As adults, one of the most important documents we’ll ever create is our resumes. They sum up our skills, experience, and best qualities, and help us advance in our career and grow ourselves professionally. We edit them constantly and add to them whenever we do something noteworthy, and they give a great snapshot of everything we can offer.
But what about for our kids who are still lacking in career experience or who might not have a laundry list of skills they can recite? This is where the ‘brag sheet’ comes in handy. This simple little document is like a resume for school students, and every teen in America should have one.
Brag sheets were invented as a way to show off a school students interests, experience, and skills, where they might not have any professional work experience behind them. They’re used to get into colleges, get internships, or even paid work, so it’s an essential tool that no teen should be without.
What Is A Brag Sheet?
There’s no final template for a brag sheet that everyone must follow. Much like a professional resume, they can be edited and formatted as you wish. To sum them up, though, it’s like a resume for the inexperienced, giving a chance to show off their hobbies, skills, volunteer experience, unpaid work, and anything else they think an employer or prospective school might like to know.
Think of the brag sheet as a student resume. Anything that your teen has achieved in the classroom like awards or good grades, this is the place to put it. Anything they’ve done outside of the classroom that’s worth mentioning should also go here (think volunteer work or extracurricular sports and musical instruments).
These sheets are useful for everyone because they give you a chance to show off your best assets. If you’re a student who might not have performed as well with their grades as they’d hoped, the brag sheet can explain some of the questionable spots in your past. For those who are academically ahead, a brag sheet might offer something that can’t be found with good grades, and make you a serious competitor.
What Is the Brag Sheet Used For?
Traditionally, people used brag sheets as a way to get into the college of their choice. While this is still the most common use for them, there are also other things that your teen might want to use theirs for. Keep in mind, depending on how they’re handing them out they might want to edit the contents and goal accordingly.
If your teen is asking for recommendations from teachers, coaches, and supervisors, handing over a brag sheet can remind them of their skills.
- Internships/unpaid work experience
For those kids who are looking for work experience in their chosen field to get themselves into college, a brag sheet can be just as good as a professional resume.
- Job applications
When your teen is looking for work but has no real work skills to put on a resume, a brag sheet is a perfect alternative.
- Scholarship essays
These make the perfect addition to your scholarship application and help to neatly sum up all of your goals, achievements, and personal attributes.
How to Make A Brag Sheet
Thankfully, most teens are pretty computer savvy so even if you have problems creating new word documents they should know how. There are some great templates available online for brag sheets or you can make your own. Just be sure that it’s laid out clearly and there isn’t too much information packed into the one document.
Take some time to go back through your teen’s schooling years to look at what grades they had, what subjects were on interest to them and any other major achievements they had. Outside of school, you’re looking for sporting teams, musical instruments, extracurricular activities, clubs, and other memberships they might have had.
With all of this information, you’ll probably find the need to condense some things. Unless it was a truly memorable point to note, you can assume that anything earlier than middle school probably isn’t useful for a brag sheet. Rather, stick to those massive achievements or the points that really highlight your child and help them stand out as an individual.
What to Include In Your Brag Sheet
Now that you have all of the information, it’s time to get into the question/answer mode of making the document. While sitting with your teen, think about the answers to these questions and add others that might be appropriate:
- Personal details including name, address, date of birth.
- Education details including dates, courses studies, and school-related groups and memberships.
- Personal hobbies and activities, interests, and extracurricular activities.
- Any previous experience with work (both paid and unpaid).
- Description of a huge personal achievement that you succeeded in.
- Special college preparation programs, honors, awards, and additional studies.
- Six words to describe your personality.
- Family information, cultural background neighborhood demographics, heritage.
- Majors and careers that are of interest, and a long-term career goal.
- Description of a difficulty you overcame in life.
- What sets your child apart from others in their school.
Tips for Teen Brag Sheets
Brag sheets are becoming more common these days, so you really need to make sure that your teens is a standout. Here are some things to remember that will insist their brag sheet gets noticed among the heap.
- Don’t take over
This is your child’s brag sheet, not a chance for you to do the most with it. Let them write the document and help them out where they need it. This should be something that they take control of.
- Be specific
Instead of saying something like “Finalist for Spelling Award”, give specific details. “As one of only 10 students to be chosen in the state for this award…”. The more information you can give the better it will be.
- Be honest
Resist the urge to help your teen embellish dates or achievements. There is a very good chance that they will have to answer questions about their brag sheet later on and they need to be able to speak about it honestly.
- Spell it out
Avoid using acronyms for schools, events, and places. Assume that whoever is reading the brag sheet knows nothing, so you will need to spell everything out for them.
- Clear and concise formatting
This document should look as professional as a resume and be formatted such. Don’t use colorful text, hard to read fonts, uneven margins, too large/small font. Keep it clear and concise, and easy to read.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread
Have your teen proofread their brag sheet and then go through it for them to look for mistakes. Even if you think you’ve found all there is, have a third person read through. Sometimes we can easily miss errors if we’ve been working on the document ourselves.
Get an Early Start on This Important Document
So, when is the best time to make a brag sheet? Contrary to what you might think, these important summaries shouldn’t just be created when it comes time to apply for college or ask those that are important to your teen for a referral.
The best time to start compiling a brag sheet is in middle school, so make a point of spending some time with your teen to create the document. Each school year as everything wraps up, add everything they’ve achieved that year and make any other notes you can think of.
Even if you think that your teen will remember their biggest accomplishments by the time college applications come around, you're wrong. There are so many things going on in the high school years that it’s best to write them down as they happen, and then keep the ones that will truly make an impact on this document.
An Early Resume That Will Truly Count
A brag sheet is the first resume that your teen will ever do, so it’s important to get it right. Explain how these documents matter when making a first impression and that they should always be proofread and edited every time they’re sent out.
Brag sheets can be a vital tool for college applications or gaining entry into the workforce. They can also give your child a big boost of confidence when they sit and think about how much they’ve really achieved so far in their short lives. If your teen doesn’t yet have their brag sheet started, now’s the time to get working on it.