LinkedIn has become an increasingly popular professional network among high school students looking to package and brand themselves for the college admissions process. It’s a platform that can be incredibly useful for students who want to:

  • Build their professional networks early
  • Present a professional appearance to the world
  • Connect with potential professors, mentors, and college admissions officers

It’s especially important for homeschool students to take every opportunity to present themselves as well-rounded, accomplished individuals. As a homeschool student, LinkedIn may prove to be an especially helpful tool for showcasing your unique combination of skills, interests, areas of expertise, and experiences. Creating a professional LinkedIn profile is a way for you to “brand” yourself and stand out professionally from the rest of the pack.

So, do you need a LinkedIn profile? Most likely, you already have a presence on social media. When you graduate and enter the workforce, you’ll have a LinkedIn presence anyway—so why not create one now?

With a LinkedIn profile, you’ll be able to:

1. Showcase academic achievements, work experience, volunteer work, and more

As a homeschool student preparing to enter the college admissions process, you want to cultivate your competitive edge as much as possible. One way to do this is by including your full scope of experience in a LinkedIn profile. Academic achievements, awards won, on-the-job experience, and even volunteer work are all fair game. You can also get creative with a profile headline by creating a descriptive title like “Aspiring Social Media Marketing Manager,” “English Tutor/Robotics Enthusiast,” or “Honors Student in Mathematics.”

2. Present a professional appearance with a headshot

A polished, professional headshot gives college admissions officials and potential employers a good look at how you’ll be presenting yourself if you meet or interview in person. It also gives your network a face to pair with your name. Carefully choose an image that both conveys who you are and presents a professional, mature persona.

3. Use LinkedIn Publisher to exhibit your writing proficiency

If you have a blog or are thinking of starting one, LinkedIn is the perfect place to publish your content. Your connections will be able to view, share, and comment on your posts. What’s more, they’ll get to know you, your writing style, and your point of view. It’s a fantastic opportunity to share your experiences and expertise through your concise, proficient writing.

4. Create a customized URL for your name

When you edit your LinkedIn profile, you can create a vanity URL for your name, removing the difficult-to-remember numbers from the automatically-generated URL. This will make your LinkedIn address easier to share, and it will look more attractive at a glance. It’ll also increase your chances of a potential contact remembering how to navigate directly to your profile.

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5. Include your LinkedIn profile link in applications to colleges

When you fill out your college applications, be sure to include your LinkedIn profile link. This will give admissions officials a chance to connect with you online if they haven’t already. It will also add another dimension of your personality, accomplishments, and education to the materials you’ve already provided in your application packet.

6. Get endorsements and recommendations from employers and instructors

A LinkedIn endorsement is like a virtual thumbs-up from your network that adds credibility to your skill set. A recommendation is like a testimonial from someone who knows your work ethic and abilities. You can get recommendations from employers, instructors, or coaches that will highlight your accomplishments, abilities, and potential as enter college and, later, the workforce. As you build your connections, each person you connect with will also be given an opportunity to endorse you for specific skills.

7. Network with professors, instructors, career professionals, and more

Interested in communicating with professors from your college of choice or professionals in the industry you’re hoping to enter after you graduate? LinkedIn is a great way to find and connect with these individuals so you can start building a relationship and rapport with them before you even begin your first semester of college. Don’t be afraid to send out carefully-selected connection requests—and be sure to ask mutual connections for introductions if you’re unsure or unable to send a direct connection request to someone you want to virtually “meet.”

8. Highlight unique skills and accomplishments

You can use your LinkedIn profile to showcase specialized skills and accomplishments that may help you stand out from other students your age. As a homeschool student, you have an opportunity to include skills and accomplishments that public and private school students your age might not have been able to acquire, depending on the curriculum they’ve followed at their school.

9. List transferable skills from activities, sports, etc.

If you don’t have a work history to include, you can list any skills you’ve acquired through other activities (sports, performing arts, volunteering, early college courses, clubs, etc.). Potential colleges and future employers will see that you’ve got experiences like leadership, written and oral communication, management, organization, and more that can transfer into a professional career.

10. Use the media section to display graphic design, websites, video, photography, and more

The media section on your LinkedIn profile is the perfect place to add blog posts, video, graphic design, and more. It functions as a portfolio of sorts that allows you to showcase some of your best work. If you’ve pursued interests in media, writing, graphic, or web design, this is a great opportunity to share your work with potential colleges and employers.

The bottom line

LinkedIn could help you get the attention of college admissions officers, professors, instructors, and even career professionals. As you establish your LinkedIn presence, remember to keep the content you share professional. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, LinkedIn is appropriate for professional-level sharing only.