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Fear of personal statement getting political?

Paul CaintPaul Caint Alum Member

Hey all,

I'm concerned about something in my personal statement. So I'm basically writing about my family's refugee story and how that pushed me to go into law.

I was originally going to be a doctor (my mom wanted a doctor in the family to take care of her when she gets older), but through some experiences in college regarding racial discrimination and then the rhetoric of the 2016 election, I found myself called to pursue law - specifically immigrant law, public policy, etc. Appropriately, I took ~1 year off school to work on the presidential campaign - hence sparking my transition from pre-med to pre-law.

I am worried though about talking about the 2016 election, specifically about Trump's immigrant rhetoric. I'm worried about making any politically charged statements and any backlash I may face in the admissions boardrooms. What do you all think? I would be respectful of course, but I'm worried just mentioning it could be bad.

  1. Should I talk about Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric?41 votes
    1. Yes
    2. No


  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    So this may be an ignorant and is definitely not a scientifically researched answer but universities and law schools are generally considered more liberal 'spaces' so you may not run into an issue. I do feel like you should be honest about why you decided to go to law school but like you said respectful in your writing. And if you don't berate the administration or come off as completely negative you should be Ok. But this is just my opinion I am by no means a guru :)

  • Paul CaintPaul Caint Alum Member
    3521 karma

    @tringo335 That's what I was thinking too...I may just not mention him directly but use a phrase like "the immigration rhetoric surrounding the 2016 election" to work my way around it...

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    @"Paul Caint" said:
    @tringo335 That's what I was thinking too...I may just not mention him directly but use a phrase like "the immigration rhetoric surrounding the 2016 election" to work my way around it...

    Yea that sounds perfect!

  • AllezAllez21AllezAllez21 Member Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    1917 karma

    I think the most important thing is to be genuine and to have actions that back up your words. Given your family's history and that you took a year off college to work on issues that matter to you, it seems like you've got those actions. Ultimately, the personal statement is about you, it's not a political statement, so I think as long as you tie it back to you, you should be good to go.

  • OlamHafuchOlamHafuch Alum Member
    2326 karma

    @"Paul Caint" said:
    @tringo335 That's what I was thinking too...I may just not mention him directly but use a phrase like "the immigration rhetoric surrounding the 2016 election" to work my way around it...

    Yeah, I'd worry much more if your opinion was the opposite, though I'd try to remain as apoliitcal as possible.

  • OlamHafuchOlamHafuch Alum Member
    2326 karma

    I think it's pretty cool that you were moved enough to change your career plans. I happen to think that such a personal statement would be viewed positively, even by someone who didn't agree with your political views.

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1264 karma

    It's odd that, in giving a personal statement, one cannot be "personal." Personally:), I hate these sorts of denials of self; while they aren't asking you for a political essay, to state your motivations is really intrinsically important.

    I take it that your views on immigtation won't even be all that radical from the point of view of admissions committees. Furthermore, I would bet that the rest of your application is good enough to outweigh such concerns. In any case, while I myself am not going to express of've my political views connected to my interest in law within my essays, I'm definitely not going to shy away from certain things just because it might make me look marginally better in the eyes of an admissions committee. We're each so unintentionally inauthentic in so many aspects of our lives (ah, the human condition) that it requires a lot of diligence to be authentic on the things that we can (pretty clearly) directly control. So, I'm for authencity on your application; if that's "political" in some fashion, then hey--that's you. Cheers--A.c.S

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    I don't think the political nature is what you need to avoid so much as the danger of broaching the topic in a way that isn't all that unique to you. You don't want your personal statement to wind up being just about you being offended and moved to action by the same comments that offended and drove millions of people to action unless you can present your own unique take on it.

    But, if you can keep the overall narrative personal and unique to you, then I think the dynamic is reversed and the inclusion of the election cycle serves to help make it relateable.

    Regardless of whether you include it,
    Good luck!

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    I'd stay clear of partisan politics, i.e., charged statements about Trump's immigration rhetoric. The topic of immigration/refugee status shouldn't be an issue though and I think makes for a great Ps topic.

  • Paul CaintPaul Caint Alum Member
    3521 karma

    The results of this poll lookin like the popular vote tho

  • 193 karma

    Motivation is important, and an interest in a particular field of law doesn't strike as a negative. I think if you keep it general, and focus on what you personally did to help the situation rather than what someone else is doing wrong would be a good perspective.

  • iceman322iceman322 Alum Member
    70 karma

    Make it personal and don't talk about Trump. The admissions officers know what Trump said and don't need you to repeat it. The larger political context is implicit and I don't hink you need to focus on it.

  • LindsMitchLindsMitch Alum Member
    589 karma

    Yeah I think this would be completely fine, but like the poster above mentioned, I think it could be wise to just leave Trump out of it altogether. By merely mentioning the political scene and rhetoric during 2016, the committees will definitely know who/what you're talking about.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Monthly + Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    27529 karma

    I talked about my politics in my diversity statement to Penn, Trump's alma mater, and I think it was the strongest aspect of my application. I don't think I mentioned Trump, but I think it would be hard to write anything even vaguely political without his presence being felt. So I wouldn't worry about the politics, but I would worry about the narrative. I would steer clear of Trump not because you should minimize your politics, but just because I suspect you've never had a personal encounter with Trump. You need to be the protagonist of your story, and if Trump is your antagonist then your story is going to have to be largely theoretical, your protagonist's outcome/success vague. I'd also be careful in talking about your family's story for the same reason. You can definitely talk about your family, but again, make sure you're the protagonist. Your parents' hardships would make a great PS topic for your parents, but not so good for you. I say this with zero context of your actual role in your family's story, but it's something I've seen a lot that I think is frequently warned against.

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