Too political?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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coldshoulder
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Too political?

Postby coldshoulder » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:58 pm

I want to write my personal statement about something that hits every aspect: intellectual excellence, leadership, impact, experience, essentially the things I'll bring to the school.
Unfortunately, the best way for me to do this is to discuss my work as a mentor and activist with a group called FACE, a high school mentoring program for diverse students at a low-income school in my state. The reason this may be controversial is because the highlight of my work with this group was our successful push for increased rights for undocumented workers (illegal immigrants).
My question then is, as long as I'm professional about how I write the personal statement, can I use something that is so inherently political?

SchopenhauerFTW
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Re: Too political?

Postby SchopenhauerFTW » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:00 pm

coldshoulder wrote:The reason this may be controversial is because the highlight of my work with this group was our successful push for increased rights for undocumented workers (illegal immigrants).

Why is this important to you?

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Dany
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Re: Too political?

Postby Dany » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:03 pm

Don't get preachy about the issue and you should be fine.

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coldshoulder
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Re: Too political?

Postby coldshoulder » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:03 pm

SchopenhauerFTW wrote:
coldshoulder wrote:The reason this may be controversial is because the highlight of my work with this group was our successful push for increased rights for undocumented workers (illegal immigrants).

Why is this important to you?


It's important to me on both an ethical level and a personal level. I believe that all people should have an equal shot at a good life, in particular undocumented people who came here as children (we worked especially hard to keep in-state university tuition for the undocumented, and succeeded). It's also personal because I have friends that are in this situation, and although they are highly capable individuals and culturally American, they are not afforded the same rights as people born here.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: Too political?

Postby Bildungsroman » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:04 pm

As long as the statement's about you and not about why illegal immigrants blah blah blah etc. then you should be fine.

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coldshoulder
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Re: Too political?

Postby coldshoulder » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:06 pm

Bildungsroman wrote:As long as the statement's about you and not about why illegal immigrants blah blah blah etc. then you should be fine.


Cool, yeah I plan to talk about the work I did and how it relates to being successful in law school, not the political purpose or issue itself.

SchopenhauerFTW
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Re: Too political?

Postby SchopenhauerFTW » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:11 am

coldshoulder wrote:
SchopenhauerFTW wrote:
coldshoulder wrote:The reason this may be controversial is because the highlight of my work with this group was our successful push for increased rights for undocumented workers (illegal immigrants).

Why is this important to you?


It's important to me on both an ethical level and a personal level. I believe that all people should have an equal shot at a good life, in particular undocumented people who came here as children (we worked especially hard to keep in-state university tuition for the undocumented, and succeeded). It's also personal because I have friends that are in this situation, and although they are highly capable individuals and culturally American, they are not afforded the same rights as people born here.

I say go with it then.

kublaikahn
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Re: Too political?

Postby kublaikahn » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:36 am

No. Not because it is political. Because it is not interesting. Now if you would have said something like, "I want to tell a story about a kid named Jose. I set out to encourage him, but in so doing, my whole life changed for the better." Than I would say write the essay.

And don't write a story about what an effective leader you are (hint: you may become one some day); write a story about what a real person you are.

In another vane, I think it is great that you would help young kids succeed, especially disadvantaged kids. But real givers have a long list of such acts. Do you have this long list, or is this a one off? If you are a true Barnabas (the biblical encourager), you should definitely tell us a story about it.
Last edited by kublaikahn on Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Total Litigator
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Re: Too political?

Postby Total Litigator » Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:10 am

Well, TBF, this is law school, and, generally speaking, you are probably in a better position than someone who worked for a nonprofit who was in the business of finding and deporting illegals lol.

And on a constructive note, immigration law where lawyers represent illegal aliens at INS deportation hearings is a perfectly legitimate career. Is that the kind of law you want to do? If so, maybe you could make a strong PS out of that angle. But make sure you stress that you are aware of the role of the law when it comes to the subject.

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Nom Sawyer
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Re: Too political?

Postby Nom Sawyer » Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:18 am

Total Litigator wrote:Well, TBF, this is law school, and, generally speaking, you are probably in a better position than someone who worked for a nonprofit who was in the business of finding and deporting illegals lol.

And on a constructive note, immigration law where lawyers represent illegal aliens at INS deportation hearings is a perfectly legitimate career. Is that the kind of law you want to do? If so, maybe you could make a strong PS out of that angle. But make sure you stress that you are aware of the role of the law when it comes to the subject.


Yeah I'm a moderate and I'm all for more rights for undocumented workers... And given that Law Schools (like any other academic institution) tend towards the liberal side I'm pretty sure you won't have any real backlash from "politics" being in your PS.

Still, like others say, make sure the statement is about yourself, your strengths, and how you grew/ learned/ or accomplished something. The politics of the topic should barely come up in the statement.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Too political?

Postby JamMasterJ » Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:54 am

Approach it in an objective way and don't come across like you're advocating one side or the other of the issue. You should be ok. It's a slightly risky endeavour, but if it's the best subject you can write about, it will be a better essay than something about a humdrum issue you don't care about.

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SullaFelix
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Re: Too political?

Postby SullaFelix » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:49 am

kublaikahn wrote:No. Not because it is political. Because it is not interesting. Now if you would have said something like, "I want to tell a story about a kid named Jose. I set out to encourage him, but in so doing, my whole life changed for the better." Than I would say write the essay.

And don't write a story about what an effective leader you are (hint: you may become one some day); write a story about what a real person you are.

In another vane, I think it is great that you would help young kids succeed, especially disadvantaged kids. But real givers have a long list of such acts. Do you have this long list, or is this a one off? If you are a true Barnabas (the biblical encourager), you should definitely tell us a story about it.


I think this advice is the exact opposite of what you should do.

The goal isn't just to tell law school admissions committees about the "real person you are" — it's to show them. The idea you outlined in the original post sounds like the foundation of a very good essay. Talk about your leadership experience and how you adjusted to whatever challenges you may have faced, and you should be fine. Don't worry about the political nature of the issue; as another poster said, just don't preach.

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Rock-N-Roll
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Re: Too political?

Postby Rock-N-Roll » Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:23 am

I generally thought the rule of thumb was that if you (the author of a personal statement) thought a topic might be controversial, then it would probably behoove you not to discuss it. That is, why take a risk on a personal statement, even a potentially small one?

Popular thinking among applicants seems to be that ug-GPA and LSAT are the essence of a law school application. Personal statements and recommendations typically do not get one accepted to law school all by themselves nor will they likely overcome a low GPA/LSAT. But on the other hand, I could see how a risky personal statement that didn't pay-off with the reader could potentially hurt an application even with a competitive GPA/LSAT.

Just my two cents. Best of luck to OP.

thedive
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Re: Too political?

Postby thedive » Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:55 am

Yes, I would also agree. From what I had always heard, a personal statement usually will not, by itself, get you accepted but could however get you a rejection or hurt you more than it could help you. If written the right way to express your motivations for wanting to go to law school I would say go for it. However, I would be cautious about becoming too political just in case the reader(s) fall on the other end of the spectrum regarding the issue. I would focus more on the fact that you were helping people and challenges and adversity that you had to overcome in order to do so while highlighting leadership and innovative traits that you acquired in reaching your goals. Most importantly, don't just tell the reader, show the reader.

freestallion
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Re: Too political?

Postby freestallion » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:01 am

No, I don't think it is too controversial. I work for a civil rights law firm with lawyers from top law schools, and we routinely represent undocumented workers who have wage and hour claims (were not paid min wage, etc). As someone else said, this is a legitimate legal career. So I think it would be fine for you to write about it. Undocumented workers have rights, too.

Just don't get into the politics of the issue - just talk about your work, your leadership skills, etc. If you can show how you are a great leader or what you have done for the group, I think it would be a great statement!

SchopenhauerFTW
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Re: Too political?

Postby SchopenhauerFTW » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:45 am

kublaikahn wrote:In another vane, I think it is great that you would help young kids succeed, especially disadvantaged kids. But real givers have a long list of such acts. Do you have this long list, or is this a one off? If you are a true Barnabas (the biblical encourager), you should definitely tell us a story about it.

You're a dick. The rest of what you said was tolerable, but you just had to keep going. At least coldshoulder gives a shit about someone other than himself, which is something that a lot of 0Ls and law students are incapable of doing.

Edit: You don't need to be volunteering fulltime to make a difference.
Last edited by SchopenhauerFTW on Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Dany
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Re: Too political?

Postby Dany » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:56 am

Yeah, I stopped reading at the "vane" herpderp.

kublaikahn
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Re: Too political?

Postby kublaikahn » Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:44 pm

SchopenhauerFTW wrote:
kublaikahn wrote:In another vane, I think it is great that you would help young kids succeed, especially disadvantaged kids. But real givers have a long list of such acts. Do you have this long list, or is this a one off? If you are a true Barnabas (the biblical encourager), you should definitely tell us a story about it.

You're a dick. The rest of what you said was tolerable, but you just had to keep going. At least coldshoulder gives a shit about someone other than himself, which is something that a lot of 0Ls and law students are incapable of doing.

Edit: You don't need to be volunteering fulltime to make a difference.


I am not a dick, but you are definitely a narcissistic little pig. You think because you paste stupid little pictures on the internet you are somehow interesting as a person? I give people advice the best way I know how which is honest and straight to the point. I don't tell people what they want to hear or already know. You self-entitled little kids give each other the exact wrong advice.

You totally misread my point as did the other dumb ass above that supposedly got into Yale. What a joke.

OP, my point is make your story real for the reader by making it about a personal experience. You need to put a face on the problem, not talk about the problem in the abstract. Facts tell, stories sell. With respect to the helping others comment, I imagine you have many examples of where you placed the needs of others above your own. But the way you describe your piece (mentoring and activism), with the two separate components, it is not clear where you are going to go with this. If you use your helping others as a lead in to get on your soap box, you will not come across as a sympathetic figure. Regardless of what the TLS douchebaggery tells you.

If OP wants some help from a real writer with real advice, he/she can PM me. Or, OP you can stick with the retards on TLS.

SchopenhauerFTW
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Re: Too political?

Postby SchopenhauerFTW » Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:48 pm

kublaikahn wrote:You think because you paste stupid little pictures on the internet you are somehow interesting as a person?

Of course not.

kublaikahn wrote:OP, my point is make your story real for the reader by making it about a personal experience. You need to put a face on the problem, not talk about the problem in the abstract. Facts tell, stories sell. With respect to the helping others comment, I imagine you have many examples of where you placed the needs of others above your own. But the way you describe your piece (mentoring and activism), with the two separate components, it is not clear where you are going to go with this.

Okay, that definitely makes sense. Don't come off as a naive idealist.

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bouakedojo
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Re: Too political?

Postby bouakedojo » Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:55 pm

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Last edited by bouakedojo on Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bjsesq
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Re: Too political?

Postby bjsesq » Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:56 pm

kublaikahn wrote:I am not a dick, but you are definitely a narcissistic little pig. You think because you paste stupid little pictures on the internet you are somehow interesting as a person? I give people advice the best way I know how which is honest and straight to the point. I don't tell people what they want to hear or already know. You self-entitled little kids give each other the exact wrong advice.

You totally misread my point as did the other dumb ass above that supposedly got into Yale. What a joke.

OP, my point is make your story real for the reader by making it about a personal experience. You need to put a face on the problem, not talk about the problem in the abstract. Facts tell, stories sell. With respect to the helping others comment, I imagine you have many examples of where you placed the needs of others above your own. But the way you describe your piece (mentoring and activism), with the two separate components, it is not clear where you are going to go with this. If you use your helping others as a lead in to get on your soap box, you will not come across as a sympathetic figure. Regardless of what the TLS douchebaggery tells you.

If OP wants some help from a real writer with real advice, he/she can PM me. Or, OP you can stick with the retards on TLS.


Log off for a bit, man. Gonna have a heart attack, freaking out like this.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Too political?

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:02 pm

Talk about it from your perspective--how it affected you you, what you gained from it, how it relates to your interest in going to law school. Topics like this are great, as long as they're used for highlighting who you are. Law school adcomms don't care that much about political affiliation or stand on certain issues, but they look for people who have the qualities of a great future lawyer and future alumni.

Your PS sounds like it could be great. As long as it's about who you are, and not about why the reader should support some particular political cause, it's a great starting point.

firemed
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Re: Too political?

Postby firemed » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:19 pm

kublaikahn wrote:If OP wants some help from a real writer with real advice, he/she can PM me. Or, OP you can stick with the retards on TLS.


If you are a real writer, why are you going to law school? :mrgreen: Go hang out with the other "real writers" on top-writers.com or something. The fact is that your advice is generally good, but occasionally bad... and then you go off and make it personal by attacking well respected posters who got into T10 schools.

Chill.

ihhwap1
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Postby ihhwap1 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:59 am

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Last edited by ihhwap1 on Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TommyK
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Re: Too political?

Postby TommyK » Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:11 am

JamMasterJ wrote:Approach it in an objective way and don't come across like you're advocating one side or the other of the issue. You should be ok. It's a slightly risky endeavour, but if it's the best subject you can write about, it will be a better essay than something about a humdrum issue you don't care about.


I disagree a lot with this advice. I don't think there is anything wrong with being passionate about immigration issues and that being the driving force toward law school. I don't even think it's slightly risky so long as your PS doesn't turn into an argument about immigration, but that you want to gain legal training so you can fight for the rights of undocumented workers.




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