4 Ways to Show How You’ll Contribute in the Future

Click here to learn how to demonstrate leadership in your application

Will your past allow the adcom a peak into your future?

Schools want to see that the applicants will actively participate in and contribute to their student bodies and alumni communities, not to mention the greater community and society. Yet grandiose, declarative statements and promises to be a superlative do-gooder are unpersuasive.

So how is an applicant to show what he or she will do in the future? Point to the past. Most admission committees are firm believers that past behavior reveals abilities and interests and is a good predictor of the future.

Here are four tips to help you relay the message that you plan on achieving greatness by contributing to your school/community/world-at-large, by highlighting your impressive past.

1. Share the story of past achievements and quantify if possible the impact you had. – By showing how you’ve already contributed, you demonstrate that you have the initiative, people skills, and organizational talent to make an impact in the future.

2. Discuss skills you’ve developed that will aid to future contributions. – You can show the adcoms that you’re prepared to give back by proving that you’ve got the skills and the tools needed. Use evidence to support your skill development by talking about how you’ve worked to build your skill set, i.e. by taking a course or through work experience, etc. Analyze your success and failures (when asked for the latter) to reveal that you are a thinking, growing, dynamic individual. And when asked about failures or setbacks, discuss what you learned from the tough times. Demonstrate a growth mindset.

3. Show how your skills are transferable. – To contribute to your classmates or school, you’ll need to show how your unique talents or experiences can be shared with your classmates, professors, or work colleagues. Talk about how your skills, understanding, and ethics can impact those around you.

4. Mention how your target school will help. – Now the adcom readers know that you’ve got skills and that you’re ready to share them. Next, you need to reinforce the idea that their school is THE PLACE to accelerate your upward trajectory.

A good essay on your contributions will cover each of the above topics – what you’ve done in the past, how you’ve developed your skills, how you plan on sharing that knowledge, and how your target school will help you effect change. Remember, the past reveals much about the future, so share the story of what you’ve done and how you’ve reached this point and you’ll be well on your way to proving that you’ve got what it takes to contribute in the future.

The Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes: Get your free copy!

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
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Leadership in Admissions
How to Prove Character Traits in Essays
Does Extracurricular Equal Extra Credit?

3 Tips for Parents of Grad School Applicants

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Make sure your child’s in the driver’s seat

I’ve been working in graduate admissions for almost 20 years so I have witnessed this trend firsthand: Parents are playing a much larger role in the application process these days than they used to.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – parents can provide a lot of much-needed support (financial, practical, emotional) for their kids during the admissions process; but I cringe when I see parents overstepping their bounds, attempting to control their children’s actions and outcomes.

How much involvement is TOO MUCH involvement for parents of applicants? Check out these 3 tips:

• Make Sure Your Child’s in the Driver’s Seat. – When you take the lead in the admissions process, you’re essentially telling your child: “I don’t think you have what it takes to manage this process yourself.” And what you’re telling the school is: “My kid isn’t competent or ambitious enough to apply to school himself.” You can help your child apply, surely, but make sure that’s what you’re doing – helping them, and not the other way around.

• Your Child’s Voice Should be the Sole Voice of this Operation. – All communication with the school should be between your child – not you, the parent – and the school. Likewise, the voice your child uses to write her application essays should be her voice – and not yours. And it should go without saying that this advice relates to interviews as well. Help, guide, coach, and edit, but please never speak for your child.

• Help Your Child Deal with Disappointment. – Be it a rejection or a poor score, a parent needs to understand the role they play here. First, your child is the one experiencing this distress, not you. By showing your disappointment, you will only make your child feel worse, not to mention potentially preventing your child from continuing to move forward. Instead, allow your child time to express disappointment, provide the appropriate amount of comfort (you know your child best), and then encourage your child to persevere.  Suggest that your applicant explore alternatives and examine the factors he or she can change to improve the outcome in the future. Play the role of the motivational coach; don’t play the blame game.

Not sure you can effectively guide your child through the grad school admissions process (in a balanced, non-pushy way of course)? Browse our catalog of services to access professional guidance today!

Get Your Game On: Free Special Report

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Related Resources:

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid on Your Grad School Statement of Purpose
• The Biggest Application Essay Mistake
•  Admissions Tip: BE YOURSELF!

An HBS Entrepreneur Promoting Career Flexibility

Click here to listen to our conversation with Allison O'KellyPeople looking for traditional 9 to 5 desk jobs almost seem to be the exception in 2015. HBS grad and entrepreneur Allison O’Kelly is all for the change.

Want to know more? Listen to the full recording of our talk with Allison, Founder/CEO of Mom Corps and champion of the Flexibility Movement.

00:01:31 – Introducing Allison O’Kelly and Mom Corps.

00:04:13 – The value of the “traditional route” of spending a few years in the workforce before launching a startup.

00:05:41 – How an I-don’t-know-what-I-want-to-do-with-my-life moment shaped Allison’s future.

00:07:27 – Pros and cons of “staffing up” your small business.

00:10:37 – How helpful is b-school for an entrepreneur?

00:16:10 – What people simply get wrong about Harvard Business School.

00:17:46 –The “flexibility movement” – beneficial for employers and employees.

00:20:52 – Want to join the flex movement? Here’s what you need to do.

00:24:23 – Thoughts on enhancing your profile for HBS admissions.

00:26:56 – Advice for future entrepreneurs. (And a word to those who “don’t have it in their blood.”)

00:29:14 – What the future holds for Mom Corps.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

Mom Corps

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• Entrepreneurship at Stanford GSB: Carlypso Drives Down the Startup Street
• Making International Student Loans a Prime Investment
• Entrepreneurship at UCLA Anderson
Valentine’s Day, Economics, and Stanford GSB
• MBAs Across America: Entrepreneurs with a Heart
• Life as an HBS MBA Student
MBA Search: Matchmaking for MBAs and Businesses

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5 Ways To Increase Your Chance of Getting Into Law School as a College Junior

Download the 5 fatal flaws to avoid in your Law School personal statement

Spend time around lawyers – It’s helpful to get an idea of what lawyers do and the types of options available

Let’s say you’re a college junior considering applying for law school in the fall. What can you do now to prepare?

1. Study, study, study for the LSAT. A high LSAT score is important, especially if you went to a lesser-known college or have a lower GPA. Consider taking a course to prepare. There’s no real advantage to taking the summer LSAT except to get it out of the way. Plan three months to study.

2. Forge relationships with professors. Come fall, you will need to ask for letters of recommendation from professors and/ or people who have overseen your work. Start going to office hours for the professors whose classes you enjoyed or excelled in. Excellent letters of recommendation come from people who know you well. Don’t discount professors in classes where you didn’t get an “A” if you really connected with the instructor or the material. Some professors grade harder than others and will write an excellent letter.

3. Spend time around lawyers. If you don’t intern with a lawyer or law office, consider asking people if you can observe them for a day. Maybe you can tag along with a public defender or accompany a solo practitioner to court. It’s helpful to get an idea of what lawyers do and the types of options available.

4. Start brainstorming for the personal statement. Applications season is busy between the LSAT and your classwork. Start jotting down ideas for the personal statement so that you aren’t panicked in the fall. Giving yourself time to think makes the final product much stronger.

5. Start researching schools and programs now. Take time to evaluate and decide what types of programs best fit your career goals.

What conclusions can you draw? The summer is the time to gather your resources and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in preparation for application season. The fall moves quickly, so it’s best to be as prepared as you can in advance.

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Law School Personal Statement
JessicaPishkoJessica Pishko graduated with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. She spent two years guiding students through the medical school application process at Columbia’s PostBac Program and teaches writing at all levels. 
Related Resources:

• The Law School Admissions Guide: 8 Tips for Success
5 Things Law Schools Want To See in Applicants
LSAT Scores Drop Among Students at Top Law Schools

The Business of Law

Click here to download the free guide: The Law School Admission Guide, 8 Tips to Success

Advice for future lawyers: Learn accounting.

As lawyers seek to find more-lucrative jobs that keep pace with today’s market demands, more law schools are beginning to offer business classes for lawyers. The New York Times reported that Brooklyn Law School partnered with Deloitte Financial Advisory Services to offer boot camp-style classes in reading financial statements and basic accounting principles. Cornell University Law School offers a similar program called “Business Concepts for Lawyers,” a 1-credit course which offers basic information on valuation and other business concepts.

Law schools have often seen themselves as a contrast to business school – the practice of law has traditionally relied on research and writing more than team work and statistical models. But, as more document review is being outsourced and the practice of law becomes more enmeshed with business, law schools are responding in kind. Last year, Harvard Law School conducted a study asking 124 employers, “What courses should law students take?” Their overwhelming response? Corporate finance and accounting, as well as business strategy and teamwork.

As you being your preparations for law school application season, consider whether you can begin to gain these business tools now. Look for classes in accounting and other coursework or internships that focus on working as part of a team.

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Law School Personal Statement
JessicaPishkoJessica Pishko graduated with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. She spent two years guiding students through the medical school application process at Columbia’s PostBacc Program and teaches writing at all levels. 

Related Resources:

• The Law School Admissions Guide
• How I Wrote a Personal Statement that Got Me Into Harvard Law School
• Business, Law and Beyond [Podcast Interview]