Thoughts on this heavily analytical approach to PS?

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Anonymous User
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Thoughts on this heavily analytical approach to PS?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:08 pm

So I've started writing something up, and basically, I'm discussing how my major informed my decision to apply to law school. To do so, I briefly summarize the goal of a research paper that I completed during my senior year and give relevant background information about it. (I wrote this paper for a seminar with one of my recommenders.) Further, I tie this paper into my interest in criminal law. This should take up the two pages.

Does this make sense? I don't have any particularly compelling personal stories about diversity or interesting work experience. So I was thinking that emphasizing some of my academic experience would be helpful here. I see it as addressing 'why law school' and a brief showcase of some analytical ability. Thoughts on this approach to the PS?

dkb17xzx
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Re: Thoughts on this heavily analytical approach to PS?

Postby dkb17xzx » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:24 pm

no one cares as long as you don't write something stupid. if your LSAT + GPA match, you're fine

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rinkrat19
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Re: Thoughts on this heavily analytical approach to PS?

Postby rinkrat19 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:14 pm

I think you're missing the point of a PERSONAL statement.

Anonymous User
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Re: Thoughts on this heavily analytical approach to PS?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:48 pm

Okay. I admitted I don't have much that's personally interesting to write down.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Thoughts on this heavily analytical approach to PS?

Postby rinkrat19 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Okay. I admitted I don't have much that's personally interesting to write down.

I saw that. But I missed the part of the law school application where if you don't like the essay prompt it's okay to submit something unrelated. Also not satisfactory substitutes: videos of interpretive dance, X-rays of a broken foot, and bags full of shirt buttons.

But if you don't want to take my word for it...
Dean of Admissions at Harvard wrote:Ultimately, the personal statement is a chance to tell us more about you in a way that isn’t reflected in the other elements of your application. Let us know how your broad range of experiences, coursework, and extracurricular activities fit together and how they will allow you to make a unique contribution to the Harvard community. Let your personality and writing style shine through and tell us what we should know about you.

Read over your personal statement with a critical eye when you are done and ask yourself if it’s an accurate portrayal of who you are. Does your voice come through? Or is it just a laundry list of your achievements? When we read a personal statement, we are looking for a person, not a set of accomplishments. Also, don’t take for granted that the person reading your application is familiar with your point of view, so take the time to paint at least some broad strokes that provide context.
Dean of Admissions at Boalt wrote:The personal statements is the applicant’s opportunity to distinguish himself from hundreds of other applicants who have the same numbers, and the same major, and come from a similar school. The personal statement is an applicant’s opportunity to describe the distance they’ve come in their lives.

Most everyone is a very different person now than they were in high school and along that journey they develop a voice that they will be bringing into the classroom. I want to learn about the journey that developed that voice, and to the decision to apply to law school. We are looking for intellectually curious people, and we are looking for people with a diverse array of experiences. So, the ideal personal statement would bring all of that out.
Dean of Admissions at Northwestern wrote:I think the best personal statements that I’ve read show that the applicant has actually thought about the topic that they’re writing about, and they’ve looked within themselves to write about said topic. They don’t read as being formulaic. There’s also some emotion in the writing.
Dean of Admissions at Michigan wrote:What makes those stand out? One is just that they are well written and well expressed. Two is that they are just good stories. You’re telling a story here; I don’t mean it in a fictional sense, a huge part of lawyering is being a persuasive writer so you have to figure out what’s going to appeal to a reader; what’s going to draw him in.

Sometimes it’s not that it’s an amazing personal tale, it’s more that it’s incredibly well-expressed and clever in the sense of they have drawn together the many separate threads of their application and brought it all together in a coherent package. That’s just impressive.
Dean of Admissions at BU wrote:The most critical attributes of an effective personal statement are that it be very well written--concise, easy to read, engaging—and that it clearly explain something important about who you are.


You don't have to have cured cancer to write a good personal statement. There is something that makes you you, and it is not a research paper you did.

Anonymous User
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Re: Thoughts on this heavily analytical approach to PS?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:17 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Okay. I admitted I don't have much that's personally interesting to write down.

I saw that. But I missed the part of the law school application where if you don't like the essay prompt it's okay to submit something unrelated. Also not satisfactory substitutes: videos of interpretive dance, X-rays of a broken foot, and bags full of shirt buttons.

But if you don't want to take my word for it...
Dean of Admissions at Harvard wrote:Ultimately, the personal statement is a chance to tell us more about you in a way that isn’t reflected in the other elements of your application. Let us know how your broad range of experiences, coursework, and extracurricular activities fit together and how they will allow you to make a unique contribution to the Harvard community. Let your personality and writing style shine through and tell us what we should know about you.

Read over your personal statement with a critical eye when you are done and ask yourself if it’s an accurate portrayal of who you are. Does your voice come through? Or is it just a laundry list of your achievements? When we read a personal statement, we are looking for a person, not a set of accomplishments. Also, don’t take for granted that the person reading your application is familiar with your point of view, so take the time to paint at least some broad strokes that provide context.
Dean of Admissions at Boalt wrote:The personal statements is the applicant’s opportunity to distinguish himself from hundreds of other applicants who have the same numbers, and the same major, and come from a similar school. The personal statement is an applicant’s opportunity to describe the distance they’ve come in their lives.

Most everyone is a very different person now than they were in high school and along that journey they develop a voice that they will be bringing into the classroom. I want to learn about the journey that developed that voice, and to the decision to apply to law school. We are looking for intellectually curious people, and we are looking for people with a diverse array of experiences. So, the ideal personal statement would bring all of that out.
Dean of Admissions at Northwestern wrote:I think the best personal statements that I’ve read show that the applicant has actually thought about the topic that they’re writing about, and they’ve looked within themselves to write about said topic. They don’t read as being formulaic. There’s also some emotion in the writing.
Dean of Admissions at Michigan wrote:What makes those stand out? One is just that they are well written and well expressed. Two is that they are just good stories. You’re telling a story here; I don’t mean it in a fictional sense, a huge part of lawyering is being a persuasive writer so you have to figure out what’s going to appeal to a reader; what’s going to draw him in.

Sometimes it’s not that it’s an amazing personal tale, it’s more that it’s incredibly well-expressed and clever in the sense of they have drawn together the many separate threads of their application and brought it all together in a coherent package. That’s just impressive.
Dean of Admissions at BU wrote:The most critical attributes of an effective personal statement are that it be very well written--concise, easy to read, engaging—and that it clearly explain something important about who you are.


You don't have to have cured cancer to write a good personal statement. There is something that makes you you, and it is not a research paper you did.


Good points. It seems the toughest thing to do, then, is to avoid forced melodramatics in the PS. I'm probably overthinking things.

persimmon
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Re: Thoughts on this heavily analytical approach to PS?

Postby persimmon » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:29 pm

I know this post is a week old now, but I just want to say, I think the advice in this thread is wrong. Writing about an academic interest can work really well and in my opinion is an underused strategy. Just like you, I talked about a senior research project in my personal essay, and I got in essentially everywhere I applied from Yale on down. In fact, I think the quotes earlier in the thread support the idea that writing about academics can work: the admissions counselors mention intellectual curiosity, coursework, etc. Somewhere in the Ask Asha's (Yale) I think she also suggested writing about an interesting class or something. Just, if you are going to write about an academic interest, make sure you can:

-Tell a story, don't write an abstract, or even a grad school-style statement of interest. Include some human interest: "When I saw the results of our test, my heart sank," etc. Choose a specific experience to write about and don't feel compelled to write the entire story of how you got interested in X from childhood to the present (in fact, please don't do that). Make sure you have a story arc with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

-Be 100% accessible to outsiders, and fully jargon-free. Be aware that this is a very small space to express a complicated idea. Consider that you don't necessarily have to explain what the main conclusion of your research was--you can pick just one aspect that will be interesting and easy to talk about.

-Conversely, remember that your essay may be read by people who are smarter than you are, certainly will be read by people who have a more informed vision of what law is like than you do, and if coincidence strikes, might even be read by people who know more about your general area of research than you do. You need to be absolutely sure that you have something interesting and non-naive to say to that expert audience as well. If you can, have a professor read the essay, or else choose your next best substitute.

Sometimes your particular academic experiences just may not work in this format, and if that's the case, then yes, back to the drawing board. But if you want to write about this topic, see if you can make it work.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Thoughts on this heavily analytical approach to PS?

Postby rinkrat19 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:31 pm

persimmon wrote:I know this post is a week old now, but I just want to say, I think the advice in this thread is wrong. Writing about an academic interest can work really well and in my opinion is an underused strategy. Just like you, I talked about a senior research project in my personal essay, and I got in essentially everywhere I applied from Yale on down. In fact, I think the quotes earlier in the thread support the idea that writing about academics can work: the admissions counselors mention intellectual curiosity, coursework, etc. Somewhere in the Ask Asha's (Yale) I think she also suggested writing about an interesting class or something. Just, if you are going to write about an academic interest, make sure you can:

-Tell a story, don't write an abstract, or even a grad school-style statement of interest. Include some human interest: "When I saw the results of our test, my heart sank," etc. Choose a specific experience to write about and don't feel compelled to write the entire story of how you got interested in X from childhood to the present (in fact, please don't do that). Make sure you have a story arc with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

-Be 100% accessible to outsiders, and fully jargon-free. Be aware that this is a very small space to express a complicated idea. Consider that you don't necessarily have to explain what the main conclusion of your research was--you can pick just one aspect that will be interesting and easy to talk about.

-Conversely, remember that your essay may be read by people who are smarter than you are, certainly will be read by people who have a more informed vision of what law is like than you do, and if coincidence strikes, might even be read by people who know more about your general area of research than you do. You need to be absolutely sure that you have something interesting and non-naive to say to that expert audience as well. If you can, have a professor read the essay, or else choose your next best substitute.

Sometimes your particular academic experiences just may not work in this format, and if that's the case, then yes, back to the drawing board. But if you want to write about this topic, see if you can make it work.

Nobody said something like this was a bad idea. That would be a personal statement with his work on X Project as a topic, which is not what OP was proposing to write. OP wanted to "briefly summarize a research paper" and "give background information about it." Basically, write an abstract.

persimmon
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Re: Thoughts on this heavily analytical approach to PS?

Postby persimmon » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:40 pm

Fair enough. But depending on what kind of summary it is, it may not be that hard to turn it into an experience/story--especially if it's the kind of summary that's already a chronological account of what the OP did and why. If you have something like that, a few of those human interest sentences sprinkled throughout, and liberal deletion of everything that doesn't contribute to your narrative, really work wonders. (This is basically what I did to turn a grad school app into a law school one.) It's a better starting point than a lot of other options.




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