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 applicants and not others; there can be no implications of hard-and-fast rules; there can be no insinuation of guarantees.  Nothing can be said that appears to promise you that you will get in, if you only meet certain  requirements. They don’t want hate mail or lawsuits from candidates who claim they were misinformed.


In the book, I dedicate an entire chapter to admissions committee jargon, to those phrases that make us cringe and want to pull our hair out when we hear them. I highlight, and deconstruct, common answers to questions like “What are you looking for?” and “What are your admissions requirements?” giving readers a better sense for what admissions committee members are trying to convey when they respond.  There are explanations for these strange behaviors (and good ones), frustration notwithstanding.  Take the time to learn a bit of the language–it could pay dividends in the end.


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