If I simply say that every student needs to undertake a meaningful profile building journey, I will not be convincing enough. Not before I have explained what a good profile means in the context of students and why is it important. But before I delineate, there are some questions that need to be asked!
Did you know that the acceptance rate at Harvard University is a mere 3.4 percent? Did you know that only 17 students make it to Oxford University per hundred applications? To give context, only a handful of hundreds of thousands of students applying to top universities get through.
This brings us to an important question! What do top institutions like Yale, Harvard, and UBC look for in student applications? Some might argue that it’s solely about grades and academics. If that is the case, why every student scoring above 95 percent is not making the cut?
By that logic, every student with excellent grades should either be at Yale, Stanford, Brown University or UC Berkley. However, that is definitely not the case! So, now is the right time for me to elucidate profile building.
Profile, Profile Building & Their Significance
Before we move to profile building, let us start with a simple definition of a student profile. A student profile is the culmination of academic endeavors, extracurricular activities, co-curricular engagements and other illustrious achievements. A good profile will reflect academic engagements beyond the ongoing curriculum. Moreover, it will exhibit leadership aptitude, extracurricular participation, worthwhile exposure and experiential learning.
Needless to say, the more impressive the profile the brighter the prospects. We can try and visualize an extraordinary profile in terms of an outstanding student CV. Let’s think of a Student CV that has illustrious achievements and engagements across multiple dimensions. A CV with online courses, extracurricular achievements, industrial experiences, passion projects, publications and self-initiated projects to the student’s name.
Now, this is the kind of profile that will stand out from the rest for the universities’ admission officers. This is exactly why profile building and profile building guidance are important. I can tell from my vast experience in tertiary education that working on your profile is important. Eventually, the best overall profiles will make it to universities like Harvard, Yale, UBC, LSE and so on.
Here I would also like to mention that the goal of working on your profile should not be limited to university applications or scholarships. Yes, with an incredible profile, you stand a high chance of getting admission to a top-notch institute. Moreover, it also increases the prospects of winning a handsome study abroad scholarship.
But there is so much more to it. The confidence, exposure and skills you acquire in this journey and invaluable and imperishable. What you learn and how your personality evolves will stay with you for the rest of your life. Having said that, the end goal of profile building is to evolve into the best version of yourself.
Now I can give a more structured definition of what it means to build your profile. It is the systematic and logical process you undertake to enhance and enrich your profile. Of course, each student’s profile building journey needs to be customized to suit their ambitions and personality.
For instance, profile building for MBA in the UK will be very different from profile building for B.Tech in the US. Similarly, it will vary subject to the student’s current personality, interests and strengths. It will certainly need a lot of research and a counselor’s input to provide the best profile building guidance. Hence, professional help is recommended.
However, irrespective of ambition, personality and career goals, there is a systematic roadmap that each student should follow. The roadmap is explained in the next section in terms of 14 key dimensions of profile building. These dimensions focus on the overall development of students to unlock new horizons of success.
14 Key Dimensions of Successful Profile Building
- Leadership Aptitude
An excellent profile must exhibit a strong leadership aptitude. From leading a school club to holding a batch in school or leading a group project, everything counts. Universities will love to have students who can lead their diverse student community with flamboyance and finesse.
- Subject-Specific Academic Development
Your keenness to pursue a certain degree or career should be evident in your academic development. Here, we are talking about academic development over and beyond your curriculum.
For instance, let’s say you aspire to be a computer science engineer. The subject-specific academic development here will include online courses in computer science fields like AI, coding and so on. Writing a research paper on a domain of computer science or doing a project will also count.
- Writing Skills
From writing an SOP for university admissions to writing an email at work years later, writing skills are essential. In fact, your writing skills will always be a significant dimension of your communication proficiency and personality. It is an ongoing process, you need to keep enhancing your writing skills for essays, SOPs and emails. Moreover, if you plan to work on a research paper or review article, then too you would need great writing skills.
- Community Service
Indulging in community service makes you a humble person and also helps you be a more compassionate person. Moreover, in the pursuit of helping others or leading community service projects, you also attain valuable life skills.
Therefore, when we talk about profile building, indulging in community service is of grave importance. Besides, it also increases your prospects of being admitted to top universities across the globe. To explain, the IVY Leagues in the US, The UK’s Russel Group, and G8 in Australia value community service. For them, any student with community service experience holds a significant edge over the others.
- Reading Beyond Textbooks
Reading is an underrated skill or habit to have, isn’t it? Reading offers new horizons and helps you explore a world beyond the ordinary. Having said that, a salient feature of your profile building journey should be proactive reading.
The best thing about reading is there is so much to read from. You can read fiction, books on leadership, books on habits, books on manifestation and so on. Read whatever you like but do read for sure.
Irrespective of whichever career field you aspire for, why not dream of being an entrepreneur in that? Having said that, enhancing your entrepreneurial exposure and knowledge should always be on the cards.
You must develop a genuine knack for entrepreneurship and gaining entrepreneurial insights along with learning. It could be done in the form of taking a MOOC on entrepreneurship, a documentary or articles on entrepreneurship.
- Personal Branding
Just like businesses flourish on brand perception, so do individuals. Let me simplify it for you! If you have a website in your name, if you are a blogger, have an impressive LinkedIn or an artist page on Instagram, you have a personal brand.
The stronger the personal brand the higher the chances of being in the reckoning for top universities. To explain, when you have a strong personal brand, universities see you adding immense value to their student community. Besides, you will also be seen as a prospective leader and a brand ambassador of the institution.
So, as a part of my profile building guidance, I will recommend that you keep enhancing your personal brand. In fact, it is true that a lot of universities also look at applicants’ LinkedIn profiles while making admission decisions. So, you better get your act together!
- Personality Development
Besides what you can put out on the resume, your overall personality matters as well. You may get through the first screening process based on an impressive resume. However, when it comes to your SOP or personal interview, that is where your personality will take the limelight.
Needless to say, the top universities will surely prefer individuals with strong and confident personalities. You may be the most knowledgeable person in the world but you also need to be great at expressing that knowledge. Similarly, if you have a diverse skillset and progressive perspectives, it should be quite evident in your overall personality.
Of course, there is no fixed curriculum for personality development. Your personality development objectives have to be unique to your personality and areas of improvement. For instance, you may want to enhance your personality in terms of being a more confident public speaker or debater.
On the contrary, your friend’s personality development objectives may be about better time management, decision making and leadership. It is for you to assess what are the concurrent strengths of your personality and what are the shortcomings.
- Internships/Industrial Experience
Let’s say you want to go for an automobile engineering course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Now, for sure you will be competing for a miser acceptance rate. Just like you, other applicants may also have a high GPA and strong extracurriculars. But let’s say you have also interned with Hyundai for 3 months during high school. This is where you will have a huge advantage over other applicants.
Having said that, internships or job shadowing relevant to your career ambitions are vital. Not only does it enhance your profile but also gives you a first-hand experience of practical learning.
Besides, it could also be a way for you to confirm your interests in a particular career by actually stepping into it. Therefore, internships are a must for your profile building pursuit.
- Test Preparation
Tests like SAT, ACT, GMAT and GRE are essential for admission to foreign universities. Of course, the test requirements vary from university to university and course to course. However, you will likely have to take one of these tests if we talk about the top-notch universities.
In addition, you will also need to take one of the language proficiency tests. These include IELTS, PTE, TOEFL, Duolingo and so on. The bottom line is that when you set goals for your profile building, they must also include test preparation. You would surely not want low test scores to come in the way of otherwise high prospects of admission to top universities.
- Extracurricular Development
Extracurricular development is quite self-explanatory. Engaging in more and more extracurricular activities like MUNs, debates or quizzes adds more dimensions to your profile. However, what is important is that the extracurriculars you partake in should express a genuine passion and an upward trajectory.
Let me explain this to you by elaborating! It is not about participating in 25 different extracurricular activities just to fill columns in your CV. It is much better to engage in two to three extracurricular activities that show consistency and an upward trajectory. For instance, let’s say you start doing MUNs in grade 9 out of genuine passion.
You do 10 MUNs in grade 9 and then in grade 10, you win 5 best delegate awards. Thereafter, you do more MUNs in grades 11 and 12, this time in the capacity of an executive board member. So, clearly, there is consistency and an upward trajectory.
- Technological Advancement
We dwell in an age where anything and everything we do correlates to technology in some way or the other. If you are tech-savvy and are agile with technology, it is a great advantage to have. The more technical skills you have the better you will do in your professional life.
Hence, your profile should include a great rapport with technology and the adaptability to work with the ever-evolving technological landscape.
- Letters of Recommendation
Letters of Recommendation from your principal or school counselor add incredible value to your application. In fact, via LORs, your school can also recommend you for the top scholarships at the best universities.
So, make sure that before your applications start, you request your school for LORs.
Networking has two aspects to it. One, you network with like-minded people on Linkedin or other offline forums. Second, you network with the professors and alumni of the university you are aiming for. What networking does is that it makes your personal brand more visible and helps you connect with people who matter.