PS: too risky?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
sleepyhead
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PS: too risky?

Postby sleepyhead » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:00 am

I know this is probably a common question but I'm wondering if this topic for a personal statement is too risky?

sophomore year of college I fell in with a bad group of friends - drank a lot, did a lot of drugs etc etc. never got into any legal trouble because of it but there was a lot of drama about it in greek life which caused me to re-examine my life, what was i was doing, where i was going and everything and entirely changed my life around. now i never go out, never touch drugs, volunteer, have a part-time job and know where i want my life to be headed. would this be too risky of a topic for a personal statement? should i cut back on the drug use in the PS or just come up with another theme altogether?

dabbadon8
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby dabbadon8 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:07 am

sleepyhead wrote:I know this is probably a common question but I'm wondering if this topic for a personal statement is too risky?

sophomore year of college I fell in with a bad group of friends - drank a lot, did a lot of drugs etc etc. never got into any legal trouble because of it but there was a lot of drama about it in greek life which caused me to re-examine my life, what was i was doing, where i was going and everything and entirely changed my life around. now i never go out, never touch drugs, volunteer, have a part-time job and know where i want my life to be headed. would this be too risky of a topic for a personal statement? should i cut back on the drug use in the PS or just come up with another theme altogether?



So you went to undergrad? I mean the way you describe it seems like a typical UG experience.

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Knock
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby Knock » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:31 am

sleepyhead wrote:I know this is probably a common question but I'm wondering if this topic for a personal statement is too risky?

sophomore year of college I fell in with a bad group of friends - drank a lot, did a lot of drugs etc etc. never got into any legal trouble because of it but there was a lot of drama about it in greek life which caused me to re-examine my life, what was i was doing, where i was going and everything and entirely changed my life around. now i never go out, never touch drugs, volunteer, have a part-time job and know where i want my life to be headed. would this be too risky of a topic for a personal statement? should i cut back on the drug use in the PS or just come up with another theme altogether?


I don't think it is too risky. Just be careful about what you choose to include and how you include it. Make the focus on this behavior as a catalyst for change and I think it could be great.

sleepyhead
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby sleepyhead » Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:08 am

dabbadon8 wrote:

So you went to undergrad? I mean the way you describe it seems like a typical UG experience.



definitely not a typical experience by any means and I feel it would make a fairly unique personal statement in context of the whole story I just wasn't sure if the drug aspect of it is something i would be better off not including although it did have a really strong impact on my life

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billyez
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby billyez » Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:10 am

No use talking about a topic until you write about it. "Risk" isn't the issue...seeing how well you make the story speak to your development as a person is.

dabbadon8
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby dabbadon8 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:14 am

sleepyhead wrote:
dabbadon8 wrote:

So you went to undergrad? I mean the way you describe it seems like a typical UG experience.



definitely not a typical experience by any means and I feel it would make a fairly unique personal statement in context of the whole story I just wasn't sure if the drug aspect of it is something i would be better off not including although it did have a really strong impact on my life


Well I think it depends on how it was presented then. Personally I don't believe partying a lot as a greek and reevaluating your life is special. This is coming from someone who did just that. I mean greek drama and partying are pretty unremarkable. I assume you are being vague and there is more to it. Just saying as simplified as you are describing it, it seems like a pretty typical state school experience.

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thecilent
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby thecilent » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:23 pm

dabbadon8 wrote:
sleepyhead wrote:
dabbadon8 wrote:

So you went to undergrad? I mean the way you describe it seems like a typical UG experience.



definitely not a typical experience by any means and I feel it would make a fairly unique personal statement in context of the whole story I just wasn't sure if the drug aspect of it is something i would be better off not including although it did have a really strong impact on my life


Well I think it depends on how it was presented then. Personally I don't believe partying a lot as a greek and reevaluating your life is special. This is coming from someone who did just that. I mean greek drama and partying are pretty unremarkable. I assume you are being vague and there is more to it. Just saying as simplified as you are describing it, it seems like a pretty typical state school experience.


lol Yeah +1. Nothing special here

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ShuckingNotJiving
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:38 pm

Not to jump on the bashtrain heading to bashville, but besides it being cliche and tired, you'd be centering your PS on illegal activities that you got away with. There are people dying in jail for crimes they didn't commit, and you would be trying to win adcomms over with your tales of illicit drug use and underage drinking that left you with no consequences. But, I guess in the end it depends on what you do with it. So, we'd need to see it first.

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esq
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby esq » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:42 pm

Make sure to focus on the Greek life aspect of it all. For example, talk about the all night keggers, getting drunk off the beer bong until you passed out, hitting the hooka, and trying to get laid. I think it will go over really well if you do these things.

Edit: I'm being sarcastic, but honestly, unless there are significant things that you can talk about that show that you have really changed, then it will come off as: partied hard, got sick of it/maybe mom and dad got sick of it, got a pt job/maybe mom and dad made me, did volunteer work/maybe I was forced to. To overcome an issue like this your PS will really have to show that you have turned a new leaf. You will really have to show that you are a particularly solid volunteer who has worked in exceptionally relevant areas. You will have to do so more than other students who are not trying to prove that they have overcome Greek life as well. Just a thought.

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SullaFelix
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby SullaFelix » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:51 pm

sleepyhead wrote:I know this is probably a common question but I'm wondering if this topic for a personal statement is too risky?

sophomore year of college I fell in with a bad group of friends - drank a lot, did a lot of drugs etc etc. never got into any legal trouble because of it but there was a lot of drama about it in greek life which caused me to re-examine my life, what was i was doing, where i was going and everything and entirely changed my life around. now i never go out, never touch drugs, volunteer, have a part-time job and know where i want my life to be headed. would this be too risky of a topic for a personal statement? should i cut back on the drug use in the PS or just come up with another theme altogether?


I'd subscribe to the theory of "if you have to ask if it's too risky, then it is."

I mean, it's not like this will uncharted or mind-blowing territory for an admissions committee. It just doesn't seem worth it.

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Knock
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby Knock » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:00 pm

billyez wrote:No use talking about a topic until you write about it. "Risk" isn't the issue...seeing how well you make the story speak to your development as a person is.


This.

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UrbanAchievers
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby UrbanAchievers » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:48 pm

I always read these "PS, too risky?" threads hoping to see some scandalous shit. I was disappointed.

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ArchRoark
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby ArchRoark » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:10 pm

Finally, Dean Cornblatt had a number of interesting comments on applicants that have gone through severe hardship (alcoholism, drugs, depression, etc.). When asked if those factors can help explain away a lower GPA, he responded:

For applicants that fit that profile, we pay even more attention to their personal statement and letters of recommendation, just to get the best possible picture we can of what happened and where the applicant was then and where they are now. Once we feel that the applicant has left that behind and is in good shape to begin law school, we think that shows a real strength of character and we would view that in a positive way. However, it's on a case-by-case basis, so we have to look at each individual and what their particular circumstances were, and we weigh all of those circumstances together. We do feel that anything that requires real strength of character and determination is something that we'll look upon favorably.

In other words, there’s no need to avoid these “taboo” topics if they proved to be a significant factor in your personal development. Instead, consider confronting them in an addendum and explaining how you’ve changed. It will help explain any deficiencies in your academic record, and it might just get the admissions committee to give your application a second look.

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ZachOda
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby ZachOda » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:15 pm

Great post Tiva, OP I don't think you'll get better advice than that right there.

All in all, admissions is going to be looking a great deal at how you write, not just what you write. Try your topic out and see what you come up with in your PS. If you feel confident about what you've written, then I say send it in. But if you can't be eloquent with it and it comes off sounding like the plot of the next National Lampoon movie, I'd look for something else to write.

Good luck though, I'm sure you will succeed in expressing what happened and how you've grown

sleepyhead
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby sleepyhead » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:08 am

To clear things up, I don't plan on writing a "Well I got drunk a lot, partied too hard till I got sick of it and now I go to class and want to do something with my life" type personal statement. I understand that is nothing special. Sorry for being vague about it, but I did not get away with it unscathed and it was a lot more to go through than I'm sure I'm making it sound. So when I've written it I can share it, but I just wasn't sure if taboo topics were a bad idea for a personal statement. Thanks guys!

ert335
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby ert335 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:18 am

what's the protocol on talking about your goals and aspirations for law school and your career? would you express them as saying "I will do xx, yy, zz..." or saying "I plan on doing xx, yy, zz..." I feel like if someone were to say "I will...," the adcomms would be like, how can you guarantee that.... And if someone were to say "I plan on...," they would be like, yea you plan on it, good for you... come back to me when you do it

njgal
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby njgal » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:34 am

This is one of my favorite personal statements that I read and it deals with similar risky topics....the writer doesn't spend that much time talking about the risky behavior but after reading this I think you can get the idea of how to successfully talk about taboo topics (I think the author went to northwestern):


I never really paid much attention to the signs placed in front of the homeless and the less fortunate as I walked past them on the streets of New York. These were the thoughts running through my head as I considered what my own sign should read. Certainly, no one was going to read it. I had just spent the night in the ATM area of a desolate Citibank branch trying to get some sleep. I had no money, no phone and no hope of getting back to school in Boston. I think I came down with the worst case of writer’s block that morning as I tried to come up with a compelling message that would entice some level of compassion from a complete stranger. Having entertained the idea of a sign for a brief moment, I put the whole notion to rest, my pride simply would not allow for it. I used my gift for gab to convey my circumstances to the bus driver and garnered some sympathy towards my cause. I had to put my Discman up as collateral in order to get a seat on the next bus heading back to Boston which seemed like a small price to pay in exchange for a piece of my dignity as I avoided having to use a sign. The next four hours on that bus were filled with intense scrutiny and contemplation. I did not need my Discman after all. The biggest question I kept asking myself was ‘how did I get here?’

I was in my third year of undergraduate studies at Northeastern and I was barely able to make ends meet financially. Being the first member of my family to attend college was both a gift and a curse. I always excelled in the realm of academia and this was a great source of pride and joy for my parents. As a member of the schools Dean’s List and a number of different clubs and organizations, I gave my family something to cheer for. At the same time, being the first family member to attend college really called for financial resources that were beyond my parents’ modest income. Like a deep-sea diver venturing into an infinite ocean with inadequate supplies, I dove in headfirst. I knew that my acceptance into Northeastern was not something I could put aside because of money. My family shared the same sentiments and agreed that this was something that needed to happen. Completing my college education and attaining that degree was a must.

However, as each year passed it became increasingly difficult to maintain a financial foothold on my college education. No longer able to keep my head above water, I found myself completely submerged and gasping for air. By my third year, I was skipping meals or simply eating candy bars that I had shaken out of vending machines for dinner. I knew I could not last long. When I voiced my fears to a concerned listener on the other end of the phone, I thought a solution might have been reached. The plan was to go back home to NY and meet up with him. I agreed to serve as a runner, transporting drugs between a contact in New York and a contact in Boston. The money seemed justifiable and the risks seemed manageable. I was completely focused on the ends and not the means at this point. I used my last twenty dollars on a bus ticket and a dream and found myself spending the night on the floor of a Citibank branch. This cold and dirty floor, like the bed of a vast ocean, was the bottom.

Fortunately, no one showed up that night. I spent the whole night reflecting on how and why I was there to begin with. I could not believe I had even considered partaking in such activities just to generate some income. I would later find out that my real dad, whom I never met, suffered the same fate. My mom shared the story of how my father lived a life as a drug dealer only to be murdered while she was pregnant with me. It was at this point that the fire was lit inside of me and the thought of what I needed to do to make my college aspirations a reality became clearer. I realized I wanted to be a different person with clear and attainable goals for my academic and professional career. I transferred to a smaller college in New York where tuition was more affordable and I moved back home with my parents. I set my ego aside and worked full time as I put myself through school working forty-hour weeks by day and attending classes by night. No longer satisfied with my easily attainable but mediocre B’s and B+’s I studied diligently and completed my undergraduate degree with ‘A’s almost totally across the board. This afforded me a spot on a national honors society in recognition of my efforts.

There are two types of people in this world, those who take and those who make. Some people resign themselves to their fate and accept the hand which was dealt to them. That was me, nonchalant and absolutely content with any grade I received, apathetic about my lack of progress. As rough and as painful as a night in the cold and on the streets felt as it was occurring, I knew I only stood to learn from it in the long run. Now I am the protagonist in my own life instead of just being an idle spectator. My ambitions for law school have been cultivated by this vision of making things happen, not only for me but also for the sake of others. My younger sisters have both followed suite as they too have a roadmap drawn up to help them attain their college degrees. I have led by example, showing them that anything is truly possible if you want it bad enough and work hard for it. That whole experience has taught me a number of valuable lessons. I learned how to remain humble and to not let pride obscure my perception of what is important in life. I learned about resilience and about being steadfast in the face of adversity. I also became more tenacious as a result of that night. Now when I see something I want, I lock onto it like the jaws of a famished pit bull, not letting go until I devour and conquer what I set out to achieve. I know all of these qualities will help me excel in the study of law just as they have helped me arise triumphant in my turbulent undergraduate years as well as my professional career after College. This work ethic and newfound vision has transcended beyond my Bachelor’s degree and into the world of finance.

For the past year I have been working as an analyst with Morgan Stanley. My ability to make quick decisions and to think analytically is essential when dealing with a multitude of multi-million dollar trades. In order to work out various trade discrepancies I serve as a liaison between brokers, traders and various sales desks on the front end. This has allowed me to hone my communication skills. Getting my point across in a concise and comprehensible manner is crucial for the company’s financial goals. I know that these skills will help me to be a better law student and I’m excited at the prospect of sharing and learning with my future classmates and professors. Now when I look back at my undergraduate years and my professional career the question is no longer “how did I get here?” instead it is “where am I going?”

Oakley84
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue May 04, 2010 1:31 pm

Re: PS: too risky?

Postby Oakley84 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:52 pm

If anyone would like to exchange feedback, etc in risky personal statements, I am working on mine for the next cycle which covers elements of my life which I had to really consider whether or not I should disclose them. I would love to hear what kinds of things other people are covering that they too consider risky. PM me.

JakeL
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Re: PS: too risky?

Postby JakeL » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:40 am

njgal wrote:This is one of my favorite personal statements that I read and it deals with similar risky topics....the writer doesn't spend that much time talking about the risky behavior but after reading this I think you can get the idea of how to successfully talk about taboo topics (I think the author went to northwestern):


I never really paid much attention to the signs placed in front of the homeless and the less fortunate as I walked past them on the streets of New York. These were the thoughts running through my head as I considered what my own sign should read. Certainly, no one was going to read it. I had just spent the night in the ATM area of a desolate Citibank branch trying to get some sleep. I had no money, no phone and no hope of getting back to school in Boston. I think I came down with the worst case of writer’s block that morning as I tried to come up with a compelling message that would entice some level of compassion from a complete stranger. Having entertained the idea of a sign for a brief moment, I put the whole notion to rest, my pride simply would not allow for it. I used my gift for gab to convey my circumstances to the bus driver and garnered some sympathy towards my cause. I had to put my Discman up as collateral in order to get a seat on the next bus heading back to Boston which seemed like a small price to pay in exchange for a piece of my dignity as I avoided having to use a sign. The next four hours on that bus were filled with intense scrutiny and contemplation. I did not need my Discman after all. The biggest question I kept asking myself was ‘how did I get here?’

I was in my third year of undergraduate studies at Northeastern and I was barely able to make ends meet financially. Being the first member of my family to attend college was both a gift and a curse. I always excelled in the realm of academia and this was a great source of pride and joy for my parents. As a member of the schools Dean’s List and a number of different clubs and organizations, I gave my family something to cheer for. At the same time, being the first family member to attend college really called for financial resources that were beyond my parents’ modest income. Like a deep-sea diver venturing into an infinite ocean with inadequate supplies, I dove in headfirst. I knew that my acceptance into Northeastern was not something I could put aside because of money. My family shared the same sentiments and agreed that this was something that needed to happen. Completing my college education and attaining that degree was a must.

However, as each year passed it became increasingly difficult to maintain a financial foothold on my college education. No longer able to keep my head above water, I found myself completely submerged and gasping for air. By my third year, I was skipping meals or simply eating candy bars that I had shaken out of vending machines for dinner. I knew I could not last long. When I voiced my fears to a concerned listener on the other end of the phone, I thought a solution might have been reached. The plan was to go back home to NY and meet up with him. I agreed to serve as a runner, transporting drugs between a contact in New York and a contact in Boston. The money seemed justifiable and the risks seemed manageable. I was completely focused on the ends and not the means at this point. I used my last twenty dollars on a bus ticket and a dream and found myself spending the night on the floor of a Citibank branch. This cold and dirty floor, like the bed of a vast ocean, was the bottom.

Fortunately, no one showed up that night. I spent the whole night reflecting on how and why I was there to begin with. I could not believe I had even considered partaking in such activities just to generate some income. I would later find out that my real dad, whom I never met, suffered the same fate. My mom shared the story of how my father lived a life as a drug dealer only to be murdered while she was pregnant with me. It was at this point that the fire was lit inside of me and the thought of what I needed to do to make my college aspirations a reality became clearer. I realized I wanted to be a different person with clear and attainable goals for my academic and professional career. I transferred to a smaller college in New York where tuition was more affordable and I moved back home with my parents. I set my ego aside and worked full time as I put myself through school working forty-hour weeks by day and attending classes by night. No longer satisfied with my easily attainable but mediocre B’s and B+’s I studied diligently and completed my undergraduate degree with ‘A’s almost totally across the board. This afforded me a spot on a national honors society in recognition of my efforts.

There are two types of people in this world, those who take and those who make. Some people resign themselves to their fate and accept the hand which was dealt to them. That was me, nonchalant and absolutely content with any grade I received, apathetic about my lack of progress. As rough and as painful as a night in the cold and on the streets felt as it was occurring, I knew I only stood to learn from it in the long run. Now I am the protagonist in my own life instead of just being an idle spectator. My ambitions for law school have been cultivated by this vision of making things happen, not only for me but also for the sake of others. My younger sisters have both followed suite as they too have a roadmap drawn up to help them attain their college degrees. I have led by example, showing them that anything is truly possible if you want it bad enough and work hard for it. That whole experience has taught me a number of valuable lessons. I learned how to remain humble and to not let pride obscure my perception of what is important in life. I learned about resilience and about being steadfast in the face of adversity. I also became more tenacious as a result of that night. Now when I see something I want, I lock onto it like the jaws of a famished pit bull, not letting go until I devour and conquer what I set out to achieve. I know all of these qualities will help me excel in the study of law just as they have helped me arise triumphant in my turbulent undergraduate years as well as my professional career after College. This work ethic and newfound vision has transcended beyond my Bachelor’s degree and into the world of finance.

For the past year I have been working as an analyst with Morgan Stanley. My ability to make quick decisions and to think analytically is essential when dealing with a multitude of multi-million dollar trades. In order to work out various trade discrepancies I serve as a liaison between brokers, traders and various sales desks on the front end. This has allowed me to hone my communication skills. Getting my point across in a concise and comprehensible manner is crucial for the company’s financial goals. I know that these skills will help me to be a better law student and I’m excited at the prospect of sharing and learning with my future classmates and professors. Now when I look back at my undergraduate years and my professional career the question is no longer “how did I get here?” instead it is “where am I going?”


This is good writing but total BS. Has the author never heard of student loans?




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