First draft - any advice helpful

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First draft - any advice helpful

Postby BobCostas » Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:01 am

First draft. I realize it's a bit different than most. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, including if you think I should just scrap the whole thing and a take a completely different approach

I am applying to the XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX in the hope that I may realize the fusion of two passions of mine and in doing so build the foundations of a rewarding and exciting career. I specify two passions, those being law and biology. The latter I have extensive experience with, both in the classroom and on the frontline. The former I am much less experienced in, but no-less interested and it is my hope that I will be able to pursue that interest through study at XXX.

My first passion is perhaps what makes me a unique applicant and the basis of what attracted me to the law program at XXX. I always knew that science was a passion of mine, but had no idea that it could be combined with my passion for law when I began my University career. My experience within the classroom helped to fuel my curiosity in the field of molecular biology and encourage me to pursue a graduate degree in the field. Since then I have gone on to be accepted into a Master’s program in the area of RNA molecular biology. As a result, I have a strong theoretical background in biology as well as hands-on experience with the experimental processes that produce these classroom teachings. I believe that these traits make me a uniquely qualified candidate for the law program at XXX, specifically in the Center for Law, Science and Innovation. I feel as though my expertise within the field of biology as well as my experience as a working scientist will allow me to contribute an insider’s perspective to this program and is something that would greatly benefit me in a future legal career.

My Master’s project was in the area of RNA molecular biology. My goal was to map the binding site of a protein on a specific RNA sequence through the use of mutational analysis and biochemical assays. The data obtained would ultimately be used to characterize the interaction between a catalytic RNA molecule and its self encoded protein, as well as in evolutionary comparisons to other catalytic RNA molecules. While this project appears to be straightforward, it is much more complex due to the inherent instability of RNA as a biomolecule. RNA can degrade in storage if the conditions are not suitable, as well it can be digested by RNAse proteins, ubiquitous enzymes found excreted by nearly every organism on Earth. Consequently, working with RNA in a laboratory setting requires extra attention to ensure that degradation is not influencing experimental results. All solutions, reagents and equipment had to be free of contaminants that could result in degradation of the RNA. The RNA itself, which was generated in vitro, had to be pure and capable of folding into the active confirmation. The protein component of my experiments had to be purified from cell extract and be free of RNAse enzymes. All of these factors are just a sample of what I had to consider on a daily basis in the lab to ensure experimental success. These steps are far removed from the actual data needed to address the goals of my Masters project, and are a mere afterthought when it comes time to consider publishing results. Throughout my Master’s I was required to pay attention to all of these seemingly minor details at all times. My experiments would not have been able to proceed had I not ensured that my solutions were of the correct pH, or that my RNA and protein were pure, active and free of contamination. Undoubtedly there were difficulties, however I was able to troubleshoot and overcome all of the procedural difficulties I faced and ultimately obtain the data I was after. I believe this meticulous attention to detail will be a major benefit to me in law school as well as in a future legal career. I understand what it means to be detail oriented, I truly appreciate the significance of even the smallest steps along the greater path and I feel that these skills will allow me to not only succeed but in fact excel as a student at the XXXXXXXX.

It is likely obvious now why I am applying to law school at XXXXXXX. Your specific programs and Center for Law, Science and Technology represent the ideal situation for me to begin a legal career. Applying my expertise as a scientist with a legal education from XXX will allow me to marry two of my passions into a rewarding a fulfilling career. Furthermore, I have family and friends living in the XXXXX area that can provide me with the support system necessary to ensure success at XXXXXX.

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Re: First draft - any advice helpful

Postby jasonc. » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:06 am

As a why essay it works,am I assuming right? If it's a ps then i don't like it as much

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Re: First draft - any advice helpful

Postby Plan2008 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:15 am

Scrap it. You're a techy so I get it. But just remember, facts tell, stories sell. I think I get the question you are trying to answer, "Why would someone go to grad school and study molecular biology if they wanted to be a lawyer." And your answer is good, the skills you developed are transferrable. And, also, there is an often neglected natural intersection between good science and good law. (this was hidden a bit deeper in the details) :)

So maybe do it this way. Start with a personal story as a hook that is an analogy to the skills transferrable message. You set out to do one thing but built the skills to be a master at something else. Maybe you played ping pong as a kid and became a great hitter in baseball. Blah Blah blah. Maybe you volunteered at a home for disabled children and learned how to read body language.

Next, stay out of the minutiae. No one wants to follow the technical terms. Trust me, we get it that this stuff is complex and requires intellect. But the rest of the application shows that. Show them you can write. So you grab a detail to explain a skill (like attention to detail) and bring it back up to the critical issue (that you will be a great lawyer).

Also, lose the wishy washy stuff like "in the hope", "is perhaps", "I think", etc. And use the active voice. For example, "My passion for science both attracts me to your program and convinces me that I will be an asset in the classroom."

You have a great story. Tell it the way your dad, maybe, would tell it to his colleagues. Hope I didn't burst your bubble. I was just filing my 8 applications and needed to focus on someone else's crap for a while. Good luck.

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Re: First draft - any advice helpful

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:55 am

Too much info. & repetition on the necessity of keeping a clean lab. Not well written. Does not add anything that shouldn't already be obvious from your application or resume. If this is for the Stanford program, then it should be much better.

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Re: First draft - any advice helpful

Postby ThreeYears » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:16 pm

To be harshly honest, and a fellow biologist law school applicant, I find your PS not compelling for at least two reasons:

1. Ensuring a RNAse-free environment is a daily practice in many labs. Autoclaving everything three times, wiping your bench from time to time with commercial RNA-zap, and changing gloves frequently will do the trick, I never had any incidents of RNA degradation by simply doing these things. I honestly think you should find something better to talk about.

2. Point 1 is not lethal, what seems to be lethal to me is that your PS failed to establish any correlation between the "two passions". And this criticism goes back to point 1: if you choose to express your passion and expertise in molecular biology by talking about making sure RNA is not degraded, you have significantly limited your scope and put yourself in a position of failing to grasp a much bigger picture. There are many areas that molecular biology have profound legal implications, you just have to see it.

I will not comment on your writing but the writing itself is an indication of yet-to-be-found passion. You are not excited by your chosen material as well, I am sure of this. You have to dig deeper and I wish you good luck.

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