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Author Topic: hi everyone! :) request your advice!  (Read 942 times)

dothewave

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hi everyone! :) request your advice!
« on: March 31, 2011, 12:38:55 PM »
i'd appreciate any and all input anyone here has to offer. :)

as with any starry-eyed pre-law student, i aspire to get into top 5/top 10. i want to work for the aclu as an attorney and then work as a lobbyist. my research interests, however, are a bit troubling to me.

i'm deeply interested in drug policy reform *cue judgment*, but i'm also a bit afraid of how it'll look to ivy leagues. i have pretty strong numbers right now but i'd like to hear what you guys think about how this will affect my chances. here's some things i've done

double major poli sci/history with a minor in sociology

1. teaching a course on the history of drug abuse in america
2. established my school's chapter of SSDP (students for sensible drug policy)
3. researching needle exchange programs with a prominent professor in Texas next semester.
4. attempting to intern/volunteer with aclu jails project over summer
5. also attempting to establish a research project with Berkeley's Drug Policy Alliance on legalizing medical marijuana for PTSD victims

lastly: i got a pretty interesting story as to how i even got involved in the first place (plan to use that for my personal statement)

is there anything i can afford to cut out of my efforts or is there any facet of my application i should add to?

yeah i could do without one of those research projects, but is this what a good law school application would be like? (given my niche interests ha)

i look forward to hearing from everyone :D

MikePing

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Re: hi everyone! :) request your advice!
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2011, 12:47:31 PM »
I would keep all of these projects if you want to be T5.  The ability to juggle a lot of significant extra's, while maintaining the credentials you need for T5, are what makes you stand out. 

I also think your passion for drug policy will make you an attractive candidate at top law schools. I don't think it will hurt.  Law schools look for students that they think will add meaningful perspectives to class discussions--whether the school agrees with the opinions or not.  Your interest screams of this quality. 

Good luck, and let us know what happens.

dothewave

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Re: hi everyone! :) request your advice!
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2011, 12:54:24 PM »
okay. just wanted to do a quick gut-check to make sure i wasn't gonna shoot myself in the foot. as my resume develops and i get to the application process i'll def be posting again. :)

i was, however, considering applying for Teach for America or a fellowship to teach English in Korea for a year. what are your thoughts on not immediately applying to law school? i know northwestern is the only law school that seems to really value work experience, but what about time spent out of school in law school limbo?

Morten Lund

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Re: hi everyone! :) request your advice!
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2011, 01:59:03 PM »
I would keep all of these projects if you want to be T5.  The ability to juggle a lot of significant extra's, while maintaining the credentials you need for T5, are what makes you stand out. 

I also think your passion for drug policy will make you an attractive candidate at top law schools. I don't think it will hurt.  Law schools look for students that they think will add meaningful perspectives to class discussions--whether the school agrees with the opinions or not.  Your interest screams of this quality. 

Good luck, and let us know what happens.

This is spot-on. 

To throw in an anecdote...  While in law school (at one of those ivies), I took a class on drug policy.  It was intended to be a hard-hitting discussion class on the merits of current drug policy.  First class:  professor asks who is in favor of general legalization.  All hands go up.  Prof then asks who is in support of current policies, more or less.  *crickets*  Result:  Most boring discussion class ever.  Except that it was taught by a hysterical professor, whom we all believed to be a complete pothead.  And, of course, this was long ago - back in the day when "legalization" was a radical position.

I wouldn't worry about law schools frowning on your herb support.

And, as Mike hints at - these are the type of things you not only want, but NEED on your resume to boost your t5 chances.  Those schools get loads of applications from valedictorians with 170+ LSATs and Guatamalan Peace Corps experience.  To set yourself apart you need to show something different, and preferably something that shows initiative and leadership.  You know, like the efforts you listed in your post.

Now, one the grumpy side of things, I suggest you take a look at the resumes of ACLU lawyers.  You will find that they not only have excellent academic credentials, but they mostly spent time with BigLaw firms as well.  ACLU and pals generally don't hire out of law school.  To get the job of your dreams, you will likely have to first  put in some time working for The Man.

dothewave

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Re: hi everyone! :) request your advice!
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2011, 02:37:11 PM »
NOOOOO! THE MAN T_T

that sounds fine to me though, working as a prosecutor can help me understand the system from the vantage point of my future opponents in the courtroom. know your enemy right? :)

again, thank you so much for the feedback. hopefully i keep my numbers intact to make myself as competitive as possible. no one believes the pothead hippie from a bottom-tier (not that bottom tier is bad but i think given the uphill battle of drug reform, i need all the credibility i can get haha)

on the darker side of things, here's my underlying concern about law schools......

perhaps i am providing too much information but i think since we're all interested in law, the details may be relevant/interested to read.

and fyi, too crazy to make up. this *&^% is real. and this *&^% happens to innocent people.

i was a senior at the air force academy until i was forced to resign due to allegations that i smoked marijuana. my right to attorney was waived as i got interrogated (they didn't let me make my phone call until charged were levied and attempted to take testimony before i could speak to a lawyer) after i affirmed, numerous times, to the interrogating officer my right to remain silent, i was drug tested 4 times over a period of 2 weeks.

don't ask how or why, but all 4 piss tests came back negative. JAG drops charges for 1 day.

the allegations then changed to reflect that i also consumed ecstasy and magic mushrooms. the interrogating officer then testified that i confessed to him a clear intention to cheat the tests and bragged that i would easily pass a piss test. (anybody else notice the outlandishness of that claim o_o)

despite this logical inconsistency, JAG believed they had probable cause to order a 1300 dollar hair test. after inspecting the paperwork, i noticed that they didn't present the warrant to the Air Force magistrate to sign off (i'm under the impression the magistrate acts the same way a judge does when approving warrants)

however, the hair tests came back positive before our objection could be processed (it was conveniently delayed since it was stuck in the JAG office) in a frantic scramble, i passed an additional (negative) 4 hair tests of my own to submit.

(sidebar: the accuser was my roommate, who had been making sexual advances on me for a month. after this escalated into a physical confrontation, he reported me for smoking weed. and yeah. i submitted my testimony about that, as did 2 other people who witnessed his aggressive behavior.)

after requesting that i travel off-base to receive surgery for a medical condition during winter break (the investigation was paused for the holidays), i was informed that if i wished to receive treatment, i would have to resign. i realized that i couldn't win and filed my paperwork. adding insult to injury, i was also informed i was the recipient of a grad school scholarship to Princeton (which i obviously lost).

these are not excuses. i knew smoking pot was a risk. i accepted that risk and i take responsibility for my action. however, i'm kind of caught in between owning up to my mistake and also pointing out that because there were allegations of drug-use against me, the bill of rights can easily be...ignored. haha


lessons learned:

dont @#!* with the man. they cheat and you'll lose
don't break the law unless your witnesses are implicated (sort of jk'ing haha)
be a responsible citizen
forgive those who trespass on me
revenge is success
........................

SO.

a. is this topic appropriate for a personal statement?
b. i don't think all of these details can fit/admissions won't wanna wade through all that. what should i focus on if i should even talk about this?
c. its gonna show up on my transcript i transferred from the Air Force as a senior to Rice. they'll want to know whats up. how should i frame it?

FalconJimmy

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Re: hi everyone! :) request your advice!
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2011, 02:50:23 PM »
Wowwww!

I've always felt that military justice is to justice what military music is to music.

I don't mean to sound condemnatory when I say this, but it sounds like the AF's style produced justice (you apparently did use drugs and that is exactly what they threw you out for), but it was not done in a manner that most would consider legal. 

Shame, I wish this hadn't happened to you.  I really do.  I think our drug laws related to marijuana are idiotic and I suspect they'll come down in a heap like the anti-gay laws have.  The only trouble is that various groups (for profit prisons, prison guard unions) have a vested interest in the criminalization of this relatively harmless and victimless "crime" and will do all they can to keep it illegal.

Anyway, yeah, I would not mention this on your application.  It is one thing to admit that you're working hard for drug-law liberalization.  Also, some folks may infer that you are a minor law-breaker and infer that you smoke pot.  Most folks wouldn't possibly care.

However, the fact that you were a member of the military would tend to make people view this differently.  It's one thing if my neighbor smokes pot.  It's another if he's a nuclear reactor operator who is also hiding his crime by going to GNC to buy stuff to beat the drug test. 

Smoking pot is likely to be viewed as a minor, misdemeanor type transgression.  However, accepting a position in society where you affirmed that you would not do it, then using various means to cheat the test?  Could be viewed differently.

Just my two cents.  I can't say what an admissions board would say, but that's my views on the subject.

As for why you transferred to Rice, I wouldn't even bother explaining it.  Lots of people decide that the military just isn't for them.  I don't think I'd mention anything about it.  Especially since doing so could open up the topic of being thrown out of one school for violating the school's honor code. 

Again, just my two cents.  Take them for what they are:  free advice given over the internet and probably worth every penny of what it costs.

dothewave

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Re: hi everyone! :) request your advice!
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2011, 02:59:05 PM »
i absolutely agree. justice, one way or another, was certainly served so i am always hesitant to censure the Air Force too much. lol im always like....WELL....i DID do it. haha

i can definitely see how my actions could be perceived much differently (negatively). i'll definitely keep this in mind when drafting my personal statement.

and believe me, it would be a foolhardy endeavor to ask for advice from people who know more than me and then ignore it. haha

PS. it was seriously a miracle. i was supervised 24/7 between the allegations and the testing. i just drank enormous amounts of water on the airplane and the flight attendant slipped me an extra liter. no idea how they all came back negative. i was ready to believe in God haha

FalconJimmy

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Re: hi everyone! :) request your advice!
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2011, 03:13:16 PM »
and believe me, it would be a foolhardy endeavor to ask for advice from people who know more than me and then ignore it. haha

I guess I feel I should clarify that I do not know more than you.  I'm a law school applicant just like you are.  I'm just expressing a viewpoint and it's far from authoritative or definitive.  It's absolutely possible that I know no more than you do or that I know less.

You were accepted to the AF academy and graduated from Rice.  You have your act together to a far greater degree than I ever did when I was your age.  I considered applying to Rice, and instead took a scholarship to a different school because the idea of going to a school where my SAT was average was pretty darned intimidating to me.

dothewave

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Re: hi everyone! :) request your advice!
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2011, 04:46:21 PM »
haha well i guess the warrant was that if there is no comparative advantage to disclosing those details i don't think there's a reason for me to try and solicit empathy from them. i'd rather spend my time working on and and developing my projects :D

and, evinced by the circumstances of my departure, sometimes smart kids are excessively.....dumb. haha

also, i think scholarship is way more important. nothing better than looking at your bills then remembering you were a boss and went to school for free :) besides, which law school we go to matters a whole lot more. yarrrr

MikePing

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Re: hi everyone! :) request your advice!
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2011, 12:13:14 PM »
I would avoid telling that story as your personal statment.  Your resume and addendums will cover this topic.  You don't want to be a 1 trick pony.

Im not sure how transferring is going to look, but you are going to have to disclose the info on your applications anyway.  This will undoubtedly fall under the Character and Fitness questions.   DONT tell them that  your rights were violated (or about the roommate), it sounds bitter and screams of someone who isn't accepting responsibility. 

The way to handle it is to spin it something like this:

Back in the day, I stupidly thought that the way to express my disagreement for our nations drug laws was to ignore them.  This led to serious consequences in my personal life, and made me reevaluate my position.  With a little experience and perspective, I realized that the better way to express disagreement with the law is to try to change it.  Since then I have obeyed the law, and focused my efforts on trying to influence our policy through legitimate means.  I still strongly disagree with the rules that I was accused of breaking, but acknowledge that I was wrong, and fully deserved the punishment I received.