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As educational consultants, we hear it every day in one form or another -- isn't it the school's job to pick the best people, and can't they see that I'm one of them?

By Ben Feuer

One of the few real positives to come out of the Apple/Samsung patent war happened yesterday, when Apple engineer Greg Christie delivered a seemingly obvious but remarkably deep observation.

When designing products, Apple keeps in mind that it wants “normal people – people with better things to do with their lives than learn how a computer might work – to use the product as well as we can."

It's one of those quotes you glide over, thinking to yourself, 'oh sure, well of course, everyone tries to do that'.  And to a certain extent, you're right.  Everyone does try to do that.  And almost everyone who tries fails.  

A similar phenomenon, believe it or not, happens when people apply to school.  Everybody knows that the purpose of an application is so the school can determine whether you are a great 'fit' or not on campus.  But most people, when they actually sit down to WRITE their application, are thinking about nearly everything EXCEPT demonstrating a good fit.  They're worrying about getting their recommendations in on time, staying under word count, sounding smart, picking nifty colored envelopes -- but not that simple, insidious slogan -- am I making my case clearly, concisely, and consistently?

So what should you do about it?

1.  Figure out what your primary strengths are and list them.  No really, write them down in a list.
2.  Search your application.  Where are these strengths on display?  Are you being direct enough?  If you're a great leader, have you given enough concrete examples to show leadership?  If you're passionate about the law, have you demonstrated passion through the examples in your personal statement and resume?
3.  If necessary, ask a friend.  Heck, ask an enemy if you have to.  One of the hardest things to do is see yourself clearly.  Enlist others's help in making sure your history is conveyed in a persuasive and direct manner. 

Pull this off and your candidacy can be like an iPhone -- designed to look effortless.


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