PS Selection Time

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

And the winner is...

Option A
No votes
Option B
Total votes: 3

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PS Selection Time

Postby Gustave » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:12 pm

I'm working on two very different PS rough drafts, and don't want to edit both of them. Would some brave soul be kind enough to tell me which one to toil on?

Option 1 (A direct pitch on what I'd hope to learn while at the institution, modified for each school.)

On a scotch-tape-labeled VHS of my best friend’s 8th birthday, I make a precocious guest-appearance. Nathan, my friend, declares that he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. The camera-man asks me what I’d like to be, and I hammily sigh, “My dad says I’ll be a lawyer because I argue so much.” Today, I want to be a lawyer because of how much I want to listen.
Soon we will settle the major political debate of the last 100 years; the relative role of government and private industry in the economy. Most economists agree that the ideal system would be private firms efficiently allocating resources in accordance with supply and demand, and a flexible government ensuring equity of access and the redistribution of resources, and regulating spheres which consumer demand and production costs do not properly dictate.

Ludwig Witgenstein’s later theories on aesthetics and spirituality claimed that the language of factual discourse cannot properly be used to discuss the transcendental penumbra. Similarly, I believe that the language of pure economics cannot properly be used to determine policy on a number of contemporary issues, mostly concerning technology, international property rights, and the environment. The new language, of utilitarianism and deontology, is being created like all pidgin languages, in a liminal space. I want to learn that brave new tongue.

Nanotechnology, hyper-extended life, nuclear policy, stem cell research, and global climate change all demand that a sophisticated new method of analysis be applied. An amalgamation of public interest, mediation, land-use, environmental, international, and bioethical law seems the likely birthplace of such a language. Relevant decisions on these frontier cases will be made by members of quasi-non-governmental organizations (quangos), whose participants will include not only representatives of the political system and scientific fields, but trained mediators who can perform the necessary analyses and converse in the demanded variety of dialects to set the best possible public policy.

These tensions are being played out in contemporary politics with issues like liquefied natural gas pipelines and catch share quotas for commercial fishing vessels. I learned, while my significant other served as an observer in the West Coast Ground fish Fishery, that all stakeholders need to be involved in setting policy in order for it be implemented with any reasonable expectation of success.

I engaged in the debates on teacher evaluation as a member of Teach for America. The Secretary of Education, Mr. Duncan, is using the language of analytics and business modeling. Old-school teachers, like my father and three uncles, and many of my coworkers in Las Vegas, are for the most part uninspired by this discourse. I want to sit at a table with teachers, administrators, sabermetricians, and psychomatricians. I want to listen to fishermen, fisheries management experts, conservation biologists and economists. With a JD from George Washington, and under the tutelage of your professors, I want to help steer those discussions and reach the best possible outcome.

George Washington’s location in D.C. will position me at the heart of these debates, and the strong intellectual property rights and environmental law programs will provide me with the basic training that I’ll need. George Washington’s significant cache will, perhaps, allow me a seat at the table. Most critical for development, though, will be the languages and critical thinking styles I learn. From Robert Glicksman and Lee Paddock, the method for discussing environmental evaluation on a national and international scale. From Sonia Suter and Scott Kieff, the handling of scientific development in the legal vulgar, and what it means to be an interdisciplinary scholar while a member of the legal guild. From Charles Craver, I hope to learn the negotiation skills I’ll need to reach agreements, and from Jonathan Turley I hope to learn an approach to law which includes deontological viewpoints, and allows for the inclusion of spiritual stakeholders in technological discussions. My 8 year old self reached the correct prediction, albeit with faulty reasoning. As a lawyer, and as a Colonial, I’ll seek to resolve arguments, rather than create them

--- Option B to follow----

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Re: PS Selection Time

Postby Gustave » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:13 pm

... Option B (Generic, with a better narrative.)

I met Marta in late September in Nevada, in a portable without air conditioning, raised on concrete stilts above cracked and steaming asphalt. Marta was 6 years old, and joining my first grade class a month into the school year. I shook her hand, and called her “ma’am,” and, as with all of my other new additions, used her presence as a chance to practice all of our classroom routines. Before this, though, and guiltily, I breathed a sigh of relief. Marta was white.
Of the 27 students in my class, more than 85% were not fluent in English. I had a number of bilingual scholars, and I used them as learning buddies, pairing stronger English speakers with others who didn’t know cardinal numbers or pronouns. However, there wasn’t enough bilingualism to go around, and due to Clark County’s ostrich-head-in-sand “immersion only” policy I was unable to speak Spanish during instructional time. I could, and did, join my scholars at lunch, and used carrots and grapes to teach colors and numbers. But in that wood paneled portable I was at the mercy of 6 year old translators, who were understandably poor at estimating their own skills in both Spanish and English. Marta was partnered with Joshua, who had moved to Las Vegas from the Midwest, and didn’t speak Spanish at all.
We lagged behind schedule with our math lesson, in which I attempted to model the relationship between addition and subtraction. A clump of 10 transparent duplo blocks sat on the projector screen, and Mr. Gussin sat head down at his desk. Students took turns taking some of the blocks away, and through “speaking” with those blocks left behind, I announced how many the student had subtracted. Some were astounded. Other caught on quickly, and correctly guessed the number with me, and I made note of which students they were. We broke into small groups, with the students playing the game together, and I made sure that one of the scholars who “got-it” was in every group. Marta was one of the group leaders, and once again, I was relieved.
The bell rang while we were going over the results, and I made a note to revisit our experiment after lunch, to ensure that every student understood what was happening. The students lined up, with Joshua helping Marta, and I excused them to recess and lunch. I waited behind, and cleaned up the blocks. Ten minutes later, I walked to the lunch room to eat with the kids. On my way there I found Marta, again.
She was sitting cross legged, not crying but red eyed, beneath a metal ramp affixed to a portable. I bent down and asked her what happened, was she ok, where was Joshua, and she looked up at me and started to cry. I motioned for her to leave the shade and walk with me, and while talking with her I realized that the extent of her English was her name, the numbers 1-10, and little else.
I never wanted to feel powerless to help those who depend upon me again. For the last year, after my experience in Teach for America, I’ve attempted to do so by reducing the number of dependents I can claim. I’ve since come to realize that even though I’m no longer confronted with Marta every weekday; my timidity is failing her none the less. This is why I want to attend the xxxx J.D. program. I want three years of intellectual challenge and struggle, failures and conditional successes, and with it the confidence that even if I’m not perfect, or omnipotent, I’ll be able to adapt and learn to better help others, like Marta, in the future.

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Re: PS Selection Time

Postby CorkBoard » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:38 am

Why is there no "neither" option?


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Re: PS Selection Time

Postby NightmanCometh » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:24 am

CorkBoard wrote:Why is there no "neither" option?

LOL ouch.

That said I think there are major problems with both:

A: Where is this going?? I had to do a double take after reading this to ask myself what was your main point. I just see a bunch of buzzwords like "nanotechnology" and "quangos" (??) and name drops, with no coherent theme or idea linking any of them in an obvious way. Maybe if I read this like 10 times, I will get it, but you don't want that to happen to the admissions ppl who actually read your essay. You want to connect the dots for them.

B: This one has more potential as it is a coherent narrative. But the big problem with this is that it tells me nothing about you, and again I don't see the point of this story. What are you trying to say about yourself?

I would say work on B. But make sure that you get across what you want to say about yourself. The personal statement is supposed to be a an exercise in marketing. You don't want to just tell a story unless that story (implicitly) tells the admissions people what a good candidate you are.

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