By Andy Lee

Admissions officers at leading universities sift through soaring piles of applications during each cycle and often spend only a few minutes evaluating each applicant before rendering a quick judgment. In order to stand out against the competition and to capture the attention of admissions officers, you must carefully craft a unique personal brand. Personal branding is not a long summary of all your achievements and accomplishments, but rather a selective showcase of your traits and qualities that would garner the interest of your target audience – admissions officers at your dream schools.

Powerful brands, such as Apple, Nike and Coca Cola are successful, in part, because they epitomize and represent certain desirable characteristics that consumers covet. When it comes to college admissions, the consumers are the admissions officers who decide which students are granted permission to enter the hallowed halls of their university. Like all consumers, these officers are attracted to things that embody traits and qualities that are aligned with their taste and preferences.

So, how do you go about devising a personal brand that is both authentic and compelling? Here is a simple three-step process to guide you on your journey of effective personal branding:

Step 1: Assess

Carefully reflect on the following questions:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you enhance your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses?
  • What universities are you drawn to and why?
  • What are the universal and specific qualities that the admissions officers at these universities are seeking?

Step 2: Achieve

  • Look for opportunities (i.e. tournaments, competitions, summer programs, etc.) that will enable you to demonstrate your strengths that align with your desired college’s core values.
  • Search for resources (i.e. tutoring, coaching, remedial programs, etc.) that will allow you to work on improving your weaknesses.
  • Keep detailed records of all your achievements, but also your failures and how you overcame them.

Step 3: Communicate

  • Determine the key achievements, qualities and other personal traits you would like to convey to the admissions officers
  • In your application essays, interview and recommendation letters, communicate your brand by using compelling personal anecdotes to showcase your personal traits and accomplishments.

Final Tips on Personal Branding:

  1. Start Early: By starting early, you will have more time to build up achievements and accomplishments that will make your personal brand authentic and tangible. When it comes to activities, longevity of experience will carry more weight than more recent ad-hoc involvement.
  2. Seek Outside Perspective: Speak with your family, friends, teachers and mentors to gain a better perspective on your strengths and weaknesses. Be open to listening to feedback, both positive and negative.
  3. Revise and Proofread: Since your personal brand is primarily conveyed through your writing, you must ensure that your final draft is lucid, coherent and impactful.

By following these programs outlined above, you will be able to create a distinctive personal brand that puts you in the best possible position to seize the interest of admissions officers, and maximize your chances of getting admitted to your dream school.