Most of what is applicable to writing a successful Personal Growth essay holds here for Accomplishment pieces: Colleges use the relation of accomplishments to get insight into applicants' personalities and character traits. Some schools ask targeted questions, while others leave the topic open for applicant interpretation.
An important point is to refrain from repeating information found elsewhere in the application. Some "overachievers" try to include virtually all their accomplishments in one essay, missing the point of the exercise altogether. A laundry list of academic, extracurricular, and work successes will not give admissions officers much more insight into your personality. In fact, they may infer that you do not realize that, in college, you will not be able to be editor of the yearbook, editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, president of the honor society, captain of the football team, and president of the class all at the same time. The mature applicant knows that college will require a student to focus on a few interests but spend more time and effort pursuing them.
For those of you who were not the school "all-star," do not worry. Some of the best Accomplishment essays have been written about what could be construed as mundane events—learning how to bake a cake, miraculously getting the engine in your first car (which you affectionately call your "clunker") to start, or getting your elderly and bed-ridden neighbor to smile by performing your cheesy stand-up routine. The accomplishment does not need to be earth shattering, but you do need to show why it is important for you and how it has affected you in a discernible way.
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