I feel more fake than ever. (Faker...more fake? Faker sounds bad.) As I was talking to my brother, who teaches at Northwestern, he brought up that many graduate schools put out what seem to be casting calls instead of guidelines for applications. They are looking for good-on-paper actors, not necessarily talented artists.
Why is our school better than others?
What qualities about yourself would make you an ideal representative of our school during your future career?
What can you say about yourself that puts you above and beyond everyone else even though you're not really sure if you are above and beyond anyone else, but you're sure as hell hoping you are?
Here are my answers:
Your school is the best because I want to get in there (by "there" I mean anywhere, please, or else I've wasted $500 in application fees). I don't know if your school is the best because I've never gone to school there, but I bet I would like it. I like the pictures on your website, and when I went there for eight hours, the grass was nice and green and you could tell whoever mowed it paid special attention to parallel diagonals.
I have all the qualities you want me to have. I am a chameleon waiting for you to give me a color.
I'm a good candidate because I'm sincere, maybe not within the pages of this application, but I promise I am. My mom also likes my jokes.
My writing professor told me this story about getting into MFA programs: one brilliant student applied to five schools one year, and didn't get into any of them. The next year, he applied to the same five schools, without changing a word of his writing portfolio or a word of his statement of purpose. I said, "Seriously, not a single word?" And my professor said, "Don't make me repeat myself," so I guess the guy really didn't change anything. The applicant ended up getting into four out of the five schools that next year because he just seemed to fit whatever the admissions committee was, unbeknownst to him, looking for.
I just wonder are we ever typecast as ourselves or are we placed in positions according to what others want us to become?
And which of these is the better person to be?