College Admissions – Brand Yourself and Get In!
THERE’S NO GETTING AROUND the fact that the college admissions process is increasingly competitive. So it’s even more important to stand out from the crowd.
Luckily, social media, like blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, have prepared you to do just that. You may not realize it, but every day on these sites you’re creating a persona, or a “self brand.” Just like Mac uses its commercials to illustrate how its character is different from PCs, you distinguish yourself with your one-of-a-kind status updates, videos, pictures and blog posts.
Marketers say that the key to creating a strong, memorable “brand identity” is repetition. Think about it. How many times have you watched one of those “I’m a Mac” commercials? Even if you prefer PCs, you still remember the message, right? Macs are cool. They work better.
In your college applications, you want to be a Mac (without insulting your fellow PCs, of course). You want admissions officers to remember you, and for good reason.
Let’s say that because of the current economy you’ve had to work an after-school job instead of participating in a ton of extracurricular activities. Use this experience to your advantage. Think about what you have learned at your job or how it’s reinforced your work ethic and teamwork skills. Emphasize these themes—strong work ethic, willingness to help your family in a time of need, teamwork, balancing school and work—throughout your application. Build them into your short answers, activity sheet and essay.
FOCUS ON YOUR TALENTS
Or, focus on a unique talent. Even if you aren’t the “best” at something, think of an obstacle you’ve overcome to achieve a goal. Perhaps you wanted to be on the debate team but had to beat your fear of public speaking. Or maybe you tried out three times before making the varsity softball roster.
CONNECT YOUR UNIQUE TALENTS TO THE SCHOOL
Once you’ve figured out what makes you unique and expressed it in multiple ways, connect it to what you’ll bring to campus. Colleges want each freshman class to have diverse interests and talents, so make it easy for them to choose you.
For example, tell admissions officers how and why your work ethic and teamwork skills will make you a successful college student. If you have a specific major in mind, like fine arts, express how your acting abilities or musical talents will make a great addition to the college’s arts program.
Creating a self brand doesn’t have to be hard. Just be true to yourself and what you have to offer. Colleges will be sure to take note.