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Harvard’s Three Accomplishments

September 05, 2008 :: Admissionado Team


Period. This question is all about PERSONAL STAKES.

Count on it. The feat ALONE won’t be enough to lean on. Don’t think in terms of “ooh, this is unique!” Because frankly? Someone out there has a more unique version of that exact story. Count on it. The uniqueness ALONE won’t be enough to lean on. PERSONAL STAKES = What 3 accomplishments mattered to YOU?When sifting through your life, searching for which three accomplishments are cool enough to warrant slapping onto this essay of 600 words… you shouldn’t be thinking about which were “most impressive” because frankly? Someone out there has a better one.

Here’s a crazy notion to help drive the point home. Imagine yourself at age 94, withered, sick, and a few breaths away from passing. Now, say you had only enough brain left for about 5 minutes. Now, say you wanted to remember 3 amazing moments of your life… especially moments you were particularly PROUD of. Moments where YOU actually succeeded at something. What 3 things would YOU want to read in that moment, to make you smile and feel at peace with yourself? Make yourself really proud? One of your greatest accomplishments could have been the time you took it upon yourself to mend the wing of a bird in a park. Sounds silly and inconsequential, but what if you were known to be an ornery, hateful, unfriendly person… and yet something compelled you to take care of that bird? Maybe it taught you something hugely important about yourself that you carry everywhere you go now.

Maybe a great accomplishment was resolving a fight between your parents. Maybe a great accomplishment was practicing for months and months and months to get your piano recital piece PERFECTLY without one single error… and then being okay with the fact that you DID make one slip during the actual recital.

Any story can be an amazing one if the significance to YOU is high. The more significant something is to YOU, the more significant it will be to the reader. That said, there are always stories that will play better than others, but this in intended to crack the dam of creativity and get you to not think about that question in a limiting way, is all. Think about it. “Accomplishments alone” are for resumes. That’s why we have resumes.

“Accomplishments with PERSONAL significance” are what will sparkle here. In a weird way, imagine that this essay is meant for your eyes only. Even if you do a draft and then throw it out immediately afterwards, try that. Write up something that only YOU will ever see. Things that you and you alone are super proud of… you may discover something awesome.