HELP, I need the advice of someone other than my mom :(

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
maryyo
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Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:55 am

HELP, I need the advice of someone other than my mom :(

Postby maryyo » Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:38 am

This is my first draft-I written about 50 first drafts...

I lost my Dad a year ago, it's hard to think about him much less write a personal statement about him, I need someone to read it and give me advice without crying, cause that's all my brother does, or rolling their eye,s cause that's all my mother does. It's supposed to be about personal growth in the face of tragedy, but I tend to deviate towards a "biggest influence" subplot, aka-it's a mess.

disclaimer-I haven't taken English since High School because somehow I tested out (Ironic? I think so) and I honestly have no clue how to put together a personal statement. Oh and I'm a huge sap, but that tends to happen when you bury a parent.

Help me, I beg of you.

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I was notified that my father had died in a plane crash while on a bus. I had been at the gym when something moved me to hitch a ride on the “HX” bus without any real idea of its route. There was a chance the bus would take me in the direction of the house I was renting just off the campus of the University of North Carolina and there was a chance it would head in the complete opposite direction. Either way I had no where to be and my feet were killing me and worst case scenario the bus would run a complete route and ultimately bring me right back to where I originally got on, that is, so long as I did not get off. When my phone rang, the bus was stopped three miles off campus. I had been left alone while the driver smoked his mid-route cigarette, one he quickly dropped when I flew by him heading toward a wooded area nearby. I had gotten the news, hung up the phone and run. I never expected someone to run after me. I might have gotten away had the grief not brought me to my knees, but the chase was short-lived. The bus driver eventually caught up and without a word I proceeded to sob into the arms of a complete stranger.
After being comforted by the driver, I was retrieved by my roommates and taken to our house. Once there I got in my car and made the four-hour drive home to say goodbye to a man I considered to be as much my best friend as my father. For twenty years my father and I were inseparable. We owned and lived on a small cattle farm that we would spend our weekends tending to. We spent Saturday afternoons bailing hay or mending fences and then beginning in the spring - weather permitting - we’d head to McCormick Field to watch the Asheville Tourists play nine glorious innings of baseball. Once fall began to make itself comfortable we’d move indoors and spend every Sunday in front of the TV criticizing the offensive play-calling of the Washington Redskins. So it was not a surprise when during the preparation for his funeral all four of my siblings looked to me to prepare a eulogy; our close friendship had not gone unnoticed. However, I could never bring myself to prepare one, so on the day of his funeral I walked to the pulpit empty handed. Looking out on all the people that had loved my father I began to speak not about who my father had been but about who I was because of him. As I spoke of our relationship to people who were hearing of it for the first time, its beauty began to resonate with me. For years I had been so dependent on it without ever truly understanding it. My father had been such a powerful influence in my life that it wasn’t until he passed that I was able grasp its significance.
The days that followed my dad’s death ultimately brought me to far more than just my knees and produced a great deal more than tears. My grief was coupled by an intense feeling of disorientation and confusion because until the day of my father’s passing, my self-pronounced individuality had been a mere imitation, copied directly from the man I had just been forced to bury. The fall semester of my junior year marked the beginning of a period of self-discovery that is still ongoing. It became immediately clear that I didn’t know how to exist without my father - I quickly found myself crippled from my past dependence on him. I had no choice but to reluctantly accept my sudden independence and follow my father’s precedent as best as I could while still allowing for my own self-determination. It didn’t help that when my father died I lost a great deal more than just my father. Six months prior to his death my father had embarked on his third marriage when he eloped with a woman thirty years his junior. When he died there was nothing to prevent her from changing the locks on my house and from claiming the farm where I had grown up as her own. My beloved life in the mountains of Western North Carolina ceased to exist the moment my dad did. There were no more weekend trips home and no more summers working on the farm. The town where I was raised wasn’t my home anymore; he was no longer part of it and neither was I.
Yet, my devastating losses have led to personal progress. In the year since my father’s death I have gone from being a twenty year old kid to a twenty one year old adult. My dad is no longer around to take care of me; like it or not, I have had to take charge of my own life without the guidance of my mentor and without the safety net he provided. I have had to find a way to pay my college tuition, get health insurance, car insurance and pay my bills. But it’s not hard to grow up when you don’t have a choice. Adversity breeds maturity and I grew as a person because that’s what was required for me to survive. However, while I am now self-reliant, self-sufficient and self-determined the fact remains that my growth during the 21st year of my life would have never have been possible without my father’s care for the twenty years leading up to it.
Along with the new sense of personal responsibility and financial independence I acquired after my father’s death, I now have a drive to utilize the days ahead of me in a way that my father would be proud of. The passion for life and education I had prior to my father’s passing has only been fueled by the dedication and perseverance I have developed because of it. Knowing that I might not see tomorrow has made me more aware of what I do today. This increased consciousness, new sense of personal and global awareness and revised perspective has strengthened my already strong determination to pursue a law degree. During this past year I’ve come to find that with each passing day I continue to learn and my mentor continues to teach. Every day without my dad is just as hard as the one before it. It’s been a year since I’ve used Chapel Hill public transportation; my last experience riding the bus will probably stop me from ever boarding another one. In my case, time has yet to heal and who knows if it ever really will, but if have learned anything in the last year it’s that I’m far more resilient than I had ever imagined. It’s through suffering that I’ve learned how to survive and it’s because I lived for so long with my father that I can live without him.

At the top of my application form only my name is listed, but I am not the only contributor nor am I the primary one. This personal statement along with a submitted resume, transcript, and LSAT score may on paper be accredited to me but in actuality the credit should be assigned elsewhere. All the credit belongs to a great man who for twenty years supported me unquestionably, loved me unconditionally, and served as my devoted ally, understanding confidant, and greatest friend. My father is responsible for who I am and what I’ve done – this application is no exception. Up until now you likely have been under the impression that this is solely my admission application, but do not let the headers fool you. At its core this application belongs to a truly remarkable person who as a father inspired its beginning and is also responsible for its very completion. In sincerity and genuine truth, this application is as much (insert dad's name)’s as it is the applicant’s – a lucky girl who had the honor of being his daughter.

lmr
Posts: 252
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:22 am

Re: HELP, I need the advice of someone other than my mom :(

Postby lmr » Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:44 am

It's actually very good, I like how you show your transition towards independence. I think you can get rid of the last paragraph because it seems unnecessary and repetitive (please don't take offense to that, it's just imo). I suggest using that space to talk more about the new you- more about how independent you are. Provide an example to illustrate the point more? I think after you mention how there will never be anymore weekend trips home you can tranistion back to reality. The way you spoke about the bus ride home was very effective so maybe you could use the same sort of technique in illustrating your new independence/responsibilities, rather than just stating greater financial issues. Honestly, even wo any changes you ps is solid and effective, but I think you could use a bit editing. Maybe highlight and eliminate some repetitive points just to make it cleaner.

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kurla88
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Re: HELP, I need the advice of someone other than my mom :(

Postby kurla88 » Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:53 am

Hi Marryo,

I'm so sorry to hear about your father. Don't get me wrong, this is a good piece about your father and I'm sure writing it has been good for you. But it's not a personal statement. The biggest potential that I see for a personal statement is here:

In the year since my father’s death I have gone from being a twenty year old kid to a twenty one year old adult. My dad is no longer around to take care of me; like it or not, I have had to take charge of my own life without the guidance of my mentor and without the safety net he provided. I have had to find a way to pay my college tuition, get health insurance, car insurance and pay my bills.


That's actually where I'd start the essay. Keep in mind that your purpose in this essay is to tell law schools why you would be a great law student and a great lawyer. Losing your father in and of itself doesn't tell them anything about that. However, you can focus the essay on what you've been doing since, how you managed to juggle jobs (what jobs? how did you get them? how did you perform at them?) and school (were your grades still good?) and grief and still manage to be successful. It's fine to bring in a bit of a human element and mention your grief and your relationship with him, but that can't be the focus the way it is now.

Also, if you're going to open the "why law" can of worms, you need to come up with a better reason than a vague "I want to help people". For e.g. something like "while volunteering at X and witnessing lawyer Y I realized the potential for lawyers to help people in Z kind of need and it has inspired me to become a lawyer myself". And I don't think you necessarily need to say "why law", you could make the whole essay about personal growth instead.

Definitely don't mention your father's wife anywhere. When it comes to editing, always be considering what a section is telling a law school about your future legal abilities. For e.g. the section about the directionless bus and the driver, while a good narrative, tells them nothing.

Good luck.

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thesybarite
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:35 pm

Re: HELP, I need the advice of someone other than my mom :(

Postby thesybarite » Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:14 am

I too read this with great sympathy. I can't imagine how displaced and devastated you must have felt/feel.

I think it definitely has the substance of a good ps - but needs stripping back. This may be particularly true of the first two or three paragraphs...but from, "The days that followed..." feels stronger.
That para really leans itself to personal growth and reflection.

I know this is ultra-sensitive, and I'm almost scared to tread here...but in the last para, perhaps, change the wording. I would be inclined to mention more about how you're appreciative of the legacy of ... from your Father, rather than crediting him? I don't know. As someone who is a bit older, when I read this it almost undoes a little of the growth? Like the dependence thing, which you've grown out of, is almost re-instated? I could be way off here, so take it with a grain of salt.

Best of luck :D

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homestyle28
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Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:48 pm

Re: HELP, I need the advice of someone other than my mom :(

Postby homestyle28 » Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:09 am

It's not bad...if you want some anal-retentive help with grammar/sentence structure pm me.

hefox
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun Jun 27, 2010 5:33 pm

Re: HELP, I need the advice of someone other than my mom :(

Postby hefox » Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:34 am

I really like it. you do need some grammar help. and i dont think most of the third paragraph in necessary ( the one starting with the days after my fathers death), it sort of just says what you have been saying.

maryyo
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:55 am

Re: HELP, I need the advice of someone other than my mom :(

Postby maryyo » Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:37 am

Thanks so much everyone for all your advice! I, too, felt it my personal statement in many ways failed to address who I was and why I was a good candidate for admission. Thank you so much!

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tea_drinker
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Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:44 am

Re: HELP, I need the advice of someone other than my mom :(

Postby tea_drinker » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:31 pm

Thanks for a wonderful story. I wish you the best with your application.

Some thoughts that I have:

-I was a little confused when I read your first paragraph. I had no ideas where you were when you heard about your dad. I think you may need to re-arrange sentences or add time-specified words to make it more clear, so readers can follow your emotion.

-Just echoing on what others had already suggested, dedicate one paragraph to your relationship with your dad. After that, talk about your step-mother and obstacles that you faced. Then talk about you now. Finally come back with the image of your dad in the conclusion.

-I like the last paragraph actually. As we sometimes want to dedicate our success to people who have been there and helped us throughout. Although I suggest to not say "...but do not let the headers fool you..." I think you last paragraph is good until "...this application is no exception." From this point, you can say you will keep trying to be successful in law school, career, life, etc. to live up to your dad's dream/hope/love. (This ending is common, but there's a reason why people keep using it)

PM me with your revised draft, and I am happy to look at it again.




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