If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

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BillsFan9907
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If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby BillsFan9907 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:53 pm

I'm submitting Why X's to the schools I am applying. This obviously touches on the reasons why I want to go to law school. With that said, is there any reason for me to conclude my personal statement with a why law school blurb? This seems to be common in the Harvard Essays book.

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txdude45
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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby txdude45 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:20 am

Seoulless wrote:I'm submitting Why X's to the schools I am applying. This obviously touches on the reasons why I want to go to law school. With that said, is there any reason for me to conclude my personal statement with a why law school blurb? This seems to be common in the Harvard Essays book.


When I applied, I was firmly in the camp of mentioning the school in the PS regardless of if I had a "Why X." Reduce your general argument to 3-4 sentences, rephrasing as much as possible, and find the spot near the end where it fits best.

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malleus discentium
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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby malleus discentium » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:38 pm

No. Unless your entire PS is focused on why you want to go law school (rare and likely to be a poor PS) don't tack on a Why Law graf. It is contrived and every adcom in the world will see it that way.

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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby theycallmefoes » Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:58 pm

I've been wondering about this as well. I've seen some resources recommend always including a few sentences at the end of the PS stating why you want to go to that particular law school (i.e., citing specifics about the program in which you're interested, clinics, etc.).

Personally, the whole notion of this seems somewhat tacky to me, so I'm curious - is this really the preferred practice? And, as the OP asked, I'd love to get some more feedback as to whether or not to still include this segment in the PS if you're submitting a "Why X School" addendum.

Also, is it always acceptable to submit a "Why X School" addendum? It seems like it can't hurt.

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Pneumonia
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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby Pneumonia » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:36 pm

Don't include "Why X" in your PS unless it is the whole focus of your PS, which it probably shouldn't be. Every dean I have every heard speak on this, including several from the T14, have said that it is transparent and off-putting. Why wouldn't it be?

Of course they're going to see that you did the same thing for every other school; they read tons of these and are more attune to the structure of them than you might think. If you have a certain paragraph where you're writing about "why us" for every school then they will see straight through it. So again, unless your whole PS is targeted then avoid mentioning the school. And definitely avoid concluding sentences like "for these reasons I would be a great student at X law school" or similar.

Even if you're spending a paragraph it is still transparent, and the adcom may then wonder why you wasted that valuable space in your PS, the whole purpose of which is to tell them more about yourself as a person, to include something about the school (which they already know) that you could have included in a Why Us addendum. And once again, they'll know you did it for every other school you applied to.

In short, including a "Why Us" in your PS has the exact opposite of it's intended effect: it makes the school feel not-special.

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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby theycallmefoes » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:57 pm

Pneumonia wrote:Don't include "Why X" in your PS unless it is the whole focus of your PS, which it probably shouldn't be. Every dean I have every heard speak on this, including several from the T14, have said that it is transparent and off-putting. Why wouldn't it be?

Of course they're going to see that you did the same thing for every other school; they read tons of these and are more attune to the structure of them than you might think. If you have a certain paragraph where you're writing about "why us" for every school then they will see straight through it. So again, unless your whole PS is targeted then avoid mentioning the school. And definitely avoid concluding sentences like "for these reasons I would be a great student at X law school" or similar.

Even if you're spending a paragraph it is still transparent, and the adcom may then wonder why you wasted that valuable space in your PS, the whole purpose of which is to tell them more about yourself as a person, to include something about the school (which they already know) that you could have included in a Why Us addendum. And once again, they'll know you did it for every other school you applied to.

In short, including a "Why Us" in your PS has the exact opposite of it's intended effect: it makes the school feel not-special.


See, I've been wondering about this, in part, because I've seen samples that include the "Why X," such as those published by jdMission. In particular, there's a section in the TLS Guide to Personal Statements that advocates this:
7. What brings you to our school?
Even if you are an all-around exceptional candidate and your personal statement is an inspiration and pleasure for the committee to read, you should explain to each school what attracts you to and excites you about its program. An admissions committee wants to admit people who will be excited to attend its institution. Your audience will perk up if you describe a campus visit you made, offering specific details about which faculty members you met and how that visit changed your perspective. If there is a professor whose work you admire, say so. Give the committee members several (primarily academic) reasons for believing their law school is the best fit for you. Some law schools require you to tell them why you want to attend their program. Dean David E. Van Zandt at Northwestern is adamant about this: “The personal statement should not be generic. It needs to be tailored to Northwestern Law in the same way that you would show interest if you were applying for a job. It’s important to show that you have done some research about us, that you understand how we are different, and that you affirmatively want to be part of our community.” Feel free to compliment a program’s strengths, but state specifically how you plan to make the most of what that school has to offer. Showing that you would take advantage of the school’s strengths as a means of achieving your personal goals is a way to convince the committee that you are highly motivated and that you do your homework.

So, in your opinion, this should only go in an addendum? Should I name-drop the school in the PS at all - obviously the PS needs to demonstrate an interest in law in some way, so, when I do this, should I mention the school by name at all? Or avoid mentioning the school entirely in the PS?

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Pneumonia
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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby Pneumonia » Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:51 pm

Definitely don't "name drop." If you have compelling reasons to go to a certain school than that can be a good PS topic. No one has compelling reasons to go to 5 or 10 different schools. Sure, schools love to see people with compelling reasons or sincere desire to attend that school specifically. However, such characteristics are nearly impossible to fake, and if they are actually significant then writing about them would necessarily prevent your from submitting a similar statement to different schools.

I suppose what I'm advocating is an all or nothing approach: either tailor your entire statement or don't tailor any of it. Surely others have some opinions though.

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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby BillsFan9907 » Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:51 am

So here is the question - U Chicago's application says you can have up to 4 pages on your PS. If that's the case, and you're doing the stander two-pager, do you have some wiggle room in terms of Space for the Why Chicago?

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Pneumonia
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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby Pneumonia » Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:32 pm

Seoulless wrote:So here is the question - U Chicago's application says you can have up to 4 pages on your PS. If that's the case, and you're doing the stander two-pager, do you have some wiggle room in terms of Space for the Why Chicago?


If you decide to use the extra space for that purpose then I'd expect that the best way of doing so would be do integrate the "Why Chicago" theme thoroughly. Don't just tack on a page to your regular PS.

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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby BillsFan9907 » Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:46 pm

Pneumonia wrote:
Seoulless wrote:So here is the question - U Chicago's application says you can have up to 4 pages on your PS. If that's the case, and you're doing the stander two-pager, do you have some wiggle room in terms of Space for the Why Chicago?


If you decide to use the extra space for that purpose then I'd expect that the best way of doing so would be do integrate the "Why Chicago" theme thoroughly. Don't just tack on a page to your regular PS.


No, I mean for a separate Why X. One PS completely unrelated to Law School and 100% devoted to displaying myself, and then a standard Why X.

Two documents. I'm hoping to take advantage of the fact that they seem a little amenable to an extended PS to instead do an extended Why X (two pages instead of 1)

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malleus discentium
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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby malleus discentium » Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:02 pm

A four-page PS means just that, not two two-page documents.

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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby lawschool22 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:18 pm

PSA: Please do not add "Why X" to your PS. Your PS is "personal" and should tell them something about you that you can't tell them anywhere else. This is why we say not to rehash the resume (because this can be told in the resume) and you shouldn't do your "Why X" in the PS because this can be done in a separate "Why X" statement.

I have read a TON of PS's on here through helping other people, and they invariably are improved by taking out the "tailored" paragraph/sentence at the end. As others have stated, it always sounds contrived because most people don't have a truly compelling reason for attending one school over all others, and therefore this is an unworthy PS topic 99 times out of 100.

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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby theycallmefoes » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:48 pm

lawschool22 wrote:This is why we say not to rehash the resume (because this can be told in the resume)...

This is still unclear to me. My personal statement emphasizes a commitment to social justice (and, by extension, public interest law). A number of people have stated that I need to provide specific examples of social justice experience in the PS itself - but these are already on my resumé. Is it acceptable for that information to be repeated, or do I need to remove descriptions of those activities from my resumé?

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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby lawschool22 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:56 pm

theycallmefoes wrote:
lawschool22 wrote:This is why we say not to rehash the resume (because this can be told in the resume)...

This is still unclear to me. My personal statement emphasizes a commitment to social justice (and, by extension, public interest law). A number of people have stated that I need to provide specific examples of social justice experience in the PS itself - but these are already on my resumé. Is it acceptable for that information to be repeated, or do I need to remove descriptions of those activities from my resumé?


No, I would say you should not use the PS to provide specific examples of your experience (if you mean that in a "work experience" type of meaning). The experience you have will be clear from you resume. Use your PS to go deeper. Was there some specific event, experience, etc. that you had the led you to this commitment to social justice? Of the personal statements I have read, those that distill the theme down to a clear narrative, event, experience, etc. are almost always more powerful than the ones that say "I am committed to PI, and the reasons for this are 1,2,3. I would be good at PI because I have worked at A, B, C. Your law school is good at PI. Therefore I should be admitted to your law school."

If you can tell us a story, or open a window into something truly personal that speaks to your desire to do PI work, that is so much better. Does it relate to something that occurred as you were growing up? Did you travel to some country that inspired you to do this? Does it relate to something personal (like "I have a family member who could have benefitted from someone pursing this area of PI")?

I know I am kind of rambling, but hopefully this is sparking something for you. The main point is that no one wants to read a PS that just gives me a laundry list of the things you have done that make you suited for a certain area of the law. That is what we call a resume. Use the PS to tell me something about you that you could never tell me on a resume. That is the most value-added use of a PS, and will make them really want to read it, since it will not be as expected.

Let me know if that helps at all, as I did not re-read this post before pressing submit lol. But if you want more help, you should post your PS in the PS forum if you haven't already.
Last edited by lawschool22 on Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

theycallmefoes
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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby theycallmefoes » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:10 am

lawschool22 wrote:
theycallmefoes wrote:
lawschool22 wrote:This is why we say not to rehash the resume (because this can be told in the resume)...

This is still unclear to me. My personal statement emphasizes a commitment to social justice (and, by extension, public interest law). A number of people have stated that I need to provide specific examples of social justice experience in the PS itself - but these are already on my resumé. Is it acceptable for that information to be repeated, or do I need to remove descriptions of those activities from my resumé?


No, I would say you should not use the PS to provide specific examples of your experience (if you mean that in a "work experience" type of meaning). The experience you have will be clear from you resume. Use your PS to go deeper. Was there some specific event, experience, etc. that you had the led you to this commitment to social justice? Of the personal statements I have read, those that distill the theme down to a clear narrative, event, experience, etc. are almost always more powerful than the ones that say "I am committed to PI, and the reasons for this are 1,2,3. I would be good at PI because I have worked at A, B, C. Your law school is good at PI. Therefore I should be admitted to your law school."

If you can tell us a story, or open a window into something truly personal that speaks to your desire to do PI work, that is so much better. Does it relate to something that occurred as you were growing up? Did you travel to some country that inspired you to do this? Does it relate to something personal (like "I have a family member who could have benefitted from someone pursing this area of PI")?

I know I am kind of rambling, but hopefully this is sparking something for you. The main point is that no one wants to read a PS that just gives me a laundry list of the things you have done that make you suited for a certain area of the law. That is what we call a resume. Use the PS to tell me something about you that you could never tell me on a resume. That is the most value-added use of a PS, and will make the ready want to read it, since it will not be as expected.

Let me know if that helps at all, as I did not re-read this post before pressing submit lol. But if you want more help, you should post your PS in the PS forum if you haven't already.


Thank you so much for taking the time to give such a detailed response - in some ways, this was actually quite helpful, though I still feel like I have contradictory information. Have you read any of the PS examples in the TLS book? For example, in "Ubuntu," the writer sets up a narrative of a particular life-changing experience, but also has a paragraph listing several things he/she did when working for a newspaper.

I haven't had much success getting responses on the PS forum - I've had better luck just sending out PMs to people and asking if they'll look over my PS. In one instance, it was suggested that the only part of my PS worth keeping was the section where I mentioned some social justice-related courses and activities.

Would you, by any chance, be willing to take a look at my PS rough draft if I PM it to you? Any help would be appreciated. If not, I completely understand.

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lawschool22
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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby lawschool22 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:16 am

theycallmefoes wrote:
lawschool22 wrote:
theycallmefoes wrote:
lawschool22 wrote:This is why we say not to rehash the resume (because this can be told in the resume)...

This is still unclear to me. My personal statement emphasizes a commitment to social justice (and, by extension, public interest law). A number of people have stated that I need to provide specific examples of social justice experience in the PS itself - but these are already on my resumé. Is it acceptable for that information to be repeated, or do I need to remove descriptions of those activities from my resumé?


No, I would say you should not use the PS to provide specific examples of your experience (if you mean that in a "work experience" type of meaning). The experience you have will be clear from you resume. Use your PS to go deeper. Was there some specific event, experience, etc. that you had the led you to this commitment to social justice? Of the personal statements I have read, those that distill the theme down to a clear narrative, event, experience, etc. are almost always more powerful than the ones that say "I am committed to PI, and the reasons for this are 1,2,3. I would be good at PI because I have worked at A, B, C. Your law school is good at PI. Therefore I should be admitted to your law school."

If you can tell us a story, or open a window into something truly personal that speaks to your desire to do PI work, that is so much better. Does it relate to something that occurred as you were growing up? Did you travel to some country that inspired you to do this? Does it relate to something personal (like "I have a family member who could have benefitted from someone pursing this area of PI")?

I know I am kind of rambling, but hopefully this is sparking something for you. The main point is that no one wants to read a PS that just gives me a laundry list of the things you have done that make you suited for a certain area of the law. That is what we call a resume. Use the PS to tell me something about you that you could never tell me on a resume. That is the most value-added use of a PS, and will make the ready want to read it, since it will not be as expected.

Let me know if that helps at all, as I did not re-read this post before pressing submit lol. But if you want more help, you should post your PS in the PS forum if you haven't already.


Thank you so much for taking the time to give such a detailed response - in some ways, this was actually quite helpful, though I still feel like I have contradictory information. Have you read any of the PS examples in the TLS book? For example, in "Ubuntu," the writer sets up a narrative of a particular life-changing experience, but also has a paragraph listing several things he/she did when working for a newspaper.

I haven't had much success getting responses on the PS forum - I've had better luck just sending out PMs to people and asking if they'll look over my PS. In one instance, it was suggested that the only part of my PS worth keeping was the section where I mentioned some social justice-related courses and activities.

Would you, by any chance, be willing to take a look at my PS rough draft if I PM it to you? Any help would be appreciated. If not, I completely understand.


Sure, feel free to PM. This is just my sense, but you sound like you don't have a clear direction yet, and maybe started writing prematurely without much deeper thought? If so you might be served well to take a little bit and just think about the one thing, the one crystal clear message you want to give to the adcoms about you, and work from there. Once I read your PS I may be able to help with this. But I have found many people dive into the PS without thinking about what they truly want to say.

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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby theycallmefoes » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:24 am

lawschool22 wrote:Sure, feel free to PM. This is just my sense, but you sound like you don't have a clear direction yet, and maybe started writing prematurely without much deeper thought? If so you might be served well to take a little bit and just think about the one thing, the one crystal clear message you want to give to the adcoms about you, and work from there. Once I read your PS I may be able to help with this. But I have found many people dive into the PS without thinking about what they truly want to say.

You're pretty much on the money, except it's not exactly that I haven't given it much deeper thought - it's that, despite how much I have thought about it, I still have no real idea what to say.

I sent you a PM - thanks so much.

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Pneumonia
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Re: If Submitting Why X, should I mention Law School on ps

Postby Pneumonia » Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:26 am

I wrote a PS that is similar and theme to what you are describing, and would also be happy to offer comments via PM.

Don't be discouraged; it is a difficult exercise, and it is expected that you'll feel directionless at several points during the writing process. I know I did. Regardless of what you read on the TLS personal statement book (which I found to be of only moderate help), you should not use your PS to tell anyone about what you've done. Rather, you should showt them. It is a difficult balance to strike, but in doing so, try to remember that the entire point is to show the reader more about who you are as a person. Not as a student, or worker, or anything else, although those things will certainly show through.

Sincere writing is the result of sincere thinking, and you should be sincere. Just be honest and you'll end up with a statement that is better than most.




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