A speaker recently told a story about traveling in Asia where he saw a stunning emerald. Enchanted by the stone’s beauty, he decided to buy it. On the spot.
He returned home and took the emerald to a jeweler for appraisal. The jeweler began to examine the stone through his magnifier, and as he did so, his face went pale.
“What’s the matter?” asked the proud owner of the emerald.
“I can’t find a flaw.” said the jeweler.
“Wonderful!” said the stone’s owner.
“No, it’s not. If it’s flawless, it’s a fake. A phony. It’s not real. Nothing in the natural world is flawless.” replied the jeweler.
“Then find a flaw!!!”
After a few more tense moments the jeweler found a small flaw, and the owner of the stone could again enjoy its beauty without worrying that he had been taken in by a piece of plastic masquerading as a gem.
The adcoms are trying to appraise you through your essays. If they ask you about a flaw, failure, or weaknesses and you fail to provide that proof of authenticity, then you will be a phony and fake in their eyes.
Remember what the jeweler said: “Nothing in the natural world is flawless.” Everything in nature has an imperfection, a flaw. Certainly human beings are wonderful proof of his point. But, the question becomes how do you handle yours? Do you deny they exist? Do you just throw up your hands and say, “That’s me. Take it or leave it.”
If asked, don’t hesitate to reveal a real weakness. Also, try to show how you have strengthened that area, developed other talents to compensate, or grown as you dealt with and minimized your imperfection so that over time it has become much harder to see, perhaps imperceptible.
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By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted. Linda earned her bachelors and MBA at UCLA, and has been advising applicants since 1994 when she founded Accepted. Linda is the co-founder and first president of AIGAC. She has written or co-authored 13 e-books on the admissions process, and has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News, Poets & Quants, Bloomberg Businessweek, CBS News, and others. Linda is the host of Admissions Straight Talk, a podcast for graduate school applicants. Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• From Example to Exemplary, a free guide to writing winning application essays
• Writing About Overcoming Obstacles in Your Application Essays, a short video
• Showing Resilience in the Face of Failure