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Image Management and Threshold Situations for Students

Our introductory blog on threshold situations talks of some typical threshold situations that we could face in our personal and professional lives. It includes situations faced by students, professionals, and homemaker-turned-professionals in the professional sphere. And on the personal front, it talks of marriage as a key threshold situation.

Of these, the ability to transition successfully across threshold situations and the need for professional help from image consultants is far more critical to students. The reason is that when children are young, they face many threshold situations and they are new to each of these.

Parents usually teach the importance of grades, values and respect and the broad generalities of dressing and grooming. In addition to these life’s learnings, students must learn to project the right image to create positive first impressions.

“My daughter is still in school. Why does she need image management?” says a father.

School Students and Image Management 

Because students face threshold situations right through school. The school picture has changed. Students are no longer bound within the school premises. Academic excellence in the form of grades isn’t the sole marker of students’ performance. They are part of projects, many of which are external. Student exchange programmes and events like the Model United Nations panels are part of school activities. Elocutions, debates, music and dance fests, science and maths fairs across schools take place with high frequency.

Each of these events is preparation for the real world, each an opportunity to build students’ confidence and self-esteem. The image they project is as important as their talent and hard work in making their presence felt in these events. This in turn builds the much-needed confidence, preparing students for life.

While they prepare for the technical side of the event – be it science, maths, music, dance or any other – taking care of their image adds to their confidence. Their body language shifts, their communication is more confident and assured.

Image management is also about empathy towards others which helps students understand how others perceive them. Students who prepare for a meeting – social or academic – pay attention to the host’s expectations as well as to the needs of the occasion and clothe and groom themselves accordingly. In doing so, they look beyond their comfort zone, their desires and their fears. In gearing them to meet the outside world, image management prepares them for life with confidence and empathy.

The College Threshold

College is the first big threshold that students must cross. Handled well, they can ease themselves into college life smoothly. It is the beginning of adult friendships. Making a smooth transition here helps students gain confidence in themselves. Creating the right image helps them build a solid, credible persona which in turn can help them make the most of the opportunities available to them now and in future.

Each college has a culture of its own – some require formal attire and behavior, some are more casual. The requirements also depend on the chosen stream of study within the same college. For example, some colleges require formal clothing and grooming from students of law, business management and so on. At the same time, students will want to meet the unsaid demands of their peers. Balancing the two expectations isn’t an easy task. Image management can help them find the happy balance.

When students project the expected image, they gain respect and acceptance from fellow students on the one hand and the confidence of teachers on the other who will in turn assign larger responsibilities in college fests, projects and other events to them. The additional benefit is that these responsibilities give future employers a glimpse into the student’s capabilities.


Internships are yet another key threshold situation that gives students a step in the right direction. Students must be as professional as they would be at their jobs in future. Many undergo on-campus summer placements for which they must prepare just as rigorously as they do for their final placements and that in particular, includes image management. These placements can bring them final placement offers. Even if they don’t, the recommendations students gain from companies is critical to their future employment opportunities.

Going Abroad

Students who go abroad face a culturally new threshold situation. They must be aware of the culture of the new country and of the college they enter. It is one of those threshold situations that require significant change in the image students project since it requires them to adapt themselves to a vastly different culture. Students who prepare for it integrate quickly and seamlessly and hence make the most of the opportunities that present themselves.

With high tuition fees abroad, many students depend on part-time jobs and work as teaching assistants to pay their way through college. Potential employers as well as the faculty who assigns the work of teaching assistants must gain positive impressions of the student. Students cannot leave it to chance when taking the big step of moving abroad and must incorporate changes in clothing, grooming, body language and vocal communication in addition to dining etiquette and more. Image consultants are capable of guiding students towards meeting the requirements of this threshold of their student life.

Entering the Professional Market

Whether it is campus interviews or at-company interviews, this is one of the most critical thresholds that students must cross. The first job is the first step in building their confidence. It also has an impact on how they learn and how much they learn.

Competition is high at this point since thousands of candidates are in the fray as first-time job seekers. The drawback that most students face is their lack of experience which prevents them from differentiating themselves from other contenders. While projects, research papers and their own knowledge form one half of the equation, the other half is the image they project.

Walk around a campus during placement time and you see well-groomed students in formal attire going from interview to interview. While this is good, it brings about a problem of a different kind. Since they look the same at a glance, students need to work on their body language and communication in particular to have a telling effect on the outcome of the interview.

During at-company interviews, it is important to prepare in advance based on the company’s profile and industry. As much as they prepare their answers for different job profiles and for different industries, they must project the appropriate image too based on the industry and company culture. The advice of an image consultant helps them cross this important threshold successfully without leaving it to chance.

Once they enter the job, first impressions with peers, superiors, customers, suppliers, competitors count. It is time for these first-time employees to shift gears from casual college attire, indifferent grooming, body language and communication to what is appropriate for their professional requirements.

From school to college to turning into professionals, students require image management to help them set their best foot forward across each threshold. The result is, greater confidence, self-esteem and greater learning. It’s never too early to begin.

Read more about how celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Narendra Modi manage their image across thresholds. Among the typical threshold situations of everyday life, read how professionals, homemakers-turning-professionals and those who cross the threshold of marriage manage their image. Read how prisoners can manage their image when entering mainstream life.

The entire look and feel of this shoot are visually pleasing as well as harmonious; from the attire to the colour choices to the jewellery, it was a delightful experience watching this creative piece of work.

The Tanishq campaign may have done well overall, however, it could have received a much better response if everything could have been viewed holistically.

About the Author

The author, Suman Agarwal, is the senior-most Image Consultant in the Indian Sub-continent and director of Image Consulting Business Institute. Image Consulting Business Institute is a pioneer in India and one of the biggest brands in the world in Image Management and Soft Skills Training Space. It offers programs for people to become Image Consultants and Soft Skills Trainers and at the same time offers Image Management and Soft Skills Training services to individuals and companies.

To become an Image Consultant visit
To hire an Image Consultant for personal consultation visit
To hire an Image Consultant for corporate services visit 
Suman herself undertakes select personal consultation and corporate training assignments. Write to for any such assignments.

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