Although it can be hard to believe — in the midst of academics and athletics — nobody can be a super hero. It really is impossible to enroll and succeed in everything. Unfortunately, I’ve found that many college applicants try this kind of shotgun approach to building a unique college application, signing up for everything, yet focusing on nothing. These students consequently pad their resumes with laundry lists of the dozens and dozens of things they’ve tried, but nothing in which they’ve excelled. The important thing that students need to remember is that the key to getting into a top-tier school is a passion for self-fulfillment. Passion, genuine passion – that’s the key! And with that comes the concept of self-branding.
Personal Branding is centered on unlocking a student’s passions by meticulously working to uncover their dreams and aspirations.
What drives a student is what makes them unique. If you have an interest in keeping their finger on the pulse of the community, writing for a school paper – If it’s being a team player, being the star high school running back – If it’s for entertaining, being the star in a drama production. The depth, breadth, tenure and responsibility a student takes on to uncover their passions is paramount.
What’s going to make an application stand out in a pool of thousands is a Personal Brand. Proof that a student possesses passion and has used high school as a time to truly find themselves is crucial. For years you have heard through the grapevine that a high school student must be involved in everything — just sign up for each activity, pad your resumes and you’ll stand out. But the reality is that colleges can see right through that approach.
To be competitive for college admission, a student should participate in the activities that they truly care about. Too often, the myths of the admission process promote a hysterical shotgun approach that students have to be well rounded and that they need to do everything. In other words, many students are lead to believe that they need to be a superhero. While it is important to be well-rounded, students who try to do everything often excel at nothing. Students, however, who focus of the activities that they are truly passionate about are more likely to excel in all of their endeavors.
A student who vainly attempts to be a Jack-of-all-trades often loses sight of the importance of why colleges and universities desire a strong extracurricular resume. The goal of a college is to find out whether a student’s activities and passions make them a good fit for the school.
To create your Personal Brand, you’re going to need to dedicate yourself and devote time to uncovering your passions. Exploit your interests — turn them into far-reaching and real-life projects. If you are a student interested in entrepreneurship, create a true-life company with a budget, business model and products that can be manufactured and sold across the country. Or if you enjoy traveling and are interested in International Business, look into summer internships in commercial companies abroad that could potentially lead to paid employment in the future, life-changing experience and a distinctive resume.
Don’t succumb to the pressure that you need to perform miracles to get into a prestigious college. Nobody expects you to save the world, while also being varsity football captain and newspaper editor. In fact, colleges will not be impressed with this unfocused approach. Instead, dedicate your time to developing your true passions, sacrificing everything artificial for something important and creating your Personal Brand.
An effective coach working with a passionate high school student can have a significant impact on their pre and post college experience preparing them for the rigors of college by creating a realistic admissions strategy based on truthful introspection, a strong personal brand, meaningful extra-curricular activities and an aggressive pursuit of test scores and grades.