PS, re-apply

Get advice and feedback on your personal statement.
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Haunt
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PS, re-apply

Post by Haunt » Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:39 pm

Hi all,

So I'm reapplying and I wanted some feedback on my PS. I'm reapplying because I think I can do better if I go earlier in the cycle, but also because my spouse's job situation was very uncertain during the decision period this year, even before covid blew up everything.

I'm leaving behind a career teaching at various levels, having gotten a PhD in history (nothing particularly law-related) in 2015 and not really being satisfied with the kind of work this has led to. My original PS, which I felt pretty good about, started off describing a little about the dissertation-writing process in a way intended to highlight what I thought would show overlap with skills lawyers use (research, argumentation, etc.), and then segued neatly (IMHO) into a discussion of how and why I'd come to feel that I'd rather be a lawyer than a teacher/academic (basically, wanting to give back to/participate in society in a more concrete/active way).

I feel fairly confident in my basic structure and mechanics, but I wanted to ask:

1) does this seem like a good tack? wanted to show first how my background helped/applied to law, and then just be candid about why I was trying to make the shift to law

2) should I be going for a total re-do given that I'm reapplying, likely to several of the same schools? I didn't add much professionally since my last applications (which were this year), since I was finishing the teaching slate I had at the time and then being my kid's primary during coronavirus upheaval

Anyway, all thoughts/feedback greatly appreciated.

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UVA2B
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Re: PS, re-apply

Post by UVA2B » Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:27 pm

1) It depends, but possibly a good tack. Without reading the actual PS, it's tough to say whether it's effective.

2) A total re-do is preferred, but not strictly necessary in a PS. If you can minimally try to revise/reframe the PS so that it shows what you're hoping to show in a new or slightly different way, that could be enough.

If you want good advice on your PS, you'll need to provide it, even privately if you're not comfortable posting it.

Haunt
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Joined: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:57 pm

Re: PS, re-apply

Post by Haunt » Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:17 pm

Just post it right here? There's no downside? Like, I dunno, admins people trawling here and seeing us getting feedback or IDing us? Now that I type it out doesn't seem very likely, but . . . ?

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heythatslife
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Re: PS, re-apply

Post by heythatslife » Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:20 pm

You can post here and then delete it afterwards if you feel uncomfortable leaving it out on the internet, or send as DM to people who have offered to read (but then you’ll probably get fewer eyes looking at it). Up to you.

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Slytherpuff
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Re: PS, re-apply

Post by Slytherpuff » Wed Jun 10, 2020 12:03 am

Agreed, you can either ask people if they'll give you feedback if you PM it to them, or just post it on here for a day or two and then delete. And even if an admissions officer did stumble on your PS draft on this site, they wouldn't remember it by the time application season starts in the fall. You're good either way.

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Nony
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Re: PS, re-apply

Post by Nony » Wed Jun 10, 2020 8:51 am

FWIW, I went to law school after doing a PhD in history and teaching for a while, and that's pretty close to what my PS looked like. I think for someone coming from a previous career, it is probably really helpful to explain the pivot to law in your PS, even though generally a PS doesn't have to be a "why law" essay. If you want to PM me your essay, I'm happy to give feedback.

Haunt
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Re: PS, re-apply

Post by Haunt » Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:40 am

OK, this was the "general" PS, which I sometimes tailored/expanded a bit for individual schools and sometimes didn't. FWIW, my best result came on this "base" version, though I did some supplemental essays for that school as well.

Thanks in advance
Last edited by Haunt on Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

Advice

Re: PS, re-apply

Post by Advice » Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:07 am

I like your writing style and wit. You have this almost cheeky but self-deprecating way of writing. Your grammar and spelling were mostly correct. Just be sure to go through it more granularly before you finalize. For example, I think you have a typo with the word “expecting.“

Here are some general observations.

1. Your overall tone strikes me as derisive of history PhDs, and graduate work in general. I would try to find a way to explain your history-to-law pivot without insulting your past field. For example, when you talked about an arms race, that can come off as insulting graduate work—and also naively idealizing the legal world, especially the academic part of it. Law-school professors do their fair share of navel gazing too. See generally Rodell, Goodbye to Law Reviews, 23 Va. L. Rev. 38.

2. Focus more on how your skills learned from grad school will make you a better lawyer. Don’t focus so much on why grad studies are bad in general. If you must strike a negative tone about your past work, try to tailor it as much as possible to your own individual situation, so others don’t feel insulted.

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Nony
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Re: PS, re-apply

Post by Nony » Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:24 am

I didn’t read it as derisive of historians or graduate work; the arms race comment is pretty much a statement of fact. That said, I’m someone who could in theory take offense, because I also was in that universe, but I may also be less likely to take offense because I left it as well. I don’t think adcomms are going to be insulted by this, though, since they’re not part of the world the PS is referring to.

Haunt
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Re: PS, re-apply

Post by Haunt » Tue Aug 18, 2020 2:51 pm

OK, managed to re-write my old PS. I thought my overall goals (explain the personal shift from history to law, highlight similarities between the skills used in both) should stay the same, so it's very much an attempt to totally re-write the same basic material.

I would love feedback. I actually like the second one ATM, but was pretty happy with the first too so I'm thinking of using the first on schools I didn't apply to last time and the second on the ones to which I am reapplying. I guess the first puts more emphasis on skills from grad school and the second more on the decision process (with a note about why I'm reapplying, which would need to be added in some form to the first if I was using that one). Anyway, let me know.
Last edited by Haunt on Sat Aug 22, 2020 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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pancakes3
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Re: PS, re-apply

Post by pancakes3 » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:02 pm

nice job.

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icechicken
Lost in the sauce
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Re: PS, re-apply

Post by icechicken » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:59 pm

Props for alluding to BG&E in a way that is not only non-cringey but actually bookends your own story nicely. Until today I would have said it can't be done.

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