Harvard Personal Statement

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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arkansawyer
Posts: 222
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Harvard Personal Statement

Postby arkansawyer » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:23 pm

Edited
Last edited by arkansawyer on Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Jack Smirks
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Re: Harvard Personal Statement

Postby Jack Smirks » Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:28 pm

PM'ed you.

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arkansawyer
Posts: 222
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:11 pm

Re: Harvard Personal Statement

Postby arkansawyer » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:26 pm

Any other takers? Please?...

mlievano
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Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:04 am

Re: Harvard Personal Statement

Postby mlievano » Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:09 pm

I PM'd you too.

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capitalacq
Posts: 639
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:42 am

Re: Harvard Personal Statement

Postby capitalacq » Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:05 am

arkansawyer wrote:Hey guys, I think I'm getting closer to a final draft, please give me your input. Be as harsh as necessary-the feedback I got last night was really great.

I grew up in Newton County Arkansas, on a small farm in a valley of the Ozarks. Though the natural beauty of my home is undeniable, it was not the forests or the creeks that defined my childhood, but instead the poverty and violence that are endemic to the area.

While agriculture is common in the Ozarks, my father took a slightly different approach: he grew marijuana. Drugs offered my father both money and an emotional escape from his surroundings. In hindsight, this dependency made it inevitable that he would be drawn to methamphetamines. Meth is a terrible drug, and it made my father violent and neglectful. Many of my memories of my father are not happy ones, and I regret that he never had a chance to change that. He was murdered in 1996 when he was 26 years old, leaving my mother, my younger brother and sister, and me to survive on our own.

My father’s murder forced us to move so that my mother could find work. She had to work long hours and could not afford a babysitter; therefore, the responsibility of taking care of my siblings fell to me. Those days were tough, but I learned invaluable lessons that made me into the person I am today. I struggled with self-pity, but day to day life quickly taught me that feeling sorry for myself was not going to get anything done. I learned responsibility, pragmatism, and how to endure hardship without complaint. Those traits continue to serve me well.
The stigma of my childhood was powerful and I struggled to overcome it. Labels like “trailer trash” and “redneck” can demean and dehumanize as surely as any of the other taboo phrases in our culture. I have seen many of my friends succumb to the low expectations embodied in those phrases, individuals who otherwise had great potential. It would have been easy for me to take that path. However, I refused to be like my father; I would not be defined by my past. That desire is what kept me motivated in school, and has led me to the point where I am a semester away from being the first in my family to graduate from college. Ironically, I have not escaped my past; instead, it compels me to seek change.

Though I myself am proof that our society rewards hard work and determination, many of the rural poor will never know about the opportunities available to them. This perceived lack of options leads many, like my father, towards the false alternatives of crime and substance abuse. If proper policy had been in place, then perhaps the poverty and the violence of my youth could have been prevented. Throughout college, I have tried to learn about the policies affecting the rural poor and the political process that creates those policies. While I was an intern in Senator Pryor’s office, I worked closely with a legislative assistant to increase broadband access to rural communities so that students can have access to distance learning. In Arkansas, where 81% of schools are in rural communities, distance learning gives the majority of Arkansas children educational opportunities unheard of twenty years ago. Also, through my work in both in D.C. and as an election official, I have learned the rudimentary mechanics of politics. Although I do not believe that government can solve every problem, I do believe it can be part of the solution. I hope to use my skills and a legal education from Harvard to be part of those solutions.

I have worked hard to be a competitive applicant to Harvard Law, but I believe my greatest asset is my perspective. From the prosecution of my father’s killer to my family’s experience with federal aid, I have a visceral, first-hand knowledge of the way the law affects society. Though this knowledge is not unique, I do believe that it will set me apart from those of more traditional backgrounds. Harvard’s Law and Government program track, along with their generous commitment to public service, is a perfect fit for my interests. Harvard is certainly a long way from the Ozarks, but I am convinced that a legal education from Harvard would allow me to make real contribution both in and outside of the classroom.

PM me for email if you want to hit me back like that...


Overall, I definitely think it's good and doesn't need extensive work... here's just a brief list of things that stood out to me:

"Though I myself am proof that our society rewards hard work and determination" sounds a bit pretentious... I'm blanking out on alternatives, but there's probably a better way to say it (maybe "While my experiences have led me to discover that our society rewards hard work and determination")

"false alternatives" also sounds strange. is false the word you really meant to use? maybe use something like baneful alternatives?

"If proper policy had been in place, then perhaps the poverty and the violence of my youth could have been prevented. " - I'd just be more specific about what type of policy you're referring to

"Also, through my work in both in D.C. and as an election official, I have learned the rudimentary mechanics of politics"- this is already implied and I'd imagine every HLS candidate understands the rudimentary mechanics of politics, so I'd delete the sentence

"Though this knowledge is not unique, I do believe that it will set me apart from those of more traditional backgrounds." - why? (your next sentence should answer this question)

"Harvard’s Law and Government program track, along with their generous commitment to public service, is a perfect fit for my interests." - pure fluff, DEFINITELY delete

"but I am convinced that a legal education from Harvard would allow me to make real contribution both in and outside of the classroom." - not much wrong with this, but why wouldnt this be the case with every other applicant? just tie it together (i.e. "but I am convinced that combing my rare perspective with a legal education from...")

Lastly, your second paragraph is good... but I think there's room to make it amazing. The content is fine, but your literary style is just dry and I think you can make it more impactful

good luck!

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DoubleChecks
Posts: 2333
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:35 pm

Re: Harvard Personal Statement

Postby DoubleChecks » Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:13 am

capitalacq wrote:
arkansawyer wrote:Hey guys, I think I'm getting closer to a final draft, please give me your input. Be as harsh as necessary-the feedback I got last night was really great.

I grew up in Newton County Arkansas, on a small farm in a valley of the Ozarks. Though the natural beauty of my home is undeniable, it was not the forests or the creeks that defined my childhood, but instead the poverty and violence that are endemic to the area.

While agriculture is common in the Ozarks, my father took a slightly different approach: he grew marijuana. Drugs offered my father both money and an emotional escape from his surroundings. In hindsight, this dependency made it inevitable that he would be drawn to methamphetamines. Meth is a terrible drug, and it made my father violent and neglectful. Many of my memories of my father are not happy ones, and I regret that he never had a chance to change that. He was murdered in 1996 when he was 26 years old, leaving my mother, my younger brother and sister, and me to survive on our own.

My father’s murder forced us to move so that my mother could find work. She had to work long hours and could not afford a babysitter; therefore, the responsibility of taking care of my siblings fell to me. Those days were tough, but I learned invaluable lessons that made me into the person I am today. I struggled with self-pity, but day to day life quickly taught me that feeling sorry for myself was not going to get anything done. I learned responsibility, pragmatism, and how to endure hardship without complaint. Those traits continue to serve me well.
The stigma of my childhood was powerful and I struggled to overcome it. Labels like “trailer trash” and “redneck” can demean and dehumanize as surely as any of the other taboo phrases in our culture. I have seen many of my friends succumb to the low expectations embodied in those phrases, individuals who otherwise had great potential. It would have been easy for me to take that path. However, I refused to be like my father; I would not be defined by my past. That desire is what kept me motivated in school, and has led me to the point where I am a semester away from being the first in my family to graduate from college. Ironically, I have not escaped my past; instead, it compels me to seek change.

Though I myself am proof that our society rewards hard work and determination, many of the rural poor will never know about the opportunities available to them. This perceived lack of options leads many, like my father, towards the false alternatives of crime and substance abuse. If proper policy had been in place, then perhaps the poverty and the violence of my youth could have been prevented. Throughout college, I have tried to learn about the policies affecting the rural poor and the political process that creates those policies. While I was an intern in Senator Pryor’s office, I worked closely with a legislative assistant to increase broadband access to rural communities so that students can have access to distance learning. In Arkansas, where 81% of schools are in rural communities, distance learning gives the majority of Arkansas children educational opportunities unheard of twenty years ago. Also, through my work in both in D.C. and as an election official, I have learned the rudimentary mechanics of politics. Although I do not believe that government can solve every problem, I do believe it can be part of the solution. I hope to use my skills and a legal education from Harvard to be part of those solutions.

I have worked hard to be a competitive applicant to Harvard Law, but I believe my greatest asset is my perspective. From the prosecution of my father’s killer to my family’s experience with federal aid, I have a visceral, first-hand knowledge of the way the law affects society. Though this knowledge is not unique, I do believe that it will set me apart from those of more traditional backgrounds. Harvard’s Law and Government program track, along with their generous commitment to public service, is a perfect fit for my interests. Harvard is certainly a long way from the Ozarks, but I am convinced that a legal education from Harvard would allow me to make real contribution both in and outside of the classroom.

PM me for email if you want to hit me back like that...


Overall, I definitely think it's good and doesn't need extensive work... here's just a brief list of things that stood out to me:

"Though I myself am proof that our society rewards hard work and determination" sounds a bit pretentious... I'm blanking out on alternatives, but there's probably a better way to say it (maybe "While my experiences have led me to discover that our society rewards hard work and determination")

"false alternatives" also sounds strange. is false the word you really meant to use? maybe use something like baneful alternatives?

"If proper policy had been in place, then perhaps the poverty and the violence of my youth could have been prevented. " - I'd just be more specific about what type of policy you're referring to

"Also, through my work in both in D.C. and as an election official, I have learned the rudimentary mechanics of politics"- this is already implied and I'd imagine every HLS candidate understands the rudimentary mechanics of politics, so I'd delete the sentence

"Though this knowledge is not unique, I do believe that it will set me apart from those of more traditional backgrounds." - why? (your next sentence should answer this question)

"Harvard’s Law and Government program track, along with their generous commitment to public service, is a perfect fit for my interests." - pure fluff, DEFINITELY delete

"but I am convinced that a legal education from Harvard would allow me to make real contribution both in and outside of the classroom." - not much wrong with this, but why wouldnt this be the case with every other applicant? just tie it together (i.e. "but I am convinced that combing my rare perspective with a legal education from...")

Lastly, your second paragraph is good... but I think there's room to make it amazing. The content is fine, but your literary style is just dry and I think you can make it more impactful

good luck!


i only skimmed the PS, but i pretty much agree w/ the above comments

besides that, you might want to start off the whole PS with "My father grew marijuana..." or some variation of that sort. that's a much better immediate hook that "I grew up in Newton County..."...though to be honest, for some reason that line wasnt too bad...it made me feel like i was snuggling in for one of those southern movies, with like a narrator's voiceover in the beginning, introducing you to the area...a forrest gump meets no country for old men vibe haha




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