It’s alright. You can say it out loud. Direct advice from school admissions committees can be confusing as heck. They’re not trying to confuse you (in fact, their feedback on how to be successful in the admissions process is typically quite honest). But it’s not always stated in terms that are helpful to the untrained ear.   There are logical reasons why “official” guidance may seem cloaked in mystery. For one, admissions committee members must be diplomatic and conservative in what they say. Inside advice can’t be dispensed to some..

There’s a scene in Miss Congeniality, a well-known movie about a beauty pageant, in which contestants are probed for what they would request, if given just one wish. Each supplies the same answer: world peace. Of course it’s the right answer (if the right answer is one that showcases as many virtuous qualities as possible), but trust me when I tell you that admissions committee members have heard the “world peace” response to short answer and essay questions a thousand times. Not only is the “right answer” unoriginal—in most cases,..