The usual PS advice, NOT for yale/stanford?

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The usual PS advice, NOT for yale/stanford?

Postby locomonster1 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:27 pm

I've burned through alternatives and received loads of feedback, and still my PS does not say "belongs at Yale/Stanford."

I have a feeling that for Yale, something "different" is needed. A friend got in whose PS was totally different than what's recommended here. Echoing the sentiments expressed by ivankasta - viewtopic.php?f=18&t=278578 - his personal statement was an academic sermon about how his research has led him to the study of law and equipped him to succeed at it, all tied into a philosophical reflection about fairness in politics and reforming legal institutions. There was no narrative. It was him just telling the reader what he had done and how it had led him to the law. It was an argument that he belonged, not an ultimately contrived story about himself. Dry as it was, it made me take him very seriously. I thought THIS guy belongs in law school, get him in. His piece was written how a good personal statement would be written for graduate school, with the exception of having that "involved in something bigger than yourself" polish. True, much of what he said could have been inferred from his resume and recommendation letters. Didn't matter. He tied it all together and effectively advocated for himself. It was impressive. Entirely the opposite of what is recommended on TLS and everywhere else.

Same story with a friend who got into Stanford. Dry, straightforward presentation of how his background in artificial intelligence and neuroscience made him a fit for Stanford, with respect to the developing fields of AI- and neuro-law.

I have a feeling that for Yale/Stanford, the PS advice that surely works well for splitters everywhere else ceases to apply. At this level, assuming you have the numbers, it seems like the truth comes out. The ones who get in are the ones who have uniquely compelling reasons for going to law school or can contribute something genuinely unique to the class, and who can communicate the fact eloquently. For people like this, it would almost seem childish to give the admissions committee a narrative.

I'd like others thoughts on this theme.

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Re: The usual PS advice, NOT for yale/stanford?

Postby UVA2B » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:38 pm

I'm not sure you can use anecdotal evidence of two people getting in to Yale and Stanford as proof that a dry, straight-forward, ties my resume all together type of PS is what Yale or Stanford are explicitly looking for in an applicant. It could've been that your anecdotes were absolutely stellar candidates otherwise and that straightforward PS just didn't torpedo them (obviously pretty much all Yale and Stanford admits are stellar candidates regardless of PS, but that's a correlation thing).

Asha gives pretty good advice on what she likes to see in a PS. And the link you provided has a former admissions officer telling them why it's a risky/bad idea to do that. Will it definitively hurt an applicant and bar them from getting into Stanford or Yale with an otherwise pristine and competitive application? No. And will some coordinated, well-thought out narrative resurrect an auto-reject from the dead pile? Probably not. The PS is just another tool to give the person reading it an additional insight into you the applicant. What you choose to do with that is up to you. It might help you at the margins going from reject to admit, but it's more likely whatever you write just needs to prevent you from going admit-->rejection. Very few PS will have that kind of power. So while people were advising that person to try a different route, it's not that it would kill your app. It's just that it might not be the best approach.

You have to appreciate the nuance of law school admissions, because while numbers exist in the necessary, not sufficient realm for a place like Yale or Stanford, the PS carries the weight of "tell me something more/different/interesting about you I don't get elsewhere in your application."


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Re: The usual PS advice, NOT for yale/stanford?

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:02 pm

Yeah, I'm completely confused by this post. Your PS is never going to be the make-or-break element of your application, and there isn't a magic formula that Y/S use to separate good statements from bad ones.

Write something that speaks to you, and write it well. That's the only magic trick.

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Re: The usual PS advice, NOT for yale/stanford?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:27 pm

For PhD programs people are asked to write more of a research statement or statement of purpose, which is what it sounds like the people you know wrote. I think one of these, done well, can work for schools like Yale and Stanford where people do actually attend to enter academia.

However, you have to have the research experience and acumen to be able to write one of these things well and substantively, and frankly, most applicants don't. Many applicants have pretty much the same softs as everyone else and writing this kind of statement will read as a rehash of their resume and add very little.

Further, because your friends' statements worked doesn't say anything about whether a more typical narrative would also work. Based on all the evidence here and what Aisha has written for Yale and people's actual applications, the narratives definitely also work.

Finally, the point of the thread here that you link to wasn't that everyone has to write a cute neat narrative PS. The point was that people should write something that shows adcomms who they are as a person. For many people that's telling a story. It doesn't have to be telling a story. No one is suggesting people should write something that's contrived; you have decided that narratives are contrived. Don't write something contrived.

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