Help me make my personal statement less boring.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )

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Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:33 pm

Help me make my personal statement less boring.

Postby shs2012 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:47 pm

Edit to original post:

I've gotten a few comments on my PS, which are mostly along the lines of "meh, maybe, but kind of boring." I'm thinking about new topics, but I think my research experience is cool, and I'd like to keep some of what I have so far, even if it's drastically reworked and new themes introduced, etc. So, if anyone has input on general ways to make this less boring without completely changing topic, I'd appreciate it.

“...all of the statistics are in Romanian, but it’s a romance language. You speak Spanish, right? And alittle bit of French? Okay, so it shouldn’t be too hard.” I kept these somewhat encouraging words in mind and tried to ignore the absurdity of the situation, while flipping through volumes of official Romanian government statistics. I scanned pages until words that bore similarities to their French and Spanish counterparts for “student” and “enrollment” and “graduation” jumped out at me. These numbers would eventually form the basis of a dataset that would help us determine whether a correlation existed between county-level educational attainment.and young adult health outcomes.

Economics students are taught to prioritize efficiency over everything else, even if it means not tackling problems that might require a more innovative approach to data collection, observation, and analysis. As a result, classroom-based “research” merely involves receiving data and going through rote, practically-memorized motions to clean, sort, and merge the relevant variables. Moving outside of the classroom and getting exposure to the real creative solutions that could produce useful data ignited my interest in research. The blending of Spanish classes (locating the related Romanian words), econometrics and statistics classes (specifying the purported relationship between variables, and testing the hypotheses by running regressions), and political science classes (critically examining the results with an eye to accompanying political reforms in the years being studied that might artificially inflate our results, due to omitted variables) seemed to finally put my coursework into practical use, an immensely satisfying outcome. I enjoyed the work so much that I continued this summer position for an additional year and a half; in addition, I seized another opportunity to conduct research with a different professor.

Professor McMillan is older, more established, and pre-eminent on the development economics scene, so there was no time for me to attempt to read Romanian in the library basement. Instead, she’d e-mail me a spreadsheet of 50-100 cited articles on that week’s hot new topic in development, ranging from the food price crisis to trade liberalization reforms, and I would turn the digital pile of articles into a literature review, either to be used as part of an academic paper, or to be referenced in her presentations at regional conferences. I had to work quickly, maintain constant focus, synthesize tremendous amounts of information, and ultimately construct a coherent narrative based on seemingly disparate scholarly works. These tasks contained completely different challenges, but were no less satisfying to complete.

The substance of these projects interested me, but I became frustrated by the constraints of academia: the arbitrary prioritization of projects based on what research topics were currently in style or how famous were one’s coauthors, rather than quality of the data or analysis. I started work as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board after graduating college instead of taking an academic research fellowship for that reason, and because I had always been interested in the intersection between policy and economics. The Fed promised to be the place where research evolved into policy, particularly in light of recent revelations about our deregulated financial system. What I did not expect was that pretty much any issue that I’ve worked on which crosses into both the fields of policy and economic research necessarily involves knowledge of laws and the American legal system.

I worked on a briefing a few months ago which featured research I had done on American companies that have located R&D labs overseas, research that cannot be properly interpreted without an understanding of American and international labor laws, as well as corporate tax incentives. Similarly, I am working on an analysis of historical bank balance sheet data to compare and contrast how bank behaved in times of economic prosperity and in times of panic; the policy prescriptions that will result from our findings deal with how we regulate banks and financial institutions, and the challenges posed by modern financial instruments. I want to combine a legal education with my training with economics to eventually work on the formation or enforcement of financial regulations. While I was once excited by problem-solving approaches to data collection alone, I am now excited by substance: the legal underpinnings of each research topic I explore.
Last edited by shs2012 on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: PS draft- a couple possible issues...

Postby CorkBoard » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:23 am

I'll take a look, but you're far more likely to get responses by actually posting it on here.


Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:33 pm

Re: I would like to make this not boring without changing topic.

Postby shs2012 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:26 pm

Dear lovely people of TLS,

I've now posted my PS in the original post- if you consider yourself particularly gifted in strategic removal of boring qualities from personal statements, feel free to look at it and throw out some suggestions. I know it's in need of some TLC.


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