Economics & Statistics Personal Statement
Living in a time of immense economic uncertainty has sparked my curiosity to explain the rationale of consumers, firms and governments.
The severity of vast global problems, from financial crisis to poverty, has also attracted me to Economics: a subject relevant now more than ever to the prosperity of all societies. I want to complement this with a fluency in Mathematics, to lay sound foundations for analysing economies and financial markets.
Due to my growing interest, I am teaching myself Economics A-level in my gap year, alongside Further Mathematics, to explore the quantitative methods which make economic theory more rigorous.
The logic and ingenuity of Mathematics in solving problems strongly appeals to me, and I thoroughly enjoy learning new and applicable concepts. I am particularly keen to study Statistics, as it can clarify economic phenomena by deriving and testing models with data.
During my internship at Brevan Howard Asset Management, I saw its practical importance in asset and risk evaluation, which has become so prominent with the recent financial crisis. I even related it to my Mathematics A-level, as Gaussian distributions are assumed in stochastic models for asset pricing. Curious to learn more, I read Taleb's 'The Black Swan'.
Seeing how models may fail to predict rare and devastating events has compelled me to learn how Statistics evolves to provide more accurate analysis in volatile markets. Moreover, the synergy of economic and financial principles in trading decisions has made me excited to study them with quantitative techniques.
An approach to Economics that intrigues me is game theory and I relish its mathematical elegance and usefulness. I am fascinated by the incentives and strategies of firms, and curious as to whether these produce optimal payoffs in reality due to bounded and biased rationality.
Researching these ubiquitous concepts has made me passionate to analyse strategic choice in markets, to better grasp the logic of the economic decisions around us.
I have pursued my interest in current economic affairs by reading Paul Krugman's online blog. My curiosity has driven me to question the Keynesian policies he advocates and the contrasting fiscal austerity widely implemented today.
Attending the LSE public lecture on UNCTAD fuelled my fascination with inequality, absorbing for its role in the Eurozone crisis and in poverty - evidence of the diversity of economic problems.
From Sen's 'Development as Freedom', I realised that the issues underlying poverty, like income inequality and capability deprivation, are multidimensional and must be tackled with political, social and economic
I practised this at school through Model UN, where I researched, analysed and constructed logical arguments for growth and development, winning prizes at international summits. This strengthened my enthusiasm and skills for learning how economic policies can solve global problems.
My gap year internships will complement my study with a strong awareness of Economics in society. At Griffins' Insolvency Practitioners I will see the practical sides of business, finance and accounting and the effect of the lack of credit and economic growth on firms.
At the think tank 'Reform' I will assess government policies and their impact on the public sector and the wider economy. Contributing my research to papers for publication will require the analytical and essay-writing skills I gained from my A-levels, as well as communication and organisation skills I honed in positions of responsibility at school.
I hope to transfer these skills to my degree and to clubs and societies at university. Playing county tennis and teaching myself classical guitar also gives me a work-life balance.
Through my exciting internships and motivated self-study, I have been committed to engaging with Economics and Mathematics both in theory and in practice, to deepen my passion and skills for these subjects in preparation for my degree.
It is quite tough to write a good/authentic personal statement but I tried my best. Don't think that you need to write about as many books as I did, I feel like I had to since I had never had an economics lesson before and wanted to adequately show my passion for the subject. My number 1 piece of advice is to keep your personal statement PERSONAL. This is something that requires a fair bit of thought and introspection which you must not be afraid to do, otherwise the PS will look and feel a bit lifeless, like my first PS did when I applied the first time around and got many rejections. This time I applied to Cambridge econ, LSE econ and UCL (3 separate econ related courses). Despite my perfect academic record, I was actually rejected by UCL econ, and that too the day before my Cambridge interview! This actually went very well indeed, but there was one maths/game theory problem I struggled on, and I was placed in the pool and later rejected. So do keep in mind that no matter how good your grades and your PS and your reference are, nothing is guaranteed. I was devastated after UCL rejected me, since I thought there wasn't a hope in hell that Cambridge or LSE would give me an offer, but luckily LSE did and I'm starting there this year (2013). So try not to be too disheartened if you receive a rejection: it happens to all of us at some stage in life. The important thing is to learn from it, pick yourself up and keep working away. The university you attend will not by itself determine the trajectory of your life, and remember, the tough part of university is not getting in, but getting out with a good degree. Would be happy to help anyone with their PS or interview preparation, just email me at rahulsugand at hotmail.com (please use @ instead of 'at', this is just to make sure no one spams my email address!). I only ask that students in the current admissions cycle email me for help. If you are not in the process of writing a personal statement or preparing for interview, please wait till you have applied before emailing me for advice. Best of luck!