Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
User avatar
kellycane
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:04 am

Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby kellycane » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:31 pm

Hi everyone,

I know a lot of colleges have variations of the essay question, "What was the worst thing that ever happened to you and how did you overcome it." For me, being diagnosed with clinical depression in high school, and battling a relapse in college, has been my biggest challenge. Despite having depression, I graduated from a top 50 school with a 3.67 GPA and scored a 167 the first and only time I took the LSAT. Will being candid about having depression hurt my admission chances? I did go to therapy and worked very hard at overcoming and dealing with my depression, and I've started to train a therapy dog to help other people with mental illness. It's a topic that means a lot to me, but I'm not sure how I could tie it all back into law, unless I talk about inadequate legal protections for people who suffer psychiatric illness/disabilities. Either way, will the admissions officers think I'm a risk because I admit to having depression?

Thanks in advance for your honest opinions!!

User avatar
El_Gallo
Posts: 217
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:23 am

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby El_Gallo » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:40 pm

I don't think writing about depression will hurt you chances at all. Depression is very common especially in young adults and I have a feeling that its a often topic used in law school admissions essays.

It sounds like you have done a great job dealing with your depression. I would focus on that and try to make yourself stand out. Thats really cool that you are training a dog to help others with mental illnesses. Good luck with everything!

User avatar
Marionberry
Posts: 1302
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:24 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby Marionberry » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:42 pm

This topic has been discussed a good deal on these forums, so using the search function may help you get a better idea. I think the general idea is that it is okay to talk about things like this, but it's something that has to be done carefully. If you can adequately document/describe what you've done to overcome it, and how much better you are not and why they shouldn't consider you at risk for relapse, it can be an effective edge to an application. I think the part about training a therapy dog for helping other people is really good. However you choose to do it, and if you do choose to disclose, it needs to be handled with a good deal of finesse.

User avatar
St.Remy
Posts: 526
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:12 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby St.Remy » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:46 pm

Image

I know that "What was the worst thing that ever happened to you and how did you overcome it?" is a common college question but I haven't run across it in any law school applications thus far. If you have found this question somewhere then chances are your answer will likely be far less important compared to your numbers so long as you answer it in a measured and mature manner.

Your depression and overcoming it is a possible topic for a Personal Statement, and one that has some potential (lurking these boards I've seen numerous personal statements related to depression but I think as long as the essay is well written and you forge some link between the experience and the desire to attend law school it can still be very good). If it's a topic that means a lot to you then the essay that comes from those feelings will likely be very good. That being said I have no idea if you have other experiences that would make for a better PS.
Last edited by St.Remy on Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

deadhipsters
Posts: 260
Joined: Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:29 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby deadhipsters » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:46 pm

Personally I would avoid discussing this. There is still a stigma towards depression/ mental illness even among educated people. That said, I doubt it would hurt you, but I also doubt that it would help you too much. Surely there is something else you could write about it.

xyzzzzzzzz
Posts: 463
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:28 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:24 pm

deadhipsters wrote:Personally I would avoid discussing this. There is still a stigma towards depression/ mental illness even among educated people. That said, I doubt it would hurt you, but I also doubt that it would help you too much. Surely there is something else you could write about it.


I agree. The ps allows you to create a really biased and awesome picture of yourself, (probably the only part of the app that does). While the overcoming an obstacle arc is one way to go, it has to be done pretty carefully. Anyway, the only way to know is if you write and read it and maybe have some other people read it as well.

User avatar
Knock
Posts: 5152
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:09 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby Knock » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:28 pm

St.Remy wrote:Image

I know that "What was the worst thing that ever happened to you and how did you overcome it?" is a common college question but I haven't run across it in any law school applications thus far. If you have found this question somewhere then chances are your answer will likely be far less important compared to your numbers so long as you answer it in a measured and mature manner.

Your depression and overcoming it is a possible topic for a Personal Statement, and one that has some potential (lurking these boards I've seen numerous personal statements related to depression but I think as long as the essay is well written and you forge some link between the experience and the desire to attend law school it can still be very good). If it's a topic that means a lot to you then the essay that comes from those feelings will likely be very good. That being said I have no idea if you have other experiences that would make for a better PS.


Excellent, excellent use of meme. +1000000.

To keep this relevant: OP, I think a PS about depression could be powerful, depending on how you do it. I think especially turning around and training a mental health dog to help other patients says alot about your character. You're resilient and once you make progress on a problem you don't just rest on your laurels -- you turn around and help other people overcome what you've gone through.

But for all things PS, it all depends on how you write it. Make sure to keep it far away from a "pity party" and keep it focused on overcoming that challenge, how it shaped you and made you who you are today, and how you're now turning back and reaching an arm out to those stuck where you once were.

Also, don't feel any need to even mention law school in your PS. If it comes naturally then feel free to discuss it, but don't try and force it. It is perfectly acceptable (and in many cases even preferred) to have a biographically-focused PS.

Good luck!

Marionberry wrote:This topic has been discussed a good deal on these forums, so using the search function may help you get a better idea. I think the general idea is that it is okay to talk about things like this, but it's something that has to be done carefully. If you can adequately document/describe what you've done to overcome it, and how much better you are not and why they shouldn't consider you at risk for relapse, it can be an effective edge to an application. I think the part about training a therapy dog for helping other people is really good. However you choose to do it, and if you do choose to disclose, it needs to be handled with a good deal of finesse.


Also, this. Excellent advice (as usual) from Marionberry.
Last edited by Knock on Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:30 pm

I agree with Marionberry's advice offered above. Although many may advise against writing about any topic that may raise mental health issues, it is also important to be sincere & genuine in your personal statement. There is no clear cut answer to your question other than to address it carefully & to focus on positive aspects of overcoming this condition.

User avatar
Knock
Posts: 5152
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:09 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby Knock » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:31 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:I agree with Marionberry's advice offered above. Although many may advise against writing about any topic that may raise mental health issues, it is also important to be sincere & genuine in your personal statement. There is no clear cut answer to your question other than to address it carefully & to focus on positive aspects of overcoming this condition.


CanadianWolf is one of the best PS reviewers on these boards, OP. I would strongly recommend listening to his advice!

User avatar
Marionberry
Posts: 1302
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:24 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby Marionberry » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:17 pm

A really good point above(knockglock) that I would emphasize is the importance of not making it a "pity party". So many people who write about topics like this write in such a way as to garner sympathy from the reader, I guess in the hopes of them granting someone a charity admission because they've suffered so much. Do not do this. When talking about anything like this, depression, addiction, mental illness, abuse, etc, the key is to take responsibility for yourself, do not ask for pity, and convey the idea that this is no longer an issue. If you emphasize the depression, it gives the impressions that you are, well, still depressed. Sound happy, gleeful, and enthusiastic about your new life. This makes it seem less a charity case and more a story of triumph. Everyone likes that.

xyzzzzzzzz
Posts: 463
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:28 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:37 am

Marionberry wrote:A really good point above(knockglock) that I would emphasize is the importance of not making it a "pity party". So many people who write about topics like this write in such a way as to garner sympathy from the reader, I guess in the hopes of them granting someone a charity admission because they've suffered so much. Do not do this. When talking about anything like this, depression, addiction, mental illness, abuse, etc, the key is to take responsibility for yourself, do not ask for pity, and convey the idea that this is no longer an issue. If you emphasize the depression, it gives the impressions that you are, well, still depressed. Sound happy, gleeful, and enthusiastic about your new life. This makes it seem less a charity case and more a story of triumph. Everyone likes that.


I agree this is a good strategy, but I also think this is exactly why I think the OP should avoid the topic. While the bolded would certainly focus on the positive and not the negative (a good strategy), a history of depression is well, messy. This issue obviously played a big role in his/her life and thus his/her feelings towards are probably complex. Writing about the experience on his/her own time is probably a good idea. In such writing OP can be completely honest and doesn't have to worry about sounding happy. I mean if OP truly is gleeful, that is a ok. But I am willing to bet OP is normal. Depression is an extreme and doesn't exactly cast anyone in the best light, thus the need to seem like the opposite. But very few people are really happy and gleeful and embody the opposite of depression. Writing about reaching a point of normalization/stabilization might be kind of lackluster. Just my two cents.

User avatar
northwood
Posts: 4872
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 7:29 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby northwood » Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:18 am

talk about how you overcame depression, and help others get through it.

The problem with mental illness as many posters have said allready is that it is easy to create a pity party for you. Talking about how you have turned this into a positive aspect of you life can create an excellent ps. Remember, one thing that admissions will take into consideration is how they percieve you will do as a student. They may be wary of accepting a student who cannot handle the stress of the program, even if their numbers are just as good as another person. If you focus on the issue, and how it affected your life, then you will only hurt your chances by sounding as though you are still coping with the illness ( which often takes a lot of time and help to overcome, and can re occur later in life).

Write a rough draft and post it. Im sure a lot of people will offer serious advice and suggestions to help you create a draft that exposes your strengths and abilities as a canidate for law school

User avatar
kellycane
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:04 am

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby kellycane » Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:27 pm

I want to say thank you very much to everyone who took the time to offer their input and advice. I think I'll spend some more time brainstorming other topic ideas, but if I do end up writing about my battle with depression, I'll definitely post it here first. Thank you again for the thoughtful feedback!

User avatar
northwood
Posts: 4872
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 7:29 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby northwood » Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:16 am

kellycane
good luck, and rest assured that most people on this site want you to do well. IF you are considering other options, keep on posting, and others will let you know their opiinons. Write a few rough drafts for each topic, then compare the responses to help you see which one may work best for you. You'll be okay, no worries

User avatar
nematoad
Posts: 421
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:06 pm

Re: Will being honest re: my worst experience/obstacle hurt me?

Postby nematoad » Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:36 am

St.Remy wrote:Image

I know that "What was the worst thing that ever happened to you and how did you overcome it?" is a common college question but I haven't run across it in any law school applications thus far. If you have found this question somewhere then chances are your answer will likely be far less important compared to your numbers so long as you answer it in a measured and mature manner.

Your depression and overcoming it is a possible topic for a Personal Statement, and one that has some potential (lurking these boards I've seen numerous personal statements related to depression but I think as long as the essay is well written and you forge some link between the experience and the desire to attend law school it can still be very good). If it's a topic that means a lot to you then the essay that comes from those feelings will likely be very good. That being said I have no idea if you have other experiences that would make for a better PS.

i love this meme, nicely done




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.