Why Your Personal Brand Is Important to Your College Search

two women in a classroom

Before the start of my senior year in high school, I remember thinking about Senior Superlatives in our yearbook. I knew my picture would be with the Swim Team and Student Government Association. But would I be recognized for a noteworthy Senior Superlative? Maybe best smile?

Senior Superlatives relate to what is known as your personal image or “brand.” And while it may not initially seem so, your personal brand is important to your college search.

If you remember just one thing from this post, please always keep in mind – you are uniquely you. Your personal brand is your chance to share who you are, your story, and what you stand for.

Why Your Personal Brand Matters

Why is it important for colleges to know who you are, and what your brand is? College admissions committees will be looking at your application for several things – overall professionalism and presentation, self-awareness and a demonstration of it, as well as your academic, extra-curricular, and volunteer-focused involvement. Your personal brand relates to all of these things.

What is Your Personal Brand?

When thinking about your personal brand, here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Who are you? What motivates you to be who you are? What are five words that describe you best?
  • What is your story? What parts of your life are you comfortable sharing? What are personal challenges that you feel others will learn and benefit from? Did you overcome testing anxiety or being away from your family for four weeks a summer at camp?
  • What do you stand for? Are you engaged in activities that are focused on your values? Are you volunteering for a social justice cause that’s important to you at your high school or with your local community? Even at your high school, are you getting to know students who may not share the same background as you?
  • What are your goals for this year? For example, are you interested in participating your church’s mission trip and fundraising half of the associated costs? Are you intrigued by the possibility of starting your own business or side hustle with the modern calligraphy lettering you enjoy?

Social Media: A Reflection of Your Personal Brand

As you consider these questions and before you start filling out college applications, you will want to take a look at your social media accounts. Honesty is the best policy! What does your social media presence say about you? Do your social media accounts reflect the brand you want them to?

The Office of Career Planning recommends the following with regard to social media:

Step One: Clean Up – How are you perceived to others? What is not appropriate on your social media account right now?

Step Two: Keep It Positive – Does your social media account promote your work and interests? Presence/reputation in the community – What are you known for? Where are your circles focused?

Step Three: Be Strategic – Do you follow or like organizations or interests?

Step Four: Engage and Research – Do you follow or like mentors or points of inspiration?

Above All: Be You

In the end, I was not recognized with a Senior Superlative at my high school. The years have passed and I have accepted the fact that I didn’t fit into a certain category for “Best Smile” or “Most Likely to Succeed.”

In my professional network today, though, my personal brand is being recognized as a diligent and conscientious professional who genuinely cares about others.

That is what I continue to strive for each day and that’s what I would encourage you to keep in mind as well during your senior year. Be you and keep it real.

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