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September 16, 2011 3:21 PM   Subscribe

How do I construct a resume for applying to a program that caters to non-traditional students?

I am a non-traditional student (26) and applying to a University that has a program specifically for non-traditional students. They ask for a resume on their application, but I'm not sure what they are looking for. There is info out there on how to craft a resume for a college application, but i'm wondering if they want more of my work experience than my college experience since I spent several years out of school. There is an essay question already that asks about my education experience and to explain any gaps in attendance. I'm really confused how to craft this. Should it focus on my academic experience and skills, or my work experience and skills, or some eclectic combination? When I met with an admissions recruiter, he said they are focusing on academic strength, specifically research and writing skills. He recommended professor recommendation letters over employer recommendation letters. He said my recent academics (I have 7 courses from the spring and summer) would carry more weight than my earlier courses. So since I had 7 years in the workforce, I would think that what I gained from that and how that has influenced me and contributed to how I would do in their program would be important as well, but they never specifically ask for that.
posted by DoubleLune to Education (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"Non-traditional" degree programs pretty much mean they accept almost anyone.

Unless you've spent the last 10 years serving Big Macs, just send them your standard resume and you'll almost certainly get in.

As for "gaps" in your academic career, they basically want to know whether or not to give you credit for older classes you've taken, based on what you've done in the interim. For example, I have done contracting work, as a software geek, for a company that makes water quality testing equipment; Asking me to re-take either orgo or a basic math class amounts to a waste of my time, and any legit degree program to which I apply should want to know that.
posted by pla at 6:53 PM on September 16, 2011

Response by poster: "Non-traditional" degree programs pretty much mean they accept almost anyone.
The difference being that's it's at an Ivy League school. Easier to get into than their undergrad, but they still have high standards :)
posted by DoubleLune at 7:15 PM on September 16, 2011

Best answer: Even Ivy League non-traditional programs are often so expensive that they fund other, less profitable, parts of the university, and therefore are driven mostly by accepting anyone willing to pay.

That said, my guess is that what they're looking for is evidence that you can read and write coherently and know the format for structuring a resume. You'd be surprised how many people have a train-wreck for a resume.

I would also suggest that the essay should follow this format:
Intro - why you're applying and the overall theme in your educational experiences
Body 1 - a little on high school and long-ago college experience
Body 2-3 - why you went back to school for those 7 courses and what you learned about yourself after so much time in the workforce (and any applicable job skills you bring to your education now)
Conclusion - how this program will help you achieve your goals and buld on your successes; link back to the educational themes you wrote about in the intro, made specific to how they apply to this program

Hope that's helpful.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:17 AM on September 17, 2011

Response by poster: This program is designed to assist area residents to be able to afford an education they couldn't otherwise, so typically tuition is half of the normal tuition. I don't know how it is at other schools.

So, I guess I'll just go with my normal resume and tweak it a bit.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:14 AM on September 24, 2011

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