New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

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

New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby wpm208 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:15 pm

After taking some of your comments into consideration, I have decided to temporarily scratch my old PS in favor of a new (and hopefully better) one.

“A pound? That’s it? I lost only a pound?!” Actually, no, I had lost nearly seventy pounds to date. But since the previous night’s weigh-in, yeah, I had lost only a pound. So I responded to this result the same way I responded to every other weigh-in I was dissatisfied with: I slipped on a pair of sweat pants, pulled an old sweatshirt over my head, and embarked on a ten mile run through the oppressive mid-summer’s heat. “Okay, four pounds. I’ll settle for that.” Four pounds was not that bad considering I had just run ten miles. “What!? How did I gain three pounds since this morning? All I ate today was a bowl of vegetables and two bottles of water. Plus I ran ten miles this morning!” Five minutes and a clean pair of sweats later, I was doing calisthenics in the bathroom with the door locked, the shower on, and the water at maximum temperature.

Between the months of March and August in 2008, this was my typical day. While my friends were busy spending their summers by the pool or at the beach, I was busy juggling work and my diet, trying desperately to look good without a shirt on. Soon, three weigh-ins per day became ten or more, one small meal a day became one every other day, and ten miles through the rolling hills of the Pocono Mountains became nothing more than a warm-up. By late summer, my obsession with my weight loss was progressively getting worse. At the time, I preferred the word “dedicated” over “obsessed.” Little did I know it was a combination of both. I was becoming dedicated to my obsession.

The end of August marked the beginning of my first year at Lehigh University – my proverbial dream school – after transferring from East Stroudsburg University. It also marked the beginning of a whole new set of challenges regarding my weight loss. My first few weeks at Lehigh went relatively smoothly. I made friends with the guys who lived across the hall, was enjoying my classes and professors, and somehow found time to continue my rigorous schedule of workouts and weigh-ins while working almost full time. But I eventually ran into problems when I stopped seeing drastic results. The scale and my belt told me I was still losing weight, but my mind and the mirror said otherwise. “Look at you! You’re disgusting,” I remember telling myself on more than one occasion. When I looked in the mirror, I still saw the two hundred and sixty pound person that I thought I had abandoned. I started to hate the way I looked because it didn’t conform to the idealized vision I had in my head. I had worked so hard to be happier and healthier, and now, I was neither (at least not mentally).

Every minute of every day, my mind was consumed by my appearance. It was extremely difficult to focus on even the smallest daily tasks, let alone my work and academic responsibilities. I often skipped class because I didn’t want anyone to see me and I flipped all my mirrors around in my house so I wouldn’t be forced to see myself. I stopped taking pictures. I deleted my Facebook. I just became a generally unpleasant person to be around. The next sixteen months of my life were spent in quiet desperation and near isolation, with sporadic appearances to appease my professors, my family, and my friends. And I worked hard to keep my struggles a secret. I knew I had a problem. I was paranoid and delusional. My eyes saw things that simply were not real. I was not the grossly obese teenager that got picked on in high school anymore. With the support of my family and friends, I had fought that battle and won. But I naively believed that I could single-handedly win this battle as well.

It was February 12th, 2010 at about six in the evening when I was awoken by a knock on my bedroom door. I knew it was my good friend and roommate, Mark. “What is it, man?” I answered. “Can I come in?” he asked. “Yeah, come in.” He opened the door, flipped on the light without warning and, as my eyes were still adjusting, seated himself in my desk chair. He leaned over to me and said, quite simply, “Dude, I think you need help.” Still in a daze, I laid silently and pondered his suggestion. He was right. Although I had been consistently rejecting the idea when I presented it to myself, hearing it from another person put it into a different perspective, mainly because he was the first person other than myself to say it and it made me realize that my problem had become overwhelmingly evident. “I think I do, too,” I said. “Why don’t you make an appointment at the counseling center on campus?” he suggested. “I went there a couple times last year and the guy I spoke with really helped me out. You’re my friend and I want to help you. I barely ever see you anymore and I live in the same house as you.”

I couldn’t have asked for a better person to intervene at a better time. Hesitantly, I followed through on Mark’s advice and scheduled an appointment with a school counselor the next day. After a standard psychological examination and a few preliminary one-on-one sessions, my counselor diagnosed me with body dysmorphic disorder – a psychological condition whereby an individual obsesses over a perceived, but often non-existent, physical deformity. I told him I was willing to do whatever it took to restore normalcy to my life. With his expert advice, we decided to proceed with a combination of intense cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy which, I will admit, sounded daunting at first. It required me to do things that, at the time, I was very uncomfortable doing like sparking up casual conversations with strangers, for example, or speaking in front of others whether in class or otherwise. Over a period of six months, the therapy began to work. I started socializing more and even entered into a relationship. I stopped weighing myself on a daily basis, I started eating more, and I came to view my weight loss as a success rather than a curse. Most important, I decided to restore my academics as the focal point of my life. In April, I registered to spend a semester in Washington, D.C. to study public law. I can confidently say that my experience in D.C. has been the single-most rewarding experience of my life – personally, professionally, and academically.

My continuing recovery from body dysmorphic disorder has taught me three things in particular about myself and about life in general. First, every struggle, whether big or small, internal or external, can be overcome. At one point, I was my own worst enemy. Now, I am my greatest supporter. I used to base my entire self-worth solely on the way I looked, but I’ve come to understand that there is more to me, and to each of us, than physical appearance. Second, I’ve learned that few struggles can be overcome by individual willpower alone. Sometimes, we must seek the help and guidance of those around us. Even the most successful individuals received some sort of advice or assistance on their paths to success. Finally, after almost letting it slip away, I’ve learned what’s important in my life, and what’s important is that I get a good education and establish a solid career, ideally, as a lawyer. There is no doubt that a legal education is a challenge of both intellect and will. I feel like my experience in overcoming a uniquely difficult situation has better prepared me for what lies ahead in law school. With the guidance of others, I am certain that I can and will succeed. Been there, done that.

Critique away...

[This PS has been edited]
Last edited by wpm208 on Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:33 pm, edited 18 times in total.

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

Re: New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby wpm208 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:43 pm

Don't be shy...

User avatar
SullaFelix
Posts: 113
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:18 pm

Re: New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby SullaFelix » Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:58 pm

Who's the authority who decided it was a good idea for everyone to start their personal statement with a line of dialogue? Nothing to do with this essay, really, but I imagine that if I were on an admissions committee it would quickly become a pet peeve.

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

Re: New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby wpm208 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:09 pm

You know, I've noticed the same thing. A lot of people start their essays with a quote or dialogue. While it is in quotations, my first line is intended to represent me thinking out loud. But you do have a point and it does seem cliche.

User avatar
SullaFelix
Posts: 113
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:18 pm

Re: New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby SullaFelix » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:26 pm

wpm208 wrote:You know, I've noticed the same thing. A lot of people start their essays with a quote or dialogue. While it is in quotations, my first line is intended to represent me thinking out loud. But you do have a point and it does seem cliche.


well, now that that's out of the way — the issue I see with this is that there's no reason why this is an essay for law school admissions. you don't need to write about the law, but there ideally would be some sort of coherent narrative that makes it clear why you'd make a good law student.

It's a bit much to expect someone to read to the extreme end of the essay for that payoff. Remember, these people need to read thousands of these. Perhaps try to integrate those ideas into the beginning somehow?

two_wheels_good
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:53 pm

Re: New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby two_wheels_good » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:28 pm

1. Agree on the opening with dialogue part. It's way overused.

2. I get the whole sharing personal experience, but this makes you seem a little neurotic. Honestly, I mean that in the best possible way. I get the whole "triumph over adversity" thing, but I just don't see how this particular story makes you look like a good law student.

3. Related to that, I'm not really seeing anything in here where you transition into being a good prospective law student. Because you're dedicated bordering on obsession (that might work, I don't know)? Because you were able to, with the help of others, adjust your priorities back to school? I think I see where you're going, but I don't think you quite get there. More emphasis needs to be on why you want to study law, what you bring to the school, etc.

And for the record, I'm currently working on my own personal statement, which will probably be deservedly torn apart by this forum, so take from my advice what you will. Best of luck.

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

Re: New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby wpm208 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:43 pm

Thanks for the replies thus far. I'm basically trying to relay a period in my life in which I crawled my way back up after reaching rock bottom. Why would I be a good law student? I don't know. I like to read, I like to write, and I like to argue. I like politics. I like the legislative process. I'm focused, determined, and well balanced: I have a chip on both shoulders. But do any of these things guarantee or even suggest that I would be a good law student? Maybe. I understand that many law school applicants have done some amazing things in their lives. I'm not one of those applicants. I didn't feed starving Africans, I didn't lecture on cancer, I didn't make some novel discovery. I'm a simple, small-town guy who went to college after high school and turned my attention to law school. Do I want to be a practicing lawyer? Not really. Ideally, I'd like to go into legal research or academia, maybe at a think tank or something. I could just as easily write a compelling essay about why I would be a great law student and then drop out after my first semester. None of us have ever been to law school. That's why we're here. How am I supposed to know what would make me a good law student? I don't really know what is expected of law students outside of what I read on these boards and on other websites. I'm just trying to relay an experience that is not evident by my transcript, my LSAT score, or my recommendations and if that gets me in the reject pile, so be it. I want to go to law school, not just Harvard Law School. I'm sure my grades and LSAT scores will get me in somewhere.

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

Re: New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby wpm208 » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:21 am

Anyone else?

IncorrectReversal
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:00 pm

Re: New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby IncorrectReversal » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:32 pm

I just finished reading your personal statement, and on the whole, I actually think it is quite good. Unlike many of the other criticisms suggested, the personal statement does not need to focus on why you want to be a lawyer, why you would make a good law student etc. Yes these are possible routes to take, but by no means are they necessary. Most schools recommend that the personal statement be PERSONAL, and articulate anything that is not visible in the rest of your application which you wish to describe. Often these include significant events in your life or things that shaped you.

All this being said, I think you do a good job of telling the story and setting up your struggle. Where i think the statement is weak and can use improvement is in your transition to where your friend intervened and you then embarked on your recovery. The jump seems sudden and the recovery too straightforward/easy. Lastly, i would eliminate everything you talk about at the end in relation to law; it all seems extremely out of place. If you are going to write a statement describing what makes you unique or about something that shaped you, do just that. End with how this has had a lasting impact on you and I think you have a great PS.

Hope this helps

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

Re: New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby wpm208 » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:03 pm

I'd like to get a few more replies on this PS before I submit my apps. Comments would be appreciated, but only constructive ones. Thanks all.

policestate1234
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:43 pm

Re: New Personal Statement: Critique, Por Favor

Postby policestate1234 » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:11 pm

wpm208 wrote:You know, I've noticed the same thing. A lot of people start their essays with a quote or dialogue. While it is in quotations, my first line is intended to represent me thinking out loud. But you do have a point and it does seem cliche.


You got to start your personal statement off somehow. There are not many ways to do it.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.