Will this get me in the 'ding' pile

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
sampras13
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:47 pm

Will this get me in the 'ding' pile

Postby sampras13 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:33 pm

166/3.81-looking to Fordham, GW, BU, USC, and most of all GULC part-time


A Worthy Replacement
It was the morning of my final argument for my moot court class and the butterflies in my stomach were hitting sixth gear. I recognized instantly that those bolts of nervousness and excitement were familiar to me. This feeling was unlike the anxiousness before any exam or interview; it was the raw, bursting energy before a competition. My teenage years were filled with these kinds of mornings when I played junior and varsity high school tennis. There would be no athletic skills involved in the ‘courtroom’ but the psychological and emotional aspects of the engagement reminded me of the tennis court. In the courtroom as on the tennis court, there occurs a contest that requires you to navigate between the obstacles that are presented by your opponent as well as your own personal limitations and uncertainties. This familiarity with the circumstances and these feelings would grow as I entered the waiting area to our classroom. I was amidst my opposing counsel as well as several invited audience members that would contribute in creating a more realistic environment for us to give our arguments. This group of spectators that included good friends of mine and other professors only intensified my already palpable sense of the occasion. As I entered the classroom, I knew that I had found a channel for my temperament and that it would test the attributes I believe to be essential to success in life.
Leading up to this day was a very rewarding semester that complemented and solidified the climb from the lowest point of my life two years prior. In the summer of 2007, I was preparing to attend Rutgers University and begin college life until I received a letter that would irrevocably change my life. I had a difficult year up to that point that included two car accidents, a bout of mononucleosis, and a failure-riddled academic senior year. The combination of these unfortunate events and poor choices resulted in a decision by Rutgers to rescind my acceptance and leave me without a university to attend. There was a gaping hole where my future once resided. In one fell swoop, all my good grades in high school as well as my strong SAT results were rubbed out. My only choice was to sign up to my local community college and work my way back to an academic standing that a more prestigious institution would be interested in for a transfer.
Until this point, my life was a series of unfulfilled passions and endeavors. I dreamt of being a tennis player until my lazy, immature approach to preparation and physical fitness ended in a career-ending back injury. Later on, I fell in love with cinema and went to a summer program to study directing only to find the disappointment of my first efforts disheartening enough to suspend my pursuit of an artistic enterprise. I was only 18 but my life was filled with unfinished projects and unsatisfied pursuits. The day I received the letter of rescind I was put in a position that would be a crucial turning point in my life and one I would look back on with either pride or deep regret depending on my response. I knew that my previously whimsical approach to life would not suffice and that I would need to remove all distractions and focus wholly on putting myself back on track. I lost many friends and probably a few fun parties but a year later, after my first real foray into work and study, I would receive a much different letter than the one from Rutgers. The letter read that I had been accepted into Bentley University and it signified that my sacrifices and change in attitude were paying off.
My first year at Bentley saw the continuation of my academic success but no real enthusiasm for the knowledge I was attaining. I needed something to replace my prior infatuations. I decided that I would take two intensive law classes and see whether this field would occupy the empty space. After several months researching cases and writing briefs for my moot court class, in addition to studying the history of the English Common Law and going on an academic trip to London to see the evolution and history of the western understanding of the law, I was intrigued to say the least. I had enjoyed delving into cases and developing arguments and was inspired by the significance and contribution that law had made to the progress and enlightenment of society. A passion was developing and it would fulminate on the morning of my final argument.
I would give a strong and rounded argument that day but I would also realize that what I had finally learned about the necessity of rigorous and unrelenting effort had found a mature and worthy outlet. It inspired me as I reflected that I was fighting in an arena of doctrines and justice. I had replaced a youthful fascination with the glory of athletic success for the ethical defense of principles. That competitive spirit which had lain dormant in me since my tennis-playing days was awoken and manifested itself now in a humanitarian and intellectual endeavor.

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glitched
Posts: 1040
Joined: Wed May 19, 2010 9:50 am

Re: Will this get me in the 'ding' pile

Postby glitched » Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:51 pm

I didn't know butterflies could drive. ;)


sorry - i just read the first sentence for now but i will read and try to leave some comments later.

sampras13
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:47 pm

Re: Will this get me in the 'ding' pile

Postby sampras13 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:01 pm

Was that criticism hiding in sarcasm or just a funny comment? im not sure lol

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niederbomb
Posts: 962
Joined: Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:07 pm

Re: Will this get me in the 'ding' pile

Postby niederbomb » Mon Nov 08, 2010 7:39 am

What you did well: Your personal statement is about how events in your background make you interested in the study of law. I wish I could explain as well as you did why I want to study law. You definitely go beyond the explicit or implicit: "I graduated with a liberal arts degree and then found out I didn't want to spend the rest of my life working at Starbucks, so I decided to go to law school."

What needs improving: I'm not sure you are supposed to discuss academic failures in your P.S, at least not fairly recent ones. But maybe if you more clearly explained how the car accidents (i.e. events beyond your control) caused you problems and how you overcame them, then it might be ok.

Here's something that might get you dinged, something you might want to rework:

I dreamt of being a tennis player until my lazy, immature approach to preparation and physical fitness ended in a career-ending back injury.


Do law schools want to admit someone who calls themselves "lazy, immature"? Maybe you should rework this sentence because law school adcomms probably speed read and take things out of context.

sampras13
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:47 pm

Re: Will this get me in the 'ding' pile

Postby sampras13 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:40 am

Should I add that I was 15 at the time or just reword it somehow?

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niederbomb
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Joined: Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:07 pm

Re: Will this get me in the 'ding' pile

Postby niederbomb » Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:59 am

Maybe both?

Just soften the edge, take out a few negative words, and note clearly that you were 15 and that the problems were caused by events outside your control (the car accidents, medical problems).

If you really had these medical problems and can document them, why not state clearly that this, and only this, was responsible for your academic problems, and then explain how you went on to achieve in spite of it (which you somewhat do already).

Saltqjibo
Posts: 271
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:47 pm

Re: Will this get me in the 'ding' pile

Postby Saltqjibo » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:28 pm

K, you have a serious problem here, and I know, because I did the exact same thing. You present yourself in a far too negative light. Everyone has projects and paths left unfulfilled because they lost interest, passion, or life got in the way. You don't need to explain why you failed, you need to highlight that you had the guts to try. You may have screwed up your training or whatever, but no one needs to know it was your fault (in fact it probably wasn't - even the best, most carefully trained athletes bodies break down -- see injury rosters in any professional league, or hell, look at Agassi's back).

Not to psychoanalyze, but the root cause of these things was probably not that you were lazy and immature, most of us still are to some degree, but that you weren't sure you really wanted to do them. Maybe you wanted to explore and enjoy life, maybe you valued social interactions over academics. These are positive, and possibly more revealing, ways of phrasing the same thing. That you screwed a bunch of stuff up when you were younger because your priorities were different.

I switched universities 3 times for various, somewhat whimsical reasons, I also dropped out for a year and took 5 years in school to finish my degree (not full course loads). But instead of doing what you are doing (which is how I started), I decided to focus on the positive aspects of what I learned from that experience which is that I got to know 3 incredible cities, travel around N.A. on my year off and do creative writing, play music in a band while I was in school (had lots of time cuz of reduced course load). I could have easily said something like "wasn't dedicated to academics, didn't have the maturity to settle in one city, dropped out because I was unhappy in school". Which is all true. But I think it looks better the other way.




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