What about all the time I've spent writing?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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bedefan
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What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby bedefan » Wed May 26, 2010 2:59 pm

Hey all.

Applying to schools this fall. Starting to think about my PS, and I've got a question. I've spent the last two years (and will spend this coming year) on a fellowship from a university doing little aside from writing and teaching. How do I incorporate this into my PS, when what I want to do with a law degree is PI law (and not arts law, though I've considered that)?

I had a fair bit of experience after college doing PI work, and so I'm tempted to focus on that when I write my PS. But it seems like a mistake to talk about the most recent years only in passing, and dwell on the PI job that, after all, I did leave in order to spend a few years working on my writing...

In case it's relevant, my history since u.g. looks like this: ran a homeless shelter, worked for a nonprofit, been writing the last couple years...

Any ideas about how to navigate this mess in a PS, focusing on my experience with/career goal of PI law, would be appreciated.

(edited: removed some identifying personal info)
Last edited by bedefan on Wed Sep 01, 2010 1:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

weejonbu
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby weejonbu » Wed May 26, 2010 3:09 pm

From looking at your numbers, I don't think you have too much to worry about. I would write your PS about running the homeless shelter. Obviously related to your concern for public well-being etc. etc.

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Kilpatrick
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby Kilpatrick » Wed May 26, 2010 3:13 pm

While it seems like you've done a lot of impressive things, your PS should not just be a narrative of your resume. Your resume will be included in your app and they will see your list of accomplishments. It is best to focus on just one experience in your PS. Maybe something that stands out from your time in the homeless shelter.

Here's a great resource for PS advice: http://www.top-law-schools.com/statement.html

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rdcws000
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby rdcws000 » Wed May 26, 2010 6:10 pm

At a quick glance, the homeless shelter seems like your best piece of experience to showcase.

To echo the point above, don't recite your resume. Maybe frame your statement around an impactful event at the homeless shelter, maybe an aha! moment where you realized you knew you wanted to do this your whole life.

With numbers like yours, you should make your statement fun and interesting, and not full of facts.

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kalvano
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby kalvano » Wed May 26, 2010 7:41 pm

If you get a 176, with a 3.79, you could make your PS about how you like to murder homeless people on the weekend for fun and still get money all over the T14.

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GATORTIM
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby GATORTIM » Wed May 26, 2010 7:49 pm

kalvano wrote:If you get a 176, with a 3.79, you could make your PS about how you like to murder homeless people on the weekend for fun and still get money all over the T14.


show me the scholly
--ImageRemoved--

Near
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby Near » Wed May 26, 2010 7:57 pm

Agree with kalvano.

Mr. Pablo
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby Mr. Pablo » Wed May 26, 2010 8:01 pm

kalvano wrote:If you get a 176, with a 3.79, you could make your PS about how you like to murder homeless people on the weekend for fun and still get money all over the T14.

All joking aside, this is it really. Write a nice essay about anything showing that you are a touch above an amoeba with great numbers (any invertebrate will do), and demonstrate that you can use the English language better than a 9th grader, and you're in. You might not get into all of HYS (who does?), but I'm sure that at least one of the lesser schools will be happy to pay for your presence (CCN).

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clintonius
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby clintonius » Wed May 26, 2010 8:17 pm

The above is true. That said, why not write an outstanding PS and be the one who sweeps HYS?*

You're a writer. I mean, you're a writer to the extent that you were able to get into an MFA program, and those require dedication to at least a respectable degree (and to a near-psychotic degree if you're talking about Columbia or Iowa). Why do you write? What do you write about and why do you write about that? Is it at all related to why you ran a homeless shelter and worked at a veterans law nonprofit? Is that what led you to law school in the first place? I would bet it is, and that you can make a connection and make that a good one. If you wind up with the numbers you're talking about you are pretty well set for CCN, it's true. But don't half-ass your statement just because you have good numbers.

*Disclaimer: ohgodpleasedon'tcountonit.

Geist13
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby Geist13 » Wed May 26, 2010 8:48 pm

You have an MFA and did well enough to then earn a writing fellowship, and you're asking a law students and prelaw students what you should write about?

Assuming this is a serious question, if you have good numbers, the personal statement doesn't matter so long as you can string 2 pages together coherently. If you want your essay to focus on you as a writer simply examine your craft and your strengths in it and then explain why those traits are unique and beneficial or what you have learned about yourself through the development of your writing. Be personable, honest, not poetic, use adequate (not even good) grammar and it won't matter what you write.

edit: make sure whatever you write it is all about you. The essay is not about the homeless and their unjust plight. Everyone knows about and agrees with that. It is about you. Everything should relate back to yourself, your development and your strengths.
Last edited by Geist13 on Wed May 26, 2010 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

d34d9823
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby d34d9823 » Wed May 26, 2010 8:59 pm

clintonius wrote:The above is true. That said, why not write an outstanding PS and be the one who sweeps HYS?*

*Disclaimer: ohgodpleasedon'tcountonit.

More like "why not write an outstanding PS and then you might get one of HYS."
http://lawschoolnumbers.com/hoopsguy6/jd
http://lawschoolnumbers.com/caresf84/jd

Mr. Pablo
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby Mr. Pablo » Wed May 26, 2010 9:02 pm

d34dluk3 wrote:
clintonius wrote:The above is true. That said, why not write an outstanding PS and be the one who sweeps HYS?*

*Disclaimer: ohgodpleasedon'tcountonit.

More like "why not write an outstanding PS and then you might get one of HYS."
http://lawschoolnumbers.com/hoopsguy6/jd
http://lawschoolnumbers.com/caresf84/jd

You! Yeah, you. Stop it with your realism. It has to be unfettered optimism or outright despair. There is no in-between.

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clintonius
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby clintonius » Wed May 26, 2010 9:16 pm

:roll:

http://lawschoolnumbers.com/boogaloo
http://lawschoolnumbers.com/jjb54

I'm sure the PS had nothing to do with those.

And this despite my disclaimer. ¡Ay, caramba!

d34d9823
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby d34d9823 » Wed May 26, 2010 9:49 pm

clintonius wrote::roll:

http://lawschoolnumbers.com/boogaloo
http://lawschoolnumbers.com/jjb54

I'm sure the PS had nothing to do with those.

And this despite my disclaimer. ¡Ay, caramba!

Moral of the story: there is more to admissions than just the numbers*. We don't know what it was in the case of these LSN profiles, but good guesses include:
- good/weak softs
- early/late applications
- good/bad personal statements & apps in general

*by more I mean you can get a little boost/knock, not that you can get Yale with 3.5 172

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stratocophic
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby stratocophic » Wed May 26, 2010 10:01 pm

FWIW, sweeping HYS is highly unlikely. GPA is below median, and that 176 isn't in the bag yet. Good news is that working the PI angle will likely help; there's no shortage of Biglaw interest among candidates. NYU should probably be a target given OP's goals.

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clintonius
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby clintonius » Wed May 26, 2010 10:31 pm

Yup to both of you -- didn't mean to imply it was a realistic goal. It happens. It also (much more frequently) happens that those numbers get shut out of HYS. Just think an MFA ought to be able to spin an impressive yarn, is all, and that s/he ought to try to do so.

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bedefan
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby bedefan » Fri May 28, 2010 2:14 pm

Hey everyone, thanks for all the tips. I appreciate it big time.

The main thing I've been worrying about is seeming like I'm too changeable. Like, I do this really intense PI work for 4 years, then write for two years and my next thought is... Law school? Really? I have my reasons, and they're very nondescript actually, but still.

You've all given me stuff to think about. I'll just come up with something, and treat it like writing a two page story for publication... I.e. 3 months or so of obsessively detailed work. I'll let you all know if I sweep HYS. Also I'll let you know if, as the wise man says, monkeys fly out of my butt. (Showing my age with that reference.)

PS: When someone says HYSC, does the C mean Columbia or Chicago? Or does nobody say HYSC except for people at Columbia or Chicago? Just curious.
Last edited by bedefan on Wed Sep 01, 2010 1:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

d34d9823
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby d34d9823 » Fri May 28, 2010 2:36 pm

bedefan wrote:The main thing I've been worrying about is seeming like I'm too changeable. Like, I do this really intense PI work for 4 years, then get my MFA, then get a writing fellowship, I'm hanging out in Iowa City working on finishing two book manuscripts and my next thought is... Law school? Really?

My worry is that my writing is totally apolitical. It's not about poor people or vets or whoever, much as I love them all (seriously)... So in my mind the writing and the PI experience I have don't tie in much at all. I'm an art-for-art's-sake type here. Basically I'm going to law school because I'm really interested in the law and I want to do something practical with my life. I'd completely lose it if I tried to be a full-time artist. Just like I'd lose it serving the public good if I didn't know how to express myself artistically on the side... Hey, wait a sec...

Both of these will be seen as pluses in the application process.

Just cast yourself as "I'm a super interesting person" and not as "I can't decide what to do with my life. Yale and Stanford in particular like to tout the diversity of life experience in their incoming classes.

The law environment is so politicized that the person who's not has an advantage in making friends, I think. People with strong views have to worry about not offending the adcom reading their application.

bedefan wrote:PS: When someone says HYSC, does the C mean Columbia or Chicago? Or does nobody say HYSC except for people at Columbia or Chicago? Just curious.

Columbia. They have historically been 4th, while Chicago's climb to 5th is relatively recent. Yes, it's jealous Columbia people trying to spread it. They also have some basis for the appelation though: Columbia is closer to Stanford than Stanford is to Harvard in the recent rankings.

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clintonius
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby clintonius » Fri May 28, 2010 2:53 pm

Given your residence in Iowa City, am I correct in assuming you got your MFA at Iowa? If so, major congrats. I'm not sure how many admissions committees are aware of the prestige of that degree, but it's likely that the top ones will be, and that should work in your favor.

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bedefan
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Re: What about all the time I've spent writing?

Postby bedefan » Fri May 28, 2010 6:41 pm

clintonius wrote:Given your residence in Iowa City, am I correct in assuming you got your MFA at Iowa? If so, major congrats. I'm not sure how many admissions committees are aware of the prestige of that degree, but it's likely that the top ones will be, and that should work in your favor.


I did, thanks. We'll see if anybody on an adcom cares... Or actually, as the LSAT has taught me, I won't be able to determine based on a particular effect that likely had multiple causes whether or not a particular factor was included in one of that effect's causes... Or something.




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