Personal Branding and the College Search Process

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By Damien Fatongia, Managing Director of College Counseling

Open up your favorite social media app, and you can’t miss it. It’s everywhere. Social media profiles (businesses and individuals) are all carefully constructed brands with curated pictures, interesting soundbites and witty hashtags. Personal branding is a form of currency that builds reputation and garners trust from the public. In today’s environment, when everything and everyone is vying for attention, how one distinguishes themselves through their personal brand can be the slight difference in opening the door to a meaningful opportunity. In college counseling, our conscious approach helps students recognize their personal brand, and it begins with thoughtful reflection and self-awareness.  

When supporting our students through the college search process, the college counseling team will push and probe them to dig deep and consider the motivation behind what they do and why they do it. Like a company going through a branding exercise, students take inventory of their strengths and talents, develop a vision or mission statement, and form various pillars of character. From there, they prepare a cohesive marketing plan for themselves. One of our primary goals is to help students think critically about themselves and their roles in their community so that they can effectively articulate their stories to interested parties such as universities, scholarship committees, potential employers and more. 

Through our conversations and various exercises, students begin to ask themselves, “Who am I?” “What do I value?” and “What brings me happiness?” As we get closer to answering these questions, it helps them recognize their authentic selves, which leads to a more fulfilling college search process and the discovery of the types of institutions that align best with their values. When students mindfully prepare for the application process by taking a step back, it fosters self-awareness. It allows students to communicate their values more easily to colleges and universities in an impactful way that helps differentiate them from the stack of applications.  

The college counseling team is excited to help students through this process of self-discovery so that they can put their best foot forward. The college search and application process can seem daunting, but we are here to serve as a resource and offer our counsel and support. We value our partnership with students and their families, and we look forward to celebrating our students’ accomplishments beyond La Jolla Country Day School.  

Damien Fatongia

Managing Director of College Counseling

Damien Fatongia joined La Jolla Country Day School in January 2019 after being on the “other side of the desk” for 13 years. Prior to LJCDS, Mr. Fatongia worked as associate director for West Coast Admissions for Trinity College in Hartford, CT and also spent a decade working for Saint Mary’s College of California in San Francisco. As a first-generation college student, Mr. Fatongia’s interest in college admissions was driven by his high school counselor who helped him every step of the way as he was conducting his college search.

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