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Articles / Admissions / Applicant Profiling

Feb. 18, 2020

Applicant Profiling

High school students often have difficulty putting their best foot forward.  Sometimes this is a matter of modesty.  Sometimes it's a matter of low self-esteem.  When it comes to applying to college, hold back nothing.

A while back, there was a Canon camera commercial that noted "Image is everything."  In the world of college admissions, you have to have substance behind your application.  But it doesn't hurt to work on your image a bit.


That's where your student profile comes in.  What is a student profile?  Well, there is no such thing as a "student profile form."  You have to create an image of yourself through many means. The result is that the admission staff at the colleges where you are applying will get a complete picture of you from smaller pieces.  It's the mosaic principle.

One piece is your application information.  Don't just quickly dash off answers to questions without first checking to see how it can help your cause.  Give it some thought.  Sometimes an application will ask for seemingly minor information such as, "Write a brief description of how you spent your time last summer." This is really a mini-essay.  For this one, don't tell them how bored you were or how late you slept in.  Tell them about your summer job and how you pursued your photography hobby.  Show them that you are a vital and energetic person.  Get the idea?

Another piece comes from your essay (personal statement).  This is your big chance to shine.  Don't be mundane or cute.  Imagine how many essays these folks have to read.  Make yours stand out.  Whatever your choices are for an essay topic, avoid the typical topics--sports, pets, vacations, and so forth.  Dig deep down and come up with a significant statement that applies to you in a special way.  These people want to know what goes on inside you.

Finally, don't overlook your recommendations.  When you ask a teacher or your counselor to write for you, make sure they know enough about you to sound convincing.  You might suggest some personal information about yourself that will help them.

Keep an eye on your image.  It's not everything, but it can't hurt to optimize it.

Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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