On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

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trutherd
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On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby trutherd » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:22 pm

I stumbled on this nugget of truly excellent, informed analysis of the personal statement in another thread, advice so enlightened that it compelled me to start a new thread in order to ensure broad dissemination among the TLS masses:

TLS Sage wrote:A P-statement is pretty much a non-factor in the admissions process. It's there for two reasons. #1. Ensure that you can at least write somewhat coherently, and #2. the rare occasion that ADCOMS will use it for students with very similar Apps.

Impeccable. Use this as the guiding light for your apps, fellow TLS'ers, and be sure not to waste more than 17 minutes writing your statement. Don't forget the old adage, "If 18 minutes before you're done, you'll never see a JR1!"

Look at the foolishness of these peripheral admissions staffers--many of whom are running around with silly titles like "Dean"--compared to our in-house gurus:

Ann Perry (Chicago) wrote:"Personally, I don't even look at an applicant's numbers until I feel like I've gotten to know him or her. So I always like to start off a new application by reading the personal statement and reviewing the applicant's letters of recommendation... The personal statement is the first part of the application that I review."

Sarah Zearfoss (Michigan) wrote:"[The personal statement] is my favorite part in the file... You’d be surprised just how many personal statements are not [polished]. But even when they come to you in a final form you’d expect from an applicant to Michigan, I’m often amazed by how much I can learn about an applicant. I’ve read so many personal statements where I end up walking away from reading them with a really good understanding about who this person is -- and oftentimes, it’s a very negative picture... And while I can appreciate some people’s skepticism that you can’t learn that much about an applicant reading a personal statement, I’m here to tell you that you can -- and it’s not always the picture a candidate might have envisioned. Sometimes, I’m finding things that are subtle and come from ten years of having done this. Other times, though, it begins with the first sentence and carries all the way through the essay -- and I’m thinking that this is obviously a really smart person and I cannot believe they honestly think this is going to be persuasive to get them into law school."

Faye Deal (Stanford) wrote:"If your LSAT is strong but your personal statement is poorly written and there is no evidence that you’ve taken any courses where serious writing was required, your file may not get very far."

Monica Ingram (Texas) wrote:"For example, applicants who have competitive, but not stellar, LSAT scores and GPAs, may have a personal statement that's compelling. It may be their writing style, gift with language, or individual experiences displayed within the personal statement that will tip the scale on their behalf... It goes without saying that the personal statement is the most influential aspect of the application for which you have the most control. So turning in something that's sloppy, has typos, poor grammar and structure is a serious mistake."

Can you believe the nonsense being spewed by these simpletons?! Staggering! Let's recap:
  • Chicago says, "Screw the important stuff -- I go straight for the non-factor when reviewing an application."
  • Michigan says, "The non-factor is my favorite! It's so unimportant that it's oftentimes the deciding factor in a rejection."
  • Stanford says, "The personal statement is so meaningless to us that if it's poorly written, it's likely to tip the scales against numerically strong candidates. Difficult to imagine a more trivial part of an application, amirite?"
  • Texas says, "The personal statement is essentially the laughing stock of the application. Seriously, there are only several circumstances in which it can be the determinative factor."

Now go forth with piddling effort and claim thy prize!

(But please, if you scored less than a 176 on the LSAT, just give up on life.)

whymeohgodno
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby whymeohgodno » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:26 pm

Numbers>All. The end.

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NYC_7911
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby NYC_7911 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:28 pm

Thank you for this illuminating perspective! I was so convinced that I deleted my entire heart-felt, captivating, unique personal statement and replaced it with the number "177" over and over again for 2 pages, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman, 1" margins.

I'm golden.

[In reality: I don't even understand why people who wouldn't want to put the effort into writing a TWO PAGE personal statement would bother with law school. I think you have to write, like, a little, in law school.]

tlsuser
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby tlsuser » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:29 pm

Thank you for this. You gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, a good PS can get me into the schools I'm reaching for.

jarofsoup
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby jarofsoup » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:33 pm

I worked for a month on my statement. After reading this I have torn it up and just scanned a doodle of a puppy that I made when I was drunk and submitted it to them.

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ahduth
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby ahduth » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:33 pm

Writing is for noobs. I'm submitting a youtube video of my knife-juggling act as my personal statement.

czelede
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby czelede » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:34 pm

I don't think the consensus is that the PS doesn't matter. I think the consensus is that it won't get you anywhere your numbers wouldn't. In other words, a terrible PS can hurt your app, but a great PS can only really help you when you're borderline. For everyone else, an average PS suffices.

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bk1
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby bk1 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:35 pm

czelede wrote:I don't think the consensus is that the PS doesn't matter. I think the consensus is that it won't get you anywhere your numbers wouldn't. In other words, a terrible PS can hurt your app, but a great PS can only really help you when you're borderline. For everyone else, an average PS suffices.

cubswin
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby cubswin » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:43 pm

I have always had the feeling that Dean Z cares more than most about the PS. Not to say the PS is worthless, but I generally agree with this:

bk1 wrote:
czelede wrote:I don't think the consensus is that the PS doesn't matter. I think the consensus is that it won't get you anywhere your numbers wouldn't. In other words, a terrible PS can hurt your app, but a great PS can only really help you when you're borderline. For everyone else, an average PS suffices.

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Sinra
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby Sinra » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:44 pm

whymeohgodno wrote:Numbers>All. The end.


You dole out a lot of advice around here. Where do you get all your expertise? Just curious.


I think TLS severely underestimates the importance of a good PS. Your numbers are extremely important of course, and pretty much every admissions dean says as much. But for some reason many here seem to think that the PS is rarely important. I tend to disagree. Numbers will only get one as far as they will, that's true--but I think writing ability--good writing is a very important aspect of the application. I think some TLSers may do themselves a disservice by not focusing more time and effort on the PS thinking it's 100% numbers. Almost every anecdotal case I've read about someone with less than stellar numbers getting in at a reach school has mentioned the school's nod to the strength of their PS.

Well, this:

czelede wrote:I don't think the consensus is that the PS doesn't matter. I think the consensus is that it won't get you anywhere your numbers wouldn't. In other words, a terrible PS can hurt your app, but a great PS can only really help you when you're borderline. For everyone else, an average PS suffices.

jarofsoup
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby jarofsoup » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:57 pm

I think conventional wisdom is that PS is a tie breaker and if you are a "consider" and you want to get into the school you better ace this.

It could also get you rejected from a school if you screw this up.

kiniru
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby kiniru » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:08 pm

cubswin wrote:I have always had the feeling that Dean Z cares more than most about the PS. Not to say the PS is worthless, but I generally agree with this:

bk1 wrote:
czelede wrote:I don't think the consensus is that the PS doesn't matter. I think the consensus is that it won't get you anywhere your numbers wouldn't. In other words, a terrible PS can hurt your app, but a great PS can only really help you when you're borderline. For everyone else, an average PS suffices.


+1

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acrossthelake
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:16 pm

bk1 wrote:
czelede wrote:I don't think the consensus is that the PS doesn't matter. I think the consensus is that it won't get you anywhere your numbers wouldn't. In other words, a terrible PS can hurt your app, but a great PS can only really help you when you're borderline. For everyone else, an average PS suffices.

HopefulFish
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby HopefulFish » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:19 pm

trutherd wrote:I stumbled on this nugget of truly excellent, informed analysis of the personal statement in another thread, advice so enlightened that it compelled me to start a new thread in order to ensure broad dissemination among the TLS masses:

TLS Sage wrote:A P-statement is pretty much a non-factor in the admissions process. It's there for two reasons. #1. Ensure that you can at least write somewhat coherently, and #2. the rare occasion that ADCOMS will use it for students with very similar Apps.

Impeccable. Use this as the guiding light for your apps, fellow TLS'ers, and be sure not to waste more than 17 minutes writing your statement. Don't forget the old adage, "If 18 minutes before you're done, you'll never see a JR1!"

Look at the foolishness of these peripheral admissions staffers--many of whom are running around with silly titles like "Dean"--compared to our in-house gurus:

Ann Perry (Chicago) wrote:"Personally, I don't even look at an applicant's numbers until I feel like I've gotten to know him or her. So I always like to start off a new application by reading the personal statement and reviewing the applicant's letters of recommendation... The personal statement is the first part of the application that I review."

Sarah Zearfoss (Michigan) wrote:"[The personal statement] is my favorite part in the file... You’d be surprised just how many personal statements are not [polished]. But even when they come to you in a final form you’d expect from an applicant to Michigan, I’m often amazed by how much I can learn about an applicant. I’ve read so many personal statements where I end up walking away from reading them with a really good understanding about who this person is -- and oftentimes, it’s a very negative picture... And while I can appreciate some people’s skepticism that you can’t learn that much about an applicant reading a personal statement, I’m here to tell you that you can -- and it’s not always the picture a candidate might have envisioned. Sometimes, I’m finding things that are subtle and come from ten years of having done this. Other times, though, it begins with the first sentence and carries all the way through the essay -- and I’m thinking that this is obviously a really smart person and I cannot believe they honestly think this is going to be persuasive to get them into law school."

Faye Deal (Stanford) wrote:"If your LSAT is strong but your personal statement is poorly written and there is no evidence that you’ve taken any courses where serious writing was required, your file may not get very far."

Monica Ingram (Texas) wrote:"For example, applicants who have competitive, but not stellar, LSAT scores and GPAs, may have a personal statement that's compelling. It may be their writing style, gift with language, or individual experiences displayed within the personal statement that will tip the scale on their behalf... It goes without saying that the personal statement is the most influential aspect of the application for which you have the most control. So turning in something that's sloppy, has typos, poor grammar and structure is a serious mistake."

Can you believe the nonsense being spewed by these simpletons?! Staggering! Let's recap:
  • Chicago says, "Screw the important stuff -- I go straight for the non-factor when reviewing an application."
  • Michigan says, "The non-factor is my favorite! It's so unimportant that it's oftentimes the deciding factor in a rejection."
  • Stanford says, "The personal statement is so meaningless to us that if it's poorly written, it's likely to tip the scales against numerically strong candidates. Difficult to imagine a more trivial part of an application, amirite?"
  • Texas says, "The personal statement is essentially the laughing stock of the application. Seriously, there are only several circumstances in which it can be the determinative factor."

Now go forth with piddling effort and claim thy prize!

(But please, if you scored less than a 176 on the LSAT, just give up on life.)



Yeah yeah yeah. None of these apply unless the applicant already has the competitive numbers. First have their median, then your PS will count.

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123xalady
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby 123xalady » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:20 pm

bk1 wrote:
czelede wrote:I don't think the consensus is that the PS doesn't matter. I think the consensus is that it won't get you anywhere your numbers wouldn't. In other words, a terrible PS can hurt your app, but a great PS can only really help you when you're borderline. For everyone else, an average PS suffices.


I just can't see how you glean the above from the deans' comments.

trutherd
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby trutherd » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:21 pm

whymeohgodno wrote:Numbers>All. The end.


Please explain how your brusque advice is consistent with the highlighted data:

--ImageRemoved--

--ImageRemoved--

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acrossthelake
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:22 pm

trutherd wrote:
whymeohgodno wrote:Numbers>All. The end.


Please explain how your brusque advice is consistent with the highlighted data:

--ImageRemoved--

--ImageRemoved--


The exceptions are URMs and people with incredible softs that the average applicant(by nature of being average) does not have.
Last edited by acrossthelake on Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

whymeohgodno
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby whymeohgodno » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:22 pm

trutherd wrote:
whymeohgodno wrote:Numbers>All. The end.


Please explain how your brusque advice is consistent with the highlighted data:

--ImageRemoved--

--ImageRemoved--

URM.

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bk1
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby bk1 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:24 pm

123xalady wrote:I just can't see how you glean the above from the deans' comments.


Didn't glean it from the comments. Of course adcomms are bored by numbers and prefer reading PS's, that doesn't mean that they make the PS a larger factor than numbers in their decision. Also, adcomms consistently say they are "holistic" when in fact numbers drive the process far more than anything else (acceptance/rejection data seems to hold consistent with this notion).

trutherd wrote:graphs


URM's.

czelede
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby czelede » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:28 pm

123xalady wrote:
bk1 wrote:
czelede wrote:I don't think the consensus is that the PS doesn't matter. I think the consensus is that it won't get you anywhere your numbers wouldn't. In other words, a terrible PS can hurt your app, but a great PS can only really help you when you're borderline. For everyone else, an average PS suffices.


I just can't see how you glean the above from the deans' comments.


Okay, well, let's break it down.

Chicago says: I review the PS first and don't look at the applicants number's until afterwards.
(This doesn't say anything about admission - just that this is how their process works)

Michigan says: The PS is my favorite part. Sometimes there are such terrible PS'es that I don't understand why someone would send it to us and expect to be admitted.
(I imagine that the PS would be the favorite, as fun as staring at numbers can be. The rest is in line with what I said.)

Stanford says: Even with good numbers, a bad PS hurts you if you don't have any serious writing courses.
(Again, in line with what I said.)

Texas says: If your numbers are competitive but not great (re: borderline), a personal statement can tip the scales in your favor. A bad PS is a big mistake.
(Mostly completely supports what I said: a good one helps borderline candidates, a bad one is bad regardless.)

trutherd
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby trutherd » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:31 pm

whymeohgodno wrote:
trutherd wrote:
whymeohgodno wrote:Numbers>All. The end.


Please explain how your brusque advice is consistent with the highlighted data:

--ImageRemoved--

--ImageRemoved--

URM.


So if "Numbers>All," except for "URM," then of 275 Yale admits, 174 were URMs (or 63% - 101 admits with 3.75/175+), and of 1152 Duke admits, 855 were URMs (or 74% - 297 admits with 3.75+/170+).

Of course. How did I miss this?

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Fred_McGriff
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby Fred_McGriff » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:31 pm

.
Last edited by Fred_McGriff on Sat Nov 27, 2010 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

whymeohgodno
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby whymeohgodno » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:33 pm

trutherd wrote:
whymeohgodno wrote:
trutherd wrote:
whymeohgodno wrote:Numbers>All. The end.


Please explain how your brusque advice is consistent with the highlighted data:

--ImageRemoved--

--ImageRemoved--

URM.


So if "Numbers>All," except for "URM," then of 275 Yale admits, 174 were URMs (or 63% - 101 admits with 3.75/175+), and of 1152 Duke admits, 855 were URMs (or 74% - 297 admits with 3.75+/170+).

Of course. How did I miss this?

I'm glad I got through to you. Take your naive optimism elsewhere now.

czelede
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby czelede » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:34 pm

trutherd wrote:
whymeohgodno wrote:
trutherd wrote:
whymeohgodno wrote:Numbers>All. The end.


Please explain how your brusque advice is consistent with the highlighted data:

--ImageRemoved--

--ImageRemoved--

URM.


So if "Numbers>All," except for "URM," then of 275 Yale admits, 174 were URMs (or 63% - 101 admits with 3.75/175+), and of 1152 Duke admits, 855 were URMs (or 74% - 297 admits with 3.75+/170+).

Of course. How did I miss this?


A lot of applicants have one number over one median while the other is under. There is no evidence that it is related to the PS.

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IAFG
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Re: On the utter insignificance of the Personal Statement.

Postby IAFG » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:34 pm

if you could write your way into law school, existenz would be at a reach. if your PS mattered, DF would not be at NU.




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