Q&A: Should I Include a Resume with my College Application...and Other Questions


3000+ word Personal Statement?

For one of the schools I’m applying to, the word limit for the personal statement is 3,250 words. I called the school’s admissions office to ask if 3,000 approximate words was correct, to which they confirmed on the basis of it being a “transfer essay”. I’m wondering if lengthier essays for transfers aren’t uncommon, especially for selective schools.


A higher word limit is indeed standard for transfer applications and graduate schools. College admissions officials and department leaders expect more mature students, especially those who have spent time in college already, to be capable of discussing their experiences, goals, and future plans at length.

Most transfer applicants are admitted directly into a major or specific department, so the transfer applicant’s academic interests and experiences are of particular importance to the admissions process. You should expect to write longer personal statements for transfer applications, specifically in the range of 2-3 pages versus those for freshman applications which are typically under 1000 words.

Include Resume with Application?

In what cases should I include a resume for Common App colleges that allow you to include one with your application? I’ve heard applicants should only submit one if you want to include something that is not listed in your activities section, but I thought this is what the additional information section was for.

There is no harm in including a resume even if it has some of the same information as your online application.

Maintaining a resume is an indicator of maturity and professionalism and provides admissions officers with a consolidated snapshot of your academic and extracurricular profile. I would steer clear of submitting anything less than a one-page resume, however, as the half-page resume goes against standard practice.

For most high school students, I would expect a resume to include: an objective, high school academics (GPA, test scores, college coursework), a skills summary, paid work, unpaid work (research, summer programs, internships), extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and academic achievements & honors/awards. 

Is it worth even applying?

I want to go to grad school to study Public Policy, but my undergraduate degree is in Dance. I’ve been thinking about getting a master’s in public policy for a while but feel I wouldn’t get admitted to a good school because of my lack of relevant work experience. I had a decent undergrad GPA (3.75), but since I graduated, I have been working retail, like a lot of young grads, and did a bit of teaching in K-5. I’m currently looking for internships/work experience locally that could apply to my future degree. Do I have a chance of getting admitted to a good public policy program with my background or is applying to grad programs pointless?

No, it's not pointless to apply to public policy grad schools just because you have a undergraduate degree in Dance and haven’t worked in the policy field before. All work experience is valuable as maintaining a job demonstrates responsibility, commitment, competence, and the ability to work with others. Plus, a 3.5 GPA in any major reveals that you can complete a program of coursework and manage your time effectively in a college environment. More work experience won’t hurt your chances though.

To get more work experience in the policy field before applying to graduate school, there are several opportunities you can pursue. You can focus on completing an independent project (i.e. getting an article or research published through a journal or online platform that accepts unsolicited submissions). You could also connect with a local nonprofit or community group doing advocacy and policy work to explore the prospect of you donating time or volunteering to write policy proposals or research current and pending legislation related to the organization’s work. Nonprofits are always looking for hardworking and capable volunteers to help build their capacity to do more work within their organizations.