To include or not to include....

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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g-children
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To include or not to include....

Postby g-children » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:02 am

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Last edited by g-children on Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

justadude55
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Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:23 am

Re: To include or not to include....

Postby justadude55 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:24 am

g-children wrote:Hi, I was wondering if you guys could take a look at my rough draft. I haven't decided on whether or not to add some more stuff to it. My parents got divorced when I was 5, my mother is a raging alcoholic and my father is a womanizer. But I feel these things are sooo personal. I dont know if I should include them and show how those experiences have shaped me in some way... :?: Below is what I have written thus far;


I came to the United States on Christmas Day, 2004 with a hundred dollars and one semester’s worth of tuition to pursue my education. I was 19 years old and it was my first time in the United States. As I stepped out of the airport, I was greeted by a wind-chill; the outside temperature must have been in the mid-twenties. I was oblivious to what lay ahead in my future; what obstacles and challenges I would overcome; but I was determined to be successful.

I was born in London, England. My father is Ghanaian and my mother is Cameroonian. I started elementary school in London until 1993 when my family moved to Cameroon. After I graduated from secondary school in 2001, I gained admission to XYZ University. The university is located in a part of Cameroon that is characterized by religious tensions coupled with frequent strikes that stretched a four-year education to six years. By my second/sophomore year, we had experienced four major interruptions that forced the school to close down. In 2004, the faculty went on an indefinite strike; after a religious demonstration turned into a riot that left hundreds of students and faculty injured, raped and killed. My future started to look discouraging. I had to make a difficult decision to leave my home to pursue an education in the States.

In the summer of 2005, five months after I arrived in the States, my father lost his business and the house I grew up in. I was devastated; I had no idea how I would survive in a country far from home. I moved to Philadelphia to live with a half sister I had never met before and got a job as a debt collector that summer. I was determined not to be a financial burden on her; so eight months later I moved out into my own apartment. I worked my way through college without any financial contributions from her. I enjoyed working in collections, mainly because I was really good at it. A major part of my success in the collections industry was my excellent skip tracing abilities, a skill I acquired while looking for my long lost sister. I possess a natural curiosity that helped in locating hard to find customers, which led to successful collection efforts. The money I made while working as a debt collector paid my way through college. After I graduated, my collections experience made me an even better bankruptcy counselor.

It was a difficult change from the job as a debt collector to a bankruptcy counselor. However, my passion for helping others made it a more natural transition. Since I started working at XYZ Counseling Service, I set up a program at my local church that provided an opportunity to talk to church members about financial matters and budget advice.

I hope that my experience will inform and elevate my legal studies and allow me to provide more than just financial advice to these families but a way out of debt. I learned from my family’s struggle with bad monetary choices that almost jeopardized my future that uninformed financial decisions can lead to insolvency more rapidly than we realize. I hope to use my legal education to make a difference. I know my expertise, as a bankruptcy counselor cannot be compared to the level of involvement required as a bankruptcy lawyer. However, I believe that persistence, purpose and passion that motivated me as a counselor, are the foundational qualities that will make me a good lawyer. As a law student, I hope to use these qualities to make a difference.

Thanks, would be looking forward to reading some critique.


the 1st thing i'm confused about is how you started elementary school in london when your family moved to cameroon.

i'm a fan of narratives to be specific about one thing and one event that helps people read more into a person's character... maybe that's just me. right now it seems like it's about your struggle growing up in war torn africa, then it seems like it's about your journey to america, then it's about your journey as a debt collector?

i think right now you're trying to trace so much stuff in such a short space that it really reads like, "hey i'm african so i add diversity. please accept me. and by the way, i've worked before!!!!!!!!"

i think that you would be offering whatever law school you attend a lot of diversity that they would probably not otherwise have, but i think because of your PS you're undermining the difference this can present for you in terms of gaining admittance to a top school. i think you want to focus on one issue, and let it reveal a lot about your personality. as per your parents, i'd say the more personal (granted we leave sex out of the equation), the better unless it's out of no where like "as i was collecting debts, i realized my mom was an alcoholic goon and my dad fornicated with 8 dozen women." i don't know what that would add intellectually.

i'd say to focus either on growing up in africa and the lessons you brought with you to america [all the paragraphs on africa, 1 post journey to america.] or on (probably the better one) adapting to american life [1 quick paragraph in africa, and the rest in america.] i would either lose the debt collector job from your PS altogether or minimize it to one sentence. they will see it on your resume, and you're glorifying your job as a debt collector which is by far the least impressive part of your softs IMHO. while it's great you supported yourself through school, it's not like being a debt collector is close to as impressive as being a teacher or big law paralegal. frankly, it's kind of an any man's job, and wouldn't make me think, "wow this kid can pick up a phone. let's take him!"

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g-children
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Re: To include or not to include....

Postby g-children » Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:01 am

justadude55 wrote:the 1st thing i'm confused about is how you started elementary school in london when your family moved to cameroon.

i'm a fan of narratives to be specific about one thing and one event that helps people read more into a person's character... maybe that's just me. right now it seems like it's about your struggle growing up in war torn africa, then it seems like it's about your journey to america, then it's about your journey as a debt collector?

i think right now you're trying to trace so much stuff in such a short space that it really reads like, "hey i'm african so i add diversity. please accept me. and by the way, i've worked before!!!!!!!!"

i think that you would be offering whatever law school you attend a lot of diversity that they would probably not otherwise have, but i think because of your PS you're undermining the difference this can present for you in terms of gaining admittance to a top school. i think you want to focus on one issue, and let it reveal a lot about your personality. as per your parents, i'd say the more personal (granted we leave sex out of the equation), the better unless it's out of no where like "as i was collecting debts, i realized my mom was an alcoholic goon and my dad fornicated with 8 dozen women." i don't know what that would add intellectually.

i'd say to focus either on growing up in africa and the lessons you brought with you to america [all the paragraphs on africa, 1 post journey to america.] or on (probably the better one) adapting to american life [1 quick paragraph in africa, and the rest in america.] i would either lose the debt collector job from your PS altogether or minimize it to one sentence. they will see it on your resume, and you're glorifying your job as a debt collector which is by far the least impressive part of your softs IMHO. while it's great you supported yourself through school, it's not like being a debt collector is close to as impressive as being a teacher or big law paralegal. frankly, it's kind of an any man's job, and wouldn't make me think, "wow this kid can pick up a phone. let's take him!"



This is great information, exactly the type of information I needed. I really felt very conflicted on the path to take my PS. And you have offered a great direction to go. I will be working on it some more ... with your suggestions in mind.

Quick question though: Just to clarify; so you think its a better route to talk more about adapting to american life versus growing up in africa? You mentioned the more personal the better, if I were to add the issues I experienced growing up in that kind of household, that would take me more on the growing up in Africa route more so...the bulk of my difficult life was in Africa/Struggling in America....

Also to answer your question, my family moved to cameroon after elementary (right before i started secondary/high school).

justadude55
Posts: 963
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:23 am

Re: To include or not to include....

Postby justadude55 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:19 am

g-children wrote:
justadude55 wrote:the 1st thing i'm confused about is how you started elementary school in london when your family moved to cameroon.

i'm a fan of narratives to be specific about one thing and one event that helps people read more into a person's character... maybe that's just me. right now it seems like it's about your struggle growing up in war torn africa, then it seems like it's about your journey to america, then it's about your journey as a debt collector?

i think right now you're trying to trace so much stuff in such a short space that it really reads like, "hey i'm african so i add diversity. please accept me. and by the way, i've worked before!!!!!!!!"

i think that you would be offering whatever law school you attend a lot of diversity that they would probably not otherwise have, but i think because of your PS you're undermining the difference this can present for you in terms of gaining admittance to a top school. i think you want to focus on one issue, and let it reveal a lot about your personality. as per your parents, i'd say the more personal (granted we leave sex out of the equation), the better unless it's out of no where like "as i was collecting debts, i realized my mom was an alcoholic goon and my dad fornicated with 8 dozen women." i don't know what that would add intellectually.

i'd say to focus either on growing up in africa and the lessons you brought with you to america [all the paragraphs on africa, 1 post journey to america.] or on (probably the better one) adapting to american life [1 quick paragraph in africa, and the rest in america.] i would either lose the debt collector job from your PS altogether or minimize it to one sentence. they will see it on your resume, and you're glorifying your job as a debt collector which is by far the least impressive part of your softs IMHO. while it's great you supported yourself through school, it's not like being a debt collector is close to as impressive as being a teacher or big law paralegal. frankly, it's kind of an any man's job, and wouldn't make me think, "wow this kid can pick up a phone. let's take him!"



This is great information, exactly the type of information I needed. I really felt very conflicted on the path to take my PS. And you have offered a great direction to go. I will be working on it some more ... with your suggestions in mind.

Quick question though: Just to clarify; so you think its a better route to talk more about adapting to american life versus growing up in africa? You mentioned the more personal the better, if I were to add the issues I experienced growing up in that kind of household, that would take me more on the growing up in Africa route more so...the bulk of my difficult life was in Africa/Struggling in America....

Also to answer your question, my family moved to cameroon after elementary (right before i started secondary/high school).


about cameroon: that isn't clear in your essay.

about the topic: i can't answer that. write the more revealing story that will make them like you more.

i personally think the coming to america route is better because it speaks more about you now, and even little things like being in the supermarket picking out soda w a million choices compared to the 1 choice in cameroon and stuff like that would reveal things about your personality at a deeper level..... maybe talking about what you like about america so much, and stuff like that. i think the culture clash method always makes for a good read in comedy, drama and probably a PS too. id advocate this because they're accepting you as you are now, not as some little cameroon kid from a decade ago.

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g-children
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Re: To include or not to include....

Postby g-children » Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:33 am

justadude55 wrote:about cameroon: that isn't clear in your essay.

about the topic: i can't answer that. write the more revealing story that will make them like you more.

i personally think the coming to america route is better because it speaks more about you now, and even little things like being in the supermarket picking out soda w a million choices compared to the 1 choice in cameroon and stuff like that would reveal things about your personality at a deeper level..... maybe talking about what you like about america so much, and stuff like that. i think the culture clash method always makes for a good read in comedy, drama and probably a PS too. id advocate this because they're accepting you as you are now, not as some little cameroon kid from a decade ago.


Okay, thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it. I will definitely work at it some more. Is it okay if I PM you once edited?

justadude55
Posts: 963
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:23 am

Re: To include or not to include....

Postby justadude55 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:30 pm

g-children wrote:
justadude55 wrote:about cameroon: that isn't clear in your essay.

about the topic: i can't answer that. write the more revealing story that will make them like you more.

i personally think the coming to america route is better because it speaks more about you now, and even little things like being in the supermarket picking out soda w a million choices compared to the 1 choice in cameroon and stuff like that would reveal things about your personality at a deeper level..... maybe talking about what you like about america so much, and stuff like that. i think the culture clash method always makes for a good read in comedy, drama and probably a PS too. id advocate this because they're accepting you as you are now, not as some little cameroon kid from a decade ago.


Okay, thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it. I will definitely work at it some more. Is it okay if I PM you once edited?


yeah just give me sometime to check it out. lotta crap on my plate.

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AreJay711
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Re: To include or not to include....

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:33 pm

justadude55 wrote:
g-children wrote:Hi, I was wondering if you guys could take a look at my rough draft. I haven't decided on whether or not to add some more stuff to it. My parents got divorced when I was 5, my mother is a raging alcoholic and my father is a womanizer. But I feel these things are sooo personal. I dont know if I should include them and show how those experiences have shaped me in some way... :?: Below is what I have written thus far;


I came to the United States on Christmas Day, 2004 with a hundred dollars and one semester’s worth of tuition to pursue my education. I was 19 years old and it was my first time in the United States. As I stepped out of the airport, I was greeted by a wind-chill; the outside temperature must have been in the mid-twenties. I was oblivious to what lay ahead in my future; what obstacles and challenges I would overcome; but I was determined to be successful.

I was born in London, England. My father is Ghanaian and my mother is Cameroonian. I started elementary school in London until 1993 when my family moved to Cameroon. After I graduated from secondary school in 2001, I gained admission to XYZ University. The university is located in a part of Cameroon that is characterized by religious tensions coupled with frequent strikes that stretched a four-year education to six years. By my second/sophomore year, we had experienced four major interruptions that forced the school to close down. In 2004, the faculty went on an indefinite strike; after a religious demonstration turned into a riot that left hundreds of students and faculty injured, raped and killed. My future started to look discouraging. I had to make a difficult decision to leave my home to pursue an education in the States.

In the summer of 2005, five months after I arrived in the States, my father lost his business and the house I grew up in. I was devastated; I had no idea how I would survive in a country far from home. I moved to Philadelphia to live with a half sister I had never met before and got a job as a debt collector that summer. I was determined not to be a financial burden on her; so eight months later I moved out into my own apartment. I worked my way through college without any financial contributions from her. I enjoyed working in collections, mainly because I was really good at it. A major part of my success in the collections industry was my excellent skip tracing abilities, a skill I acquired while looking for my long lost sister. I possess a natural curiosity that helped in locating hard to find customers, which led to successful collection efforts. The money I made while working as a debt collector paid my way through college. After I graduated, my collections experience made me an even better bankruptcy counselor.

It was a difficult change from the job as a debt collector to a bankruptcy counselor. However, my passion for helping others made it a more natural transition. Since I started working at XYZ Counseling Service, I set up a program at my local church that provided an opportunity to talk to church members about financial matters and budget advice.

I hope that my experience will inform and elevate my legal studies and allow me to provide more than just financial advice to these families but a way out of debt. I learned from my family’s struggle with bad monetary choices that almost jeopardized my future that uninformed financial decisions can lead to insolvency more rapidly than we realize. I hope to use my legal education to make a difference. I know my expertise, as a bankruptcy counselor cannot be compared to the level of involvement required as a bankruptcy lawyer. However, I believe that persistence, purpose and passion that motivated me as a counselor, are the foundational qualities that will make me a good lawyer. As a law student, I hope to use these qualities to make a difference.

Thanks, would be looking forward to reading some critique.


the 1st thing i'm confused about is how you started elementary school in london when your family moved to cameroon.

i'm a fan of narratives to be specific about one thing and one event that helps people read more into a person's character... maybe that's just me. right now it seems like it's about your struggle growing up in war torn africa, then it seems like it's about your journey to america, then it's about your journey as a debt collector?

i think right now you're trying to trace so much stuff in such a short space that it really reads like, "hey i'm african so i add diversity. please accept me. and by the way, i've worked before!!!!!!!!"

i think that you would be offering whatever law school you attend a lot of diversity that they would probably not otherwise have, but i think because of your PS you're undermining the difference this can present for you in terms of gaining admittance to a top school. i think you want to focus on one issue, and let it reveal a lot about your personality. as per your parents, i'd say the more personal (granted we leave sex out of the equation), the better unless it's out of no where like "as i was collecting debts, i realized my mom was an alcoholic goon and my dad fornicated with 8 dozen women." i don't know what that would add intellectually.

i'd say to focus either on growing up in africa and the lessons you brought with you to america [all the paragraphs on africa, 1 post journey to america.] or on (probably the better one) adapting to american life [1 quick paragraph in africa, and the rest in america.] i would either lose the debt collector job from your PS altogether or minimize it to one sentence. they will see it on your resume, and you're glorifying your job as a debt collector which is by far the least impressive part of your softs IMHO. while it's great you supported yourself through school, it's not like being a debt collector is close to as impressive as being a teacher or big law paralegal. frankly, it's kind of an any man's job, and wouldn't make me think, "wow this kid can pick up a phone. let's take him!"


I question this. Talking about why you came to school in America is good and helps explain why you stayed here and worked to support yourself vs going back home -- with no need to explain your family. Being good at your job can't hurt you and supporting yourself through college puts your GPA in context (even if it is really good). How much your job it will help you in law is doubtful BUT it explains your interest. I agree that you could add more about how school in the US was different than Cameroon. Also this could be changed:

"I was born in London, England. My father is Ghanaian and my mother is Cameroonian. I started elementary school in London until 1993 when my family moved to Cameroon."

There is no reason to say you started school in London. Just say that in 1993 left elementary school in London and moved with you family to Cameroon or something like that. this sentence is confusing. Other than that I think this is a quality PS.

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g-children
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Re: To include or not to include....

Postby g-children » Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:44 pm

AreJay711 wrote:I question this. Talking about why you came to school in America is good and helps explain why you stayed here and worked to support yourself vs going back home -- with no need to explain your family. Being good at your job can't hurt you and supporting yourself through college puts your GPA in context (even if it is really good). How much your job it will help you in law is doubtful BUT it explains your interest. I agree that you could add more about how school in the US was different than Cameroon. Also this could be changed:

"I was born in London, England. My father is Ghanaian and my mother is Cameroonian. I started elementary school in London until 1993 when my family moved to Cameroon."

There is no reason to say you started school in London. Just say that in 1993 left elementary school in London and moved with you family to Cameroon or something like that. this sentence is confusing. Other than that I think this is a quality PS.


Thats good, you are right, I guess that is why justadude55 was also confused. I will definitely change that right away. Also my GPA is 3.37 so I guess you are right, that would help explain that as well.

Yeah, I would definitely work on adding how life in America (School in particular is different). Thanks for the feedback.

Also just to clarify, so you dont think adding stuff about my family should be central to the PS, right?


justadude55 wrote:
g-children wrote:
justadude55 wrote:about cameroon: that isn't clear in your essay.

about the topic: i can't answer that. write the more revealing story that will make them like you more.

i personally think the coming to america route is better because it speaks more about you now, and even little things like being in the supermarket picking out soda w a million choices compared to the 1 choice in cameroon and stuff like that would reveal things about your personality at a deeper level..... maybe talking about what you like about america so much, and stuff like that. i think the culture clash method always makes for a good read in comedy, drama and probably a PS too. id advocate this because they're accepting you as you are now, not as some little cameroon kid from a decade ago.


Okay, thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it. I will definitely work at it some more. Is it okay if I PM you once edited?


yeah just give me sometime to check it out. lotta crap on my plate.

justadude55
Posts: 963
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:23 am

Re: To include or not to include....

Postby justadude55 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:58 pm

dude according to every adcom, you don't want to use the PS as an addendum.

Do that for a GPA addendum. I think it would play to your benefit there, and would be understood.

A 3.37 isn't great. Get a really high LSAT, and all will be forgiven.




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