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7 Resume Writing Tips for Your Education Section

EducationEducation is usually the most straightforward resume section to write. In most cases, it is what it is. But there are a few factors that can make things a little cloudy. These seven tips will help you determine how to complete the Education section of your resume. They'll help you decide what to include, what to leave out, and what to do about that school you attended but didn't graduate.

TIP #1:  List your highest level of education first, then work your way backward to high school. If you've earned a bachelor's degree or higher, do not include your high school information.

Example: 

2007   Master of Science in Information Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

2005   Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
University of Idaho, Moscow, ID

TIP #2:  Include your GPA only if it is higher than 3.0 and it's been less than three years since you graduated. (Exception: If the employer specifically asks for it.)

Example

2010    Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
GPA: 3.75

TIP #3:  If you graduated within, say, the past three years, it's appropriate to mention academic honors or extracurricular leadership roles, (but not if they're political, religious, or controversial). Once you have two or three years of work experience, you should drop the school-related activities from your resume.

Example:

2010    Burlington High School, Burlington, IA     GPA: 3.9
Class Salutatorian, Student Council Treasurer 2008-2010,
Captain of Lacrosse Team

TIP #4:  If you attended college, but did not graduate, include the dates you attended, your major, and how many credits you earned toward your degree. List your high school after the college information.

Example:

Franklin Community College, Springfield, MO
2002-2003:  Completed 30 credits toward  Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education

Springfield High School, Springfield, MO
Graduated 2002

TIP #5:  If you attended high school, but did not graduate, just show the years you attended. If you later earned a GED, put that above the high school listing, and indicate the date.

Example:

2002    GED High School Equivalency Diploma
Erie Adult Learning Center, Erie PA

Erie Vocational Technical High School, Erie, PA
1998-2001

TIP #6:  If you earned a license for a trade after high school, and it's related to the job you're pursuing, you can either put it above the high school listing in your Education section, or create a separate section called Licensure (or similar) and put it there.

Example

2000    Esthetician License

Colin-Carter Beauty School, Denver, CO

1998   West Boulder High School, Boulder, CO

TIP #7:  Should you eliminate graduation dates on your resume if you're older than 40 or 45? That's a judgment call you'll have to make yourself. If you list your graduation date, you're effectively revealing your age, which might be perceived as a negative (or a neutral or a positive, for that matter). If you don't, employers might assume you're trying to hide your age. They might perceive that as a smart move, or an insult to their intelligence. You can't know how it will be perceived, so do what feels right for you.

Personally, I'm 49 and if I were submitting my resume today, I'd go ahead and list my graduation date. I used to leave the date off my resume, but so much personal information is available on the web, I figure why bother to try and hide it? Besides, if a company's going to discriminate based on my age, I don't want to work there. 

Do you have other questions or thoughts about the Education section of your resume? Please post a comment below and we'll discuss it!

RELATED LINKS
Is College Still the Surest Path to Success?
Good and Bad Resumes: Want to See the Difference?
Should No Degree Also Mean No Chance?

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