Rate/critique my personal statement

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
CSKNJ
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:36 am

Rate/critique my personal statement

Postby CSKNJ » Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:59 pm

I'm not a Afghan refugee or recovering heroin addict so I decided to write about an internship I had with a housing authority during my senior year. I like this experience because it exposed me to both the legislative process and the real-world implications associated with its implementation. This version is tailored towards Rutgers. Here it is:

One of the most satisfying things in my life would be the work I did during my senior year internship at the Colorado Division of Housing. It was there that that I helped craft a bill for the state legislature that would guarantee a warranty of habitability on all residential leases. The warranty of habitability made apartment lessors legally required to provide basic amenities such as running water, heating, and electricity to their tenants. Colorado had lagged nearly every other state in adopting such a measure, and so a state assembly member had convened this mediation of opposing interests in an attempt to create a bill that both sides would find suitable.
As a housing authority, the Division of Housing had a strong interest in preserving both the rights of our low-income tenants and the landlords and apartment owners for which we issued grants too. This put my office in the delicate position as the deal-broker. We had hired a professional mediator who would be integral in helping the two sides reach a compromise. With knowledge that past attempts to pass a bill in the state assembly guaranteeing tenants such rights had failed, we knew the stakes were high. Colorado, a progressive state politically and socially in many ways, had a strong libertarian constituency that was often successful in blocking any proposed law that would place a restriction on how one could run their own business. Because of this, the state representative Mike Merrifield who was to introduce the bill wanted to bring together activists from both sides of the debate to craft the framework of the bill, so that when he brought it to the floor of the legislature members from the assembly would know that it had been created in a bipartisan manner.
As a neutral party I was often called upon to research the laws of other states and then bring my findings back to the group to be considered for either inclusion in our bill or to be compared with what had already been proposed. During this time I found myself to be adept at understanding the reasoning of statutes and court decisions. For a few years prior to this the law had interested me, but it was through my research that I realized that I could do this. That I could attune my mind to the rationale of the law’s, and that this could hold my future. This ability carried over to the Constitutional Law courses that I took. I was often able to explain difficult court decisions to my classmates and regularly scored well on exams that were given.
When I brought my findings back to the group the debate that ensued was rousing. The tradeoff of ideas between the two groups led to seemingly endless hypothetical questions and “what ifs?” Would a provision requiring tenants to contact their landlord of any maintenance problem in writing in order to trigger the habitability law disadvantage the state’s sizeable Hispanic population? Would a prolonged lack of hot water be diminutive enough to the original terms of a residential lease so to force a landlord to find and pay for substitute housing for his or her tenant? Discussions like these carried on through each of the meetings I attended with the group.
By the end of my internship the Division of Housing the two sides had still not reached an agreement, but they were much closer than at the start of the process. I was thrilled months later when I read in the Denver Post that the bill had reached the state assembly’s floor and had been approved by the legislature. To me the bill had been the most substantial project of my life, and the feeling that the law would improve the living conditions of thousands of people compounded my enthusiasm when it was passed.
Being from New Jersey I had frequently visited cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York, but my presence there was always cursory. I would go to a museum, sample an ethnic cuisine, or catch a ball game and then return to my hermetically
sealed suburban life. My friends and I had lived in houses that our parents owned, so I seemingly had no reason to ponder the nature of the landlord-tenant relationship. Now though I see it as an integral aspect of so many people’s lives particularly in our cities.
Serving the legal needs of the citizens around you is at the heart of public interest law. In a capitalistic society such as our own powerful private interests will often exploit the disadvantaged individuals in order to maximize their economic gains. Often times this plays out in the landlord-tenant relationship where the landlords possess the housing that the tenants need, placing the tenants in the weaker position and prone to exploitation by the landlord. With the warranty of habitability we provided a mechanism that assured adequate housing for anyone who entered in to a lease. This was achieved by forcing the landlords to maintain a certain level of quality in their properties.
Through my internship I was impressed with the lawyers I met from the tenants side. Many worked for free or discounted legal services agencies and knew all of the issues inside and out. Their arguments against the tenants’ advocates were thoughtful and fair, and I got the impression that they really enjoyed the work they were doing. With a law degree from your school I feel confident that I would be able to work to better the community through either shaping public policy by working within a state legislature or the U.S. Congress or by helping to ensure that such policies are fully implemented through the non-profit groups.
I loved my life in Colorado, but I knew I would have to move back to the east coast if I wanted to see my brothers grow up and take care of my parents as they become older. Rutgers’s proximity to my family is one of the reasons I am drawn to it. I also consider the vast size and diversity of the east coast for which it is centrally located an important factor that ensures the demand for attorney’s looking to serve the public interest in non-profit groups and the government agencies is high. During my law school search I was impressed by Rutgers’s dedication to serving the community, and believe that a law degree from your school will prepare me the best for the work that I want to do.

dynomite
Posts: 143
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 6:58 pm

Re: Rate/critique my personal statement

Postby dynomite » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:43 pm

First of all, try out a trick courtesy of my high school English teacher that continues to serve me well to this day: always, always, always avoid the verb "to be" if at all possible. (Avoid the conjugations as well: is, are, were, being ...)

It's indicative of the passive voice and weak writing generally. Also, try to cull down and shorten sentences wherever possible. "That would guarantee" is just a longer way of saying "guaranteeing," right?

For example, take these 2 sentences:

"It was there that that I helped craft a bill for the state legislature that would guarantee a warranty of habitability on all residential leases. The warranty of habitability made apartment lessors legally required to provide basic amenities such as running water, heating, and electricity to their tenants."

I think it's a lot stronger when written:

"While there, I helped craft a bill guaranteeing warranty of habitability on all residential leases, requiring apartment lessors to provide basic amenities such as running water, heating, and electricity to tenants. "

And again, this sentence:

"Being from New Jersey I had frequently visited cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York, but my presence there was always cursory. "

I'd get rid of the "to be"s and I'd also skip "cursory" -- it feels like you just thesaurused the word "brief" or "short." So maybe

"Growing up in suburban New Jersey I made a number of brief visits to nearby cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York, never staying long enough to truly get a feel for the city or living conditions. "

My other advice is to try to grab the reader in that first paragraph. Did you see the legislation pass? You could describe standing in the Chamber listening to the roll call vote. Did you visit any of the dilapidated housing? Maybe you could describe that substandard living, and talk about a landlord who seemed totally indifferent.

You have good source material, but you need to make it a little more active and engaging.




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