I've recently applied to Princeton and was hoping for any opinions on this supplemental essay. I'm hoping to understand (i) Do I have a shot this year (ii) What adjustments could I make if I were to re-apply next year. Thank you in advance for your help!
Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way.
In his seminal 1976 paper, 'Econometric policy evaluation: a critique', Robert Lucas Jr. argued that traditional macro-econometric models, which relied entirely upon historical and aggregated data, failed to take into account how people's expectations changed as policy changed, thus rendering their ability to predict macroeconomic phenomena useless. More precisely, Lucas critiqued traditional macro-econometric models in their assumption that the parameters of the model are structural and policy-invariant, implying that there are structural trade-offs, for example between output and inflation, which policy can exploit. Lucas' critique, commonly referred to as the 'Lucas Critique', drove a paradigm shift in macroeconomic thinking that led to the eventual creation of "micro-founded" real business cycle, and thereafter, DSGE (dynamic stochastic general equilibrium) models - the latter of which incorporate Keynesian nominal rigidities. Instead of relying on highly aggregated parameters, these models are derived from considering and aggregating the objectives of individual economic agents (namely households and firms) who have "rational expectations" - that is, they make decisions based off of their expectations of the future, which are affected by government policy. These models have begun to influence, for the better, the way in which governments and central banks approach macroeconomic forecasting and policymaking.
Lucas, to me, is inspirational not only because of the revolution in macroeconomic thinking he provoked but also because of the influence he has had on how I approach my studies and life in general. He made me aware that we, as people, often accept common wisdom as fact, and in turn, fail to make progress in understanding or bettering the world - instead, we often keep propagation of the alleged truths of the past. As a result, I have become far more cautious and sceptical of what I am taught and told; Lucas encouraged me to approach life in a philosophical manner: challenging, critiquing and carefully analysing everything I am presented with. Specifically, Lucas has prompted me to carefully look for unstated assumptions (upon which arguments depend), logical or propositional fallacies, and flaws in data analysis (similar to those Lucas outlined in his critique) in journals, books, and articles, as well as to frequently present challenges to theory which I am taught in my lessons.
As well as making me more sceptical and questioning of the wider world and what others present me, Lucas encouraged me to be more rigorous in my own thought and argumentation. In my written subjects, even in simple classwork or essays, I frequently use precise, formal, and rigorous definitions and proofs to substantiate my argument, even if it is seemingly unnecessary for the purposes of an exam or exercise; similarly, in Mathematics, I compose my proofs as logical passages in sentence form, using theorems and lemmas, clearly conveying the argument which I'm trying to make, and taking precaution to lay out every step - even those that are seemingly trivial.
Perhaps most importantly, Lucas showed me that in the same way that a challenge to the societal status quo, such as those made by Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela, is necessary for society to progress, a radical change in thinking or a challenge of the underlying axioms of previously accepted theory is necessary for progress in academia to be made. And Lucas not only showed me that such radical changes in thinking are necessary, but also inspired me to pursue a career in Economics and, myself, attempt to deliver one and thus help advance our understanding of the world.