Does every PS have to be a story?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
LateNight
Posts: 136
Joined: Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:08 am

Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby LateNight » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:49 pm

I have read a bunch of PS's and I feel like people are more interested in writing a story than about their qualifications.

Also, I have lived a blessed life; does every PS have to be about how "Life was never easy for me?" Life has been really good to me!

I was thinking about starting my PS about how last year in one of my classes my teacher asked everyone who was considering law school to raise their hand. 99% of the class raised their hand. He then asked everyone who wouldn't consider law school no matter what to raise their hand. I was the only one who raised my hand. Can I talk about how taking his course changed my mind about the study of law?

Other stuff about me:

1) Worked on a top-targeted congressional race as a field director; where I managed a paid staff of 5 and a hundred thousand dollar budget. The campaign was rated one of the "best incumbent campaigns" by the Washington Post.


2) Both of parents are lawyers and have told me every day to not go to law school. They do not support my decision to go to law school and would rather me go back to school for a degree in finance.


I am just really struggling on how to start the whole thing.

Pearalegal
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby Pearalegal » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:52 pm

Haha, how would that first topic not be a story? I think it sound fine. Just start writing, its the only way to really work out what you want to say.

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jackalope11
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby jackalope11 » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:57 pm

^^^

Agree with above... The campaign story seems to be prime PS material. Personally, I think you wade into very dangerous waters if your PS is about how you didn't want to attend law school until last year. Although I feel that the banal "I've ALWAYS wanted to be a lawyer" PS is also something that is not approached favorably by Adcomms; I would also think the "I just figured out that I want to be a lawyer ITE" is also a very risky proposition.

Personally, I went with the story PS and I think it worked... I would say that if you 1) topic is true, then you have a humdinger right there.

HTH!

LateNight
Posts: 136
Joined: Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:08 am

Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby LateNight » Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:04 pm

Thanks! I see your points. I am still not sure on Law School. Going back for a BS in Engineering is also a possibility. I have too many interests.

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Alyssa
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby Alyssa » Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:07 pm

The reason everyone writes a story is because the adcoms are looking for you to "show" them your qualifications instead of talking about the qualifications themselves. It's best done in a story.

In other words, talk about some kind of event in your life and show them how you handled it. Your actions in that situation should prove you are _______, ________, and ________ (all important qualities for a successful law school student and successful lawyer).

Those are usually the personal statements that have the greatest impact.

Usually "why i want to be a lawyer" is not as important as "why i would make a good lawyer".

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jackalope11
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby jackalope11 » Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:08 pm

LateNight wrote:Thanks! I see your points. I am still not sure on Law School. Going back for a BS in Engineering is also a possibility. I have too many interests.



Take the smart money for now and go with the engineering! If you're unsure of LS, I doubt you would do as well as you possibly could, given more motivation later. Not to mention, with a background in engineering you would at least have the option of IP law, where they're basically printing money right now.

Seems clear!

LateNight
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby LateNight » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:43 pm

Thank you for the advice. IP is a really good option, might take a long time for me.

Pearalegal
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby Pearalegal » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:44 pm

Wait...you want to get another bachelors?

CanadianWolf
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:49 pm

Reads as if the task of writing a personal statement as part of the law school application process has caused you to rethink whether or not law school is the best option for you. Seems like this requirement has accomplished a great deal already.

xyzzzzzzzz
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:38 pm

:arrow:
Last edited by xyzzzzzzzz on Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

thatsnotmyname
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby thatsnotmyname » Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:52 pm

xyzzzzzzzz wrote:Curious as to why to OP's parents don't want him to go to ls.


I actually feel like a lot of parents who are lawyers attempt to dissuade their children from entering the field. Lawyers are pretty notorious for high rates of depression and substance abuse. I'd bet there are a lot of lawyers who are unhappy with their profession who don't want their children to enter the field.

I'm sure there are also some lawyers who have thriving practices and encourage their children to enter the field and take over the business. But I'd bet that there are more lawyers that discourage their children from entering the profession.

This is purely anecdotal, but on another forum a few years back someone started a thread for lawyers who were parents and just asked whether they would encourage their children to become lawyers. Virtually every single parent said that they would discourage their children from entering the profession.

xyzzzzzzzz
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:35 pm

:!:
Last edited by xyzzzzzzzz on Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ze2151
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby ze2151 » Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:37 pm

DISCLAIMER-- MY PERSONAL OPINION

this is what i did. and it either worked REALLY well or not so well, completely independent of the rankings.

if you want to tell a story, write a supplemental essay. in my opinion, the personal statement is your time to make the sale. these adcomms read a ton of contrived stories. here's an idea. just bring the goods. tell them why you've been good, why you will continue to be good in law school, and what you'll do after your time at X school of law.

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Alyssa
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Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby Alyssa » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:04 pm

ze2151 wrote:DISCLAIMER-- MY PERSONAL OPINION

this is what i did. and it either worked REALLY well or not so well, completely independent of the rankings.

if you want to tell a story, write a supplemental essay. in my opinion, the personal statement is your time to make the sale. these adcomms read a ton of contrived stories. here's an idea. just bring the goods. tell them why you've been good, why you will continue to be good in law school, and what you'll do after your time at X school of law.


Very true, all of that has to be in there, but the story is how you make the sale. The adcoms don't want you to list your qualifications - they want demonstrated proof that you have the qualities needed to "continue to be good in law school".

From most of the threads here on the personal statement, i gather the basic formula for the "story" ps is:

1 - Very brief description of what happened (obstacle/opportunity you were presented)
2 - Your initial reaction to this obstacle/opportunity(again brief)
3 - What you did to overcome, fix, etc. the situation or how you took full advantage of the experience (this is where you SHOW all those wonderful qualities - show how you were able to rally the troops to get that big project done, how you negotiated that all important deal, etc.)
4 - If the experience changed you, how it changed you. How it motivated you to go continue to work in the legal field (if it was some kind of legal experience). How you will use the same skills, qualities, etc. to "continue to be good in law school, and what you'll do after your time at X school of law"

The ps definitely doesn't have to be a story, but it's pretty effective.

Oh, and don't start it with a gimmick ("the warm, crimson blood dripped down the suburban sidewalk... blah blah blah"). There are quite a few deans of admission who keep saying how annoying that is to read.

ze2151
Posts: 358
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:51 pm

Re: Does every PS have to be a story?

Postby ze2151 » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:11 pm

i just feel like a lot of the personal statements people put on this site try to be art but come off as kitsch. i know i'm not a creative writer, so why try?

i used examples from my life, my work, and past success in school to demonstrate these things, but i didn't try to pull it all into a narrative about how i witnessed a violent crime or fed children in africa. i saved that stuff for supplemental essays. as i said, it was sometimes a great strategy (a few adcomms i spoke to in person and/or over the phone made mention that they appreciated the simplicity and directness) and other times i'm sure it hurt me because i was waitlisted a few places i expected to be rubber stamped through.




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