Second Career Personal Statement, Let Me Know What You Think

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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DocHawkeye
Posts: 640
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Second Career Personal Statement, Let Me Know What You Think

Postby DocHawkeye » Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:30 am

Greetings all - As I kill time waiting for LSAT score to magically appear, I'd love your thoughts on my statement. Please, be frank.

**********

Every good boy does fine. These five words changed my life. It is not their literal meaning which had so great an impact. Taken at face value they are hardly a pearl of wisdom – the language is rather bland and hopelessly imprecise. What is it, exactly, that good boys achieve with such marked mediocrity? It is, instead, in the form of a pneumonic device that they played their transformative roll. Virtually any student of music would recognize this phrase as a symbol for one of that discipline’s basic building blocks. These words allude to the names of the notes on the lines of the treble clef staff, the notes played by the right hand on the piano – E, G, B, D, and F. I can clearly remember sitting in music class on the gray, damp March morning when I learned these names, my spine tingling as I was drawn into the lesson with a gravity I had never before felt. I was ten years old and I have never looked at the world in the same way since. That day, I resolved to learn everything I could about this mysterious thing called music.
I find myself with a very different outlook now than I did on that magical late winter day of my childhood. In the two decades or so that have elapsed since then, the tingling I felt turned first to passion as I played and sang my way through high school. In college, it transformed itself into a professional aspiration, first to become a music teacher and later to become a composer. It sustained me through a master’s degree in orchestral conducting. On the twelfth of May, 2006, I was awarded a doctor of philosophy degree in music, fulfilling the resolution I made as a child. Since that time, however, that passion has turned into a question mark. That question mark wonders if I have been heading in the right direction.
Through a lengthy process consisting mainly of trial and error, I have ruled out as acceptable career paths most of the traditional options open to one holding a music degree. I have found my temperament ill-suited to teaching in kindergarten through twelfth grade public schools. Experience has taught me that I am unwilling to make the sort of requisite sacrifices nor do I possess sufficient talent to sustain myself and family as a full-time composer or conductor. With each passing year, I become less interested in securing a position in higher education. That trajectory would force me to continue down a road toward the esoteric, the theoretical, and the obscure, while recently, I have increasingly come to value work that of a real and practical value. It has become clear that I have badly misjudged what it means to be a professional musician and I have begun to seek a new path – one that would draw upon my previous experience and provide me with intellectual and personal satisfaction over the long term.
The intersection of music and the law has long been an interest of to me. Not long after I started college, a friend called me on the telephone and announced his intention to become a Christian rock singer. He knew of my aspirations and asked that I write some songs for him. After writing two or three songs that were added to his repertoire, it became clear that this was more than an artistic or spiritual venture. In order to preserve our friendship, Zach and I would have to understand the ground rules that would govern the use of my music. We both poured over every book on copyright we could locate to find answers to these important questions. Several years later, when I was in graduate school, I watched with fascination as another close friend of mine, Brian, established a non-profit corporation for purpose of financing the performance of newly composed pieces of music, a practice that has not been commercially viable for the past century or so. These examples illustrate that the musical world is a complicated one and only in the law can we be certain that the rights of all participants are protected.
Once upon a time, I believed that my music making would somehow change the world. While music has not lost its mysterious and intoxicating hold on me, maturity and perspective have suggested that there is a more appropriate role for me to play. In a world where cultural institutions evolve while new technologies emerge, we need people who can navigate with integrity and sophistication both the artistic and legal realms. This is the sort of person I aspire to be.
**********

Woozy
Posts: 159
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 2:29 pm

Re: Second Career Personal Statement, Let Me Know What You Think

Postby Woozy » Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:34 pm

You really need to go back to the drawing board on this one. Think about some of your positive qualities and work them into your statement. This statement does not paint you in a flattering light. This is you opportunity to sell yourself, and you spend large amounts of it making yourself look like a failure. In your own words:

your temperament is ill-suited to certain things
you are unwilling to make sacrifices
you don't have enough talent
you can't support your family
you badly misjudged the nature and prospects of a career you spent years working towards

Are these the qualities of a successful lawyer? Is this the picture you want admission committees to have of you? I know it isn't, but it is the impression one gets reading this statement.

You need to focus on why the person reading this wants to let you into their law school, not on why you want to go to law school. And please try to make it look more like a natural/successful transition than a "plan B." You just begin to touch on that near the end, but the first half tells a different story.

sarahh
Posts: 610
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:36 pm

Re: Second Career Personal Statement, Let Me Know What You Think

Postby sarahh » Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:40 pm

I don't like the third paragraph ("Through a lengthy process. . ."). It does not really portray you in a positive light. I think you could just briefly mention how you realized a career in music was not for you and then talk about your interest in music and the law.

Also, I would italicize "Every good boy does fine." In the last paragraph, it should be "integrity and sophistication in both the artistic and legal realms."

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DocHawkeye
Posts: 640
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:22 am

Re: Second Career Personal Statement, Let Me Know What You Think

Postby DocHawkeye » Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:39 pm

Thank you all for your feedback on my previous draft. Let me know if this resovles some of your previoud concerns.

*********
Every good boy does fine. These five words changed my life. It is not their literal meaning which had so great an impact. Taken at face value they are hardly a pearl of wisdom – the language is rather bland and hopelessly imprecise. What is it, exactly, that good boys achieve with such marked mediocrity? It is, instead, in the form of a pneumonic device that they played their transformative roll. Virtually any student of music would recognize this phrase as a symbol for one of that discipline’s basic building blocks. These words allude to the names of the notes on the lines of the treble clef staff, the notes played by the right hand on the piano – E, G, B, D, and F. I can clearly remember sitting in music class on the gray, damp March morning when I learned these names, my spine tingling as I was drawn into the lesson with a gravity I had never before felt. I was ten years old and I have never looked at the world in the same way since. That day, I resolved to learn everything I could about this mysterious thing called music.
I find myself with a very different outlook now than I did on that magical late winter day of my childhood. In the two decades or so that have elapsed since then, the tingling I felt turned first to passion as I played and sang my way through high school. In college, it transformed itself into a professional aspiration, first to become a music teacher and later to become a composer. It sustained me through a master’s degree in orchestral conducting. On the twelfth of May, 2006, I was awarded a doctor of philosophy degree in music, fulfilling the resolution I made as a child. Since that time, however, that passion has turned into a question mark. That question mark wonders if a musical career was the best choice.
The intersection of music and the law has long been an interest of to me. Not long after I started college, a friend called me on the telephone and announced his intention to become a Christian rock singer. He knew of my aspirations and asked that I write some songs for him. After writing two or three songs that were added to his repertoire, it became clear that this was more than an artistic or spiritual venture. In order to preserve our friendship, Zach and I would have to understand the ground rules that would govern the use of my music. We both poured over every book on copyright we could locate to find answers to these important questions. Several years later, when I was in graduate school, I watched with fascination as another close friend of mine, Brian, established a non-profit corporation for purpose of financing the performance of newly composed pieces of music, a practice that has not been commercially viable for the past century or so. These examples illustrate that the musical world is a complicated one and only in the law can we be certain that the rights of all participants are protected.
The decision to apply to law school is not something that I have taken lightly but is a carefully reasoned decision. When I started graduate school, it was my plan to teach at the college or university level. With four years of experience as an adjunct instructor under my belt, I have come to the realization that I am not as enamored with being a college teacher as I once thought I would be. A distinct difference exists between aspiring to be a teacher and actually being one. There comes a time for asking the hard questions – questions about long term happiness and career satisfaction. For me, that time is now and for the past two years I have been investigating a wide array of options. In that time, I have learned some significant things about myself. I need to work in a field that is intellectually rigorous. I need to help people. College teaching and the legal profession are entirely not dissimilar in these ways and I am ready for a fresh challenge.
Once upon a time, I believed that my music making would somehow change the world. While music has not lost its mysterious and intoxicating hold on me, maturity and perspective have suggested that there is a more appropriate role for me to play. In a world where cultural institutions evolve while new technologies emerge, we need people who can navigate with integrity and sophistication both the artistic and legal realms. This is the sort of person I aspire to be.
**********

User avatar
DocHawkeye
Posts: 640
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:22 am

Re: Second Career Personal Statement, Let Me Know What You Think

Postby DocHawkeye » Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:40 pm

Excuse my use of "decision" twice in p4.

sarahh
Posts: 610
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:36 pm

Re: Second Career Personal Statement, Let Me Know What You Think

Postby sarahh » Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:50 pm

I think it is an improvement, but I have an issue with the "I need to work in a field that is intellectually rigorous. I need to help people."

Couldn't you say that about a lot of fields besides the law, including teaching? Can you keep it positive but a little less generic?

Woozy
Posts: 159
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 2:29 pm

Re: Second Career Personal Statement, Let Me Know What You Think

Postby Woozy » Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:46 pm

Better, but you are still writing, like almost everyone else, about why you want to go to law school and how you are committed to law/know law is right for you.

All I know about who you are and why I want you in my law school after reading this is:

You were into music for a while, so much so that you got a PhD in music. You were exposed to one or two ways in which the law intersects the music world. Now you want to go into law because music no longer satisfies you.

Make a list of your positive qualities and think of times in your music career when you displayed them. Work in something, anything that shows you are unique in a positive way, that you will bring something to their class that another applicant won't. Your background is different from many applicants, but you need to more explicitly show how that will bring something desirable to their class that they won't have without you. Your second-to-last sentence is about the only thing on the right track in this regard. See if you can build on that idea a little more.

Your personal statement is not the time for you life story or a chance to convince them you want to go to law school. They know you want to go to law school. It is your chance to sell yourself. Make them fear that they will miss out on a great alumnus if they let you go to another school.




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