Personal statement advice for URM

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
phernandez10
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:22 pm

Personal statement advice for URM

Postby phernandez10 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:28 am

Hello all,
I am planning on applying to law school next year and I am trying to get a workable personal statement and diversity statement draft. I am planning to write about one topic in personal statement and develop on the others in the diversity statement. Yet I do not know if I should include all of them. Below is a list of things I currently want to write about in each statement.

Personal Statement:
Worked in agriculture (field worker) since I was 12 and noticed unlawful behavior while I was working (other than me working :D )

Diversity Statement:
Grew up with an alcoholic and verbally abusive father
I had my daughter and married at 16. (yes, still married)
Very low income throughout my childhood (not so much now)
First generation college student (as well as second in my family to graduate high school)

FYI:
GPA: 3.54
LSAT: NA
College: CA state university
Major: philosophy
URM: Mexican American

Accomplishments:
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Scholarship Finalist
McNair Scholars Program
Hawk Honors Program

Any suggestions and/or advice on what to inculde or exclude from each statement?

User avatar
Knock
Posts: 5152
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:09 pm

Re: Personal statement advice for URM

Postby Knock » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:36 am

phernandez10 wrote:Hello all,
I am planning on applying to law school next year and I am trying to get a workable personal statement and diversity statement draft. I am planning to write about one topic in personal statement and develop on the others in the diversity statement. Yet I do not know if I should include all of them. Below is a list of things I currently want to write about in each statement.

Personal Statement:
Worked in agriculture (field worker) since I was 12 and noticed unlawful behavior while I was working (other than me working :D )

Diversity Statement:
Grew up with an alcoholic and verbally abusive father
I had my daughter and married at 16. (yes, still married)
Very low income throughout my childhood (not so much now)
First generation college student (as well as second in my family to graduate high school)

FYI:
GPA: 3.54
LSAT: NA
College: CA state university
Major: philosophy
URM: Mexican American

Accomplishments:
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Scholarship Finalist
McNair Scholars Program
Hawk Honors Program

Any suggestions and/or advice on what to inculde or exclude from each statement?


That sounds great, and it's good you're getting a jump on this early. When you say you're planning on applying to law school next year, do you mean for the 2011 or 2012 school year?

Either way, if you don't yet know, LS admissions seems to be, with the possible exceptions of Stanford and Yale, a numbers game. You need that GPA and LSAT. So focus on keeping your GPA up or raising it, and study very hard for the LSAT, it is the single most important factor in your application. If you get a high enough LSAT, you could go to any school in the country. Ideally, shoot for 170+ (I realize that's very difficult, but it never hurts to shoot really high).

I think you've got some great stuff to work with -- but it all hinges on how you craft it and how it comes out, so it's hard to say until you get a rough draft. I would just say focus on how these events have shaped who you are for the PS, and focus on keeping it positive, and your end product should make the adcomms remember and like you. For the DS, your main message is because of your experience/upbringing/racial or cultural identity, you have a unique perspective; show how this has shaped your worldview and how this would bring diversity and enrich a law school.

What CSU do you go to?

Edit: I would pick one main idea or event for each essay, because you only have limited space to work with, and develop that essay. So you can include multiple events, anecdotes, or examples, but keep it focused around a main theme or idea. Any of the ones you gave could work. I would read up on some DS's from the URM forum and Personal Statement forums to get a feel for some well-written essays.

phernandez10
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:22 pm

Re: Personal statement advice for URM

Postby phernandez10 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:58 am

Knockglock wrote:
That sounds great, and it's good you're getting a jump on this early. When you say you're planning on applying to law school next year, do you mean for the 2011 or 2012 school year?

Either way, if you don't yet know, LS admissions seems to be, with the possible exceptions of Stanford and Yale, a numbers game. You need that GPA and LSAT. So focus on keeping your GPA up or raising it, and study very hard for the LSAT, it is the single most important factor in your application. If you get a high enough LSAT, you could go to any school in the country. Ideally, shoot for 170+ (I realize that's very difficult, but it never hurts to shoot really high).

I think you've got some great stuff to work with -- but it all hinges on how you craft it and how it comes out, so it's hard to say until you get a rough draft. I would just say focus on how these events have shaped who you are for the PS, and focus on keeping it positive, and your end product should make the adcomms remember and like you. For the DS, your main message is because of your experience/upbringing/racial or cultural identity, you have a unique perspective; show how this has shaped your worldview and how this would bring diversity and enrich a law school.

What CSU do you go to?

Edit: I would pick one main idea or event for each essay, because you only have limited space to work with, and develop that essay. So you can include multiple events, anecdotes, or examples, but keep it focused around a main theme or idea. Any of the ones you gave could work. I would read up on some DS's from the URM forum and Personal Statement forums to get a feel for some well-written essays.


I am applying for the 2012-2013 year, I usually start early on applications since I go through a ton of essay drafts. It does not seem so far away when you take into account I’ll take the June LSAT next year to apply early. I am currently preparing for the LSAT and 170+ seems daunting at the moment. I attend CSU Bakersfield (which has an amazing philosophy department btw :).)

Thank-you for your advice. I'll keep in mind your suggestions when I start my first draft.

User avatar
Knock
Posts: 5152
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:09 pm

Re: Personal statement advice for URM

Postby Knock » Fri Aug 06, 2010 3:09 am

phernandez10 wrote:
Knockglock wrote:
That sounds great, and it's good you're getting a jump on this early. When you say you're planning on applying to law school next year, do you mean for the 2011 or 2012 school year?

Either way, if you don't yet know, LS admissions seems to be, with the possible exceptions of Stanford and Yale, a numbers game. You need that GPA and LSAT. So focus on keeping your GPA up or raising it, and study very hard for the LSAT, it is the single most important factor in your application. If you get a high enough LSAT, you could go to any school in the country. Ideally, shoot for 170+ (I realize that's very difficult, but it never hurts to shoot really high).

I think you've got some great stuff to work with -- but it all hinges on how you craft it and how it comes out, so it's hard to say until you get a rough draft. I would just say focus on how these events have shaped who you are for the PS, and focus on keeping it positive, and your end product should make the adcomms remember and like you. For the DS, your main message is because of your experience/upbringing/racial or cultural identity, you have a unique perspective; show how this has shaped your worldview and how this would bring diversity and enrich a law school.

What CSU do you go to?

Edit: I would pick one main idea or event for each essay, because you only have limited space to work with, and develop that essay. So you can include multiple events, anecdotes, or examples, but keep it focused around a main theme or idea. Any of the ones you gave could work. I would read up on some DS's from the URM forum and Personal Statement forums to get a feel for some well-written essays.


I am applying for the 2012-2013 year, I usually start early on applications since I go through a ton of essay drafts. It does not seem so far away when you take into account I’ll take the June LSAT next year to apply early. I am currently preparing for the LSAT and 170+ seems daunting at the moment. I attend CSU Bakersfield (which has an amazing philosophy department btw :).)

Thank-you for your advice. I'll keep in mind your suggestions when I start my first draft.


Np. I'm still in the applying stage of the process, so i'm sure some people who have been through it all will be able to offer better advice than I :D. Don't stress about that 170+. It definitely is daunting. Look to the LSAT Prep forums for advice and help. If it makes you feel any better, when I first sat down to do a PT, I literally had to stop on the third section, when I couldn't even diagram the logic game and couldn't answer the first question :oops:. I preserved and ended up scoring a 171 in June. So don't let the LSAT get you down. Study early and often, and keep your head up. Looking back, I got too high when I scored well and got too low when I scored badly. Don't pay so much attention to the scores as the process, and try and stay balanced -- don't get too high or too low.

Pip
Posts: 141
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:30 pm

Re: Personal statement advice for URM

Postby Pip » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:57 am

Knockglock wrote:
phernandez10 wrote:Hello all,
I am planning on applying to law school next year and I am trying to get a workable personal statement and diversity statement draft. I am planning to write about one topic in personal statement and develop on the others in the diversity statement. Yet I do not know if I should include all of them. Below is a list of things I currently want to write about in each statement.

Personal Statement:
Worked in agriculture (field worker) since I was 12 and noticed unlawful behavior while I was working (other than me working :D )

Diversity Statement:
Grew up with an alcoholic and verbally abusive father
I had my daughter and married at 16. (yes, still married)
Very low income throughout my childhood (not so much now)
First generation college student (as well as second in my family to graduate high school)

FYI:
GPA: 3.54
LSAT: NA
College: CA state university
Major: philosophy
URM: Mexican American

Accomplishments:
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Scholarship Finalist
McNair Scholars Program
Hawk Honors Program

Any suggestions and/or advice on what to inculde or exclude from each statement?


That sounds great, and it's good you're getting a jump on this early. When you say you're planning on applying to law school next year, do you mean for the 2011 or 2012 school year?

Either way, if you don't yet know, LS admissions seems to be, with the possible exceptions of Stanford and Yale, a numbers game. You need that GPA and LSAT. So focus on keeping your GPA up or raising it, and study very hard for the LSAT, it is the single most important factor in your application. If you get a high enough LSAT, you could go to any school in the country. Ideally, shoot for 170+ (I realize that's very difficult, but it never hurts to shoot really high).

I think you've got some great stuff to work with -- but it all hinges on how you craft it and how it comes out, so it's hard to say until you get a rough draft. I would just say focus on how these events have shaped who you are for the PS, and focus on keeping it positive, and your end product should make the adcomms remember and like you. For the DS, your main message is because of your experience/upbringing/racial or cultural identity, you have a unique perspective; show how this has shaped your worldview and how this would bring diversity and enrich a law school.

What CSU do you go to?

Edit: I would pick one main idea or event for each essay, because you only have limited space to work with, and develop that essay. So you can include multiple events, anecdotes, or examples, but keep it focused around a main theme or idea. Any of the ones you gave could work. I would read up on some DS's from the URM forum and Personal Statement forums to get a feel for some well-written essays.


You are right about it being a numbers game, and from experience that also applies to Yale as well (any low score or GPAs at Yale are there because the students background had something else remarkable about them, so still really a numbers game for most).

I would say the prospective applicant needs to worry more about the LSAT at this time and not the application essay. How well the LSAT score is will determine the type of LS that is realistic for her. Unless she does exceedingly well on the LSAT the GPA is going to make it hard to get into any top law school. Not because she doesn't have a nice story to tell, but because she will be competing against other Hispanics from California for spots. Because besides a LSAT/GPA numbers game, it is also a diversity numbers game. The top school will have lots of Hispanic women applying for spots and a great deal of them will have stellar GPAs as well as high LSAT scores... once a school has their hidden quota of Hispanic women then all the story in the world isn't going to do much good...

What is not know is the difficulty of the school she is in, how many hours she took each semester and whether her GPA was lower because of difficulty she had in the first semesters or if it is lower because of more advanced classes.... does she have a low GPA because of one bad semester in the first year and has made straight As ever since? That would help... but there isn't enough information to know here.

phernandez10
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:22 pm

Re: Personal statement advice for URM

Postby phernandez10 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:21 pm

Knockglock:
You caught me. I am avoiding studying for the test. I took a test cold and did very very low in every section. I did better on the logic games probably because I took a Symbolic Logic course last year. I get freaked out every time I turn on a timer. :( I'll try to read a PBible today.

Pip:
School: Cal State Bakersfield not competitive, but a great school. :D
Work Load: 15-17 units every quarter, I have a work study position at school that’s around 10 hrs a week. However, when my husband’s hours are cut back at work I take on odd jobbs. For example, the two quarters that I earned A-,B, and B- I was working 40 hours a week plus during finals. I usually get A’s or A-, when I do not work more than 10 hours a week.
Philosophy: not easy, I work very hard for my grades.
Minor Political Science: fairly easy
GPA: 3.54 I am trying to higher it, and I’ll stay on it.

Also I am not planning to just apply CA schools, but as many schools that would give me fee waivers. :D
Thanks for the advice Knockglock and Pip.

User avatar
Knock
Posts: 5152
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:09 pm

Re: Personal statement advice for URM

Postby Knock » Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:37 pm

phernandez10 wrote:Knockglock:
You caught me. I am avoiding studying for the test. I took a test cold and did very very low in every section. I did better on the logic games probably because I took a Symbolic Logic course last year. I get freaked out every time I turn on a timer. :( I'll try to read a PBible today.

Pip:
School: Cal State Bakersfield not competitive, but a great school. :D
Work Load: 15-17 units every quarter, I have a work study position at school that’s around 10 hrs a week. However, when my husband’s hours are cut back at work I take on odd jobbs. For example, the two quarters that I earned A-,B, and B- I was working 40 hours a week plus during finals. I usually get A’s or A-, when I do not work more than 10 hours a week.
Philosophy: not easy, I work very hard for my grades.
Minor Political Science: fairly easy
GPA: 3.54 I am trying to higher it, and I’ll stay on it.

Also I am not planning to just apply CA schools, but as many schools that would give me fee waivers. :D
Thanks for the advice Knockglock and Pip.


Posting from my phone, so I have to keep this brief. Do not time your LSAT practice. Seriously, don't do it!!!!!! Focus on doing untimed questions until you get a great hang of it. Take all the time you need to figure out why the credited answer (I said credited on purpose because your looking for the best answer, the LSAT answer...always keep that in mind) is correct and the four wrong answers are wrong. Then and only then, when you're missing only a handful or whatever your target is, should you start using the timer. Good luck. The LSAT can be intimidating, but I can't underscore how vital it is. Remember plenty of people have been where you are and pulled out 170+'s, and so can you! (Or whatever your target score it :)).




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