Bad conversation starters

“Talk to me for a long time about something you don’t really care about.”

“Tell me what you think I want to hear—it doesn’t’ have to be the truth.”

“Your accomplishments encapsulate you, so let’s hear about them. Nothing else.”

“Sell yourself to me. I want to hear your pitch.”

“If you’ve made mistakes, please explain why other people are at fault.”

Nobody who’s actually interested would invite a conversation like this. And yet students often treat their presentation to colleges via applications, essays, and interviews as if this is exactly the conversation that’s been initiated.

The application and its associated elements are the space to have a conversation. So have one. Be clear and proud about your success—this is no time for false modesty. But be the real person, too, not just a perfect pitch.