This article is part of a series, 10 Tips for Acing Your College Interviews.
Actually, that’s a pretty good definition of pretentious: someone who’s simultaneously boastful, contentious, and mendacious.
It’s someone who puts on air, who thinks all too highly of himself and his own precious opinions.
Again, the “character” you’re shooting for in this little performance is someone who’s confident yet considerate. Someone who’s accomplished yet modest. You’re not Little Lord or Lady Fauntleroy. You’re ambitious, yes, but also, as they say, down-to-earth.
As such, during your college interview, try your best to avoid disparaging things you find déclassé—like McMansions, Disney films, or country music.
If you happen to have a strong opinion about some artifact of popular culture, try to be sensitive to its perceived value, however absurd, to its principle consumers.
Also, avoid pontificating on matters obviously well beyond your ken. Even the Pontiff himself would come off as pretentious if he offered up a long-winded and—inevitably—inaccurate disquisition on superstring theory.
In short, don’t pretend to be someone important. Yes, we’re all unique and special snowflakes. But therein lies a paradox. If we’re all so special, being special becomes ordinary. Under such conditions, how can we distinguish ourselves?