Subject Too Political?

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

Is this subject too political to use?

Yes
5
33%
No
9
60%
Use it for some schools and not others
1
7%
 
Total votes: 15

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colorlesstazaki
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Subject Too Political?

Postby colorlesstazaki » Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:51 am

Hi, new poster here!

I had a really interesting experience being unwittingly caught up in a protest outside of the White House the day after the original travel ban, and I think I can make a unique PS out of it. Would this subject be too political to use? I'm planning to apply to most of the T14 and probably T20. I'm pretty centrist and while my PS would not be explicitly anti-Trump or anti-Republican, I did participate in the protest.

lnsl123
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby lnsl123 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:05 am

Is the subject being caught up in the protest? I don't think the context is inappropriate, but what is the subject of the PS?

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colorlesstazaki
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby colorlesstazaki » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:09 am

Essentially, yes. I didn't expect to get caught up in it and despite my proximity to DC, I've never been in a protest. I'm framing it, not so much around the why I joined, but the feeling of being swept up in the moment and the sensation of being a part of something larger than myself. It was a peaceful protest, but very loud and very active.

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RCSOB657
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby RCSOB657 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:17 am

I don't know what the answer is, but are you sure you want to say you can't control your emotions in a crowd? (That's one potential takeaway depending on what your PS says.)
Last edited by RCSOB657 on Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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guybourdin
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby guybourdin » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:19 am

probably not too political, but may still be a bad PS topic. I would guess we need more info. Can you super rough draft it?

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colorlesstazaki
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby colorlesstazaki » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:42 am

RCSOB657 wrote:I don't know what the answer is, but are you sure you want to say you can't control your emotions in a crowd? (That's one potential takeaway depending on what your PS says.)


I see what you're getting at here and I considered it but its not about losing control of my emotions.

To very quickly outline it, I was walking through DC and heard the protest, so I walked towards it. I tend not to participate in these types of things as they often too quickly lead to labels, i.e. you protest a Trump action, therefore you're super liberal, and I'm not often passionate enough about a given issue to deem it protest-worthy. As I observed the crowd and the speakers, the way individuals took charge and controlled the ebb and flow of enthusiasm that swept through the area, I began to realize just how powerful this oft-overlooked portion of the first amendment is. With just the ability to show up, plant ourselves outside of the White House, and speak out against an injustice, we can create change. It wasn't about me and what I thought of the travel ban, it wasn't about the way in which President Trump had executed the EO. It was about a common belief, a shared idea that we as Americans can come together with words and more importantly energy, and make our voices heard.

...or something like that.

acr
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby acr » Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:02 pm

I just don't see the benefit of going with this topic. It doesn't strike me as something that will help you outperform your numbers. At best, a personal statement marginally improves your admissions outcomes. At worst, it completely tanks you. I don't think the risk/reward here weighs in favor of writing about this topic. Just find something else.

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34iplaw
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby 34iplaw » Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:06 pm

Unless it engendered you do actually do something (i.e. volunteer your time or look for work or start a blog or something), I don't think it will reflect positively on you in a meaningful way. I don't mean to say it will reflect negatively on you (it could - i.e. I was moved by this really powerful emotional moment but did nothing), but it won't really communicate anything other than that you are, at the very least, somewhat perceptive and introspective.

That said, I suspect you can write well based on your rough draft. It could jump off into something (maybe you are an immigrant from a country where there is no such right) but I think it will ring quite hollow otherwise. I think it's also too recent of a revelation to craft into a meaningful reason as to why you want to go to law school.

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blackmamba8
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby blackmamba8 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:08 pm

I wouldn't do it. You never know who's going to be looking at your personal statement. Maybe a Trump supporter reads it and gets pissed. Maybe an anti-Trump person that doesn't think it's an appropriate topic to write about reads it. There's a lot of risk and little to gain from using a topic like this.

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colorlesstazaki
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby colorlesstazaki » Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:15 pm

acr wrote:I just don't see the benefit of going with this topic. It doesn't strike me as something that will help you outperform your numbers. At best, a personal statement marginally improves your admissions outcomes. At worst, it completely tanks you. I don't think the risk/reward here weighs in favor of writing about this topic. Just find something else.


I didn't consider the risk/reward here, but I think you're right. I'm a bit of a splitter so I figured it might benefit me to have a PS that really stands out

34iplaw wrote:Unless it engendered you do actually do something (i.e. volunteer your time or look for work or start a blog or something), I don't think it will reflect positively on you in a meaningful way. I don't mean to say it will reflect negatively on you (it could - i.e. I was moved by this really powerful emotional moment but did nothing), but it won't really communicate anything other than that you are, at the very least, somewhat perceptive and introspective.

That said, I suspect you can write well based on your rough draft. It could jump off into something (maybe you are an immigrant from a country where there is no such right) but I think it will ring quite hollow otherwise. I think it's also too recent of a revelation to craft into a meaningful reason as to why you want to go to law school.


Thank you for your compliment on my writing :D , and while the experience did not push me towards law school (I was actually in DC touring GULC at the time), it did push me to pursue a particular concentration of law and to start organizing in my home state.

blackmamba8 wrote:I wouldn't do it. You never know who's going to be looking at your personal statement. Maybe a Trump supporter reads it and gets pissed. Maybe an anti-Trump person that doesn't think it's an appropriate topic to write about reads it. There's a lot of risk and little to gain from using a topic like this.


That's a fair assessment, it's actually why I was unsure of it in the first place.

cavalier1138
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:52 pm

blackmamba8 wrote:I wouldn't do it. You never know who's going to be looking at your personal statement. Maybe a Trump supporter reads it and gets pissed. Maybe an anti-Trump person that doesn't think it's an appropriate topic to write about reads it. There's a lot of risk and little to gain from using a topic like this.


Aside from the former situation being extremely unlikely, people write about their political convictions in personal statements all the time. I'm not sure that the OP should, since it doesn't sound like this was a formative moment that has led them to get involved in a specific cause, but you shouldn't be trying to craft a PS based on the possibility that someone who supports a different political party will read it.

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34iplaw
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby 34iplaw » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:02 pm

colorlesstazaki wrote:Thank you for your compliment on my writing :D , and while the experience did not push me towards law school (I was actually in DC touring GULC at the time), it did push me to pursue a particular concentration of law and to start organizing in my home state.


No problem. I will say then you may have something that you could do then, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I think it removes one of my big concerns with your PS, but it doesn't mean I'm sold on it. I think it could depend on (to a great degree) how much you've been involved in organizing. I suspect that it may not be enough to be the truly formative type of experience that can make a great personal statement. Hopefully, that makes sense. I'll detail it a little below.

colorlesstazaki wrote:I didn't consider the risk/reward here, but I think you're right. I'm a bit of a splitter so I figured it might benefit me to have a PS that really stands out


I think part of the problem here is that I don't know a PS about politics is really something that will make you stand out in law school applications. If you took a really strong stance, it possibly could, but that could 'bigly' backfire.

I suspect a lot of people write about it, and they may have a more intimate relationship (for want of a better term) with it than you - i.e. they've come from a country with political persecution or have been subjugated by unfair policies. Also, I don't mean to be presumptuous to say that you haven't; you may have but, in that case, I'd say you should focus on that.

All that said, I'm not a personal statement guru and I'm not an admissions consultant. My general fear is that your PS won't come off as something they wouldn't get from your involvement in organizing. Then again, I think fairly mundane things can make great PSs, but, to me, the purpose of a PS is to gain insight into the writer. I'm not sure one would get much from this topic, but, again, that's all how you write it.

What I tend to suggest for anyone writing a personal statement is to start early and don't actually worry about having a specific concept in mind. Just actually write almost like you would in a journal. It could be a paragraph. It could be two. Hell, it could be three sentences or three pages. Give them a little time to breathe and revisit them. You may find that certain things you may really like and you may pull bits and pieces from different things. I think my final personal statement consisted of two or three different of these paragraphs written over the course of a month. Some I took one line from. Others formed the key prongs of the statement. Then again, I think what I'm advocating for can lead to extremely strong personal writing - writing that really reveals who you are - not necessarily what adcomms want to read.

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colorlesstazaki
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby colorlesstazaki » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:21 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
blackmamba8 wrote:I wouldn't do it. You never know who's going to be looking at your personal statement. Maybe a Trump supporter reads it and gets pissed. Maybe an anti-Trump person that doesn't think it's an appropriate topic to write about reads it. There's a lot of risk and little to gain from using a topic like this.


Aside from the former situation being extremely unlikely, people write about their political convictions in personal statements all the time. I'm not sure that the OP should, since it doesn't sound like this was a formative moment that has led them to get involved in a specific cause, but you shouldn't be trying to craft a PS based on the possibility that someone who supports a different political party will read it.


Thank you for this insight!

34iplaw wrote:
colorlesstazaki wrote:Thank you for your compliment on my writing :D , and while the experience did not push me towards law school (I was actually in DC touring GULC at the time), it did push me to pursue a particular concentration of law and to start organizing in my home state.


No problem. I will say then you may have something that you could do then, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I think it removes one of my big concerns with your PS, but it doesn't mean I'm sold on it. I think it could depend on (to a great degree) how much you've been involved in organizing. I suspect that it may not be enough to be the truly formative type of experience that can make a great personal statement. Hopefully, that makes sense. I'll detail it a little below.

colorlesstazaki wrote:I didn't consider the risk/reward here, but I think you're right. I'm a bit of a splitter so I figured it might benefit me to have a PS that really stands out


I think part of the problem here is that I don't know a PS about politics is really something that will make you stand out in law school applications. If you took a really strong stance, it possibly could, but that could 'bigly' backfire.

I suspect a lot of people write about it, and they may have a more intimate relationship (for want of a better term) with it than you - i.e. they've come from a country with political persecution or have been subjugated by unfair policies. Also, I don't mean to be presumptuous to say that you haven't; you may have but, in that case, I'd say you should focus on that.

All that said, I'm not a personal statement guru and I'm not an admissions consultant. My general fear is that your PS won't come off as something they wouldn't get from your involvement in organizing. Then again, I think fairly mundane things can make great PSs, but, to me, the purpose of a PS is to gain insight into the writer. I'm not sure one would get much from this topic, but, again, that's all how you write it.

What I tend to suggest for anyone writing a personal statement is to start early and don't actually worry about having a specific concept in mind. Just actually write almost like you would in a journal. It could be a paragraph. It could be two. Hell, it could be three sentences or three pages. Give them a little time to breathe and revisit them. You may find that certain things you may really like and you may pull bits and pieces from different things. I think my final personal statement consisted of two or three different of these paragraphs written over the course of a month. Some I took one line from. Others formed the key prongs of the statement. Then again, I think what I'm advocating for can lead to extremely strong personal writing - writing that really reveals who you are - not necessarily what adcomms want to read.


This post was actually immensely helpful. You're right, I don't come from a country where free speech is an issue. I will definitely heed your advice on how to start the PS and craft a better and more personal essay.

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colorlesstazaki
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby colorlesstazaki » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:24 pm

Thank you all for your help and very welcome advice. I will continue to post on TLS but I'm not going to keep this PS topic: it is neither close enough to me personally nor is it an an example of any particularly formative moment in my decision to pursue legal education. :D

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:27 pm

I will disagree slightly and say that I don't think it's a bad topic, but I agree that it needs to have some kind of consequences in your life beyond "wow, the first amendment is neat." So if you did connect it to things you have done as a result and things you want to do, it could work. It partly depends on what better options you have for a topic.

(I don't think referencing political activity is a bad move for a PS.)

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colorlesstazaki
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby colorlesstazaki » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:18 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I will disagree slightly and say that I don't think it's a bad topic, but I agree that it needs to have some kind of consequences in your life beyond "wow, the first amendment is neat." So if you did connect it to things you have done as a result and things you want to do, it could work. It partly depends on what better options you have for a topic.

(I don't think referencing political activity is a bad move for a PS.)


Upon further reflection I have better topics to write about. My purpose here was attempting to avoid cliche: I've had a number of personal hardships that I could write about, but I wanted to do something a bit different as I will be addressing them in my addendum for my grades. I don't mean that personal hardships are cliche, but I wanted to write an essay avoiding those personal hardships to illustrate that I am not defined by them. If it comes down to it though, I can craft a better, more personal (and likely more affecting) PS than what I described above.

MaryKayConvention
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby MaryKayConvention » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:52 am

colorlesstazaki wrote:Hi, new poster here!

I had a really interesting experience being unwittingly caught up in a protest outside of the White House the day after the original travel ban, and I think I can make a unique PS out of it. Would this subject be too political to use? I'm planning to apply to most of the T14 and probably T20. I'm pretty centrist and while my PS would not be explicitly anti-Trump or anti-Republican, I did participate in the protest.


I don't think this is too political, as long as you don't turn it into a rant for a particular candidate. The journals at T14 schools include a variety of political topics: <http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/jclc/masthead.html> including quite controversial ones <http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/jclc106&div=11&id=&page=> but they do stay well on the side of civility.

Just let your essay show passion and you'll be in a good spot!

MomJustLetMeGoToGULC
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Re: Subject Too Political?

Postby MomJustLetMeGoToGULC » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:35 pm

This seems a lovely creative writing story, but a personal statement should tell the admissions committee about you. As other posters have said, unless this protest motivated you to do something really cool/shaped your goal of being a lawyer, it probably isn't the best PS topic.




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