The College Application Portfolio: Brand "Me"

March 9, 2021

Contributed by Joe Magennis | Director of University Marketing, Johnson & Wales University

It’s your senior year and you’ve sorted through dozens of emails, mounds of catalogs and texts. You’ve taken tours and done the research, now you’re ready to put your application package together. You’ve identified one college or university as the launching pad for your career in marketing communications, but how will you land a coveted position in their next freshman class?

Welcome to your first college assignment called capturing Brand “Me.” It’s your chance to tell your story, showcase your creativity, reflect your personality and captivate your audience by creating a digital portfolio. You need to convey your essence and communicate it clearly and succinctly. Your challenge will be to engage your audience, communicate your message and persuade your target that you are the right high school senior to earn an acceptance.

Brand “Me“ is  an exercise in creating clear, concise messaging using images and videos that convey who you are and the journey you have taken for self-discovery. Using a creative portfolio and your digital toolkit, you can demonstrate your media literacy while conveying the value that your contributions will bring to the classroom—beyond test scores and essays.

Step One: Build Your Portfolio Early

Having visual records of your accomplishments will help build the case for your admission. Use tools like Canva and platforms like WordPress, Squarespace or Wix that will help you organize the information. Use a platform with which you feel most comfortable.

Step Two: Craft Your Personal Positioning Statement

Don’t just present your best self; rather, tell your story in an engaging way. Do this in a manner that reflects your personality, demonstrates your creativity and captivates your audience, compelling them to want to know more about you.

Step Three: Write Your Narrative

Know that who you are is enough. You don’t need to brag, inflate or claim anything outlandish. Just be honest and be yourself. Explain what makes you tick… and communicate that clearly and succinctly.

Step Four: Organize Your Information

A well-organized digital portfolio will help communicate your brand clearly. Make sure that tabs are easily seen and divide your story into clear sections. Provide a section that will explain who you are and how you arrived where you are (i.e., people, places and things that have influenced your path), where you are headed (career interests) and sections that demonstrate your strengths. There might be a place where you demonstrate your attributes (i.e., collaboration, community service or critical thinking) or achievements (i.e., awards, competitions, leadership). You decide how the organizational plan makes sense. The key, however, is not to simply reiterate what is on your application.

Step Five: Select Visuals That Reflect You

Imagery can help you tell your story. Is there a certain color, illustration or photograph that reflects who you are?  Use it on the title page and carry elements of those visual images throughout. Study the psychology of colors and how they interplay with each other. If you’re feeling bold, then use opposites on the color wheel. If you’re a more subdued person, use subtle hues that are close in range. Colors can help make this space a reflection of who you are.

Use multi-media. Do you create podcasts? Are you the morning host of your school’s television station? Video and audio links, along with photography, can help build your case for a position in marketing. But strong communication skills can also be documented in other ways. Are you a talented photographer? You could post images, along with a video, talking about the creative process. If you are a great communicator, then show videos of your debate performances. Are you a talented artist? Include images of your artwork in your portfolio along with a video about how you get your inspiration. Is the account management side of the industry your strength? Perhaps you could include a video of your DECA presentation.


Brand “Me” is an opportunity to demonstrate your communication skills and how adept you are with technology. It’s a way to tell a story about you, beyond sharing your transcript and test scores. Create the narrative that explains who you are, both in words and with media. Use the digital portfolio as a sales tool to exhibit how you have the creativity, analytical tools, maturity and digital skills to adapt and succeed in marketing.

Questions?

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Discussion Questions

  • 1
    What have been defining moments in your life?
  • 2
    What have you chosen to spend time on?
  • 3
    What would you like to achieve in the future?
  • 4
    Whom or what are you inspired by?

Classroom Connection

Career CLuster:

Instructional Area(s):

Performance Indicators:

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