the course of high school is important, documenting them in a functional way to share as part of applications is often left until senior year. This delay can have negative consequences on the depth, breadth, and quality of the final product. Some students might end up excluding relevant experiences because they simply forget what they did two or three years ago; others may be unable to connect with past supervisors or advisors who could help them reflect on skills built, the impact they had, or formally write letters of recommendation or reference based on their experiences. 

Taking a proactive approach to building a resume or portfolio over the course of high school can help students more thoroughly document their experiences, serve to guide and inform decision-making through high school, and ensure they are ready and prepared with a thoughtful and personalized collection of who they are and what they have done when it comes time to complete an application.  

What Experiences to Include

Counselors can help students starting during freshman year understand what kinds of activities and experiences will build skills and qualities that will be beneficial in postsecondary life. These choices can illustrate a commitment to a cause or an issue that is important to them. Encourage students to explore passions and interests as they choose extracurricular opportunities–rather than simply focus on what they think a college would want. Help them understand that their experiences will tell a story of who they are and what they hope to do in the future. These might include:

  • Formal or Informal Work Experience including Internships and Job Shadowing
  • Volunteer Experience or Community Service 
  • Leadership Roles 
  • Clubs, Activities, and Extracurricular Involvement
  • Awards or Recognition
  • Special Skills or Industry Certifications

Best Practices for Curating and Documenting Relevant Experiences

Explain to students that taking small amounts of time throughout their high school career will save time and energy in the long run and tremendously improve the quality of what they will be able to share with colleges, scholarship committees, and potential employers. Encourage them to use these strategies and tips as they document and reflect on their experiences. 

Include Important Details

Students should document much more than simply the name of the experience or activity. They should also track the dates of their involvement along with a detailed description, location, and any relevant contacts. Doing so makes it easier as students need to list references or recall information to help inspire more detailed reflections about past experiences in essays or interviews.

Document Skills Developed or Showcased:

For postsecondary institutions, the skills and attributes a student brings are in many ways more important than the specific activity they have completed. Put differently, the quality of the experience matters more than just the completion. Help students document both the technical acumen they learned or developed as well as more abstract skills such as teamwork, collaboration, resilience, creativity, and innovation. 

Ask for Letters of Recommendation at the Time

Waiting to ask for letters of recommendation when applying for something often means there is a gap in time between the actual experience and the point of reflection from the supervisor or advisor. This delay can make it difficult to get in touch with the appropriate person to write the letter, and, the intervening time can also make it challenging for that person to remember key details of the experience to include in the letter. Even if students are unsure if they will use them in the future, it is beneficial to ask for letters of recommendation at the culmination of an experience or activity. 

Keep an Ongoing Document or Profile

Use a Word Document, Google Document, or digital folder to keep a running collection of these materials. Employing a cloud-based platform means a student should be able to easily access it over space and time. Encourage students to update this immediately upon completion of activities or experiences. Students as young as 16 might even start a LinkedIn profile to document their accomplishments. This can be another great resource once they begin applying for postsecondary opportunities.

Utilize A College and Career Readiness Platform

 A platform like SchooLinks can help students to organize and submit a resume or portfolio as part of the application process. Through SchooLinks, students can utilize the Resume and Portfolio Builder to collect information on experiences and skills built throughout high school. This functionality is seamlessly tied to a student’s college- and career-readiness goals and can inform decision-making as students consider postsecondary planning and options. 

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In addition to strong grades and high test scores, it is common knowledge that colleges, universities, scholarship committees, and businesses want to see a well-rounded student who has had a diversity of experiences as they evaluate candidates. Extracurricular activities, work experience, service hours, and various awards are often the details that distinguish students as they apply for postsecondary opportunities. 

Though many students are aware that developing this set of activities, experiences, and skills over the course of high school is important, documenting them in a functional way to share as part of applications is often left until senior year. This delay can have negative consequences on the depth, breadth, and quality of the final product. Some students might end up excluding relevant experiences because they simply forget what they did two or three years ago; others may be unable to connect with past supervisors or advisors who could help them reflect on skills built, the impact they had, or formally write letters of recommendation or reference based on their experiences. 

Taking a proactive approach to building a resume or portfolio over the course of high school can help students more thoroughly document their experiences, serve to guide and inform decision-making through high school, and ensure they are ready and prepared with a thoughtful and personalized collection of who they are and what they have done when it comes time to complete an application.  

What Experiences to Include

Counselors can help students starting during freshman year understand what kinds of activities and experiences will build skills and qualities that will be beneficial in postsecondary life. These choices can illustrate a commitment to a cause or an issue that is important to them. Encourage students to explore passions and interests as they choose extracurricular opportunities–rather than simply focus on what they think a college would want. Help them understand that their experiences will tell a story of who they are and what they hope to do in the future. These might include:

  • Formal or Informal Work Experience including Internships and Job Shadowing
  • Volunteer Experience or Community Service 
  • Leadership Roles 
  • Clubs, Activities, and Extracurricular Involvement
  • Awards or Recognition
  • Special Skills or Industry Certifications

Best Practices for Curating and Documenting Relevant Experiences

Explain to students that taking small amounts of time throughout their high school career will save time and energy in the long run and tremendously improve the quality of what they will be able to share with colleges, scholarship committees, and potential employers. Encourage them to use these strategies and tips as they document and reflect on their experiences. 

Include Important Details

Students should document much more than simply the name of the experience or activity. They should also track the dates of their involvement along with a detailed description, location, and any relevant contacts. Doing so makes it easier as students need to list references or recall information to help inspire more detailed reflections about past experiences in essays or interviews.

Document Skills Developed or Showcased:

For postsecondary institutions, the skills and attributes a student brings are in many ways more important than the specific activity they have completed. Put differently, the quality of the experience matters more than just the completion. Help students document both the technical acumen they learned or developed as well as more abstract skills such as teamwork, collaboration, resilience, creativity, and innovation. 

Ask for Letters of Recommendation at the Time

Waiting to ask for letters of recommendation when applying for something often means there is a gap in time between the actual experience and the point of reflection from the supervisor or advisor. This delay can make it difficult to get in touch with the appropriate person to write the letter, and, the intervening time can also make it challenging for that person to remember key details of the experience to include in the letter. Even if students are unsure if they will use them in the future, it is beneficial to ask for letters of recommendation at the culmination of an experience or activity. 

Keep an Ongoing Document or Profile

Use a Word Document, Google Document, or digital folder to keep a running collection of these materials. Employing a cloud-based platform means a student should be able to easily access it over space and time. Encourage students to update this immediately upon completion of activities or experiences. Students as young as 16 might even start a LinkedIn profile to document their accomplishments. This can be another great resource once they begin applying for postsecondary opportunities.

Utilize A College and Career Readiness Platform

 A platform like SchooLinks can help students to organize and submit a resume or portfolio as part of the application process. Through SchooLinks, students can utilize the Resume and Portfolio Builder to collect information on experiences and skills built throughout high school. This functionality is seamlessly tied to a student’s college- and career-readiness goals and can inform decision-making as students consider postsecondary planning and options. 

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In addition to strong grades and high test scores, it is common knowledge that colleges, universities, scholarship committees, and businesses want to see a well-rounded student who has had a diversity of experiences as they evaluate candidates. Extracurricular activities, work experience, service hours, and various awards are often the details that distinguish students as they apply for postsecondary opportunities. 

Though many students are aware that developing this set of activities, experiences, and skills over the course of high school is important, documenting them in a functional way to share as part of applications is often left until senior year. This delay can have negative consequences on the depth, breadth, and quality of the final product. Some students might end up excluding relevant experiences because they simply forget what they did two or three years ago; others may be unable to connect with past supervisors or advisors who could help them reflect on skills built, the impact they had, or formally write letters of recommendation or reference based on their experiences. 

Taking a proactive approach to building a resume or portfolio over the course of high school can help students more thoroughly document their experiences, serve to guide and inform decision-making through high school, and ensure they are ready and prepared with a thoughtful and personalized collection of who they are and what they have done when it comes time to complete an application.  

What Experiences to Include

Counselors can help students starting during freshman year understand what kinds of activities and experiences will build skills and qualities that will be beneficial in postsecondary life. These choices can illustrate a commitment to a cause or an issue that is important to them. Encourage students to explore passions and interests as they choose extracurricular opportunities–rather than simply focus on what they think a college would want. Help them understand that their experiences will tell a story of who they are and what they hope to do in the future. These might include:

  • Formal or Informal Work Experience including Internships and Job Shadowing
  • Volunteer Experience or Community Service 
  • Leadership Roles 
  • Clubs, Activities, and Extracurricular Involvement
  • Awards or Recognition
  • Special Skills or Industry Certifications

Best Practices for Curating and Documenting Relevant Experiences

Explain to students that taking small amounts of time throughout their high school career will save time and energy in the long run and tremendously improve the quality of what they will be able to share with colleges, scholarship committees, and potential employers. Encourage them to use these strategies and tips as they document and reflect on their experiences. 

Include Important Details

Students should document much more than simply the name of the experience or activity. They should also track the dates of their involvement along with a detailed description, location, and any relevant contacts. Doing so makes it easier as students need to list references or recall information to help inspire more detailed reflections about past experiences in essays or interviews.

Document Skills Developed or Showcased:

For postsecondary institutions, the skills and attributes a student brings are in many ways more important than the specific activity they have completed. Put differently, the quality of the experience matters more than just the completion. Help students document both the technical acumen they learned or developed as well as more abstract skills such as teamwork, collaboration, resilience, creativity, and innovation. 

Ask for Letters of Recommendation at the Time

Waiting to ask for letters of recommendation when applying for something often means there is a gap in time between the actual experience and the point of reflection from the supervisor or advisor. This delay can make it difficult to get in touch with the appropriate person to write the letter, and, the intervening time can also make it challenging for that person to remember key details of the experience to include in the letter. Even if students are unsure if they will use them in the future, it is beneficial to ask for letters of recommendation at the culmination of an experience or activity. 

Keep an Ongoing Document or Profile

Use a Word Document, Google Document, or digital folder to keep a running collection of these materials. Employing a cloud-based platform means a student should be able to easily access it over space and time. Encourage students to update this immediately upon completion of activities or experiences. Students as young as 16 might even start a LinkedIn profile to document their accomplishments. This can be another great resource once they begin applying for postsecondary opportunities.

Utilize A College and Career Readiness Platform

 A platform like SchooLinks can help students to organize and submit a resume or portfolio as part of the application process. Through SchooLinks, students can utilize the Resume and Portfolio Builder to collect information on experiences and skills built throughout high school. This functionality is seamlessly tied to a student’s college- and career-readiness goals and can inform decision-making as students consider postsecondary planning and options.