Personal Statement Help.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Columbia11
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:38 am

Personal Statement Help.

Postby Columbia11 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:46 am

Hi, I would greatly appreciate any feed back, grammatical errors, suggestions, or critiques, etc... you all might have. Thank you so much!

I transferred four times in my middle and high school years because of various disciplinary problems. My senior year I realized I could not write an academic essay because I had no idea of what a noun, verb, adverb, or subject was. In other words, I could not write a sentence correctly. On top of my limited academic abilities, I was lost, I had no clue on how to study or succeed in school and life. The fact that I saw myself as a follower who was headed down the wrong path in life, led me to reevaluate and redefine my priorities in life. For the first time in my life, I decided not be a follower and take the college route, which was not traveled by any of my close friends.

The first research paper I wrote was at Delgado Community College. I was beyond disappointed and almost gave up when I received a D- on my first college assignment. I would usually just accept my grade, but instead for the first time in my life, I was concerned about my grade. Most of all, I was eager to learn and fix my mistakes. To improve my grade, I worked with my professor and went to the writing center daily after class. I also purchased various academic writing books and researched our writing system so I could become a better writer. While I did not receive an A in my English course, I realized I could do whatever I set my mind to. I transferred from Delgado to Loyola University New Orleans after two semesters.

The first day at Loyola was remarkable. Acceptance alone showed me that persistence and hard work truly does pay off, but as with any story, mine lacked perfection. I received a D+ on my first essay, the first paper for which I worked so hard, only to receive a below average grade again. That same day I went straight to my professor’s office and told him, “Tell me what do I have to do to improve.” I learned more in that day than I ever learned in my entire school career. As soon as I got home from school, I told my mother I learned so much in school today and that I love school. This statement alone made my mother cry because she never saw me so interested in school. I studied for hours, outlined and sometimes wrote an entire chapter on paper, and turned in numerous drafts to all my professors. I was able to revise my original D+ paper and earned a grade that I never dreamed or received in my life, an A. The D+ paper I started with became a thing of the past because I received A’s on every paper and test in all my classes. The meeting I had with my professor on my D+ paper caused me to feel something that was unknown to me, which was a sense of confidence in myself. The added confidence was the key to the new me, it motivated me to never doubt or succumb to adversity because I made it this far. Thereafter, I viewed school as a full time job. I studied 40 to 50 hours a week, sought help from anyone who offered to assist me, and separated myself from my any negative friends I had. I will never forget my first semester at Loyola because of the degree of difficulty I encountered; for example, I had a full time job, plus minimal knowledge on how to study or write. However, I felt I could not be stopped if I survived my first semester and I did with a 3.65. Ever since that day, I have never looked back and used every experience as an opportunity to improve.

Throughout my tenure at Loyola, I made sure I selected the most arduous classes. My selection of courses was so distant from the norm that numerous of my classmates once assured me that it was impossible to receive an A. Regardless of the comments, I was never discouraged and always stayed humble and motivated. I would regularly wake up at six in the morning just to study for my daily history quiz. One classmate and I were the only students out of 30 students to receive an A in the history course. Another challenge occurred my sophomore year when I registered for Greek Art and Archaeology. Various internet sites that review classes and students warned me to avoid this course by all means, but I did not hesitate to welcome the challenge. The first couple of weeks were intense, but I did not give up and found the strength to motivate me find to a way to surpass this obstacle. With hard work and dedication, I excelled prodigiously.

My name is [My name], and I am the first from my family to apply to law school. I went from an uneducated, lost, and full of disbelieve individual to an educated individual full of ambition and motivation. Loyola University provided me with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to tackle the adversities of life and succeed in the academic world. Most of all, Loyola saved my life because it assisted me in discovering my talents and myself as an individual. I was never given the opportunity nor the time of day from my professors or peers, and, most of all, no one had faith in me. Since middle school, professors preached to my mother that school was not for everybody, and “your son does not reflect the ideal student.” Despite the negative comments, I have prevailed and disproved their theories on my future.

At this juncture in my life, I seek to challenge my knowledge and expand my personal growth even more, and Columbia law school answers that calling. Columbia’s intense intellectually stimulating environment will challenge me like never before from my written skills, attention to detail to my cognitive abilities. My background and work ethics will bring a unique perspective to the Columbia classroom. Acceptance into Columbia law school will satisfy my goal, which is to exemplify to all that hard work does pay off, and regardless of my academic accomplishments, I continue to remain humble and grateful for this talent and second chance.

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$1.99
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Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:49 am

Re: Personal Statement Help.

Postby $1.99 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:02 am

This PS is lackluster. It has potential because it seems you come from an unusual upbringing, but there is no strong plot in your PS. It is basically about you getting an A in one course at your university and then talking about how much you studied and loved school. This is not going to impress the Columbia Dean. Also, the second to last paragraph starting with "My name is..." seems like a big rip off of some lame commercial and is abrupt. Maybe focus on a more interesting event in your life or how an event shaped your desire to study the law.

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rinkrat19
Posts: 13915
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: Personal Statement Help.

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:06 am

Tore it up pretty thoroughly. Sorry, I'm not very good at editing gently. You should see me with a red pen.

Columbia11 wrote:The fact that I saw myself as a follower who was headed down the wrong path in life, led me to reevaluate and redefine my priorities in life. For the first time in my life, I decided not be a follower and take the college route, which was not traveled by any of my close friends.

You write "the fact that I saw myself as a follower," as if this is something that you've already mentioned. Except you haven't mentioned it and you never do explain it, and 'being a follower' never gets mentioned again past the next sentence.

For the first time in my life, I decided not be a follower and take the college route, which was not traveled by any of my close friends.

Sounds like you decided not to take the college route, which is obviously not what you meant.
I get that you're trying to say that your friends and peers didn't go to college and that breaking with that trend was your big act of defiance, but it needs more description. Why did none of your friends go to college? Was your school in a bad neighborhood where few kids could afford college? Was your school ok but you hung out with bad kids? Was it a magnet school for troubled kids? Show, don't tell. If you describe your situation, you won't need to spell out so explicitly that you were a rebel for going to college, because it will be obvious.


Columbia11 wrote:My senior year I realized I could not write an academic essay because I had no idea of what a noun, verb, adverb, or subject was. In other words, I could not write a sentence correctly.

It's just a little awkward. How about:
As a senior in high school, I still could not write an academic essay. I had no idea what nouns, verbs and subjects were, let alone how to identify and use them. In other words, I did not know how to write a proper sentence.

Columbia11 wrote:I was beyond disappointed and almost gave up when I received a D- on my first college assignment.

'beyond disappointed' isn't a phrase I'd use. Too informal and cliche.
The D- I received on my first college assignment almost caused me to give up entirely.


Columbia11 wrote:I would usually just accept my grade, but instead for the first time in my life, I was concerned about my grade. Most of all, I was eager to learn and fix my mistakes.

Before, I would have simply accepted the D-, but for the first time in my life, I cared. I wanted to learn, and to fix my mistakes.


Columbia11 wrote:To improve my grade, I worked with my professor and went to the writing center daily after class. I also purchased various academic writing books and researched our writing system so I could become a better writer. While I did not receive an A in my English course, I realized I could do whatever I set my mind to. I transferred from Delgado to Loyola University New Orleans after two semesters.

I began doing everything I could to improve my grade. I worked with the professor during his office hours and went to the campus writing center every day after class. I bought books on writing and grammar and studied them intensely. While I did not finish with an A in that first college English course, I improved from that initial D- to a [X]. I gained confidence in my writing skills and my grasp of English grammar. Most importantly, I realized that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to. After only two semesters at [CC], I took the next step and transferred to Loyola University New Orleans.

Columbia11 wrote:The first day at Loyola was remarkable. Acceptance alone showed me that persistence and hard work truly does pay off, but as with any story, mine lacked perfection. I received a D+ on my first essay, the first paper for which I worked so hard, only to receive a below average grade again. That same day I went straight to my professor’s office and told him, “Tell me what do I have to do to improve.” I learned more in that day than I ever learned in my entire school career.

This is tricky, in that it sounds like almost an exact repeat of your experiences at the CC. Shocked by bad grade, gets determined, improves a lot. I think you can leave out some of the detail, so that you're not telling the same story twice.
Just being accepted to Loyola showed me what can result from persistence, by my hard work was not done. Just like my first days at [CC], I was shocked by a D+ on my first paper. I went straight to the professor's office and said, "tell me what I have to do to improve." [Sentences about the professor being willing/sitting down with you/pulling out a pad of paper/etc.] I was enthralled. I felt like I learned more in that single session with Professor John Smith than I had learned in my entire school career up to that moment, and I walked out of his office with increased confidence in myself. At home that night, my mother cried when I told her that I loved school.


Columbia11 wrote:I studied for hours, outlined and sometimes wrote an entire chapter on paper, and turned in numerous drafts to all my professors. I was able to revise my original D+ paper and earned a grade that I never dreamed or received in my life, an A. The D+ paper I started with became a thing of the past because I received A’s on every paper and test in all my classes. The meeting I had with my professor on my D+ paper caused me to feel something that was unknown to me, which was a sense of confidence in myself. The added confidence was the key to the new me, it motivated me to never doubt or succumb to adversity because I made it this far. Thereafter, I viewed school as a full time job. I studied 40 to 50 hours a week, sought help from anyone who offered to assist me, and separated myself from my any negative friends I had. I will never forget my first semester at Loyola because of the degree of difficulty I encountered; for example, I had a full time job, plus minimal knowledge on how to study or write. However, I felt I could not be stopped if I survived my first semester and I did with a 3.65. Ever since that day, I have never looked back and used every experience as an opportunity to improve.

Much of this is repetitive and unnecessary, or cliche.
The thrill from that first meeting with Professor Smith never died, and with a lot more hard work, that D+ became my first college A. I gradually learned how to study, learned how to write and in fact, learned how to learn. A 3.65 grade point average in my first semester at Loyola confirmed that I was in the right place, and I felt invincible.

Columbia11 wrote:Throughout my tenure at Loyola, I made sure I selected the most arduous classes. My selection of courses was so distant from the norm that numerous of my classmates once assured me that it was impossible to receive an A. Regardless of the comments, I was never discouraged and always stayed humble and motivated. I would regularly wake up at six in the morning just to study for my daily history quiz. One classmate and I were the only students out of 30 students to receive an A in the history course. Another challenge occurred my sophomore year when I registered for Greek Art and Archaeology. Various internet sites that review classes and students warned me to avoid this course by all means, but I did not hesitate to welcome the challenge. The first couple of weeks were intense, but I did not give up and found the strength to motivate me find to a way to surpass this obstacle. With hard work and dedication, I excelled prodigiously.

I do not like this paragraph. I alternate between skepticism (really, you took the hardest classes ever offered in the history of time? Quantum physics? Applied theoretical mathematics?) and annoyance at the bragging. One sentence about not shying away from challenging courses is enough--you don't need to try and make yourself sound like Linus Pauling.

Columbia11 wrote:My name is [My name], and I am the first from my family to apply to law school.

The 'my name is' thing is risky.


Columbia11 wrote:I went from an uneducated, lost, and full of disbelieve individual to an educated individual full of ambition and motivation.

Awful sentence. Disbelieve is not a noun and you can't be full of it.
My undergraduate education transformed me. I entered [CC] drifting and uneducated and graduated from Loyola University New Orleans primed with ambition and self-confidence.

Columbia11 wrote:Loyola University provided me with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to tackle the adversities of life and succeed in the academic world. Most of all, Loyola saved my life because it assisted me in discovering my talents and myself as an individual.

Loyola provided me with the tools to tackle the adversities of academics. I firmly believe that going to college saved my life, by forcing me to unearth strengths in myself that I would never have otherwise discovered.


Columbia11 wrote:I was never given the opportunity nor the time of day from my professors or peers, and, most of all, no one had faith in me. Since middle school, professors preached to my mother that school was not for everybody, and “your son does not reflect the ideal student.” Despite the negative comments, I have prevailed and disproved their theories on my future.

This is the first time this is mentioned at ALL. Until now, you've only mentioned some disciplinary problems and transfers as explanation for your poor early education. The only other people mentioned in your essay were professors and your mom, who were all supportive. Either take this out entirely, or work it in much earlier so it doesn't come out of left field like this.

Columbia11 wrote:At this juncture in my life, I seek to challenge my knowledge and expand my personal growth even more, and Columbia law school answers that calling. Columbia’s intense intellectually stimulating environment will challenge me like never before from my written skills, attention to detail to my cognitive abilities. My background and work ethics will bring a unique perspective to the Columbia classroom. Acceptance into Columbia law school will satisfy my goal, which is to exemplify to all that hard work does pay off, and regardless of my academic accomplishments, I continue to remain humble and grateful for this talent and second chance.

'Challenge knowledge,' 'expand personal growth' and 'intense intellectually stimulating environment' sound like Sarah Palin writing a college brochure. It's word salad.
"...will challenge me like never before from my written skills, attention to detail to my cognitive abilities." If you're going to mention writing skills, make damn sure the sentence you mention them in makes sense. Better yet, don't mention them.
Columbia's stimulating academic environment will present new challenges, which I am eager to meet.

Work ethic, not ethics.

Columbia11 wrote:Acceptance into Columbia law school will satisfy my goal,

I don't think adcomms want to hear that acceptance is your final goal.

Columbia11 wrote:... which is to exemplify to all that hard work does pay off, and regardless of my academic accomplishments, I continue to remain humble and grateful for this talent and second chance.

Ok except for "second chance." Makes it sound like you've applied before, or attempted law school somewhere else and failed and are asking forgiveness. Your second chance was sometime back in high school. Since then, you're working on first chances.

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well-hello-there
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Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:38 pm

Re: Personal Statement Help.

Postby well-hello-there » Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:38 am

If you want to stick to a standard 2 page double spaced 12 point font personal statement, then you need to eliminate about 250 words.

I can relate to your experience of starting off at a community college and doing poorly at first because high school did not prepare you adequately for life. I can also appreciate how much you might have grown intellectually since then AND your continued determination to succeed however I don't think that Columbia will care about ANY of that if you don't have a GPA AND LSAT at or above their medians.

I say this because the quality of your writing is not the best and does not match up with my expectations of someone who would possess the numbers necessary for an acceptance to Columbia. Maybe you DO in fact have the numbers (Your writing is Shakespearean compared to a personal friend of mine who scored a 177) but if not, don't be fooled by all that talk from law school admissions committees of using a "Holistic" approach. Their holistic approach doesn't apply to normal people like you and me.




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