Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )

Use of the skydiving story as a bookend

Keep it, it works
7
44%
Shorten it, it distracts
5
31%
Cut it, it fails
4
25%
 
Total votes: 16

Nailjohnj
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Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby Nailjohnj » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:05 pm

Hey everyone, I just rewrote this PS to cut out a couple of hundred words. Please judge it and let me know. I need to submit Thurs or Fri, so I am taking all criticisms. If you vote that it needs work, PLEASE give me your critiques. Thanks for your help! I am willing to do PS trades if you want to PM me.

Instead of being fast asleep at 9:30 in the morning of my twenty-fifth birthday, I was nervously inspecting the bare cabin of a 1950’s era Cessna with a rather rotund fellow who called himself my pilot. As I listened to him describe the trouble I would be in if I did not exit the cabin in a certain manner when we reached 10,000 feet, I began to reevaluate the decision that I had made only hours earlier and asked myself why I was doing something that could genuinely be described as foolish. The short answer was that I had been planning on making this jump for at least four birthdays now, but, to be honest, the real reason was that my mother had passed away only five months earlier and I realized that I was running out of time to put my well laid plans into action. So, as the pilot finished his speech on how to survive a two mile fall, which I did not feel was anywhere near comprehensive enough, I crammed into the tiny craft with 4 other men, all of whom seemed as quietly reflective about this decision as me. As the propeller started to spin, one of them even crossed himself and seemed to mumble a quiet prayer.

Change is never easy, but sometimes it is exactly what a person needs to get moving with their plans again. This is one of the major lessons that I learned from my mother throughout her life. When I was nine years old, a mere three years after my parents divorced, my mother decided that our family needed a change to broaden our horizons, so she took a job with the Department of Defense and moved us 4,500 miles from upstate South Carolina to southern Germany. At the time I hated the idea of leaving my family and friends to move to a country where I could not even speak the language, but I would spend the next nine years learning new languages, making friends across cultural boundaries, and developing a thirst for knowledge that comes from experiencing arts, architecture and other works that many people only get to read about.

It was this thirst that originally led me to study economics in college and gave me to dream to pursue a career in law. However, after college this dream quickly dissipated when I discovered the cost of law school and realized I was not in a position to take on anymore debt. So, I instead entered the workforce after graduation and began to search for a new career path. But after working for a year or so, I had a conversation with an old family friend who worked as an international trade lawyer in Washington, D.C. As he discussed some of his old cases with me, I felt my passion for law reignite and I began revisit my dormant dream. I opened up to my mother about it in October of 2009, and, to my surprise she began to push me to realize my dream at any cost. She even went as far as to buy me two LSAT preparation books and have them delivered to me without my knowledge. The books arrived from Amazon on November 1st, my mother passed away on November 15th.

On the morning of the 15th, I had to catch an early morning flight to a training program for a new job that I had recently started. After I had checked in for my flight, I decided to give my mother a call, since we hadn’t spoken in a week or so due to the time difference and my new job. After 6 rings, her boss unexpectedly answered her phone and turned my life upside down with a 10 minute conversation. The next few months were a complete blur for me, with her memorial and a 4 day trip to Germany set in the middle of the holiday season. As the calendar changed to a new year, I felt the grief reducing me to a shell of my former self. But in February, a new problem suddenly came to the forefront. Due to the complexities of the German and American probate codes, my brother, who lives in Portland, OR, and I were potentially liable for almost $600,000 of debt between real estate and medical bills in Europe that threatened to consume our mother’s estate in the United States.

Since I had volunteered to act as the executor of her estate, I took responsibility for solving this problem. I began spending hours after work in the library reading German and American legal code, I worked with German consulates in Portland, OR; Atlanta, GA; and Greenville, SC, and consulted lawyers in South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Frankfurt. With their help, I was able to discover a method where we could dispose of the German liabilities without affecting the estate in the United States. With the rush that I felt from solving this complex international problem, I again felt my drive to study law return and on March 23rd, I registered for the June LSAT. With this new found eagerness, I finally went home and sat down with my mother’s last gift to me, the LSAT preparation books, and began studying for the upcoming exam.

So, when the door of the tiny Cessna opened at 10,000 feet, I couldn’t help but think of my mother. As my compatriots flung themselves one by one out into the icy blue sky, I realized that even though dealing with my mother’s death would continue to be difficult, at least the loss was forcing me to put my plans into action and pursue my own dreams. As I slid across the floor of the plane to the open door, I clutched my mother’s pendant of Saint Patrick that I wear around my neck and said my own silent prayer. I then gripped the edge of the tiny plane and pulled myself into a front flip out into nothingness. As I stared at the quickly approaching ground, I grew excited knowing that my life was moving again, and that nothing would be able to stop me from continuing on to law school so that I could learn to help people understand the complex legal system that I had only scratched the surface of. Nothing, that is, except a malfunctioning parachute.
Last edited by Nailjohnj on Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bk1
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby bk1 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:09 pm

I loathe the opener, which is as far as I got.

Going skydiving for your birthday? That's really what you're going to write about?

Nailjohnj
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby Nailjohnj » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:24 pm

Actually, I'm writing about my mother passing away and me getting moving again. The skydiving is used to start and finish the narrative and is only in the beginning and end. Anyone else feeling this is a bad move?

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bk1
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby bk1 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:27 pm

If you're going to bookend your PS with it, cut out all references to your birthday, other people (pilot/skydivers), malfunctioning parachute joke, etc and make it primarily about jumping out of the plane and falling. Even if you did that, I still think it is a bad idea.

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glitter178
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby glitter178 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:28 pm

Nailjohnj wrote:Actually, I'm writing about my mother passing away and me getting moving again. The skydiving is used to start and finish the narrative and is only in the beginning and end. Anyone else feeling this is a bad move?


yes.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:32 pm

Great ending. I enjoyed reading your personal statement. This essay works because the reader knows your motivation & primary influences and you present yourself in an entertaining & likeable manner.

Nailjohnj
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby Nailjohnj » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:44 pm

If you're going to bookend your PS with it, cut out all references to your birthday, other people (pilot/skydivers), malfunctioning parachute joke, etc and make it primarily about jumping out of the plane and falling. Even if you did that, I still think it is a bad idea.


So you think I should just cut out the foreplay and go straight into moving to Europe and my mom passing away?

I'm not trying to get defensive or anything, I just want to grasp what corrections are needed. Glitter said the something similar, but didn't elaborate, and Wolf went rogue and liked the way everything flowed and understood where I was coming from. Anyone else want to jump in?

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glitter178
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby glitter178 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:46 pm

Nailjohnj wrote:
If you're going to bookend your PS with it, cut out all references to your birthday, other people (pilot/skydivers), malfunctioning parachute joke, etc and make it primarily about jumping out of the plane and falling. Even if you did that, I still think it is a bad idea.


So you think I should just cut out the foreplay and go straight into moving to Europe and my mom passing away?

I'm not trying to get defensive or anything, I just want to grasp what corrections are needed. Glitter said the something similar, but didn't elaborate, and Wolf went rogue and liked the way everything flowed and understood where I was coming from. Anyone else want to jump in?


the legal stuff is what is really compelling and unexpected... i know what you're trying to do with the skydiving thing, but you're really just distracting your reader from your true point and from the real substance of your PS. i'm impressed/ intrigued by the legal stuff... tell me more about that and how that makes you want to go to law school.

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bk1
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby bk1 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:47 pm

Nailjohnj wrote:So you think I should just cut out the foreplay and go straight into moving to Europe and my mom passing away?


There is nothing wrong with opening on something tangential and having it bookend your PS, but that doesn't mean that every possible bookend is worthwhile. You can bookend your PS if you want, I just wouldn't use skydiving in this instance.

Nailjohnj
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby Nailjohnj » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:55 pm

Ok, I can appreciate this comments, and I'm curious how more people feel about the use of Skydiving to bookend the PS. I'm changing the poll, so give me some votes.

Also, please keep giving me any critiques you have. This is very helpful!

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bk1
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby bk1 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:05 pm

Since I have a bit of time I will explain why I don't like skydiving:

1. It's not rare. - A lot of people have done it so it feels strange that you are making such a big deal of it. It really isn't that special.

2. It's pretentious. - You are making a big deal out of skydiving for fun. There are tons of people out there who can't afford to do this. There are also plenty of people out there (soldiers) doing this for a real reason and not because they just can. You treating this like a big thing feels like it makes light of those two groups.

3. It's cliche. - Jumping out of a plane was exhilarating and frightening? Big woop.

The way you write it also makes it 1000 times worse. As I said if you cut the skydiving to bare bones it would be better, though I still think it wouldn't be good.

Now that I've explained myself I'll bow out and let others give their opinion on it.

Nailjohnj
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby Nailjohnj » Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:13 pm

I like hearing this stuff, bc its giving me a different view. I did actually do this with a good friend who jumps with the 82nd, so I meant no disrespect in that way. I wanted to show that law school isn't the only thing that changed for me after my mom's death, that I was getting everything moving again, so that is why I went with skydiving, since it was something that I have been planning for a long time. Thoughts?

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bk1
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby bk1 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:22 pm

Nailjohnj wrote:I like hearing this stuff, bc its giving me a different view. I did actually do this with a good friend who jumps with the 82nd, so I meant no disrespect in that way. I wanted to show that law school isn't the only thing that changed for me after my mom's death, that I was getting everything moving again, so that is why I went with skydiving, since it was something that I have been planning for a long time. Thoughts?


I'm not saying what I wrote above that is what you think but merely how the writing sounds.

As for "getting everything moving again," in this case I really don't think the another instance is needed to elaborate on this. I do like the ending scene of you studying with the LSAT books.

JJDancer
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby JJDancer » Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:10 pm

I don't think the last paragraph does anything for your PS. I would cut it.
EDIT: If you want, keep this line from the last paragraph but mention it elsewhere in the PS: "I realized that even though dealing with my mother’s death would continue to be difficult, at least the loss was forcing me to put my plans into action and pursue my own dreams."

Is the PS great even without the skydiving bookend? Yes

But I liked the 1st paragraph's mention of skydiving (new stage of life/trying new things/taking risks/moving on/exhilarating etc). Especially the sentence about your mom (sorry for your loss) lets the reader know that this isn't a PS about just skydiving. I think you can cut the last sentence or 2 of that paragraph though (and end it with "plans into action.")

The rest of the story about legal battle/personal struggle of moving on is very good.
Last edited by JJDancer on Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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2807
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby 2807 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:16 pm

I like it. I like the bookend concept. I would edit it down to 2 pages and see what happens. Then you can decide what really stays. It appears a bit long. You may not even have the luxury of the bookend soon.

Edit it to two pages and post that.

Overall, it is good. I really like it. And I disagree with the above dismissive posts about skydiving. I am certain that it is a universally frightening and rare occurrence for average people. Good for you to do that and take from it the lessons you have.

Now, edit and return....

Nailjohnj
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby Nailjohnj » Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:15 pm

Ok, so I am digging this. I just got a cup of coffee and am about to going to go crazy rewrites. I am thinking about keeping the first paragraph in a reduced form as an opener to catch an adcomms eye and I'll try to finish it with the scene of getting into the LSAT prep books that my mom gave me. I feel like that is a very poignant image to end with (thanks BK). I am going to use the no skydiving version as the 500 worder for some schools. Stay tuned, the results will certainly get on this forum. I appreciate everything everyone said.

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knotoftoads
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby knotoftoads » Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:27 pm

whatever you do, please shorten your sentences. Most are wayyyyyyyyy too long.

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arkansawyer
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby arkansawyer » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:20 pm

Honestly, I think it's compelling and it reads very well. It is a little perverse that your mother's death and the LSAT are so linked for you....

Anyway, I like it.

policestate1234
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby policestate1234 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:25 pm

Tl; dr

Nailjohnj
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby Nailjohnj » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:46 pm

policestate1234 wrote:Tl; dr


I'm not sure what DR is, but I imagine TL is to long... Is this an accurate assumption?

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bk1
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby bk1 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:07 pm

TLDR - Too long, didn't read.

czelede
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Re: Just rewrote... PLEASE JUDGE ME!!

Postby czelede » Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:18 pm

I had difficulty getting through the beginning, but I liked it more and more as I kept reading.

Overall, I think this statement has a ton of potential - I rather liked the the reflections you've made and the punch of your closing sentence. But I would try and rework the statement so that the bulk of it (and you'll need to whittle it down for most schools quite a bit as well) centers on your mother and settling her estate and the lessons learned, with an underlying motif of forward movement. I think you can integrate your skydiving experience into all this but, as previous people have mentioned, skydiving itself is not much of a topic so keep if I were you I would keep that brief and use it to complement the overall message of your story, rather than deliver it. You only have so much space - nobody cares about the rotund pilot.




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