Creating a Personal Brand for Your College or Grad School Application
Your college or graduate school application is more than just a transcript and essay. Your application will likely require several written pieces, and they all need to fit together to tell a cohesive story that represents you as a candidate. After all, applying for anything requires an element of branding. So the question is, what is your personal brand? And how do you convey that on paper?
The Pieces of an Application
Every school will be different. Some may only require a personal statement, while others may require several pieces of writing like short essays, Q&As, letters of recommendation, and more. Successful applicants are able to form a narrative across all of these pieces that highlights strengths and re-frames weaknesses. But tight, targeted messaging can be challenging for even the strongest writers, so give yourself plenty of time to plan, write, and edit.
Fitting it All Together
No matter how many written pieces are required in your application, you should make sure to answer the prompts directly and concisely, but also write in a way that represents your personal brand. It shouldn’t feel as if one essay doesn’t fit with the others, or like different people wrote each one. Admissions officers want to know the person behind the transcript, and if your essays feel disjointed, they won’t come away with a strong sense of who you are or what you would bring to their school.
How to Develop a Personal Brand
Doris Huang is an admissions consultant. She works with both college and graduate school hopefuls, and knows a thing or two about personal branding. Her advice? Make sure all pieces of your application fit together, there’s not too much overlap, and that they reinforce the same message.
Before you start out on any single written piece of your application, develop a strategy. An admissions officer will read an application in one sitting, and will consider it as a whole. So don’t write without knowing which stories you will focus on and what direction the entire application will take. You want your application to be a true representation of who you are, and for it to feel like the admissions officer has met you in person. To do that, create a personal brand and let it shine through every piece you write.