Media File: Education Section
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Education sections vary tremendously on résumés—sometimes they are only a couple lines while other times they span half a page. What's the best way for you to approach yours? The resource below contains a number of options.
What is an education section?
An education section highlights your relevant schooling and academic training. If you have substantial work experience, this section may be very brief, simply listing the information below. If you are a currently enrolled college student or a recent graduate, however, you may want to build this section substantially.
The education section usually includes information about:
- Schools you have attended such as universities and 4-year colleges, junior and community colleges, as well as professional and technical schools (rarely high schools, unless somehow relevant)
- Location of schools
- Date of graduation, actual or anticipated
- Degree(s) earned
- Grade point average (GPA) if over 3.0.
Why write an education section?
- To persuade employers your educational background will help you do your job more effectively
- To provide evidence of your qualifications
- To foreground your areas of expertise
Where should you place this section?
Education sections, like experience sections, are usually placed in the middle of a résumé, somewhere between the objective statement and the honors and activities section.
If your educational background is your strongest qualification or may help your résumé "stand out," then you'll probably want to put it near the top. Especially if you are a recent graduate, this section may be a major focus for recruiters. On the other hand, if your experience sections are stronger, then you'll probably want to move your education section below them.
How to build your education section
If you have the space on your résumé and/or if your educational background is particularly relevant, you may want to expand this section by including some of the content listed below as it applies to your experiences and career goals.
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Candidate for B.A. in English, GPA 3.2. Focus: Professional Writing; Pre-Law. Expected to graduate in May 2008
NOTE: If you have enough information, you may wish to turn some of your content into subsections or even into separate sections. For example, if you know several relevant computer technologies, you might want to list them under the heading "Computer Proficiency" rather than tuck them under your Education section.
Generally, you want to include your overall GPA, and even your in-major GPA and minor GPA. But if your GPA is below 3.0, you may not want to include it.
Major/minor grade point average (GPA)
- Major GPA: 2.9/4.0
- Minor GPA: 3.1/4.0
Major and minor areas of study, concentrations, emphases or specializations
- Minor: Management Information Systems
- Concentration: Professional Writing
- Emphasis in Individual and Family Development
- Special Course Project, Business Writing: determined feasibility of upgrading communication technologies in local business
- Thesis: "Diversity Training in the Workplace"
- Structured Programming Client/Server Computing
- Object Oriented Programming
- Local Area Networks
Familiar computer applications
- E-mail, tele- and video-conferencing
- Windows: Microsoft Office, XP, Vista
- Macintosh OS X
Continuing education courses, programs, training units, etc.
- Diversity or Management Training
- Crisis Management
Academic honors or graduated with distinction
- Summa Cum Laude - "with highest honor"
- Magna Cum Laude - "with great honor"
- Cum Laude - "with honor"
Check with your university or college to see what the requirements are for these distinctions.
- B.S. in Aviation Technology (provided 100% of funding)
- Master's Thesis research 100% funded by university
- First Aid Certification
- Teacher Certification
Questions to ask
- What institutions, programs, schools, etc. have you attended?
- What educational training beyond traditional schooling and coursework have you had, if any?
About the company or organization
- What can you expect the company to know about your degree program, coursework, training background, etc.? What might you need to describe or elaborate?
- What non-traditional educational experiences would the company want to know about?
Tailoring for your audience
To improve the effectiveness of your education section, you will want to know what content will be most valued by the company hiring. You can get a good sense for which of educational qualifications are most relevant by analyzing job ads and company literature as part of your job search.
You may tailor your education section in three main ways:
1. Select and include only your most relevant educational content: Based on your career goals and the qualifications called for in job ads, you may choose to include or omit certain kinds of information. For example, if you earned a degree in a very specialized field (one employers may need to know more about) or have taken specific courses directly relevant to the position, then you'll want to include a listing of coursework. However, if your degree is self-explanatory and employers likely will know your more specific credentials, then you may omit this section.
2. Emphasize content through placement and design: Since the eye is drawn to section headings and the uppermost portion of sections, you may choose to put your most impressive and relevant educational experiences in either (1) their own sections/subsections, or (2) near the top of a section. For instance, if you have substantial computer skills or have undertaken a special project, you may choose to put this information in its own section rather than simply list it beneath "Education."
3. List most relevant schooling first: While you may wish to use reverse chronological order (most recent schooling first), you also have the option of placing your most relevant educational experiences first.
Click on the link at the top of this resource for a sample resume.
For more information, please see the Interactive Résumé.