Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
GentlemanJim
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby GentlemanJim » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:39 am

hds2388 wrote:
GentlemanJim wrote:
hds2388 wrote:
GentlemanJim wrote:What are your thoughts? Is this an automatic fail? I wrote a personal statement that is about 1000 words/3 pages, which was fine for the three schools I most wanted to apply to, but for a lot of schools that is just way too long. Here's the problem: this is the best thing I've ever written. No matter what I do, I just can't trim it down significantly. I'm an excellent writer, so it's not that I don't know how to edit. It's just the thing is so damn good. I honestly can't imagine an admissions staffer not being impressed, provided they took the time to read it.

So, that being said, my question: will they read it?? Is sending in a personal statement that is too long something that will screw you over outright? Anyone have any experience here?

Thanks.


Post it on here. I guarantee people will find plenty to trim out. Its much harder to trim your own writing. I'm sure they told you this when they gave you your pulitzer.


I can't post it on here. Contains (non-sensitive, but still nfpc) info about my job.

I've had people look at it, and at one point someone (a professional writer) was able to trim it a bit (200 words), but it lost some punch.


So a professional writer suggested you cut out things after reading it, but you disagree. I mean, that's all well and good, but it matters how your essay is perceived not how you intend it to be perceived. If it can lose two hundred words, then do it.

I would love to submit the honors thesis I wrote...It is really good. It is also 60 pages. Instead of doing that, I just submitted a regular old 2 page personal statement that I would've loved an extra page of room to make better, but on which I instead chose to adhere to directions.

This sounds meaner than I intend it to...please don't be offended. If you are offended, channel that rage into slicing sections from your PS.


No, I absolutely appreciate your input. Problem with the edits is it still doesn't quite satisfy the requirements.

For the record, I will definitely write a new PS, just to have an alternative. But it pains me to set aside something I know is that good.

I might also add that the topic is a bit heavy (Iraq-related), and too much brevity makes it sound a bit flippant.

sotomayor
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby sotomayor » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:39 am

i feel like if you are going to over the limit considerably, the statement should be of excellent quality and content or at least have some ridiculous or compelling story. sometimes its easier for bland lives to be neatly described in 2 pages. other people have much more to say and it makes sense for them to stretch their boundaries.

ConsideringLawSchool
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby ConsideringLawSchool » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:41 am

sotomayor wrote:i feel like if you are going to over the limit considerably, the statement should be of excellent quality and content or at least have some ridiculous or compelling story. sometimes its easier for bland lives to be neatly described in 2 pages. other people have much more to say and it makes sense for them to stretch their boundaries.


Pick the person in history whose life you believe to be the most remarkable. I'll bet you could convey it sufficiently in 2 pages. Sure, you could also write 2,000. But 2 would be just lovely.

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MC Southstar
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby MC Southstar » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:41 am

sotomayor wrote:i feel like if you are going to over the limit considerably, the statement should be of excellent quality and content or at least have some ridiculous or compelling story. sometimes its easier for bland lives to be neatly described in 2 pages. other people have much more to say and it makes sense for them to stretch their boundaries.


Even if your story is fabulous, why create that extra expectation or doubt?

ConsideringLawSchool
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby ConsideringLawSchool » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:43 am

GentlemanJim wrote:
No, I absolutely appreciate your input. Problem with the edits is it still doesn't quite satisfy the requirements.

For the record, I will definitely write a new PS, just to have an alternative. But it pains me to set aside something I know is that good.

I might also add that the topic is a bit heavy (Iraq-related), and too much brevity makes it sound a bit flippant.


I don't understand how brevity and flippancy are related. You could sound perfectly sincere in one sentence or flippant in a five volume work.

sotomayor
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby sotomayor » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:44 am

i'm just saying, a personal narrative describing a specific life-changing event isnt always so easy to cut down to 2 pages. so i can understand go over the limit in that circumstance. if adcomms really dont really care about the applicant and their story and refuse to read past 2 pages then that doesnt say much for the "holistic" approach

sotomayor
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby sotomayor » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:52 am

i believe exceptions can be made and are made. if the people who are reading these essays are more concerned about word count and pages than content then whatever. but i get that directions should be followed. but i don't believe it to always be the case.

who cares anyways its not like the ps matters. it's all about two numbers anyways.

GentlemanJim
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby GentlemanJim » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:54 am

I'm actually trying to get it down to 500 words (which is, what, one page?).

Maybe I'm putting too much too much emphasis on the PS. With a word limit like that, it's likely that they just want to make sure you can put a coherent sentence together. But, yes, I'm trying to relay a life-changing experience. It's tough.

How are brevity and flippancy related? I believe that it you're writing about a subject with complex or profound moral implications, a cursory description can seem inappropriate.

GentlemanJim
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby GentlemanJim » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:56 am

Uh oh we got a lawyer here, haha.

sotomayor
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby sotomayor » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:56 am

jayzon wrote:
sotomayor wrote:if adcomms really dont really care about the applicant and their story and refuse to read past 2 pages then that doesnt say much for the "holistic" approach


sotomayor wrote:who cares anyways its not like the ps matters. it's all about two numbers anyways.


:?



sarcasm

ConsideringLawSchool
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby ConsideringLawSchool » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:58 am

GentlemanJim wrote:I'm actually trying to get it down to 500 words (which is, what, one page?).

Maybe I'm putting too much too much emphasis on the PS. With a word limit like that, it's likely that they just want to make sure you can put a coherent sentence together. But, yes, I'm trying to relay a life-changing experience. It's tough.

How are brevity and flippancy related? I believe that it you're writing about a subject with complex or profound moral implications, a cursory description can seem inappropriate.


It's much harder to write a fine haiku poem than a fine novel, IMHO

09042014
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby 09042014 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:59 am

Who wants to bet that this PS really sucks?

I vote for send it anyway.

I'll edit it down to 2 pages for you.

GentlemanJim
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby GentlemanJim » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:00 pm

jayzon wrote:
GentlemanJim wrote:How are brevity and flippancy related? I believe that it you're writing about a subject with complex or profound moral implications, a cursory description can seem inappropriate.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address


Lame example. Lincoln didn't need to explain an unfamiliar situation to admissions people. Also, note the use of "can."

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chadwick218
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby chadwick218 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:02 pm

I have reason to believe that I was quite possibly rejected from GW last year because I failed to comply with the 500 word limit despite numbers exceeding both medians.

I failed to notice that there was a word limit until it was too late (I really wasn't paying that close of attention). In a nutshell, word limits are there for a reason. If you can't follow something as simple as a word limit, how in the hell are you going to be able to pay attention to all the rules of law (especially when it comes to filing a claim or complaint on down the road).

ConsideringLawSchool
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby ConsideringLawSchool » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:02 pm

GentlemanJim wrote:
jayzon wrote:
GentlemanJim wrote:How are brevity and flippancy related? I believe that it you're writing about a subject with complex or profound moral implications, a cursory description can seem inappropriate.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address


Lame example. Lincoln didn't need to explain an unfamiliar situation to admissions people. Also, note the use of "can."


Summarize your life in a haiku, then I shall be convinced that you are a good writer.

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MC Southstar
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby MC Southstar » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:04 pm

GentlemanJim wrote:
jayzon wrote:
GentlemanJim wrote:How are brevity and flippancy related? I believe that it you're writing about a subject with complex or profound moral implications, a cursory description can seem inappropriate.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address


Lame example. Lincoln didn't need to explain an unfamiliar situation to admissions people. Also, note the use of "can."


Don't pretend to ask for advice when you're only trying to validate your own hubris.

dakatz
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby dakatz » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:08 pm

shadowfrost000 wrote:
GentlemanJim wrote:
jayzon wrote:
GentlemanJim wrote:How are brevity and flippancy related? I believe that it you're writing about a subject with complex or profound moral implications, a cursory description can seem inappropriate.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address


Lame example. Lincoln didn't need to explain an unfamiliar situation to admissions people. Also, note the use of "can."


Don't pretend to ask for advice when you're only trying to validate your own hubris.


+1

OP, bottom line is your statement is just another statement to them of the thousands they will read. It may be special and personal to you, but it is just one in a stack of thousands. Yes, you want to make your statement stand out in that stack, but not for the wrong reasons. Its sort of a cost/benefit thing. You sacrifice some of the content in order to meet the word limit, because the benefit of having the full story is offset by the implications of disregarding the rules. So you might as well just get it down to where it needs to be.

Slimpee
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby Slimpee » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:09 pm

ConsideringLawSchool wrote:
Summarize your life in a haiku, then I shall be convinced that you are a good writer.


To the fall, its dew
See the forest through the trees
Need binoculars


There. I did it. Can I haz plz?

ConsideringLawSchool
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby ConsideringLawSchool » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:10 pm

GentlemanJim wrote:I'm actually trying to get it down to 500 words (which is, what, one page?).

Maybe I'm putting too much too much emphasis on the PS. With a word limit like that, it's likely that they just want to make sure you can put a coherent sentence together. But, yes, I'm trying to relay a life-changing experience. It's tough.

How are brevity and flippancy related? I believe that it you're writing about a subject with complex or profound moral implications, a cursory description can seem inappropriate.


I'll bet your statement wouldn't be the first under-2 page statement an adcom had received about a topic with complex or profound moral implications.

hds2388
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby hds2388 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:10 pm

GentlemanJim wrote:
jayzon wrote:
GentlemanJim wrote:How are brevity and flippancy related? I believe that it you're writing about a subject with complex or profound moral implications, a cursory description can seem inappropriate.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address


Lame example. Lincoln didn't need to explain an unfamiliar situation to admissions people. Also, note the use of "can."



Alright, then don't do a cursory description....write a good one...that just happens to be within the word limit. Concise, cogent arguments are tricky...impress them with your ability to fit so much in a tiny space. I thought the final draft of my PS was great, and it was HELL getting it to 2 pages, and then UIUC is like...write a 600 word personal statement....so I sucked it up and submitted a 600 word rendition of a 2 page statement. It wasn't quite as good, but these are the sacrifices we make for the adcomms. They give us space enough to make a point, and little more. If sending more pages was conceivably acceptable, then everyone would do it, because EVERYONE would love that extra room to drive their point home. The PS is as much a challenge as a venue.
Last edited by hds2388 on Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

nycparalegal
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby nycparalegal » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:11 pm

chadwick218 wrote:I have reason to believe that I was quite possibly rejected from GW last year because I failed to comply with the 500 word limit despite numbers exceeding both medians.

I failed to notice that there was a word limit until it was too late (I really wasn't paying that close of attention). In a nutshell, word limits are there for a reason. If you can't follow something as simple as a word limit, how in the hell are you going to be able to pay attention to all the rules of law (especially when it comes to filing a claim or complaint on down the road).


Sorry to tell you this but it wasn't because you went over the word limit that you were rejected. I called GW and they told me as long as it's under two pages they are fine if we go over the 500 word limit.

Unless of course they were lying to me.

ConsideringLawSchool
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby ConsideringLawSchool » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:12 pm

Slimpee wrote:
ConsideringLawSchool wrote:
Summarize your life in a haiku, then I shall be convinced that you are a good writer.


To the fall, its dew
See the forest through the trees
Need binoculars


There. I did it. Can I haz plz?


And that summarizes your life?

GentlemanJim
Posts: 233
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:59 pm

Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby GentlemanJim » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:13 pm

shadowfrost000 wrote:
GentlemanJim wrote:
jayzon wrote:
GentlemanJim wrote:How are brevity and flippancy related? I believe that it you're writing about a subject with complex or profound moral implications, a cursory description can seem inappropriate.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address


Lame example. Lincoln didn't need to explain an unfamiliar situation to admissions people. Also, note the use of "can."


Don't pretend to ask for advice when you're only trying to validate your own hubris.


I'm loving the hubris talk. I don't think I've heard anyone use that word in serious conversation since I read Oedipus Rex in 8th grade.

Okay, well thanks for your responses, combative as many of them are. Gotta get back to the real job.

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fl0w
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby fl0w » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:14 pm

Trimming excess wording is a skill. A bloated essay evidences lack of that skill. While your experience is important to you, which I'm sure all personal statement writers can relate to, the ability to concisely express important ideas is something else that law schools are interested in.

but hey, OP, if you don't like the advice you are getting it seems like you've already made your decision. I mean if you aren't going to trim it, you may as well make it longer.

Slimpee
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Re: Sending in a Personal Statement that is over word/page limit

Postby Slimpee » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:16 pm

ConsideringLawSchool wrote:
Slimpee wrote:
ConsideringLawSchool wrote:
Summarize your life in a haiku, then I shall be convinced that you are a good writer.


To the fall, its dew
See the forest through the trees
Need binoculars


There. I did it. Can I haz plz?


And that summarizes your life?


Would you prefer:

Land of Cornhusking
Stupid state. It's cold up here.
Lets go to law school




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