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Articles / Applying to College / Picture Yourself on Google

Picture Yourself on Google

Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | Nov. 29, 2016

“Marketing” may be a dirty word in some quarters, but when it comes to college admissions, marketing yourself is an important concept. One of the tools that I have written about over the years here is what I call an “annotated” activities list. What is that and how does it relate to marketing? Is there anything better than an annotated activities list?

Well, that’s the point of my post today. I’d like to show you a clever way to enhance your application’s impact.

An annotated activities list is just that. It’s a neatly organized way to present all the activities in which you have been involved over your high school years. The “annotated” part comes in where you expand your definition of those activities that merit an explanation. Certain clubs, sports, or other endeavors might not be immediately understood by an admissions officer, thus, a more detailed description may be in order. This also provides an opportunity for you to apply a touch of humor here and there, a quality appreciated by admissions types, in light of the fact that they see such boring material in many of the applications they review. So, your annotated list is a kind of marketing document that touts the kinds of interesting and exciting things that make up who you are.

Your academic record will speak for itself in quantitative terms, but your brief, illustrative narratives will offer “softer” insights for admissions people to get to know you better. There is an even a more creative way for you to allow admissions staffers get to know you. Read on.

First of all, however, please understand that some colleges, such as Stanford University, do not accept separate resumes, brag sheets, CVs, or other attachments that expand on a student’s extracurricular profile. So, before you take advantage of what I’m about to share with you, be sure that you won’t violate any application guidelines by submitting an enhanced explanation of your EC pursuits.

One of the seniors with whom I’m working now sent me this information yesterday. It’s about a Creative Resume That Looks Like A Google Search Results PageMy senior sent me his version of this very cool tool and I was amazed at how effectively it conveyed and captured who he is.


First of all, let’s take a look at what this marketing approach involves. Here’s some introductory information from Diana Adams’ explanation (keep in mind that although she writes about using this for a job search, you can consider applying to a college as a similar challenge because you are hoping that the college will “hire” you (except, if hired, you will pay them :-)):

Finding your dream job can be tough, especially in a field that is trendy right now like technology or social media. Some people decide to make their own dreams come true, and they take the path of beginning a startup. Others find ways to stand out from the crowd, and they put together a creative resume that is different from any other resume out there. This is an example of one of those creative resumes. It’s an online resume that looks and navigates just like a Google search results page.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone make a creative resume that looks like a webpage we are all familiar with. About six months ago we featured a guy who made a fake Amazon page resume. Online resumes have almost replaced paper resumes in today’s world, and this is one of the best I’ve seen.


This creative resume was designed by advertising executive Chris Liu. He hopes to find a job as a copywriter, and I’m sure he’ll get a lot of attention from what he’s been able to put together. Of course his fake Google search results page is hyperlinked with each relevant, individual page. With just a few clicks, a potential employer can view his blog, website, portfolio, work history, experience and all his social media accounts.

It was all so interesting that I naturally wanted to click over to the second page, which of course doesn’t exist. When you’re looking at it, it’s easy to forget it’s a fake Google page. As always, there are tons of people criticizing his idea since it’s not original. After all, real Google search result pages like this already exist. He still deserves an A for effort. I don’t care what anybody says, this is way more creative than any other resume you’ll see today!

Click to enlarge the images below:


I particularly like the photo section where Chris pictures himself in a number of different settings. At least to me, this is a better approach than those controversial “admissions videos” that applicants have been known to produce. These quick images of Chris create an instant atmosphere, a mood about him that comes off quite positively. It’s a great deal like a Facebook page without all the risks involved in giving an admissions officer access to that level of personal information, although they may be looking at your FB page, anyway.

The live links open up a whole world of additional information about Chris. However, since your use of this approach here would be for college admissions and not a job search, keep in mind that admissions officers have a very limited amount of time to review an application. Thus, don’t expect every detail of your “Google page(s)” to be savored. Your emphasis should be on conciseness. Keep it as brief and direct as possible.

The key issue to keep in mind is that you’re looking to create a positive, if not intriguing, tone about yourself, who you are, what you’re involved in, and what you’ve accomplished. In one sense, this might be an attempt to explain a book (you) by its “cover” (your illustrated presentation). You are literally putting a face on your application.



So, for those of you who are technically adept and are applying to colleges that will entertain creative activities lists and brag sheets, this may be something you want to consider. One caution: Don’t get too cute.

I’ve read about applicants who have sent cookies, brownies, and other goodies to admissions offices in hopes of influencing a decision. Stunts like this are futile and, in fact, such blatant attempts to “bribe” an admission office probably would create significant prejudice against your case to get in, so don’t do something like that.

On the other hand, let’s face it; today’s world is completely submerged in technology. Accordingly, if you have become skilled at using that technology, I see no reason not to take advantage of it (to incorporate a dreaded double-negative). My reservation, as noted above, is not to be over the top with how you use it.

I think this Google-page approach is right on the money and can convey a succinctly positive message about the applicant. Perhaps the best way to wade into trying this would be to assemble your page(s) and then show it/them to Mom and or Dad to get an objective opinion. Parents often have the ability to recall aspects about their children that the children overlook. In your case, if so, then you may be able to tweak your page(s} to a higher level of pertinency and impressiveness.

Try it. You — and your admissions officers — may like it!


Check College Confidential for all of my college-related articles.

Written by

Dave Berry

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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