Spencer: "That's horrible. That's bullshit."
Fitz: "Psst, higher education in this country is bullshit. You're only going so you can get a diploma, so you can do better than the poor people we don't let go to college, so your family can continue to game the system, and then your children, and so on, forever and ever. Why not start now?"
Spencer: "But what about truth! A friend of mine was murdered! I was bullied! I did have a mental breakdown!"
"Think of it like you're on a date. All of those things may be true -- and it's inspiring that you came out the other side -- but that doesn't mean they're gonna take you home to mom right away. Your story is not more important than the story you're a part of. Having problems does not make you more attractive. Talking about your problems makes you less attractive. If you show up on a date and start talking about your dead friend, or your mom's bunions, you are not getting a second date. It doesn't mean you're not awesome -- we know you to be awesome -- it just means that you need to think about what you're trying to accomplish. Your intentions don't mean anything. Your back story doesn't mean anything. It's the difference between a firm handshake and a handshake after you've just blown a snot rocket in your hand. One of them says pleased to meet you and the other one says, I am barely hanging on."
Spencer: "So I should just lie and my life is just an ugly mess."
Ezra: "No, not at all. But nobody's asking you for this ... full disclosure. It overshadows your many incredible* qualities."
Spencer: "Pretend I'm somebody I'm not."
Ezra, beautifully: "No. But you are more than this."
I love this scene, oh my God. That was soooo neat. Also realistic. Even Spencer Hastings would be like, "So far being institutionalized is the most interesting thing that has happened to me, and college applications are all about making yourself look based on the novel Push by Sapphire" and never thinking that in this particular case your victimhood is not actually a plus. Even Spencer might/does need it explained to her that we are not the sum of our injuries.
The only thing that makes this not a complete meltdown is something I didn't get at the time, that Spence explains later: For all we know, A planted that essay question. For sure A is going to be dicking with her applications no matter where she applies. So really, it might be better to try and at least spin the ugliest truth, instead of Hastingsing over the whole thing. I did not pick up on that, so I was just exasperated by her "I gotta be real!" nonsense.