first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
jtoppe2
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first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby jtoppe2 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:05 am

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Last edited by jtoppe2 on Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Cupidity
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Re: first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby Cupidity » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:08 am

I stopped reading after you opened with an FDR quote, every adcomm and person on this site will do the same.

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bees
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Re: first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby bees » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:38 am

I made it all the way to "glowing ember of a dying fire."

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kazu
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Re: first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby kazu » Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:12 am

Yeah.... rewrite. Talks wayyy too much about what you were elected to (or not elected to), and not really much about what you substantially did.

shoop
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Re: first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby shoop » Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:05 pm

If you can't some aspect of your story catchy enough to use as an opening line and you need to resort to copping quotes from dead presidents, your topic probably sucks.

blue5385
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Re: first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby blue5385 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:22 pm

OP, If I were you, I would add more concrete examples of how your actions as phil. chair helped prevent your chapter from failing/shutting down/whatever instead of focusing so much on the series of positions you occupied, and also add something on how this experience helped you develop skills that are relevant to law school and the practice of law. I know personal statements don't necessarily have to be about why you want to become a lawyer, but your PS seems kind of random the way it currently is, with no tie-in to the study of law.

lcw
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Re: first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby lcw » Thu Mar 25, 2010 1:06 pm

This is a good start at describing your fortitude. Here are a few points:

- Most importantly, your statement makes no mention of law. Why do you want to be a lawyer? How have you demonstrated a sustained commitment to your desired career? Why are you wanting to attend law school instead of becoming an event organizer or fraternity advisor (not sure if this latter position exists)?

- Try to avoid words/phrases like "graduated hailing from," "thrice," and "the glowing ember of a dying fire." They feel a bit clunky and awkward in their context. I'm not sure you're using the word "insurmoutable" correctly in the phrase "comes with insurmountable distinction." I think you mean something more like "unparalleled distinction." You could tighten it up even more by saying "I served three terms in the well respected position of eminent preceptor." In general, read over what you wrote and ask yourself if there's anything you said that could be said in fewer words without losing too much accuracy or force. I find that asking that question helps me tighten up my writing.

- Your aphorism, "Success is only measurable if failure has been already measured" doesn't follow from the FDR quote. They're related in that both talk about success and failure, but the relationship between success and failure in each saying is distinctly different. One is talking about the necessity of action while the other is talking about success and failure as relative measures. Try to strengthen the link between the two sayings.

dynomite
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Re: first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby dynomite » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:44 am

Okay. I'm not usually harsh (really, I'm not). I know that writing essays is really difficult and unfamiliar. So take a deep breath, and don't take my advice personally.

1) You need to lose the declarative 'words of wisdom' IMMEDIATELY. Many of your sentences read like a Dr. Phil self-help book:

"Failure is often a self-fulfilling prophecy"

"If you're unwilling to fail, then you're unwilling to succeed."

"Success is only measurable if failure has already been measured."

Homespun wisdom from a 22-year-old isn't going to wow the admissions committees, it just makes you sound like an idiot. If you need more evidence of this, see the following:

Wikipedia entry on "Impossible is Nothing": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossible ... m%C3%A9%29

Michael Cera spoof of "Impossible is Nothing": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAV0sxwx9rY

2) As much as I'm sure your fraternity life and position was important and meaningful to you, I would be very careful how you present this in your statement. You have to remember that to most of us who weren't in one, knowing that you were "Social Chairman of a frat" and disappointed by "only two social events the prior semester" calls to mind images of dark basements, Natty Ice and Beirut. When you talk about an "initiation ceremony," I'm thinking of the stories my college friends in frats told me of "Hell Weeks" -- drinking spoiled milk, stealing things, etc.

You probably find these stereotypes of frats to be simple-minded and offensive -- good! If you're going to focus on your frat, I'd both address this directly and actually talk about your philanthropic efforts. Instead of hearing about your ability to see past failure and be motivated, show us what you did for The Children’s Miracle Network. Why them? Did you meet any children? Volunteer with them?

At the moment, it comes seem like an aside in your efforts to pat yourself on the back.

3) Avoid -- at all costs -- over the top self-congratulatory language like "insurmountable distinction." Insurmountable or unparalleled would both imply that there's nothing else in the world that would match the distinction of being Initiation Chairman at your frat. Show don't tell.

4) You keep mentioning that you "failed" and took "risks." I see you weren't elected to one position, but what else? Is this a theme from the rest of your life? If done right, that could help.

LegalGENius
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Re: first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby LegalGENius » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:50 am

Cupidity wrote:I stopped reading after you opened with an FDR quote, every adcomm and person on this site will do the same.


Kind of harsh, but Cupidity is correct. FDR quote opener = Trite.

LegalGENius
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Re: first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby LegalGENius » Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:03 pm

"Glowing ember", "Thrice appointed", This kind of speech HAS to go! Also, you need to be VERY careful with the frat-talk. I nearly fell out of my chair reading dynomite's critique (see #2!) He/she is absolutely correct.

You need to take this essay in a very different direction, even if you decide to keep the frat boy angle. Speak about happenings that are relevant to your potential performance as a law student (NONE of that!) Downplay the fact that you did not succeed in securing the positions you ran for ("I was not elected.") Play up the philanthropic aspect of the frat. Speak about how you motivated your brothers to succeed academically by your own example.

Lose the quote.

Remember, this is an essay about a fraternity not you overcoming a terrible tragedy so choose your words carefully. "Insurmountable distinction" is far too strong as it relates to your topic. Watch the stilted speech -- it really turns people off.

Lastly, your unflattering description of the fraternity in paragraph 2 begs the question . . . Why did you stay involved with the organization if it was so far removed from your own personal values??? You don't want to detail situations that are then in need of clarification.

Sorry for the disjointed critique but I hope this helps! I don't mean to be harsh :wink:

memaha
Posts: 133
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Re: first draft of personal statement.... HELP!

Postby memaha » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:49 pm

The PS is very "I did..." "I am..." "I wanted..." and so on. That is great and all, but you are just TELLING your audience facts, you aren't making anything tangible or relatable. The key is to figure out how to SHOW, not to TELL or list.

also, NO FDR quote please.




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