Non-Traditional PS ... advice/critiques pls!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
cakelady1
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:53 pm

Non-Traditional PS ... advice/critiques pls!

Postby cakelady1 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:10 pm

I am a nontrad who has been working on my BS for almost 10 years (on and off) and I have, for the past 5 years, simply been a stay-at-home mom. Any honest advice or critiques of my personal statement would be appreciated.
_______________________________________

I never dreamed that I would be twenty-seven years old before I wrote this statement. When I first started college in 1999 at age seventeen, I expected to finish college and be straight on to law school, with hopes of finishing law school before my twenty-fifth birthday. But life doesn't always go as you expect, and sometimes there are twists in the road you cannot anticipate.

The first twist in the road came for me when I was fifteen years old. I grew up on a farm outside of a small town in rural Iowa. I thought my life was rather normal. I had the typical farm family and was a typical farmer’s daughter. I had no idea that things weren't at all what they seemed. The spring of my sophomore year in high school, my mother took her own life, and in the instant she ended her life, she changed the course of mine forever. Within a matter of days I went from being an average, self-consumed teenager to being the lady of the house, caring for my father and brothers. School, for me, became that thing I did during the day that kept me away from all the real things I had to do at home; laundry, dishes, cooking, paying the electric bill, grocery shopping. I learned quickly that responsibilities, though not always expected or desired, were important and the need to meet those responsibilities had to take precedence over what I had previously planned.

After a few years, things slowed down. I had already gotten my GED after my junior year and my father encouraged me to go off to college and enjoy what was left of my teenage years. I jumped at the chance of getting away from all the little sad reminders of the past and since only my youngest brother was still at home, I felt my family would survive without me. I left for college a few weeks after my seventeenth birthday. I loved school and enjoyed being back in an academic environment. Taking in all sorts of new experiences and learning about things I hadn't been exposed to in the past was like a breath of fresh air to me. I loved college and, more than that, I loved the clean slate that college gave me.

After my freshman year, I married my high school sweetheart and we enjoyed living the life of a young married couple in school. It was the most care free time of my life and it was wonderful. But as they always do, things changed. During my sophomore year in college, my father's health began to deteriorate rapidly. He had multiple heart attacks and was also suffering from depression. He began drinking heavily as a result and things went from bad to worse. I got a call in the spring from my little brother letting me know how bad things had really gotten back home, and the decision was made that he could no longer stay with my father. So, at age nineteen, my husband and I became the legal guardian of my fourteen year old brother and he came to live with us after our first year of marriage.

Though I tried to stay in school, it became obvious that the time and money needed to raise a high schooler was not compatible with the life and budget of a couple college kids. So after transferring to a less expensive university for a semester, I left school completely and took a full-time job and devoted myself to raising my brother.

For the next four years, I learned what it was like to be the odd woman out. I was twenty years the junior of every woman on the PTA and the basketball moms' committee, and felt strangely out of place at the parent teacher conferences when I was only a year older than some of the students. However, that experience taught me that even though I may not fit the mold for something, it doesn't mean I can jump in, do it, and succeed, which is exactly what I did. I played the role of "mom" to my brother and did everything that high school moms did. I was the cheerleader, the encourager, and at times, the disciplinarian. In those years, I learned about overcoming hardship, staying the course, and about what was truly important in my life. By the time my brother was finished with high school, I had two children of my own and had worked as a secretary, a waitress, a preschool teacher, director of an after-school program, and had moved five times. I had made the necessary sacrifices to make it through those years and was a proud "mom" the day my brother graduated. Though those years were tough and the sacrifices many, some of the best memories of my life were made and some of my life’s greatest lessons were learned in the midst of them.

In the years that followed, we moved around a few times for my husband's job until we finally settled down and bought a home in 2008. I had managed to take some more college classes on and off, when time and money allowed, but had still never finished my degree. After being settled for a year, my husband agreed that I should go back to school and finish my degree, so that I could pursue the dream I had before I went to college the first time, law school.

So, here I am today, a twenty-seven-year-old wife and mom of three who is filling out her first application to law school. This is not where I expected to be, but if there is one thing I have learned over these past ten years, it is that even when you have to take the long way around, you should never give up on your dreams. I may have missed out on being the twenty-five-year-old law school grad, but I think the thirty-two-year-old law school grad I will be is going to be a better student, a better attorney, and a better person because of the the many twists and turns in the road that I have travelled.

mattymatt
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:58 pm

Re: Non-Traditional PS ... advice/critiques pls!

Postby mattymatt » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:17 pm

A very compelling story, indeed, and well-written, but I'm not sure if you've demonstrated fully how these experience either influenced your decision to attend law or impacted you in such a way that you are now more fit or capable to succeed in law school.

athena
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 4:31 pm

Re: Non-Traditional PS ... advice/critiques pls!

Postby athena » Wed Jan 13, 2010 3:52 am

While your hardships made you a better person, I think rather than focusing on each tragedy, tune the essay in a manner that brings our your qualities that would help you succeed in law school....as it is .it is just a great write up..

ru2009
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:18 pm

Re: Non-Traditional PS ... advice/critiques pls!

Postby ru2009 » Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:02 pm

"Though I tried to stay in school, it became obvious that the time and money needed to raise a high schooler was not compatible with the life and budget of a couple college kids. So after transferring to a less expensive university for a semester, I left school completely and took a full-time job and devoted myself to raising my brother." --> awkward and needs to be rephrased

very touching story, reads easily but i agree you need to talk about how this relates to wanting to go to law school.

leftofthedial
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:43 pm

Re: Non-Traditional PS ... advice/critiques pls!

Postby leftofthedial » Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:59 pm

I disagree with the advice to tie this into why you want to go to law school. I'm a non-trad myself, and I think you have a ton of material to work with. By the way, congratulations on kicking ass.

But I wonder if you have too much info about what happened to you and too little about how it changed you. There is a lot of detail that could be pared down without losing any of the wallop. I don't like the concluding paragraph - you've surely learned a lot more than one thing! Could you focus on how the unexpected turns changed you for the better? Tested your mettle, taught you what was important, etc? I feel like you touch on those topics but don't fully address them.

"After being settled for a year, my husband agreed that I should go back to school and finish my degree, so that I could pursue the dream I had before I went to college the first time, law school." For some reason this feels like you're casting your husband in a bad light...I assume you want to show how you have support at home, but I think this seems too paternal, like granting permission...maybe that's just me.

I also like how your essay is conversational...but I would drop "so." Seems too casual...

Good luck. I'd love to see an edited version.




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