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Admissions Tip: HBS Essay #2

Here are some very basic tips on how to approach one of the HBS essays. (The following information has been taken from Clear Admit’s Guide to HBS Essay Topics):

Essay 2: What are your three most substantial accomplishments, and why do you view them as such?
Spend a little time thinking about this question to find a good balance in your accomplishments. These accomplishments can be from any part of your life – though time-wise, they should probably be from college or after. There should be at least one professional accomplishment, and at least one personal/extracurricular accomplishment. A good mix might be one professional accomplishment; one personal (individual) accomplishment – it could be academic, perhaps; and one extracurricular/community service accomplishment. If you decide to use two professional accomplishments, they should ideally be from two different jobs.

Be sure to choose accomplishments that fit into your positioning strategy, and are consistent with the themes of your whole application. For instance, if you are trying to demonstrate your talent as a marketer, your professional accomplishment should be about a marketing project. They should not be things that most of the other applicants could also write about – graduation from college, for instance – unless the circumstances surrounding the accomplishment are truly noteworthy (for example, you were the first in your family to attend college and worked full-time while attending to pay for tuition).

Because the question has a second part – “why do you view them as such?” – you should focus on accomplishments that have had an impact on you, or ones whose significance can be explained concretely. Perhaps you had to overcome significant obstacles to achievement, or perhaps you learned something new about yourself or your preferred career direction.

In essence you will be writing several mini-essays to answer this question, although some of the best ‘accomplishments’ essays manage to weave them all together. Before you write a draft, work on figuring out how to state each accomplishment in 1-2 sentences; it should be completely clear what you consider to be the achievement. After you are able to state the accomplishment briefly, describe the process of the achievement. Finally, make sure you are explicit about what makes each one a significant accomplishment: what is personally important about it, what did you have to overcome in the process, why is it valuable to you?

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Posted in: Admissions Tips, Essay Topic Analysis

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