Schools are looking for and will actively contribute not only to their student/alumni communities but also to the greater community and society.
Many applications include an essay question with some variation of “What would you contribute to your future campus community?” or “How will you contribute to our program?” If you are invited to interview, you’ll likely be asked how you will contribute to the school, so this a topic for which preparation is vital.
You need to present your best self, yet grandiose, declarative statements and promises to be a superlative do-gooder can be unpersuasive and even off-putting. So, how do you show you are a candidate with plenty to contribute and will be a future asset to your chosen school?
Point to the past as a forecast of the future
Most admissions committees are firm believers that past behavior reveals one’s abilities and interests and is a good predictor of the person’s future behavior.
Here are four tips for highlighting your impressive past and relaying the message that you plan on making a positive impact by contributing to your school, its community, and the world at large.
Share stories 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. If you can select a contribution that is related to your chosen field or school, so much the better. Perhaps your past contribution is part of an ongoing project or a recurring event that you intend to continue being a part of in the future. This will show the adcom that your achievements are not one-offs; you can demonstrate your commitment while associating your worthy contributions with their school.
Discuss skills you’ve developed that will aid future contributions.
You can show the adcom that you have the skills and the tools needed to give back. Use evidence to illustrate your skill development by talking about how you’ve taken steps to build your skill set (such as by taking a course or through work experience). Analyze your success and think about how you can 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 mind-set.
Show how your skills are transferable.
To illustrate your plans to contribute to your target school, you’ll need to show how your unique talents and experiences can be shared with your classmates, professors, and/or work colleagues. Talk about how your skills, understanding, and ethics can positively affect those around you. Even seemingly unrelated skills could be transferable to your target program; every past achievement has skill elements that can be highlighted and applied to future contributions.
Mention how your target school will help.
The adcom readers now know that you’ve got skills and are ready to share them. Next, you need to reinforce the idea that their school is THE PLACE to accelerate your upward trajectory. Highlight any overlaps in the ethos of the school or in the curriculum that will advance your skills in the future. And this works both ways: point out that just as the school will help further your skills, you, as a future contributing graduate, will become an ambassador for the school.
A good essay on your contributions will cover each of these 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.
Are you ready to prove how you can contribute? Accepted’s expert consultants know just how to help you identify which experiences and skills you need to highlight to show what you can bring to the table. Schedule a free consultation today and speak with a consultant – never a salesperson!