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(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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icecold3000
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Postby icecold3000 » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:03 pm

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Last edited by icecold3000 on Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

weejonbu
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Re: Any Remarks or Critiques for my Personal Statement?

Postby weejonbu » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:18 pm

icecold3000 wrote:I feel like it is kind of generic/not quite personal enough. I would greatly appreciate any feedback and criticism.
Seven years ago, I decided to do something unimaginable for most college students. Longing for a drastic change and an opportunity to serve my country, I enlisted in the United States Army.

After completing an intense nine weeks of basic combat training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I arrived as a general issue soldier in Fort Hood, Texas. I deployed to Iraq during the troop surge of 2007, which arguably broke the back of an exacerbating insurgency. My particular assignment was driving for my troop’s commanding officer. The threat of IEDs, or road-side bombs, was always present. I learned quickly that attention to detail can be the difference between life and death. I was fortunate to survive, but three soldiers in my troop made the ultimate sacrifice while driving down a route we all traveled daily. One of the toughest parts of overcoming loss in war is trying to rationalize why it had to be them and not you. It all seemed so arbitrary. To make matters worst, we did not have time to mourn our fallen. We were right back out there the next day continuing combat operations. Distraught yet hopeful, this tragedy granted me a new lease on life. My brothers-in-arms had lost all their tomorrows, so I was determined to make the most of mine. I resolved to do something meaningful with my life.

Upon returning to the states after the longest fifteen months of my life, I had one goal in mind. I was determined to finish my education. Although I cannot identify the exact moment it occurred, something in me had transformed. I became possessed with a fervor to acquire knowledge and to earn my degree. While still serving full time on active duty and maintaining a strong relationship with my wife and daughter, I was able to earn a 4.0 grade point average at Central Texas College. After receiving an honorable discharge from the military, I returned back home and continued my education at the local university. Thus far, I have continued my post-military 4.0 grade point average. I like to think of myself as a professional student, in that my school work is my job. The tireless work ethic instilled in me though my time spent in the military is the cornerstone of my recent academic success.
Now that I have had the honor to serve our country and obtain my undergraduate degree, I would like the opportunity to carry on my service in a different way. I believe that providing legal expertise for the citizens of my community, will allow me to contribute positive change. One day, I would like to be fighting for justice by representing a decent person who has made some wrong turns in life. I believe I can assist others in starting anew by helping them receive a second chance through legal advocacy.

I am confident that based upon my unique military background and my strong work ethic that I can make an excellent addition to both your Law School and the legal profession. I am optimistic that this very brief glimpse into my past has allowed you to visualize me as a student at your Law School. As Winston Churchill once said, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” It is my hope that when this admissions committee reviews my past, they will see a devoted individual who has overcome many obstacles and wishes to make the most of his tomorrows through a future of life time legal service to others.


First of all, thank you for your service to our country. You’ve obviously been through a lot, and I hope you never get sick of people thanking you, because we are grateful.

In regards to this statement, you clearly have some good content to work with, but I think you might be able to shape it in a different way. You talk about how three of your comrades were killed in battle, which is certainly a life-changing moment. Did they all three die in the same explosion? I think starting off from the angle of this story could draw in the reader. There are sights, sounds, and (most importantly) feelings that come when one is in the midst of combat. I have never experienced those to the fullest, and neither have most adcomms. Take them there. I think it would be more appealing than what you have thus far, which reads a tad bit like a résumé/chronology at the beginning. Also, don’t mention your 4.0 GPA… it is impressive, but they already know about it from your transcripts.

On the line: “My brothers-in-arms had lost all their tomorrows, so I was determined to make the most of mine,”
I would change to: “My brothers-in-arms had lost their tomorrows, which challenged me to make the most of my today.” Not perfectly grammatical, but I think it works and is sorta catchy (if a bit cheesy).

Ditch the Churchill quote. Love the guy, one of my heroes, but quotes are WAYYYYYY too cliché. Ditch the term “fight for justice,” as well.

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BrownBears09
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Re: Any Remarks or Critiques for my Personal Statement?

Postby BrownBears09 » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:30 pm

I suggest you read: http://www.top-law-schools.com/guide-to-personal-statements.html

Your last paragraph (minus the first sentence) is a "Call to Action" directed at the adcomms. This is a no-no.

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icecold3000
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Re: Any Remarks or Critiques for my Personal Statement?

Postby icecold3000 » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:49 pm

Thanks for the feedback. I will check that link out and look into doing some more editing. Anymore insight would be appreciated.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Any Remarks or Critiques for my Personal Statement?

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:55 pm

Too many cliches for me. Lacks depth. Offers little insight into who you are, what influenced you & how you view the world.

Have you taken the LSAT yet ?

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icecold3000
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Re: Any Remarks or Critiques for my Personal Statement?

Postby icecold3000 » Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:32 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Too many cliches for me. Lacks depth. Offers little insight into who you are, what influenced you & how you view the world.

Have you taken the LSAT yet ?


I just took it on Saturday. I am a Jr, so I will not be applying until next year. I decided to focus some of my nervous energy (from not knowing my score) into something productive.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Any Remarks or Critiques for my Personal Statement?

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:44 pm

Try to read through several personal statements posted on this (TLS) website so that you get a better idea of what law schools are seeking. As written, your essay is just a narrative of your resume which is unlikely to help your law school applications.

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icecold3000
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Re: Any Remarks or Critiques for my Personal Statement?

Postby icecold3000 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:12 am

CanadianWolf wrote:Try to read through several personal statements posted on this (TLS) website so that you get a better idea of what law schools are seeking. As written, your essay is just a narrative of your resume which is unlikely to help your law school applications.


So I have been looking through the personal statements on here and I have noticed two things. Most seem to focus on one personal life aspect which displays character or something worth highlighting. Then most transition into how they believe this makes them a good candidate for law school.

Is this the basic format for a good personal statement?

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crumpetsandtea
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Re: Any Remarks or Critiques for my Personal Statement?

Postby crumpetsandtea » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:50 am

First: like another poster above me already said, thank you for your service to this nation. You're right--it's a sacrifice most college students (including me) don't have the guts to make, and it's incredibly commendable that you did. Now, onto the PS! (:

icecold3000 wrote:Seven years ago, I decided to do something unimaginable for most college students. Longing for a drastic change and an opportunity to serve my country, I enlisted in the United States Army. If it were me, I would change this intro: either take it out or substitute it for something more personal. The way it's worded is very factual. Make me REALLY WANT to read about this--the topic itself is compelling already, so you have a very good opportunity here. Reading this, I don't get any sense of WHY you chose to serve.

After completing an intense nine weeks of basic combat training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I arrived as a general issue soldier in Fort Hood, Texas. I deployed to Iraq during the troop surge of 2007, which arguably broke the back of an exacerbating insurgency. My particular assignment was driving for my troop’s commanding officer. The threat of IEDs, or road-side bombs, was always present. I learned quickly that attention to detail can be the difference between life and death. (different tenses) I was fortunate to survive, but three soldiers in my troop made the ultimate sacrifice while driving down a route we all traveled daily. One of the toughest parts of overcoming loss in war is trying to rationalize why it had to be them and not you. It all seemed so arbitrary. To make matters worse, we did not have time to mourn our fallen. We were right back out there the next day continuing combat operations. Distraught yet hopeful, (describe your reaction to this more in depth: right now it feels as if you are recounting a story someone else told you: we don't get that underlying current of emotion because you are telling, not showing, us what it was like. Make us feel like we know you, and as a result, like we knew them and are as distraught as you were this tragedy granted me a new lease on life. My brothers-in-arms had lost all their tomorrows, so I was determined to make the most of mine. I resolved to do something meaningful with my life. (explain. how does law = something meaningful to you? also, tie it into education so the 2 paragraphs transition more smoothly)

Upon returning to the states after the longest fifteen months of my life, I had one goal in mind. I was determined to finish my education. Although I cannot identify the exact moment it occurred, something in me had transformed. I became possessed with a fervor to acquire knowledge and to earn my degree. While still serving full time on active duty and maintaining a strong relationship with my wife and daughter, I was able to earn a 4.0 grade point average at Central Texas College. After receiving an honorable discharge from the military, I returned back home and continued my education at the local university. Thus far, I have continued my post-military 4.0 grade point average. I like to think of myself as a professional student, in that my school work is my job. The tireless work ethic instilled in me though my time spent in the military is the cornerstone of my recent academic success.(IMHO, you should spend less time on your grade point average and more on what makes you different from all the other 4.0s out there--your time in service. This isn't an effective way of distinguishing yourself or of personalizing your statement, because it says very little about anything they don't already know from your transcript. Presumably, if you have a 4.0, you have a good work ethic, so they already know this information. If you really want to talk about your education, use this space to explain why you wanted to get your BS/BA: did you have an end-goal in mind, beyond 'get into law school'? Did your past correlate with your choice of a major?)
Now that I have had the honor to serve our country and obtain my undergraduate degree, I would like the opportunity to carry on my service in a different way. I believe that providing legal expertise for the citizens of my community, will allow me to contribute positive change. One day, I would like to be fighting for justice by representing a decent person who has made some wrong turns in life. I believe I can assist others in starting anew by helping them receive a second chance through legal advocacy. (This gives me a better idea of what motivated you to continue school. Maybe go more into specifics--is there a particular experience that motivated you to choose crim defense in particular?)

I am confident that based upon my unique military background and my strong work ethic that I can make an excellent addition to both your Law School and the legal profession. I am optimistic that this very brief glimpse into my past has allowed you to visualize me as a student at your Law School. As Winston Churchill once said, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” It is my hope that when this admissions committee reviews my past, they will see a devoted individual who has overcome many obstacles and wishes to make the most of his tomorrows through a future of life time legal service to others. (Someone already wrote about not addressing adcomms, so yeah seconding that (:)



With that said--I think the reason why so many people default to "one specific moment" and how it affected them, and then move into a transition about why they want to attend law school, is because that's the easiest way to bring out your personality. What I did with my statement, for example, was pick something I knew I was passionate about, in the hopes that the reader would also feel that passion and understand my personality a little better.

You have a LOT of great opportunities to personalize this: elaborating on your motivations to go into the Army, talking about your experiences in boot camp and how they have changed you, talking about actually being deployed and the events that happened that had an impact on your life, discussion the link between your service and your motivation for law. There's SO much awesome potential that you could whip out of this. All you have to do is to focus on showing us things that we can't automatically tell from your resume/transcripts--things like your inspirations, your thoughts, emotions, etc etc. That's what the PS is for, after all!

Anyways, hth and thank you for critiquing mine <3 I know there's a lot of red here but it's really only because a) I'm really longwinded (as you noted), and b) there's SO MUCH that I see bubbling under the surface here.




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