Law School Discussion

Self-defeating essay prompt?

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Self-defeating essay prompt?
« on: August 20, 2004, 07:41:52 AM »
I have an essay prompt that tells me to write about a topic that has influenced my life and/or engaged me intellectually, but says my essay should not be a personal narrative.  Perhaps I'm being thick-headed (a distinct possibility), but how do I explain my thoughts on such a topic without it being a personal narrative?  Ugh.

jacy85

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Re: Self-defeating essay prompt?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2004, 08:00:13 AM »
Duke?

I had to write that too.  I wrote about my focus on National Security and Intelligence in a round about way.  I showed how things I learned are so applicable to today's world, adn how the background I have makes some of my opinions of 9/11 and Iraq a bit different than most.  (I think policy officials are f-ing up the CIA and American intelligence, and quite a bit of the blame heaved on the CIA is unrealistic and unfair).

I mostly discussed a couple of the main points of the coursework and applied them to 9/11, Iraq and ongoing reforms to the US Intelligence System, and stuck a concluding paragraph on there about how this gives me a unique academic perspective regarding current events.

It should basically not discuss how whatever interest you have has changed your life.  It's should be a "mini-paper" I guess, and will showcase your thought process more than anythign else.  HTH

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Re: Self-defeating essay prompt?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2004, 08:12:39 AM »
Duke?

I showed how things I learned are so applicable to today's world, adn how the background I have makes some of my opinions of 9/11 and Iraq a bit different than most. 

Yep, Duke.  That part of your essay description sounds personal-narrativey to me.  To me, if I'm touching on my background at all, then I'm not following directions.  Yet how can I show that something has influenced/engaged me without revealing a bit about my background?  Am I just taking them way too literally?  BTW, thanks for the reply Jacy.

jacy85

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Re: Self-defeating essay prompt?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2004, 08:40:26 AM »
I think you're edging on a bit too literal there.  I also probably didn't explain as well as I could have.

It's essentially an academic diversity essay.  You need to discuss something that had a profound effect on you, but you are focusing on that "something" as opposed to the effect it had.  The effect should be, i suppose, a minor point, if not an afterthought.

The Montauk book had a great example of this kind of essay.  A girl wrote on the resurgence of "children's literation" and how this genre is being read by more and more adults.  She discussed the Harry Potter frenzy, and how she believed that adults reading children's literature is a fantastic way to relive the dreams of childhood and return for a few moments to a world of possibilities and imagination.  She obviously had a passion for this topic, and she interjected her opinion inbetween the lines.  The topic was the focus, her emotions/thoughts on the subject were interwoven in the topic, if that makes sense.

My essay isn't quite like this in terms of the intro and conclusion, the only places where I talk about myself, and it's one sentence each, if taht.  Most of my essay focuses on intelligence issues in the US, and in discussing this, I bring up the points of view/opinions I gained while taking classes with a retired CIA agent.  This knowledge/set opinions tend not to be overly common, so I feel it's a unique experience.  And after discussing current events related to the topic, I point out how this subject will continue to be relevant far into the 21st century.  (or some BS along those lines!)

Ginatio

Re: Self-defeating essay prompt?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2004, 08:42:45 AM »
what the hell is up with duke this year? i dont recall having to write any of these pointless essays...

I guess they may have had bad admit retention, so they decided to put more hurdles so only those more likely to attend duke would apply...

jacy85

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Re: Self-defeating essay prompt?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2004, 08:44:10 AM »
Nah, these essays were on last year's app.  At least when I looked at it online a few months ago.  Maybe you actually decided the Optional essay was, well, optional.  ;)

Ginatio

Re: Self-defeating essay prompt?
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2004, 08:52:02 AM »
Nah, these essays were on last year's app.  At least when I looked at it online a few months ago.  Maybe you actually decided the Optional essay was, well, optional.  ;)

ahh... yeah. if it was listed as "optional", i probably didn't do it.

if i may offer some advice... your application is basically building a case for why you would be a good match with their school, and should give a favorable view of you as a student, a person, and, if applicable, a professional. Personally, i felt i had made enough of a case with my personal statement, LSDAS report, LSAT writing sample, etc. that i didn't need to write the "optional" essays. In fact, writing an "optional" essay, when unnecessary, provides more material they can critique, and if it contains something inadvertently in contrast with the rest of your application, they may think twice about admitting you...

just my opinion.

jacy85

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Re: Self-defeating essay prompt?
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2004, 08:55:13 AM »
For Duke, unfortunately, I don't feel I make that picture with my numbers alone, although my recs and PS are good.  So I'm writing their damn optional essay.

Ginatio

Re: Self-defeating essay prompt?
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2004, 08:56:16 AM »
For Duke, unfortunately, I don't feel I make that picture with my numbers alone, although my recs and PS are good.  So I'm writing their damn optional essay.

well... have fun, and good luck.  ;)

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Re: Self-defeating essay prompt?
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2004, 09:31:22 AM »
The question is, did you get into Duke???  I'm already presenting a decent picture, and my PS is really solid.  However, I'm afraid that it will come across as laziness and lack of commitment to Duke if I don't do the optional.  *sigh*