Which topic is best?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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JerrySeinfeld
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Which topic is best?

Postby JerrySeinfeld » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:01 pm

Okay, so I posted a personal statement I wrote up on this board not too long ago and it was met with extreme criticism (rightfully so). I've decided to write an entirely new one i'm an curious about which topic people feel I should go with.

1) I'm Puerto Rican and I grew up in an area where there are little if any people of color. Everyone called it wonder-bread America. I was different because of the color of my skin. (I haven't really been discriminated against though and it hasn't truly affected my life much. I could write about how it has, but that would be stretching the truth).

2) How I became a resident assistant for the money and single room never expecting to have to do much. However, my first year as an RA, I dealt with someone having a gun in the building, three suicide attempts (one person came to me drunk and told me) people who almost died with alcohol poisoning, a fight, and someone who almost died from muscle relaxers and alcohol. It changed me to become a leader and become involved in the lives of all my residents. (I'm having trouble connecting this to why I want to be a lawyer, however).

3) How a teacher, because they were so interested in government, made me want to become a political science major and subsequently made me interested in law. (this topic is rather plain, however).


Thanks everyone!

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St.Remy
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Re: Which topic is best?

Postby St.Remy » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:09 pm

I would say option 1 is the best topic, but you could instead use it for a one page diversity statement. If you just can't think of a PS topic that you like though you could extend option 1 into a PS and leave off writing a diversity statement.

You are correct that 3 seems sort of bland, and I'm not sure how option 2 would play: "I applied for this job thinking that I would get free room and board and not have to do any work, but then I had to do work." Obviously this isn't what you are saying, but cynical admissions people might take it as such. If you go with number 2 it will be important to emphasize that you took the responsibilities of the position seriously from the beginning.

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JerrySeinfeld
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Re: Which topic is best?

Postby JerrySeinfeld » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:14 pm

St.Remy wrote:I would say option 1 is the best topic, but you could instead use it for a one page diversity statement. If you just can't think of a PS topic that you like though you could extend option 1 into a PS and leave off writing a diversity statement.

You are correct that 3 seems sort of bland, and I'm not sure how option 2 would play: "I applied for this job thinking that I would get free room and board and not have to do any work, but then I had to do work." Obviously this isn't what you are saying, but cynical admissions people might take it as such. If you go with number 2 it will be important to emphasize that you took the responsibilities of the position seriously from the beginning.


That was my thinking with #2. Part of me believe if I emphasized a transition, that would look good, but the other part believe it would show some sort of laziness and/or lack of realism.

I like #2 the best, and if I emphasize something along the lines of how I wanted the job to help people but never believed it would be to such an extent, would that work?

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St.Remy
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Re: Which topic is best?

Postby St.Remy » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:20 pm

JerrySeinfeld wrote:if I emphasize something along the lines of how I wanted the job to help people but never believed it would be to such an extent, would that work?


It's a bit hard to say without seeing a draft or something. I would say that I would be difficult to go with the "wanted to help people" angle because adcomms have been through college: they know that people get RA positions either to cut their costs or because they enjoy being in housing. If you say that you became an RA to help people the question that comes to mind is wouldn't there be better jobs to get if helping people was your primary interest? I would say that there is nothing wrong with saying you became an RA to make college more affordable or because you like the atmosphere, since it will make the paper feel more genuine. As long as it is well crafted there is no problem in saying "I got a job for reason A, but I ended up dealing with issue B and it helped me to become C" wherein A is the truth and C is something vaguely law related.

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AreJay711
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Re: Which topic is best?

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:52 pm

I'm an RA too. I'd go with option #2 You don't need to tie it to why you want to be a lawyer. You just want the admissions people to know you beyond your GPA and LSAT and want to admit you.

This is what I think about the pluses and minuses of each.

#1.) They know your Puerto Rican beyond that you filled in a bubble saying you were.

#2.) They know that in college you were hired for a competitive and challenging job that had a real impact on people's lives. Plus it should be an interesting story and may stick in the minds of someone maybe letting avoid the wait-list at some of your reaches.

#3.) They know the reason you are applying to law school isn't just for the hope of a big paycheck and a prestigious job.

Negatives:

#1) It didn't really matter to your life so you won't really have much to say. --- I have a black ancestor on my mothers side but you wouldn't really know unless I told you. I guess I could write about that but it was so inconsequential I wouldn't have anything to write about even for my diversity statement. If that is you, don't write about it in you PS, save it for a diversity statement. What would be money in your DS would be saying how being a Puerto Rican growing up in Whiteville you take the best from both worlds. There is a separate place to say that so, if it is not central to you, make use of the PS to say what is.

#2) It doesn't tie into law. -- True but that really is fine. I rjust read Anna Ivey's book (she was the Dean of Admissions for Chicago) so I'm really pushing it on here since it counters a lot of TLS poster and only one of her examples of good personal statements said anything about law and it was someone who was making a career change. Then again it does tie into law in an indirect way. You obviously like helping people, why should that stop after law student -- hell even if you work for biglaw you will probably still be a socially responsible and compassionate person. By showing yourself to be that here, it is a whole lot more convincing that saying when I get a law degree I'll be magically changed.

#3) Oh yay! Another poli sci kid! --- You could do this one right, talking about how intellectually stimulating such and such is, but more than likely it just won't stand out.

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JerrySeinfeld
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Re: Which topic is best?

Postby JerrySeinfeld » Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:00 pm

AreJay711 wrote:I'm an RA too. I'd go with option #2 You don't need to tie it to why you want to be a lawyer. You just want the admissions people to know you beyond your GPA and LSAT and want to admit you.

This is what I think about the pluses and minuses of each.

#1.) They know your Puerto Rican beyond that you filled in a bubble saying you were.

#2.) They know that in college you were hired for a competitive and challenging job that had a real impact on people's lives. Plus it should be an interesting story and may stick in the minds of someone maybe letting avoid the wait-list at some of your reaches.

#3.) They know the reason you are applying to law school isn't just for the hope of a big paycheck and a prestigious job.

Negatives:

#1) It didn't really matter to your life so you won't really have much to say. --- I have a black ancestor on my mothers side but you wouldn't really know unless I told you. I guess I could write about that but it was so inconsequential I wouldn't have anything to write about even for my diversity statement. If that is you, don't write about it in you PS, save it for a diversity statement. What would be money in your DS would be saying how being a Puerto Rican growing up in Whiteville you take the best from both worlds. There is a separate place to say that so, if it is not central to you, make use of the PS to say what is.

#2) It doesn't tie into law. -- True but that really is fine. I rjust read Anna Ivey's book (she was the Dean of Admissions for Chicago) so I'm really pushing it on here since it counters a lot of TLS poster and only one of her examples of good personal statements said anything about law and it was someone who was making a career change. Then again it does tie into law in an indirect way. You obviously like helping people, why should that stop after law student -- hell even if you work for biglaw you will probably still be a socially responsible and compassionate person. By showing yourself to be that here, it is a whole lot more convincing that saying when I get a law degree I'll be magically changed.

#3) Oh yay! Another poli sci kid! --- You could do this one right, talking about how intellectually stimulating such and such is, but more than likely it just won't stand out.


Thanks a lot, this was really helpful!

I think i'll go with option 2. I look forward to your opinion of it after i've written it.

trudat15
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Re: Which topic is best?

Postby trudat15 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:02 am

AreJay711 wrote:
#2) It doesn't tie into law. -- True but that really is fine. I rjust read Anna Ivey's book (she was the Dean of Admissions for Chicago) so I'm really pushing it on here since it counters a lot of TLS poster and only one of her examples of good personal statements said anything about law and it was someone who was making a career change. Then again it does tie into law in an indirect way. You obviously like helping people, why should that stop after law student -- hell even if you work for biglaw you will probably still be a socially responsible and compassionate person. By showing yourself to be that here, it is a whole lot more convincing that saying when I get a law degree I'll be magically changed.



Read it too and agree - depending on the prompt for the particular school. Some schools (like Chicago) say anything goes, while some schools (her examples being Michigan and Stanford) ask for anything and how it ties into law (or I think, I was just skimming). So make sure you read the prompts carefully, but for schools that say anything goes, you dont need to tie it into the law (the examples of good PSs she gave just told stories of the people, only a few mentioned law).

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billyez
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Re: Which topic is best?

Postby billyez » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:10 am

St.Remy wrote:It's a bit hard to say without seeing a draft or something.


TCR. Honestly, the topic isn't as important as you think it is. Your development of the theme within it and your presentation of tha theme is far more important. Until you write a draft regarding one of these, we aren't really capable of telling you which one is "best". The best one is the one that is fertile ground for illustrating what kind of person you are to the adcomm's...and the one person who can answer that question right now is you. The only time we can answer that quesiton is when we can read a draft and have an opinion about it.

I really need to get back to my LRW work...

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existenz
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Re: Which topic is best?

Postby existenz » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:40 pm

#2 is the only correct answer of those three.

Guess what, you aren't the only Puerto Rican applying to school and whatever racism you faced pales in comparison to what some other people have dealt with. You would just sound whiny and insincere, don't do it. Write a diversity statement addendum if you want, that would suffice.

Talking about a teacher who inspired you just sounds boring and unoriginal to me. Everyone has a teacher who inspired them at some point. What is different about you, and your life?

As someone else said, it isn't so much what you say anyway. As long as you write well and sound sincere about it. Remember that the focus should be "why I'm worth accepting to your law school" and everything should ultimately support that.

Renzo
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Re: Which topic is best?

Postby Renzo » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:22 pm

#2 is the only one with any entertainment value. I can't possibly imagine what you would say about the other two to convey what a great candidate you are.

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JerrySeinfeld
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Re: Which topic is best?

Postby JerrySeinfeld » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:42 pm

Renzo wrote:#2 is the only one with any entertainment value. I can't possibly imagine what you would say about the other two to convey what a great candidate you are.


Great, thanks for the help.

Do you believe that I should try to connect it to why I want to go to law school, or is it acceptable to just write a great personal statement that doesn't have a sound connection to law school?




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