LI_studentapplogoThis past weekend the New York Times ran an article on college-bound high school students using LinkedIn as one integral part of their college application package.

This is not a late-breaking development, as LinkedIn has offered this for some time.

What is noteworthy: LinkedIn has become an increasingly important part of the character profile of a university applicant. Decisions are made with it.

To be sure character is what makes a younger person memorable when a list of accomplishments is nascent. My own children developed their character image within the components of their college applications, and that was years and years ago! LinkedIn now augments to the self-sketch.

Further, using Tufts University’s profile of their entering class of 2016 as an example (and all schools show this), you can see the heady list of accomplishments that these 17- and 18-year olds achieved.

Now they have the luxury to further showcase these on a well-crafted LinkedIn profile.

No wonder with today’s increased competition to gain attention and be accepted from among the many, LinkedIn is a tool to be used to measure and construct one’s unique value proposition, thus offering insight into the individual’s unique worth as an applicant.

But the LinkedIn profile is not to be made a factoid list or resume look-alike. It must be written well to be quickly read to imagine the writer’s true voice and quality, in whole sentences, with insight, presented thoughtfully.

As the student in the photo caption in the article said of his LinkedIn profile:

“I made it to show people who don’t know who I am what I am about.”

Sound familiar? It’s just like an older and more experienced person wanting to stand out from the professional competition! Some things never change, they just start earlier!

So I propose that high school students who want to excel right out of the proverbial box invest their reflection and introspection into developing a LinkedIn profile that shows

why they do what they do

and their past and present leading to their future aspirations.

Start a lifetime of self-branding now and refine it throughout your long and fascinating career! Make it a lifelong habit.

A few components of the LinkedIn profile I suggest you illustrate in this high school-to-college stage:

  • A headshot that makes you look friendly and will help remind the admissions officer what you STILL look like (yes I know experiments and changes occur in how you look, but stay memorable!),
  • Contact details in all methods of communication we use today,
  • A smart Headline that encapsulates your persona in <120 words,
  • A Summary that is an elevator speech for the admissions officer to get a quick and rich idea of why you, complementary to the other materials you have submitted,
  • Examples of your work: a great piece that shows you can write, a PowerPoint slide deck from school or extracurricular activities, a pod cast or recording showing you can express yourself in words or music (rounds you out in the eyes, ears, minds of reader),
  • If available, add Recommendations from employers and teachers you are connected to on LinkedIn,
  • Discuss the value you bring to a nonprofit for your volunteer work and how it rewards you and them,
  • Your Interests section can mention some of your passions, showing other sides of you in a professional way,
  • And every (!) section must be written thoughtfully, in perfect grammar, excellent word choice and no typos, please.

Parents and guidance counselors: my help is available on a for-hire basis (shameless plug, I know!). I assure you that their resulting LinkedIn profile will be heads above what you can come up with on your own!

That LinkedIn profile we construct just may be the deciding aspect of your student’s acceptance to his or her ideal college.

An investment. From there, the opportunities are incalculable!