Question 11

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Samples of Effective and Ineffective Responses to Question 11




"I intend to enter a four-year joint program, earning a Master of International Affairs (MIA) and a law degree (JD). While a joint degree program is undoubtedly rigorous, I believe both degrees are necessary to provide the tools for strengthening national and international legal structures. While the choice of a law degree may seem obvious, equally important is the more general knowledge of international relations as the larger framework within which human rights violations take place and cooperation for their protection is possible. In addition, outsiders may act as catalysts in building up national legal systems, but to be truly effective they must also possess a deep appreciation of the complicated cultural and political context in which they operate. It is a common requirement of MIA programs that students focus on one region of the world to develop just such an appreciation. With training that combines legal knowledge, advocacy skills, and an in-depth understanding of the complexities of international affairs, I would be well equipped to affect the sort of change necessary for the long-term protection of human rights throughout the world. Columbia University, with its enduring commitment to the study of human rights and its ideal location in the city of New York, is the best choice for the program I have described. Both the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and the School of Law offer a human rights concentration, while the SIPA's unique Regional Institutes provide the additional opportunity for expertise in one geographic area. Columbia also sponsors numerous human rights programs such as lecture series and summer internships through the Center for the Study of Human Rights and the Center for Public Interest Law. Beyond the university, New York itself provides a vast array of opportunities: the United Nations and the offices of most major human rights organizations are just a short distance away."

[Good justification for joint program. Would like to see a little more about the programs and the geographic area(s) of interest.]




"I plan to pursue a doctoral degree in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida. The curriculum, provided by 48 participating departments, would allow me to select a broad, integrated study program in my multiple areas of interest. Since students are hosted by one of these departments, I would seek entrance through the Sociology Department. The program requires courses in advanced principles of ecology and a focused study of a particular ecosystem. Students and their advisors develop a course plan consisting of 90 credit hours in natural and social sciences. I have identified several natural science courses in ecosystem management that I would be eager to take. My main focus will be in the university's specialized studies, which include the use of community analysis, Geographical Information Systems, advanced environmental planning and design, and environmental health. In the social sciences, I am interested in studying environmental policy, environmental economics and benefit-cost analysis. The doctoral program requires a minor focused on a recognized discipline. I would pursue a sociology minor, focusing on courses in metropolitan growth and development, urban ecology, social inequality, collective behavior and movements, and studies of organizational and political structures."

[Good program specifics. Program makes sense for candidate. Presented well.]




"Through my work with housing and homeless advocacy groups, I have met several activists who found that they were unable to have the kind of impact on issues that affect the homeless and marginally housed because they lacked a law degree. I have been inspired to pursue a degree in law so that I will have the experience to organize homeless people and low-income tenants, advise them of their rights, represent them in negotiations and court if necessary, and co-author legislation on the local, state, and national levels that will extend housing as a right for all people. I am particularly interested in attending Northeastern University because of its focus on social justice law. I have been very impressed with the resources of their Urban Law and Public policy Institute, especially their philosophy of collaboration and support of community organizations based on the model of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a grass-roots urban renewal program in Roxbury that was designed and implemented by Roxbury residents, not by the Boston Housing Authority.  I am open to considering any law school with a strong social action law program. New York University Law School's Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy has a strong emphasis on urban housing law, and Harvard Law School runs a Tenant Advocacy project that aids low income tenants in fighting evictions. It is important to me to be at in institution that emphasizes the role law can play in fighting for social justice and that attracts a student body with an interest in public service. My colleague from the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless has been satisfied with Northeastern for this reason. The Co-op program at Northeastern will allow me to spend 50% of my last two years gaining direct legal experience while making a real impact by working with community organizations and activist groups. Without the experience of collaborating with community members, a law degree will not be useful in effecting social change."

[Good justification for JD. Well researched. Specific.]




"I plan on building upon my background in sociology and education throughout the remainder of college and far into my graduate studies. I am planning on pursuing a joint BA/MA degree in sociology in my senior year of undergraduate studies and using this degree as a starting point for further combined study of sociology and education. I intend to pursue a Doctor of Education degree (Ed.D.) with a strong focus on the sociology of education. A program like Columbia's Sociology and Education doctoral program at Teachers College would equip me with a thorough understanding of education in a sociological perspective. Classes like "Social stratification and education," "Gender and inequality: The role of the school." and "School improvement in the inner city: A sociological view" would provide a vast sociological understanding of education. Stanford's Graduate School of Education offers a similar Ed.D. degree in the sociology of education in its Social Sciences: Policy and Educational Practice (SSPEP) program. An Ed.D. degree combining education with sociology would increase my understanding of actual processes of education and the critical societal factors that are inextricably linked to the institution of education. The combination would start me on my lifework of changing the experience of education for many Americans."

[Specific. Direct, to the point.]







"If I receive a Truman Scholarship, I plan to pursue a Masters Degree in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University or a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Cornell University or Columbia University. These three schools all offer excellent MPA programs that will prepare me for work in the public policy sector. As a graduate student at any one of these schools, I will not only enjoy an excellent education, I will also receive a number of chances for summer internships within the federal government. Any such opportunity to gain experience in areas of public policy that interest me, such as improving government efficiency and streamlining the bureaucratic structure, will no doubt prove invaluable in the years to come. At ________ I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in both Military History and Systems Engineering, two disciplines that will substantively prepare me for an MPA and my intended are of public policy."

[No specifics on courses or concentrations.]




"The oldest piece of clothing I own is a gray Harvard college sweatshirt, purchased at The Coop during a family vacation in the summer of 1987. VERITAS, the burgundy and white logo proclaims. At the age of 10, my first inquiry into Latin focused on deciphering this word, a word that, once revealed, seemed stronger to me than hate or death or war: the word TRUTH. I have since come to understand that discovering truth is an elusive ideal. I believe that the most important element in the search for truth and knowledge is a diversity of opinions. The graduate education programs I hope to pursue with the assistance of a Truman Scholarship would incorporate a mix of viewpoints through varied experiences and courses of instruction. I hope to attend an institution with a strong tradition of developing students for careers in public service. I am particularly interested in the Woodrow Wilson School of Law and Diplomacy at Princeton, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University , or the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. I will pursue a program of study which culminates in a Masters Degree in Public Affairs/Policy, Public Administration, or Foreign Service. I also expect that my chosen graduate education program will include opportunities to interact with scholars and thinkers in the fields of International Relations and Public Policy. Speakers, forums, and public debates as well as internship program offerings and field observations are important factors in my choice of graduate programs. I will also seek out guidance in preparation for the Foreign Service Examination, as well as further opportunities to study abroad as a graduate student."

[First paragraph is unhelpful. Woodrow Wilson is "School of Public and International Affairs." No specifics on studies.]




"After extensive research regarding universities that offer graduate degrees in sustainable agriculture and related topics I have isolated Wye College of the University of London as my primary choice for graduate studies. I wish to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in the Environment Department. The Doctorate of Philosophy Program can be completed in three years with full-time registration. I wish to concentrate my study in the areas of biodiversity studies, landscape and habitat restoration, and management of soil and water resources. Additionally, I would study subjects in international aspects of environmental change and sustainability, the ramifications of agri-environmental policies, rural planning, and sustainable agriculture practices. A possible focus of my research is the conservation and promotion of heirloom crop varieties of traditional communities."

[States "extensive research" but does not share any specifics. Does not offer criteria used to evaluate programs.]




"I want to attend Georgetown University Law School and receive a Juris Doctor degree with a dual degree program with a Masters of Public Policy. From my observations, law seems like a natural pathway to public office. Leaders and representatives must have an extensive knowledge and understanding of the law to conduct and interpret legislation. My end goal is to enter Oregon state politics to improve economic and social policy in the state that I call home. By attending this prestigious law school, I will have the opportunity to network and make connections with individuals in Washington D.C. who may be able to advise me in my road to public office. The required curriculum of the first year at Georgetown Law includes Civil procedure, Constitutional Law, Torts, Contracts, etc. Following my first year, I will continue to expand upon my legal knowledge by taking more advanced courses and I will choose a particular area of law to study. My dream job is to become a member of the United States Supreme Court."


[No talk about why MPP is needed. Listing of classes is unhelpful.]