PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

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TuxedoCats

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PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby TuxedoCats » Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:21 pm

I'm a non-traditional student (i.e. 31 years old, seeking a second career) applying for a part time program at a regional school. My soft factors include a graduate degree and legal-related work experience. I literally just finished this and haven't proofread very hard, so there may be some errors/clunkiness. The page limit for this school is four pages, this comes out to three double spaced. Thanks for any feedback!

I still remember my first library card. It was a small salmon-colored square of cardstock with rounded edges, my name stamped on it by typewriter, that tucked into a small manila envelope. The librarian handed them out to my kindergarten classmates and I on a field trip to the Hamilton Township Free Public Library, situated next to the police station (on what would later become Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. Way, though neither Justice Alito nor I knew that back in 1989). The librarian told us that we could borrow any book we wanted with that card. From my small vantage point, the library seemed huge and the possibilities endless. I don’t remember what book I chose that day, but I do remember excitement. That small envelope meant access to a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, insight, and information. That small envelope was power.

My motivation to pursue a degree in library science was driven by that same understanding of information as power. Much of my undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies focused on the impact of US law and public policy on women’s lives. Over and over, the takeaway of my classes was this: The most critical tool to make lasting social change is access to information. In order to address the evils of sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other systemic disadvantage, you must first understand how it is constructed. I saw librarianship as an opportunity to support sustained social change through providing access to the requisite knowledge. The American Library Association’s stated core values include intellectual freedom and social responsibility; we don’t call ourselves Radical Militant Librarians for no reason, after all.

I began the MLIS program in September of 2008 with the Great Recession in full swing, taking public library budgets and jobs down with the rest of the economy. Details of what caused the financial crisis began to emerge, painting a picture of failed corporate governance. As I progressed through the program, the connections between information access and corporate governance became more prominent. Corporate governance appealed to me as an extension of activist librarianship, a way to keep an eye on things from the inside. Much of our coursework explored the intersection of new technology and the traditional discipline of organizing information. I took classes focused on digital information collections, records management, metadata, and government information sources, including the fascinating Federal Depository Library System that is not well understood outside of library and legal circles. I wanted to know more about how information management could benefit ordinary people, anything that could prepare me to tackle these issues from inside a corporation.

In my final semester I took the course that had the greatest impact on me. It was a seminar on privacy and information rights that was deeply troubling. Up to this point I had largely been concerned with ensuring that people could access the information needed to improve their lives; this class focused on how the government could access information on its own citizens. The class examined the role that information plays in the relationship of citizens to the government and to corporations, contrasted with the impact of emerging technology on the constitutional concept of privacy. The disconcerting takeaway of the class was this: technology is evolving faster than our laws can, leaving a huge gap in our understanding of our rights. People give away their personal data to Facebook or other corporations with no clear understanding of how that data is used, growing threats to cybersecurity, and few laws on the books to protect them from potential harm. This class put a human face on the conceptual possibilities for misuse of that data by the government or corporations and confirmed my commitment to pursuing compliance-based approaches to information management.

In the time since graduation, I have worked in Records Management (also known as Information Governance as a more modern, cross-functional approach) both as an in-house practitioner and consultant. I help clients confront the problems caused by the explosive growth of information. I work alongside attorneys concerned with privacy, eDiscovery, and regulatory compliance toward the same goal of mitigating risk and ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Aside from operational cost savings and process efficiencies, the legal and regulatory obligations that impact information management are constantly evolving, both in the US and abroad. My clients are becoming less concerned with the expense of their technology infrastructure and more concerned with how much a potential data breach will cost. The ultimate goal of Records Management is to protect people, whether they are the employees or consumers of a corporation.

I want to attend law school because it is the next logical step towards protecting information rights. There are many advocates out there today, such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that do great work on information policy. Despite the best efforts of these organizations, the law cannot keep up with the rate at which technology is developing. We are entering a new era of the Internet of Things; self-driving cars, self-monitoring homes, and self-reporting fitness wearables that generate countless data points per day. There are too many legal unknowns today to fully realize the implications of these huge volumes of data. I want to be a lawyer, but I will always be a librarian first, and I will always strive to defend your rights.

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34iplaw

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby 34iplaw » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:30 pm

Pre-emptive feedback... I am relatively unfamiliar with your background, and it is fairly focused on a specific focus. I got a better feel for what was happening as I got later on. I think you need to get more into what makes you tick. I kind of get it, but your personal statement reads very much as a cover letter which, to my knowledge, it is not supposed to. I think you can take the unifying element and theme and sort of run with it, but I think you need to make it a bit more concise and focused on what makes you tick rather than a laundry list of classes or particular issues you find compelling. Perhaps, it is more important to talk about your career progress as a non-trad. I dunno though.

I still remember my first library card. It was a small salmon-colored square of cardstock with rounded edges, my name stamped on it by typewriter, that tucked into a small manila envelope. The librarian handed them out to my kindergarten classmates and I on a field trip to the Hamilton Township Free Public Library, situated next to the police station

I kind of like this. I'm not sure if it is that gripping though

It makes more sense now that I have read through the rest of your paper.

(on what would later become Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. Way, though neither Justice Alito nor I knew that back in 1989).

Drop the line in the parenthesis. I don't really feel that a parenthesis belongs in a PS.

The librarian told us that we could borrow any book we wanted with that card. From my small vantage point, the library seemed huge and the possibilities endless. I don’t remember what book I chose that day, but I do remember excitement. That small envelope meant access to a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, insight, and information. That small envelope was power.

I think it's really important to tie this to the opening above as to why that was so significant. I think you could benefit from condensing all of this a little so that you get to the small envelope being power. I kind of like the I don't remember...remember excitement.

My motivation to pursue a degree in library science was driven by that same understanding of information as power. Much of my undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies focused on the impact of US law and public policy on women’s lives.

I'm kind of confused by this. It may be my unfamiliarity, but aren't you sort of equating library science to Women's Studies? I just sort of googled it, but I wouldn't necessarily feel overly compelled to make sure I mention a full technical title of a degree. It's more important to convey what it is. It appears it is two separate degrees.

Over and over, the takeaway of my classes was this: The most critical tool to make lasting social change is access to information. In order to address the evils of sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other systemic disadvantage, you must first understand how it is constructed. I saw librarianship as an opportunity to support sustained social change through providing access to the requisite knowledge. The American Library Association’s stated core values include intellectual freedom and social responsibility; we don’t call ourselves Radical Militant Librarians for no reason, after all.

I like this, but not the 'over and over' phrasing. I think you are sort of hitting at the crux as to why you believe law to be a natural continuation of your studies.

I began the MLIS program in September of 2008 with the Great Recession in full swing, taking public library budgets and jobs down with the rest of the economy.

Don't use acronyms in a personal statement IMO.

Details of what caused the financial crisis began to emerge, painting a picture of failed corporate governance. As I progressed through the program, the connections between information access and corporate governance became more prominent. Corporate governance appealed to me as an extension of activist librarianship, a way to keep an eye on things from the inside.

I'm not sure that I am a fan of the phrasing of a way to keep an eye on things from the inside. It has a conspiratorial hue to it.

Much of our coursework explored the intersection of new technology and the traditional discipline of organizing information. I took classes focused on digital information collections, records management, metadata, and government information sources, including the fascinating Federal Depository Library System that is not well understood outside of library and legal circles. I wanted to know more about how information management could benefit ordinary people, anything that could prepare me to tackle these issues from inside a corporation.

This starts to sound a bit like a cover letter and less personal. Again, mildly conspiratorial though.

In my final semester I took the course that had the greatest impact on me. It was a seminar on privacy and information rights that was deeply troubling. Up to this point I had largely been concerned with ensuring that people could access the information needed to improve their lives; this class focused on how the government could access information on its own citizens. The class examined the role that information plays in the relationship of citizens to the government and to corporations, contrasted with the impact of emerging technology on the constitutional concept of privacy. The disconcerting takeaway of the class was this: technology is evolving faster than our laws can, leaving a huge gap in our understanding of our rights. People give away their personal data to Facebook or other corporations with no clear understanding of how that data is used, growing threats to cybersecurity, and few laws on the books to protect them from potential harm. This class put a human face on the conceptual possibilities for misuse of that data by the government or corporations and confirmed my commitment to pursuing compliance-based approaches to information management.

In the time since graduation, I have worked in Records Management (also known as Information Governance as a more modern, cross-functional approach) both as an in-house practitioner and consultant. I help clients confront the problems caused by the explosive growth of information.

Very cover letter-y.

I work alongside attorneys concerned with privacy, eDiscovery, and regulatory compliance toward the same goal of mitigating risk and ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Aside from operational cost savings and process efficiencies, the legal and regulatory obligations that impact information management are constantly evolving, both in the US and abroad. My clients are becoming less concerned with the expense of their technology infrastructure and more concerned with how much a potential data breach will cost. The ultimate goal of Records Management is to protect people, whether they are the employees or consumers of a corporation.

I want to attend law school because it is the next logical step towards protecting information rights. There are many advocates out there today, such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that do great work on information policy. Despite the best efforts of these organizations, the law cannot keep up with the rate at which technology is developing. We are entering a new era of the Internet of Things; self-driving cars, self-monitoring homes, and self-reporting fitness wearables that generate countless data points per day. There are too many legal unknowns today to fully realize the implications of these huge volumes of data. I want to be a lawyer, but I will always be a librarian first, and I will always strive to defend your rights.

TuxedoCats

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby TuxedoCats » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:38 pm

Thanks for reading! I've read through it a few more times since posting and I agree with your points about clarity and repetition. I have both a women's studies undergrad and a library science grad, I can see how that isn't obvious from what I wrote. Thanks again, I appreciate the feedback.

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34iplaw

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby 34iplaw » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:08 pm

No problem. Have a happy fourth & glad to have helped.

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FayRays

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby FayRays » Sun Jul 03, 2016 1:08 am

This personal statement started great but then there were details which were kinda important at the begining and then there were more and more. Overwhelming information that I (they)? don't need to read, the end was good but the details, you really need to work on them, your passion got lost amid all these details about how our rights are being taken by the cyber world!
Less details about your work and more information about your life and yourself!
Make it personal! Make them know you and love you and tell your story to their little kid, you are 31 you can use that to your advantage!
We all know that we give too much info for 3rd party when we play petville on Facebook! But we don't know what are you made of and to be honest! no I am (they are) not keen about you being librarian first, my reaction would be, oh then be a librarian and let lawyers be lawyers!

My suggestion would be to rephrase it" I'll always be a librarian at heart and my concerns will revolve around people's right ..."
something like that!

ps: I am not being mean! Best of luck!

TuxedoCats

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby TuxedoCats » Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:43 am

Thanks for your feedback, and you didn't come off as mean at all! I'm trying to answer the "why law school" question and frame it as the next logical step in my career. I wrote that paragraph about the particular class early on in my drafts and it was originally intended to serve as an example of an experience. I could probably shorten it and incorporate the important stuff into an earlier paragraph.

And I fully agree with your point about the last line, I think I was just sick of writing at that point. Thanks again.

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby TuxedoCats » Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:02 pm

I think I'm pretty close to done, I cut out a whole page so now it's down to two full pages. One last-ish draft if anyone would like to offer feedback:

I still remember my first library card. It was a small salmon-colored square of cardstock with rounded edges, my name stamped on it by typewriter, tucked into a small manila envelope. A librarian handed them out to my kindergarten classmates and I on a field trip to the Hamilton Township Free Public Library on what would later become Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. Way. The librarian told us that we could borrow any book we wanted with that card. From my little vantage point, the library seemed huge and the possibilities endless. I don’t remember what book I chose that day, but I do remember feeling excited. That little card meant access to a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, insight, and information. At that moment, I knew that little card was power.

Much of my undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies focused on the impact of US law and public policy on women’s lives. The takeaway of my undergraduate work was this: The most critical tool to make lasting social change is access to information. To dismantle sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other systemic disadvantage, you must understand how it is constructed. My motivation to pursue a graduate degree in library science was driven by that same understanding of knowledge as power. I saw a career in librarianship as an opportunity to support social change by providing access to critical information. Librarians play a vital role in protecting civil rights by protecting information access, freedom, and privacy. The American Library Association has devoted significant resources to public policy advocacy for the first amendment, civil liberties, and privacy rights. Simply going to work each day is activism when you’re a librarian.

I began the Master of Library and Information Science program in September of 2008 with the Great Recession in full swing, taking public library budgets and jobs down with the rest of the economy. Details of what caused the financial crisis began to emerge, in particular of failed corporate governance. As I progressed through the program, the connection between information rights and corporate governance, risk, and compliance programs became more obvious. Information management as a compliance function appealed to me as a different form of activist librarianship, one that addressed information rights, like privacy, in tangible ways.

In my final semester I took the course that had the greatest impact on me. It was a seminar on information rights that was deeply troubling. Up to this point I had largely been concerned with ensuring that people could access the information needed to improve their lives; this class focused on how the government and corporations access information on regular people. The disconcerting theme of the class was this: technology is evolving faster than our laws can, leaving a huge gap in our understanding of our rights. People give away their personal data with no clear understanding of how that data is used. This class laid bare the damaging consequences of the misuse of personal data and cemented my commitment to pursuing a career in compliance.

Attending law school is the next logical step in protecting information rights. I work in Information Governance as both an in-house practitioner and consultant, and my clients are attorneys concerned with privacy, eDiscovery, and regulatory compliance. I have seen firsthand the difficult intersection of evolving laws, regulations, and technologies, from Obamacare to Brexit. The law cannot keep up with the rate at which technology moves. We are entering a new era of the Internet of Things; self-driving cars, self-monitoring homes, and self-reporting fitness wearables that generate countless data points per day. Business decisions that have a major impact on our economy are increasingly made based on Big Data lakes and opaque algorithms. We unlock our phones with a thumbprint and get emails from our cars. There are too many legal unknowns today to fully realize the implications of these innovations. I want to be a lawyer, but I will always be a librarian at heart.

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34iplaw

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby 34iplaw » Sun Jul 03, 2016 10:46 pm

Did a quick scan. I like it. I'm on my phone, so I can't really read it too closely for edits. At the very least, I think you've made great progress on the statement.

I'll read it closer later tonight or tomorrow depending how I feel when I'm home later.

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34iplaw

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby 34iplaw » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:33 pm

I think I'm pretty close to done, I cut out a whole page so now it's down to two full pages. One last-ish draft if anyone would like to offer feedback:

I think you've made a lot of improvements, and you are certainly much closer. I would still encourage you to think of it as a bit of a living document for the time being, as you do have time to work on it further! That said, I think it's much stronger, but I'm not totally certain on the last paragraph. I tried to comment on grammar stuff that I saw, but I still tried to work somewhat bigger picture. I made sure to comment on grammar if I saw something recur.

I still remember my first library card. It was a small salmon-colored square of cardstock with rounded edges, my name stamped on it by typewriter, tucked into a small manila envelope. A librarian handed them out to my kindergarten classmates and I on a field trip to the Hamilton Township Free Public Library on what would later become Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. Way.

'I' should be 'me' in this context AFAIK. I also prefer saying the cards or something similar as opposed to a pronoun.

The librarian told us that we could borrow any book we wanted with that card. From my little vantage point, the library seemed huge and the possibilities endless.

I would prefer something like, 'From my little vantage point, the library seemed huge, and the possibilities were endless.' I'm not sure that structure really works. I think it'd be fine for prose, but I'm not sure if it works in a PS.

I don’t remember what book I chose that day, but I do remember feeling excited. That little card meant access to a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, insight, and information. At that moment, I knew that little card was power.

I like this.

Much of my undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies focused on the impact of US law and public policy on women’s lives. The takeaway of my undergraduate work was this: The most critical tool to make lasting social change is access to information.

I'm not a fan of this. I prefer it to be more direct. Something like, 'Through all my coursework, I discovered that the most critical tool to make lasting social change is access to information.' I'll comment on colons below.

To dismantle sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other systemic disadvantage, you must understand how it is constructed. My motivation to pursue a graduate degree in library science was driven by that same understanding of knowledge as power.

'as' or 'is'. I'm not really sure what would be more correct.

I saw a career in librarianship as an opportunity to support social change by providing access to critical information. Librarians play a vital role in protecting civil rights by protecting information access, freedom, and privacy.

These two sentences seem vaguely redundant - mainly the 'providing access to critical information' and 'by protecting information eaccess.'

The American Library Association has devoted significant resources to public policy advocacy for the first amendment, civil liberties, and privacy rights. Simply going to work each day is activism when you’re a librarian.

I don't know that I care for the structure of the second sentence. It could be the 'simply.'

I began the Master of Library and Information Science program in September of 2008 with the Great Recession in full swing, taking public library budgets and jobs down with the rest of the economy. Details of what caused the financial crisis began to emerge, in particular of failed corporate governance.

I don't that I care for how the prepositional phrase is structure or whether it's correct.

As I progressed through the program, the connection between information rights and corporate governance, risk, and compliance programs became more obvious. Information management as a compliance function appealed to me as a different form of activist librarianship, one that addressed information rights, like privacy, in tangible ways.

In my final semester I took the course that had the greatest impact on me. It was a seminar on information rights that was deeply troubling.

comma after semester. I also think this can be expressed/phrased better.

Up to this point I had largely been concerned with ensuring that people could access the information needed to improve their lives; this class focused on how the government and corporations access information on regular people.

comma after point. 'had largely been' to 'was'.

The disconcerting theme of the class was this: technology is evolving faster than our laws can, leaving a huge gap in our understanding of our rights.

Personally, I do not care for colons. I also don't think if it a strictly correct use of a colon. I think it may *technically* be correct, but it's odd, IMO. A colon has to follow a complete sentence. It's not supposed to follow a fragment. In your case, it's either a fragment or you're using a pronoun prior to us knowing what the pronoun is. It just reads a bit clunky to me.

People give away their personal data with no clear understanding of how that data is used. This class laid bare the damaging consequences of the misuse of personal data and cemented my commitment to pursuing a career in compliance.

Attending law school is the next logical step in protecting information rights.

I'm not sure that this should precede detailing what you do now or follow it.

I work in Information Governance as both an in-house practitioner and consultant, and my clients are attorneys concerned with privacy, eDiscovery, and regulatory compliance. I have seen firsthand the difficult intersection of evolving laws, regulations, and technologies, from Obamacare to Brexit.

I'd probably drop the 'from Obamacare to Brexit.' That's me though... mainly the brexit.

The law cannot keep up with the rate at which technology moves. We are entering a new era of the Internet of Things; self-driving cars, self-monitoring homes, and self-reporting fitness wearables that generate countless data points per day. Business decisions that have a major impact on our economy are increasingly made based on Big Data lakes and opaque algorithms.

I don't think big data should be capitalized. It's kind of weird, but I just don't really care for the - I really don't want to say this or know how to phrase it better - laundry list of 'trendy' issues. I think it's a valid thing to get into, but it gets kind of odd when it's just dropping lists of issues. That could just be me though, so I wouldn't take this part with too much weight. As for if it's kept, I would change 'cannot' to 'has not' or something of that nature, as your statement seems to be focused on resolving some of these issues so it's a bit contradictory. Drop 'that' from 'wearables that generate'...I think 'that' makes it a fragment... what do all of noun(cars, homes, and wearables that generate countless data per day) do verb(?)? A semicolon joins two complete thoughts.

We unlock our phones with a thumbprint and get emails from our cars. There are too many legal unknowns today to fully realize the implications of these innovations.

It's a good idea, but it get's a bit extraneous. Honestly, I'm just not sure that I'm really into this last paragraph. It starts to get cover letter-y.

I want to be a lawyer, but I will always be a librarian at heart.

I still like this sentence and idea, but it seems out of place in this paragraph, IMO. Part of this could be my [admitedly poor based on reading your statements] understanding of what a librarian is and does. I would caution that some readers may have similar preconceived notions.

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby TuxedoCats » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:55 pm

Thanks dude! In general, do you think it answers the question of why I want to go to law school? Is it persuasive? I'm not the most exciting person, and I've been really lucky in life to not have significant obstacles to overcome. I was a huge nerd growing up, escaped into books, etc etc. I think being a classically trained librarian working a non-traditional library job might make me somewhat unique?

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby 34iplaw » Mon Jul 04, 2016 1:39 pm

I imagine it is fairly unique, but that comes with the double edge of them not possibly not understanding what you do. Like, what you do sounds nothing like a librarian to me which causes some confusion. That said, I think you conveyed that fairly well, and it was just more me trying to get over my conception of what a librarian is.

I'm not quite certain that it is super persuasive yet...I think the challenge with that is that your statement is least personal when it ends. The end sort of turns into a bit of a laundry list type deal. You definitely explain why you want to go to law school.

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby galadriel3019 » Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:54 am

Your first paragraph really drew me in-I loved what seemed to be the start of commentary on how something so small was so powerful for you. However, the other paragraphs began to sound a bit like an expanded resume. I could almost imagine the very bullet points your resume has. While there is nothing wrong with writing about something that is reflected on your resume… I think you are missing an opportunity to provide the reader with new perspectives about yourself. They will know what degrees you got and classes you took. You do not need to change topics, but perhaps change the way you deliver some of your insight so it's not as much of a parallel to your academic transcript.

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby TuxedoCats » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:19 am

What are your thoughts on explicitly saying that I like my job a lot? I can easily tie it to my interest in law, but would the admissions committee say "then why are you applying to law school"?

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Re: PS feedback requested for a non-traditional applicant

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:43 am

TuxedoCats wrote:What are your thoughts on explicitly saying that I like my job a lot? I can easily tie it to my interest in law, but would the admissions committee say "then why are you applying to law school"?


You can PM me for details if you want (my background is specific enough that an ad comm could easily recognize me from it), but I wrote a very similar PS from a non-traditional background. I was very clear about being passionate and dedicated to what I've been doing for the past years, but for me, it was no longer enough. I think if you can make that distinction clear, you're fine.



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