Help with my PS please, I feel completely lost....

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alohashoyu
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:18 pm

Help with my PS please, I feel completely lost....

Postby alohashoyu » Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:26 pm

This is a little late, but I took the Dec LSAT to make my score higher and I've been having problems writing this. I feel like I've scrapped a million drafts. I already used one for one of the top 30 schools I applied to, but this is for some of the better schools, and I really need to get it down.... I kind of feel like the last paragraph could go, and I could scrap the laundry list of personal achievements. Any thoughtful comments are appreciated, I feel like it's lacking a clear direction.


3.73 GPA
169 LSAT

“Please stop,” I pleaded, staring down at my legs, “Don’t you care about us at all?” It was the summer of 1998. I was eleven, and begging my father to enter rehab and to stop selling drugs. Even as a child, I knew that the policy of leniency on the judge’s part would inevitably wear out. If he were arrested again, he would be put into prison for good. “Don’t worry so much, -----,” he said, reassuring me all would be fine. He placed his worn, arthritic hand over mine. All conversations about the future were temporarily paused. Sadly, this was the last time I saw my father for many years. He was arrested for the final time shortly thereafter, and sentenced to thirty-six years for the manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamines.

It goes without saying that drug addictions usually arise out of an inability to deal with life. My father’s lifelong dream had always been to become a forest ranger, which unfortunately, was never fully realized. He immigrated to the United States with his family, where they met the concept of the American Dream with extreme optimism. Unfortunately, my father found himself incapable of overcoming the language barriers. He dropped out before finishing high school, thereby rendering his dreams of attending college impossible. He instead entered the construction industry and achieved success as a carpenter. But the work was hard and took a severe toll on his health. A general discontent for the direction his life took, coupled with a feeling of helplessness, eventually manifested itself in the very serious drug addiction that landed him in prison.

I wish I could say that I was mature enough at the time to realize this. But if I had to use an emotion to describe the next few years of my life, it would be anger. Although he clearly regretted his actions, he seemed incapable of apologizing and accepting responsibility for what he did. I faulted him for being weak. I hated that he hit rock bottom several times and still couldn’t change. Above all, I was most angry at him for not loving his family enough to stop. The upside of this anger was that it allowed me to avoid dealing with real issues. The downside was that it began to consume me. I hated weakness in anyone, including myself. I would agonize over small mistakes for days. Worse, I was unforgiving of other’s faults; sure that weaknesses were a result of not trying hard enough to be better. I became a perfectionist where the human character was concerned, but didn’t realize that forgiveness and understanding are virtues.
Thankfully, the anger eventually subsided. In it’s absence, I began to reflect and realized that what my father did was a coping mechanism for a desperate sense of unhappiness. I believe that his problem developed from believing that his future and his happiness were out of his hands, which turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy. He became a product of circumstances that he felt were outside of his control because he felt they were outside of his control.
It is a common refrain that any limits we experience are self-imposed; looking at my father, I know this to be true. Everyone is a product of the circumstances in which they grew up to some extent, but it is only if you allow them to constrain you that it becomes negative. My anger was making it impossible for me to move on. Furthermore, with anger as my driving force, I was in turn allowing myself to be constrained by circumstances that were fully within my control. So I worked on accepting that weakness is a human characteristic, not a flaw. I forgave myself for my own weaknesses, and through this, I forgave my father too. My driving force was no longer to differentiate myself from him. In accepting that my future and my happiness were in my hands, I already had.
Since then, I’ve been determined to live differently. The statistics of the likelihood of children in such situations becoming criminals or addicts themselves is astronomically high. I realized early on that drugs and alcohol would inhibit where I was able to go, so I consciously chose to avoid them. I also knew that education was an integral part of staying ahead. The rural town in which I lived did not have the educational opportunities I felt necessary. I made a trip of over sixty-miles a day to attend a high school with AP courses and the International Baccalaureate Program. With the exception of my mother, I was the first in my family to graduate from high school and attend college.
In Hawaii, I worked full-time to support myself and to pay for college, as my mother was unable to help me with expenses. Despite this, I made the Dean’s List every semester, and self-studied to place in the top three percent for the LSATs. It is because of my commitment to achievement and my ability to persevere that I have arrived at this point, and am applying to one of the most prestigious law schools in the nation. I know that ultimately the only person who can control my happiness or my future is myself. In accepting that, the sky is truly the limit.

So what makes me unique? I am determined to all ends, but this is something characteristic of all applicants. It is determination that brings us to the point where law school becomes a possibility. Furthermore, it’s not what I’ve encountered in my life that makes me unique; everyone has obstacles to overcome. I believe I’m unique because of how I’ve handled the obstacles I’ve faced, and how I’ve matured and changed as a result. Not many people know who they truly are and where they are going, or are able to accept their weaknesses. I feel lucky to count myself amongst those who do. I am more understanding and compassionate because of this, and endlessly more satisfied with my life. It is with compassion and competency that I feel justice is best served, and I look forward to the possibility of further learning these qualities at ------------.

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scribelaw
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Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:27 pm

Re: Help with my PS please, I feel completely lost....

Postby scribelaw » Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:36 pm

I think you have a good topic. A few notes:

-- I'd say this needs to be about you a little more. The bulk of the PS, and the top half, are about your dad. I think you need to use your dad's story to pivot to you earlier in the PS, how you've grown from it, how it sparked our interest in law, etc.

-- Don't mention the LSAT in your PS.

-- Check for grammar, the difference between "it's" and "its." 36 is 36, not thirty-six.

But I think this is close to being really good!

Good luck, and if you're applying this cycle, get those apps out ASAP.

PoliticalJunkie
Posts: 228
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 2:32 pm

Re: Help with my PS please, I feel completely lost....

Postby PoliticalJunkie » Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:59 pm

Great story. but my two cents,

(1) Keep numbers spelled out. Using numerals is a no-no with any good writing unless the number is too complicated (one hundred and twenty-four is 124, but 36 should be thirty-six)

(2) the intro is too long. I agree with the poster above that you need to fit yourself in earlier. There is likely early info that you can remove which would not hurt the story-line.

(3) The PS seems scatterbrained. You go from a lengthy account of your father's challenge, a short "lesson learned" (which I like since it shows learned experiences), and then your resume. The adcomms are going to get a sense of your work through your resume.

I would say this statement, with major revisions, can make a very good Diversity statement since you have all the elements. As a PS, though, I think it falls short. Why do you want to practice law? What motivated you? How did your father's challenges compel you to pursue law as a career.

alohashoyu
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:18 pm

Re: Help with my PS please, I feel completely lost....

Postby alohashoyu » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:15 pm

Thank you both so much for your recommendations, I will definitely be working on this as soon as I finish dinner. PoliticalJunkie- can you think of a way I can turn this into a better PS? All the books I've read have said to steer clear of mentioning why you want to be a lawyer unless you've had direct experience, which I haven't. Opinions?

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daizee
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Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:16 am

Re: Help with my PS please, I feel completely lost....

Postby daizee » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:25 pm

The rural town in which I lived did not have the educational opportunities I felt necessary.

This sentence needs help.


You have something good here. I'm not an expert and I'd trust those who have advice, but this seems to be WAY above average. See what happens after posting the revisions!

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jackassjim
Posts: 185
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:58 pm

Re: Help with my PS please, I feel completely lost....

Postby jackassjim » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:26 pm

daizee wrote:The rural town in which I lived did not have the educational opportunities I felt necessary.

This sentence needs help.


You have something good here. I'm not an expert and I'd trust those who have advice, but this seems to be WAY above average. See what happens after posting the revisions!


switch the "have" for an "offer" and I think the sentence is ok.

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daizee
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Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:16 am

Re: Help with my PS please, I feel completely lost....

Postby daizee » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:43 pm

The rural town in which I lived did not have the educational opportunities I felt necessary.

My rural upbringing simply didn’t have the educational opportunities that were necessary for…..

Success???
Love???

alohashoyu
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:18 pm

Re: Help with my PS please, I feel completely lost....

Postby alohashoyu » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:59 am

Thank you all for your help! I'm thinking about cutting down the achievements, and only really keeping the part about being the first to graduate from HS.... I think PoliticalJunkie is right, and they should be able to glean most of the success stuff from my resume.

I was also thinking about scrapping most of the first paragraph, any thoughts? I know I should have something that draws the reader in, but maybe it could be done more effectively in a few sentences, so I can leave most of the essay about me....

I appreciate your comments, I'm working on a second draft. Will post when it's ready.




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