Accomplishments constitute the bread and butter of personal statements and application essays. Nothing too exciting in that statement. However, a fascinating brainstorming session on Accepted’s Editor Mailing List reveals that applicants don’t always know what an accomplishment is. What goes into this application staple?
The bread: Impact. Your accomplishment must show you as a contributor who has had a significant impact on a person, organization, or entity. Your accomplishment could be that you increased membership, led a team to victory, built a coalition in student government that did something fantastic, increased sales, cut costs, or found a solution to a problem that enabled a critical deal to go forward.
The butter: Obstacles overcome. This is not fluff. Overcoming lack of resources be they time, money, innate talent, or people magnifies your accomplishment many fold. Since we rarely have enough of everything for plans to go smoothly, make sure you tell the story of the difficulties you faced.
And what if you like jam with it? What would sweeten the dish?
The jam: Leadership. Yes, your accomplishment could be a purely individual and personal one. And that dish would satisfy, but for most fields, an accomplishment involving others where you influence, motivate, persuade, cajole, and lead will turn your bread and butter into a delectable delicacy.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.