Please critique my personal statement :)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
eggy
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:11 am

Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby eggy » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:54 pm

Personal statement removed. Thanks for all the input!
Last edited by eggy on Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

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

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:15 pm

This is a good to very good personal statement. Good for most top law schools, very good for Columbia. You do offer some insights, although it is obvious that you are young--which is not a problem since you write as a typical enthusiastic 22 year old. But nobody will mistake you as wiser or older than your age.
P.S. Have you taken the LSAT ? This is well written.

sarahh
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Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby sarahh » Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:52 pm

I agree that it is well written, and the topic is interesting. In the last two paragraphs, you briefly mention injustice in Japan, without really giving specific examples. It seems to be a major motivator for why you want to apply to law school. I would maybe focus more on your personal experiences with that while you were in Japan and have less of a general description of everything you did. Also, it may be a good idea to explain what you mean by "be on the forefront of relations between Japan and North America". To me, it is unclear what you specifically want to do.

eggy
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:11 am

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby eggy » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:49 pm

Wolf: I appreciate your praise, and in just about any other situation I would be glowing if someone guessed I was 22. I'm actually 26, and I was hoping I would be able to let my age show through the accounts of my various jobs in Japan. Given this information are there any points that you feel I should stress more?

I write my LSATs in December, and I'm hoping for something around a 165. Obviously I'll try to get as high a score as possible. My GPA is a 3.57.

Sarah: Excellent points. I will address them right away. My only fear is that I at almost exactly two pages, my statement is becoming a bit too word-heavy, so I would have to remove a significant portion if I wanted to add specific accounts/future goals. Maybe batching/contrasting my work experiences in one paragraph?

sarahh
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Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby sarahh » Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:42 pm

Yes, you can probably find things to cut in paragraphs 2-5.

eggy
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:11 am

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby eggy » Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:23 pm

Sarah: I made a number of changes, and even managed to cut a bit of extra fat off the statement as a whole. Please tell me your thoughts. I'll be happy to return the favor. I have also edited my initial post to reflect these changes.

One moment in particular stands out in my mind when I think back to my first time living in Kyoto. Elections were being held in the city, and one candidate was canvassing the area flaunting the slogan Seigi no Bengoshi, or “Lawyer of Justice”. I remember smirking, thinking how redundant his message was, but as time went on I began to question the absurdity of his statement – were the words “law” and “justice” no longer mutually inclusive?

As a young boy, I had two very distinguishing characteristics. The first was a moral compass that always seemed to be pinned to anything I felt was “unjust”. The second, was an unexplainable affinity for anything that came out of Japan. A desire to learn the language came as a predictable result. I applied to the University of Toronto, which at the time had the strongest East Asian Studies program in the country. I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than the best. At eighteen years old, I yearned for what I knew would be the foundation of my future career in law – a mastery of the Japanese language. The result of my efforts helped secure me an acceptance and full scholarship to the one year KUINEP exchange program at Kyoto University. This would mark the beginning my three-part journey to Japan.

When I arrived in Japan for the first time, I had almost two full years of Japanese under my belt, but my pants might as well have been riding at my ankles. The moment I stepped off the plane, every single aspect of my life was flipped upside down, starting with the three-hundred dollar cab ride to the hotel (I found out later that there was a fifteen dollar shuttle bus located a few steps away). In Japan, performing even the most mundane of tasks would feel something akin to climbing Mount Fuji. Everything I had studied had been rendered completely inapplicable to my day to day life. Essentially, I was re-learning how to live. For the first time ever, I had the feeling of being challenged at every juncture. I truly believe that this is the breaking point for many people – the phenomenon that is commonly referred to as “culture shock”. I, on the other hand, grew anxious only about running out of time. In the months that followed I did everything in my power not only to study the language and culture of Japan, but to completely integrate myself into Japanese society. My year abroad saw great improvement to my Japanese skills, but I knew that my studies were far from over.

I finished my last year of undergrad with the singular goal of pursuing a career in international law. I also knew that in order to practice in both the US and Japan, nothing short of native-level Japanese proficiency would suffice. I returned to Kyoto, found a job at my favorite izakaya (Japanese restaurant/bar), and was promoted to tencho (shop manager) almost instantaneously. Not even a full month into my first job in Japan, and I was already running my own business, in Japanese. The work was intense, the hours were insane, and the responsibility fell completely on my shoulders - I had stumbled upon the most effective Japanese course on the planet. Upon completion, I lacked only an understanding of Japanese business practices and language at a corporate level. As luck would have it, an old connection I had made who was well aware of my interest in international entertainment law, offered me a job soon after as head of the International Division at his digital music distribution company in Tokyo. To be totally honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I accepted anyway.

Despite my new title, I was no longer really in charge. Being the only Caucasian in a company of over 300 people, I wasn’t going to be the recipient of any special treatment either. A combination of 60+ hour weeks, no overtime pay, and a salary which barely covered rent and basic living expenses in one of the world’s most expensive cities eventually took its toll. What’s more, as someone who had always been very critical of certain Japanese business practices that I felt were abusive, I suddenly realized that I had somehow become the very product of the injustices I had once sought to fight against. The unfortunate truth was that I was powerless in my current position to bring about change. I eventually quit, and though I had lost that particular battle, I managed to walk away with a much more profound understanding of Japanese society, which would serve as an invaluable weapon in my arsenal.

More shocking than being underpaid and overworked (which I was at least somewhat prepared for), was the discrimination that I faced throughout my time in Japan. I had heard the countless stories about English teachers being mistreated, but I foolishly assumed that the root of these discrepancies lay in their inability to properly communicate. Surely I wouldn’t have any trouble. After all, I had exhausted every single resource at my disposal, save plastic surgery, to prove that I was not a typical foreigner. Unfortunately, until you can prove otherwise, you are a typical foreigner. Worse yet is that this truth functions as a barrier of entry that is often impenetrable. I had to jump through numerous hoops to finally get a job as the first ever foreign employee at the establishment that would eventually put me in control of their operations. Finding a place to live proved even more difficult. On certain occasions the landlord would demand I pay a “guarantee company” to ensure they would receive payment. Other times, my real estate agent would be kind enough to tell me that foreigners were simply not permitted. I often felt disillusioned, but in the end these experiences only served to fuel my appetite for justice.

My greatest concern is that even with the prevailing belief that Japan is constantly pushing more and more towards internationalism, the truth may be that of the contrary. The longer I lived in there the more I began to realize that I was no less vulnerable to injustices than I was at home. Worse still is that many foreigners who live in Japan and face discrimination on a daily basis don’t have anyone to stand up for them, and have simply given up any hope for change. I refuse to subscribe to the belief that these practices are irreversible, that justice and equality are unattainable. This desire to help shape the Japan of the future is one of the many reasons why I have chosen Columbia Law and its Japanese Legal Studies program over all others. Though my experiences in Japan have sparked an interest in the fields of corporate and entertainment law, I plan on specializing in international human rights law, with the ultimate goal of one day becoming the US ambassador to Japan. On top of my rigorous legal studies, I plan on securing level-one proficiency certifications on both the Japanese Language Proficiency Test and Kanji Kentei in order to maximize my education and future possibilities. I have no doubt that this will be the single greatest challenge of my life, and I couldn’t be more excited. I don’t know if I will ever be able to wear the “lawyer of justice” moniker, but I am certain that with an education from Columbia Law I will be prepared to fight any battle, katana in hand.

sarahh
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Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby sarahh » Sat Oct 09, 2010 9:27 pm

I really like it. Just a few minor things. I would remove the comma after the second in the second paragraph, entertainment law in the fourth paragraph, prepared for) in the six paragraph, and for them in the seventh paragraph. I would add a comma after in the months that followed in the third paragraph, certain occasions in the six paragraph, in the end in the sixth paragraph, and longer I lived there in the seventh paragraph.

In the seventh paragraph, I would change "chosen Columbia Law and its Japanese Legal Studies program over all others" to "prefer Columbia Law and its Japanese Legal Studies program". You are just applying right now - you have not really chosen it.

samueljose
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Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:53 pm

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby samueljose » Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:15 pm

I think it's a strong statement, and it conveys both your flexibility and strong purpose. However, I did cringe on the line about your pants around your ankles.

eggy
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:11 am

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby eggy » Sun Oct 10, 2010 3:58 pm

Done! Thanks so much again for your input Sarah.

Samuel: My apologies. Perhaps I should add *NWS* to the title of this thread? :)

MPeterson
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Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby MPeterson » Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:05 am

eggy wrote: were the words “law” and “justice” no longer mutually inclusive?


One thing: I don't think this is what you mean. Maybe: "Does law no longer trivially imply justice?" or something like that.

It's also redundant to say "the words 'law' and 'justice'" as you're mentioning the words by using them in quotes. I don't think you meant the words, anyway, but the concepts law and justice.

getitdone
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Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:27 am

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby getitdone » Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:15 am

um. honestly I was bored to death by this personal statement.

eggy
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:11 am

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby eggy » Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:01 pm

MPeterson wrote:
eggy wrote: were the words “law” and “justice” no longer mutually inclusive?


One thing: I don't think this is what you mean. Maybe: "Does law no longer trivially imply justice?" or something like that.

It's also redundant to say "the words 'law' and 'justice'" as you're mentioning the words by using them in quotes. I don't think you meant the words, anyway, but the concepts law and justice.


OK, I changed the statement to be "are the concepts of 'law' and 'justice' no longer mutually inclusive?"

Getitdone: I apologize that my personal statement didn't excite you. Should I have thrown a few ninja references in there?

Seriously though if you don't mind letting me know which parts in particular you didn't enjoy I would really appreciate it.

MPeterson
Posts: 107
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:52 am

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby MPeterson » Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:18 pm

eggy wrote:
MPeterson wrote:
eggy wrote: were the words “law” and “justice” no longer mutually inclusive?


One thing: I don't think this is what you mean. Maybe: "Does law no longer trivially imply justice?" or something like that.

It's also redundant to say "the words 'law' and 'justice'" as you're mentioning the words by using them in quotes. I don't think you meant the words, anyway, but the concepts law and justice.


OK, I changed the statement to be "are the concepts of 'law' and 'justice' no longer mutually inclusive?"

Getitdone: I apologize that my personal statement didn't excite you. Should I have thrown a few ninja references in there?

Seriously though if you don't mind letting me know which parts in particular you didn't enjoy I would really appreciate it.


Part of the problem was that "mutually inclusive" isn't what you mean. That would mean that the set of all things law is identical to the set of all things justice. This isn't true, though, because justice can come outside of the law, like karma or parental punishments. It may be me nitpicking, but I would say it's better to be safe, especially as it is early in your statement.

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vttran9
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Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby vttran9 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:24 pm

sarahhope82 wrote:I agree that it is well written, and the topic is interesting. In the last two paragraphs, you briefly mention injustice in Japan, without really giving specific examples. It seems to be a major motivator for why you want to apply to law school. I would maybe focus more on your personal experiences with that while you were in Japan and have less of a general description of everything you did. Also, it may be a good idea to explain what you mean by "be on the forefront of relations between Japan and North America". To me, it is unclear what you specifically want to do.


+1

I think this is a great topic. Japan is a very unique culture, even among Asians.

If the discrimination you faced is the motivating factor, then you might want to mention it earlier. You talk about your experiences with Japan and all of a sudden pile on the discrimination you've seen in Japan. Then you end your statement claiming that this is why you want to go to law school, which makes the reader wonder about the first half of your statement.

Also, make sure you remove all of the contractions. In conversations it might be okay, but not in essays.

eggy
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:11 am

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby eggy » Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:28 am

MPeterson wrote:
eggy wrote:
MPeterson wrote:
eggy wrote: were the words “law” and “justice” no longer mutually inclusive?


One thing: I don't think this is what you mean. Maybe: "Does law no longer trivially imply justice?" or something like that.

It's also redundant to say "the words 'law' and 'justice'" as you're mentioning the words by using them in quotes. I don't think you meant the words, anyway, but the concepts law and justice.


OK, I changed the statement to be "are the concepts of 'law' and 'justice' no longer mutually inclusive?"

Getitdone: I apologize that my personal statement didn't excite you. Should I have thrown a few ninja references in there?

Seriously though if you don't mind letting me know which parts in particular you didn't enjoy I would really appreciate it.


Part of the problem was that "mutually inclusive" isn't what you mean. That would mean that the set of all things law is identical to the set of all things justice. This isn't true, though, because justice can come outside of the law, like karma or parental punishments. It may be me nitpicking, but I would say it's better to be safe, especially as it is early in your statement.


Point taken. I'll look for a better way to say it.

eggy
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:11 am

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby eggy » Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:36 am

vttran9 wrote:+1

I think this is a great topic. Japan is a very unique culture, even among Asians.

If the discrimination you faced is the motivating factor, then you might want to mention it earlier. You talk about your experiences with Japan and all of a sudden pile on the discrimination you've seen in Japan. Then you end your statement claiming that this is why you want to go to law school, which makes the reader wonder about the first half of your statement.

Also, make sure you remove all of the contractions. In conversations it might be okay, but not in essays.


It really is. I always found it fascinating how diverse it was as a country. Each prefecture really has a unique feel, and people act a lot differently. Kyoto is still my favorite city of all time.

It's hard to say that discrimination is my motivating factor... I wanted to build up the first portion to show that I dedicated three years to learn about Japanese culture and language from three very different perspectives, and then I brought up the theme of discrimination even after all my efforts.

I guess at this point I'm afraid if I hack it up too much, I'm just going to be losing coherence in other parts of the essay. I do appreciate your input and I'll try to make changes as best I can. I want to keep this essay as close to my own words as possible :)

The contractions will be corrected. Good call.

eggy
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:11 am

Re: Please critique my personal statement :)

Postby eggy » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:35 am

Alright, so I think I solved the problem of the last sentence of the first paragraph. I shall change it to "are the concepts “law” and “justice” no longer synonymous?"

And I removed all the contractions as well.

I think I'm also going to reorganize the paragraph where I describe my work for the music company, so I don't sound as soft...




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