We’ve heard about achievement all our lives, from our parents, teachers and friends. Just when you were feeling pretty good about yourself, it’s time to measure up once more as you prepare your MBA applications.
Even before we started kindergarten, our parents were applauding our every achievement as a way to encourage good behavior. Once school began, it became even more obvious—heck, even the aptitude test we all took as youngsters was called the CAT, or California Achievement Test. Let’s face it, America is a pretty darned competitive place, and now the face-off includes applicants from all over the world who vie for a coveted seat in one of the top b-schools. Business schools value achievements for the same reasons you, your parents and your teachers do---it demonstrates drive, initiative and ability, all of which are valuable assets in an MBA program.
The main problem with achievements, however, is that everyone applying to b-school has buckets full of them.
And boxes, and closets, and basements. Yes, if you are applying to business school, through simple self-selection, you are likely also someone who has too many achievements, not someone who doesn’t have enough. You will soon be faced with the tiny little word count boxes online where you must decide which of these achievements throughout your life are most important to you. Those last two words are key: to you.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to decide which achievements will impress the admissions committees, or even what will make you look good for your chosen post MBA career.
Think about what best reflects you as a person---find the stories in your achievements and unpack them in a way which reveals passion and defines what makes you tick. In the end, this is what business schools are looking for. Setting yourself apart means not listing the same old achievements that everyone else does. Really challenge yourself to reflect on your past goals and dreams and dig up the moments that define you and put you on a visionary road to your future self.