The Ultimate Resume Education Section Checklist

by | Oct 28, 2022 | Jobs

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The education section is one of the most important on your resume, especially if you’re a college student or a recent graduate. At this point in your career, you’re unlikely to have extensive professional experience.

Properly highlighting your education will immediately show recruiters and hiring managers the important information on your achievements. The education section should clearly indicate the names of the schools you’ve attended, the degree level, majors (and minors), and graduation dates.

Before you start mailing out your resume to recruiters and potential employers, let’s make sure that you’ve fully-optimized the education section.

By the time you’re done reading this article, you might want to make some major changes on your resume. Let’s get started:

#1- Include All the Relevant Information

A rule of thumb, whether you’re at the entry-level or an experienced professional, is to only include relevant education experience on your resume. While it’s important to not leave out any crucial detail, you don’t have to include every single course you’ve ever taken.

Must-have information for the education section of your resume includes:

  • The name of the college or university you attended
  • The degree you obtained
  • Your major(s)
  • The graduation date or expected graduation date (for entry-level applicants)

Optional education information to have in your resume includes:

  • Minor(s)
  • GPA
  • Awards and honors
  • Relevant coursework
  • Educational projects
  • Unfinished degrees
  • Other certifications

#2- List Your Education in Reverse Chronological Order

Always list your educational experience starting with the most recent. That way, a recruiter or potential employer can quickly see your highest educational qualification.

Bear in mind that degrees generally accumulate in prestige and value as you advance your education. A PhD is more valuable than a bachelor’s degree, while a bachelor’s degree is more prestigious than a high school diploma. 

Make sure that you present the most prestigious education achievement first.

#3- Keep Formatting of the Education Section Consistent

Go for an easy-to-read format for the education section, just like with any other part of your resume. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to properly list your educational experience without confusing the reader.

Expert Tip: Use an online resume creator to quickly explore different formatting styles. Keep your formatting consistent throughout the section.

To get you started, here are some tips on formatting the education section of your resume:

  • Create a section on your resume and title it “Education”
  • List the name of your school and the degree you studied
  • List your graduation date or expected graduation date
  • List any major achievements and awards (such as being on the dean’s list)
  • Consider including extra details such as relevant coursework, projects, and GPA

#4- Don’t Use Abbreviations for Educational Qualifications

Abbreviating degrees is a common practice. However, some recruiters or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) might not be able to immediately recognize abbreviations in your resume.

Avoid abbreviations. Write Bachelor of Arts in Communication instead of B.A Communication, Bachelor of Science in Engineering instead of B.S.E, and so on.  

Should you write the degree names in italics? Well, that isn’t necessary. 

#5- Include Relevant Incomplete Education

Should you include education that you haven’t completed yet? Absolutely—as long as you include the expected date of completion.

Recruiters and hiring managers are interested in what you’re studying if it’s relevant for the position. But don’t use words such as “incomplete” or “unfinished” as they can cast a shadow on your qualification.

Indicating the expected graduation date is enough to tell a recruiter or potential employer that you’re still working on the degree in question.

What if you started a degree that you don’t intend to complete? You can still include it if you believe that it might give you a competitive advantage. In place of the expected graduation date, list the number of credit hours completed or the courses relevant to the position.

#6- Include GPA Above 3.5 Only

Including GPA on your resume can help you stand out from the competition—but only when it’s above 3.5.

In most cases, GPA scores aren’t a major deciding factor in hiring. If you’re still in school or are a recent graduate, without much work experience to go by, impressive GPA scores can increase hiring manager’s confidence in your capabilities.

If your degree doesn’t include a Latin honors title (such as magna cum laude or summa cum laude), a high GPA score is the next best thing to demonstrate that you’re an excellent student.

What if you received both a Latin honors title and have a high GPA? In such cases, place the GPA score in parentheses when next to your honors title.

What if you have a low overall GPA score? If it’s impressive enough, indicate your major GPA and leave out the overall GPA.

Here are 4 different ways to properly list your GPA:

  • California State University, Bachelor of Arts in Communication, GPA: 4.0
  • California State University, Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Summa Cum Laude
  • California State University, Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Summa Cum Laude – GPA: 4.0
  • Sunville High School, GPA: 3.5

Expert Tip: Don’t list your GPA score as part of your awards and accomplishments. When appropriate, list your GPA as part of the relevant education experience.

#7- Capitalize on Academic Projects

Have you completed a project in an area of interest to the employer? Don’t forget to capitalize on that.

You can list projects under the education section or create an independent section titled “Projects,” “Key Projects,” or “Academic Projects.” Having an independent section is a great way to highlight relevant experience and skills.

However, if you’d rather keep it brief, list it alongside relevant education experience.

Here are three awesome tips on how to list projects on your resume:

  • Create a section for projects and title it properly
  • List your projects according to professional standards. Include when you completed the project (e.g Summer 2021)
  • Write one or two sentences to explain each project using powerful action words. Emphasize on skills learned or used and what you accomplished

#8- Handle Complex Education Experience Like a Pro

What if you started your degree in one university and completed it at another? In such cases, you don’t have to list every school that you attended.

Recruiters and hiring managers are only interested in the college or university where you earned your degree.

What about cases where you’ve earned multiple degrees at the same level? List all of them in the reverse chronological order.

#9- Place the Education Section Strategically

You might be wondering, “Where do I place the education section on my resume?” The best position for the education section depends on:

  • Your education history
  • Your work history
  • The job for which you’re applying

As a college student or recent graduate with minimal work experience, it’s best to place your education immediately after your personal information. If you opt to include a summary or objective, your education should come next.

Education is likely to be your most impressive section—so it’s important to properly highlight it. For entry-level positions, employers will be paying more attention to educational qualifications before checking out other resume sections.

#10- Include Continued Education

Are you taking online courses to give yourself a competitive edge? Don’t forget to include them in the education section of your resume.

What if you’re taking classes that are unrelated to the job? If you have room, you can create a “Miscellaneous” section and place them there.

Be careful not to include non-relevant information. In the same vein, leave out anything that might be controversial or political.

Summary of Tips for the Education Section on Your Resume

After implementing the tips above, you’ll have a strong education section on your resume. Here’s a snapshot of the tips we’ve explored:

  • Do include all the relevant education information
  • List your education in reverse chronological order
  • Keep formatting of the education section consistent
  • Don’t abbreviate your degrees
  • Include relevant incomplete education
  • Include GPA Above 3.5 only
  • Capitalize on academic projects
  • List only the school where you earned your degree (in case you attended different schools for the same degree)
  • Place the education section right below your personal information or summary/objective
  • Include relevant continued education

Frequently Asked Questions on the Education Section of a Resume

How do I describe my education on a resume?

Describe your education on a resume by including the following key factors:

  • The name of the college or university you attended
  • The degree you obtained
  • Your major(s)
  • The graduation date or expected graduation date  (for entry-level applicants)

How do you list education on a resume if not completed?

List uncompleted education by indicating the expected graduation date. Using labels such as “incomplete” or “unfinished” can cast an unfavorable shadow on your resume.

Is it OK to leave education off your resume?

In some cases, especially at advanced career levels, it’s appropriate to leave out some education from your resume. It’s also ok to leave out non-relevant education.

 

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