My Personal Statement: Need Advice

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
wpm208
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:47 pm

My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby wpm208 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:01 pm

I'm just looking for a few more eyes to look over my personal statement. Any advice would be appreciated.

For the majority of my adolescent and young adult life, I had struggled to find my identity. I always knew what I wasn’t, but I never had a firm grasp on what I was. Nor was I able to confidently discern what mattered from what didn't. Over years of honest soul-searching, I have concluded that it is the ends that define us, not the events leading up to them. We often obsess over the minutiae of daily life, questioning every occurrence and pondering the effect they will have on our future. Yet we tend to forget that some of these events, while important, play a limited role in the overall scheme of things. What helped me put my life into perspective was a simple hypothetical: if, in fifty years, someone were to write a Wikipedia page about me, what would it say?

It would most certainly say that I was born on November 23rd, 1987, but it would not say that I was breach with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. It would probably say that my father was an Arab-Israeli immigrant who moved to the United States alone at eighteen years of age, but not that he came with just one hundred and eighty dollars in his pocket for a plane ticket back. It would say that my mother was a first-generation Greek-American born in Ozone Park, New York; it would not say that her parents divorced when she was three years old. It would say that I have a brother six years younger than me, but not that he sometimes really gets on my nerves.

It would say that my family moved to Pennsylvania when I was eight; it would not say that I cried myself to sleep for a month after hearing the news. It would say that I graduated from Pleasant Valley High School, but not that I didn’t have a date to the prom. It would say that I went to East Stroudsburg University before transferring to Lehigh University, but it would not say that I had previously been rejected by Lehigh. It would say that I helped co-found East Stroudsburg University’s Orthodox Christian Fellowship group, but not that I silently struggled with religious belief for the four years preceding. It would say that I graduated from Lehigh University in 2011; it would not say that I battled body dysmorphic disorder during my sophomore and junior years and it almost derailed my college career. It would say that I graduated from law school, though it would not say that my high school guidance counselor told me she didn’t think I had what it took.

It would say that, from a young age, I developed an affinity for music; it would not say that I was never all that good at playing it. It would say that people generally view me as an intelligent person, but it probably wouldn't detail all the stupid things I’ve been prone to do. It would likely say that my friend Josh became my closest confidant; it would not say that, before we became friends, we hated each other vehemently. It would say that I can speak Greek fluently, but it would not say that I was a trouble maker in Greek school. It would say that I’ve traveled to Greece, Italy, Israel, England, and Mexico, but not that I am secretly fearful of flying. It would hopefully say that I am happily married; it would not say that I was heartbroken by my first love. And it might even say that I went on to become quite successful, but it would not say that, for the longest time, I never thought I would.

A quick look at any biographical Wikipedia page would show that the routine personal challenges of everyday life, although daunting in the moment, do not ordinarily make the cut. And while many of the most impressive and successful achievements of one's life are proudly flaunted, the less visible and more negative experiences played some role in their realization. Every achievement is preceded by struggle. Sometimes, the achievement itself presents a new struggle. But we must not let these struggles define us. They are not "who" we are but rather "how" we are and eventually, as if looking into a rear-view-mirror, they slowly fade away like mile-markers on the road to success. It is important not to allow the circumstances of the current situation to pull you off course. For among many reasons, I want to be a lawyer. And I feel that my ability to put life into perspective will allow me to better absorb the demands of legal study by focusing on the importance of the end result. My Wikipedia page surely would not mention that I studied for more hours than my peers or that I was cold called and did not know the answer, but rather that I simply graduated with a degree in law.

[This PS has been changed from the original post. Please disregard any unclear comments by posters.]
Last edited by wpm208 on Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:24 pm, edited 7 times in total.

samueljose
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:53 pm

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby samueljose » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:12 pm

I feel that this statement needs work. It feels like a lot of name dropping but I don't really feel like if I got to know who you are, or what impact this experience had on you other than telling me that you don't think that they're idiots anymore.

wpm208
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:47 pm

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby wpm208 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:33 pm

Thanks for the reply. I do have a "plan B" statement which I'm still working on. The reason I want to work with this one is because it expands on a part of my transcript that is inherently unclear. Also, I feel as though I have done things and met people that a majority of students my age haven't. Even some people who are older than me, not students, and live in DC have never toured the floors of the House and Senate or met cabinet officials and Supreme Court Justices. I know successful lawyers that have never attended an en banc hearing or an impeachment trial. What I'm trying to relay is, not only have I had some unique experiences, but my perception of government has transformed from one of cynicism to optimism, and it has done so through my extensive interaction with some important and influential individuals.

wpm208
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:47 pm

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby wpm208 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:24 pm

Here is my "Plan B" essay. It's a work in progress...

For the majority of my adolescent and young adult life, I had struggled to find my identity. I always knew what I wasn’t, but I never had a firm grasp on what I was. Nor was I able to confidently discern what mattered from what didn't. Over years of honest soul-searching, I have concluded that it is the ends that define us, not the events leading up to them. We often obsess over the minutiae of daily life, questioning every occurrence and pondering the effect they will have on our future. Yet we tend to forget that some of these events, while important, play a limited role in the overall scheme of things. What helped me put my life into perspective was a simple hypothetical: if, in fifty years, someone were to write a Wikipedia page about me, what would it say?

It would most certainly say that I was born on November 23rd, 1987, but it would not say that I was breach with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. It would probably say that my father was an Arab-Israeli immigrant who moved to the United States alone at eighteen years of age; it would not say that he came with just one hundred and eighty dollars in his pocket for a plane ticket back. It would say that my mother was a first-generation Greek-American born in Ozone Park, New York; it would not say that her parents divorced when she was three years old. It would say that I have a younger brother named Alex; it would not say that sometimes he really gets on my nerves.

It would say that my family moved to Pennsylvania when I was eight; it would not say that I cried myself to sleep for a month after hearing the news. It would say that I graduated from Pleasant Valley High School; it would not say that I didn’t have a date to the prom. It would say that I went to East Stroudsburg University before transferring to Lehigh University; it would not say that I had previously been rejected by Lehigh. It would say that I helped co-found East Stroudsburg University’s Orthodox Christian Fellowship group; it would not say that I silently struggled with religious belief for the four years preceding. It would say that I graduated from Lehigh University in 2011; it would not say that I battled body dysmorphic disorder during my sophomore and junior years and it almost derailed my college career. It would say that I graduated from law school; it would not say that my high school guidance counselor told me she didn’t think I had what it took.

It would say that, from a young age, I developed an affinity for music; it would not say that I was never all that good at playing it. It would say that people generally view me as an intelligent person; it would not detail all the stupid things I’ve been prone to do. It would likely say that my friend Josh became my closest confidant; it would not say that, before we became friends, we hated each other vehemently. It would say that I can speak Greek fluently; it would not say that I was a trouble maker in Greek school. It would say that I’ve traveled to Greece, Italy, Israel, England, and Mexico; it would not say that I am secretly fearful of flying. It would hopefully say that I am happily married; it would not say that I was heartbroken by my first love. And it might even say that I went on to become quite successful, but it would not say that, for the longest time, I never thought I would.

A quick look at any biographical Wikipedia page would show that the routine personal challenges of everyday life, although daunting in the moment, do not ordinarily make the cut. And while many of the most impressive and successful achievements of one's life are proudly flaunted, the less visible and more negative experiences play a vital role in their realization. Every achievement is preceded by struggle. Sometimes, the achievement itself presents a new struggle. But we must not let these struggles define us. They are not "who" we are but rather "how" we are and eventually, as if looking into a rear-view-mirror, they slowly fade away like mile-markers on the road to success. It is important not to allow the circumstances of the current situation to pull you off course. For among many reasons, I want to be a lawyer. And I feel that my ability to put life into perspective will allow me to better balance the demands of legal study by focusing on the importance of the end result. My Wikipedia page surely would not mention that I studied for more hours than my peers or that I was cold called and did not know the answer, but rather that I simply graduated with a degree in law.
Last edited by wpm208 on Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:15 pm, edited 21 times in total.

User avatar
lalalawya
Posts: 321
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:34 pm

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby lalalawya » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:28 pm

I think your option B would make an awesome personal statement if you were applying to get your masters in creative writing, but it really does not provide much insight into you as a potential law student.

wpm208
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:47 pm

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby wpm208 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:28 pm

bump...

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

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:34 pm

I actually started to get a headache from reading your first posted essay. I didn't even finish reading it.

wpm208
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:47 pm

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby wpm208 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:09 pm

With all due respect, if you didn't finish it, why did you post? I don't mind criticism, but at least have something critical to say other than "It gave me a headache. I didn't even finish it." Take an Advil...

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

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:11 pm

Okay, I finished reading it. Your essay is not good & probably not worth attempting to salvage.

wpm208
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:47 pm

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby wpm208 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:16 pm

Wow, you are one quick reader. Anyway, thanks for the reply.

burge104
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:00 pm

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby burge104 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:23 pm

really not that bad! a good foundation, but the structuring is the only thing that bothered me. I can't remember all the things you mentioned because they just kept coming. I think it needs more elaboration on major events than just a jumble of facts. Keep updating it, but your idea is creative!

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lalalawya
Posts: 321
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:34 pm

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby lalalawya » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:27 pm

I think you can use one of the "it would say this, but not this" paragraphs as a hook, but then (just as stated above) have the main portion of your PS be about some experience you have had that has helped you to find your identity. Using this approach would still allow you to retain the creative appeal your PS has, while still giving the adcomm insight into who you are as a potential law student and not just person.

EDIT:
If you are dead set on keeping this format...I would only send it to reach schools. I think it falls under the "risky" personal statement section I have read so much about.

wpm208
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:47 pm

Re: My Personal Statement: Need Advice

Postby wpm208 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:44 pm

lalalawya, thanks for the advice. To be honest, with my grades and LSAT score (3.6, 170), I'm not too nervous about getting into any of my match or safety schools. This essay is really designed to capture the attention of my reach schools to make up for any deficiency they may find in the rest of my application (I do have 4 W's). I'm gonna continue to play around with it, but I like the underlying theme. And sometimes, I feel as if the whole "why I would be a good lawyer/law student" thing gets old to the adcomm. The PS, in my opinion, is supposed to expose some sort of facet about your life that cannot be inferred from some other part of your application. I mean the fact that I have decent grades and test scores pretty much shows what would make me a good law student. Hundreds of thousands of students apply to law school each and every year, but I find it hard to believe that every single one of them has a unique reason for wanting to go to law school. Most of them, I would venture, feel like they are smart, that they enjoy arguing, they want to make a lot of money, they want to save the world, etc. A synopsis of the ups and downs of one's life gives the reviewers better insight into a person than what made them decide to go to law school. But I also want the adcomm to see a side of me that they can't see from my transcripts or LSAT score. Honestly, do you think the majority of them care why I want to be a lawyer, or what would make me a good one? Isn't that up to them to decide? How many students drop out of law school every year? Or graduate only to become a stock broker? They all probably wrote very compelling essays about what would make them a good law student/lawyer, but it doesn't really matter anymore.




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