Draft Personal Statement

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Ned_Snark

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Draft Personal Statement

Postby Ned_Snark » Sun May 05, 2019 12:25 pm

This is a draft of my personal statement. Feedback is appreciated.

What makes a nation successful? It would be impossible to attribute success to one single cause, because it depends on a mix of a number of things: geography, availability of natural resources, the state of the infrastructure, the dominant economic model, and many other factors all play a role. One of these factors is a nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The rule of law affects whether a nation succeeds or not by promoting the conditions under which citizens can assume a basic standard of living and level of security that allow them to go about their lives. It protects a nation’s population in major ways, like guarding against government abuses of power, and minor ones, such as ensuring access to clean air and drinking water, among other necessities. Its absence or ineffectiveness undermines citizens’ trust in government and society while also making room for criminal actors to exploit its absence. I came to understand the importance of the rule of law comes from a combination of personal observations and wisdom gleaned from the works of prominent political theorists, each of which I will discuss in greater detail in the subsequent paragraphs.

My previous career as an intelligence analyst took me to the war-ravaged countries of Iraq, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. Each of these nations taught me lessons that helped me better understand the necessity of the rule of law, primarily by getting a firsthand look at what happens to a nation when it functions poorly (or not at all.) In Iraq, I saw how replacing the rule of law with a despotic sovereign’s random whims warped society by turning citizens into sycophants and tainting institutions that would normally uphold the rule of law. In Kosovo, I witnessed how an atrophied and corruption-prone enforcement mechanism eroded the rule of law, in turn depriving the citizens of basic standards that protected and improved their health, safety, financial security, and quality of life. Examples of this include traffic laws that, while on the books, could easily be circumvented through knowing the “right” people or simple bribery; and the absence of a regulatory agency such as the EPA, which allowed a dirty coal power plant located in close proximity to Kosovo’s capital city to vent harmful gases into the same air that many citizens breathed daily. In Afghanistan, a weak central government combined with deep-seated tribal/ethnic rivalries created a “might makes right” form of government, where whoever had the most firepower exerted their will over the local population. Additionally, in all three of these nations, I observed how the absence of the rule of law allowed criminals and other bad actors to exploit this vacuum for personal gain.

My pursuit of a political science degree exposed me to the writings of Thomas Hobbes, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill, among others. Through their works, I gained greater insight into how the rule of law as a philosophical concept influences core elements of the American political system – such as the establishment of checks and balances, strict limits on governmental power, and an emphasis on the rights of the individual. I also explored some of the questions that the Founders grappled with, such as strong federal versus state governments.

I’m pursuing law school because I believe that an impartial and robust rule of law contributes to a nation’s success. I look forward to applying the lessons I’ve learned toward shaping and improving some small aspect of the United States legal code in a way that promotes the rule of law in a sound, impartial way – such as crafting fracking regulations that ensure citizens living near the sites still have clean drinking water or citizens’ Constitutional rights are not infringed upon. I wish to pursue my legal education at your school because [this section will be different for each school I apply to], and I hope you will allow me the opportunity to do so.

Lolstudent

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Re: Draft Personal Statement

Postby Lolstudent » Sun May 05, 2019 1:33 pm

It is well written and a solid start but most of the paragraphs are about the world, politics, law, etc. I get what you are trying to do with it but I would include more of your personal experiences and less bigger picture theories on law and justice. At best, the people who read your personal statement will already be well-versed in those areas and will therefore skim over it and your piece won't be memorable; at worst, the readers will sharply disagree with your politics and that will taint their view of your application.

In sum, give the reader more of an idea about who you are as a person.

Ned_Snark

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Re: Draft Personal Statement

Postby Ned_Snark » Sun May 05, 2019 1:42 pm

Lolstudent wrote:It is well written and a solid start but most of the paragraphs are about the world, politics, law, etc. I get what you are trying to do with it but I would include more of your personal experiences and less bigger picture theories on law and justice. At best, the people who read your personal statement will already be well-versed in those areas and will therefore skim over it and your piece won't be memorable; at worst, the readers will sharply disagree with your politics and that will taint their view of your application.

In sum, give the reader more of an idea about who you are as a person.


That's good feedback. Thanks!

I have a few ideas about how I can rewrite it to emphasize this.

cavalier1138

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Re: Draft Personal Statement

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun May 05, 2019 6:11 pm

I agree that it gets too generic and becomes an opinion piece instead of a personal statement. But the parts where you're discussing your personal experience come off as pretentious/arrogant. For example:

Ned_Snark wrote:My pursuit of a political science degree exposed me to the writings of Thomas Hobbes, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill, among others.


No one wants to hear that. They read your resume and transcript. Everyone who studies political science has to read those writers. Taking the time to list your undergraduate reading assignments makes it seem like you really, really want to convince the reader that you're super-smart. And I think that tone carries through a large portion of your current draft.

The personal statement is a place to show the admissions committee something they can't get from reading the rest of your application. That doesn't mean you can't talk about your career, but you need to talk about a single specific experience you had as an intelligence analyst, rather than waxing rhapsodic about how important the "rule of law" is for governing countries.

On a completely separate note, lawyers are generally not in charge of "improving some small aspect of the United States legal code." That's what policymakers do. So I'd avoid writing too much on that subject.

Bla Bla Bla Blah

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Re: Draft Personal Statement

Postby Bla Bla Bla Blah » Tue May 07, 2019 4:00 am

You've got some very interesting, and desirable, experiences that can help you to stand out among candidates. But it's missing a hook. Until I read that you were an intelligence analyst with real world experiences, it read less like a compelling story about who you are, and more like an undergraduate paper written because the professor required an info dump on political theory. Then again, I could be wrong. I resorted to skimming about three sentences into it. Could have been incredible by para 3, but boredom got the best of me.

LBJ's Hair

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Re: Draft Personal Statement

Postby LBJ's Hair » Tue May 07, 2019 7:45 pm

Bla Bla Bla Blah wrote:You've got some very interesting, and desirable, experiences that can help you to stand out among candidates. But it's missing a hook. Until I read that you were an intelligence analyst with real world experiences, it read less like a compelling story about who you are, and more like an undergraduate paper written because the professor required an info dump on political theory. Then again, I could be wrong. I resorted to skimming about three sentences into it. Could have been incredible by para 3, but boredom got the best of me.


I agree 1000%. You're literally a spy. Tell a spy story. No one wants to hear James Bond's thoughts about Montesquieu.



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