The debut of a personal statement

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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dlbuhr
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The debut of a personal statement

Postby dlbuhr » Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:43 pm

This is a first draft of what I hope can be turned into a quality personal statement. It's pretty raw and probably needs a lot of refinement and work. Any criticism would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.


It is a question that I have heard countless times and one that I will be asked countless times more. The question takes on numerous forms, but boils down to the same inquiry, “Why do you run?”.

Four years ago on a sweltering afternoon in July, typical of a Missouri summer, I decided to go for my first run. A mere two miles was the goal I had in mind. A distance I mistakenly believed I would be able to complete without any real difficulties.

By nature I am a competitive and aggressive individual, playing soccer, football, and other sports growing up. Despite my athletic pursuits I was always a reluctant runner.

A large part of my reluctancy was rooted in how hard running is. I had a tendency to shy away from difficult endeavors, and instead focus my efforts on activities that came naturally to me. Running was not among these. I was a terrible runner. In school I was always the kid finishing last in PE class. The only time I ever ran was as punishment issued by one of my coaches. Thinking of running as sport in itself was a foreign concept. Why anyone would want to run mile after mile was an enigma that I could not wrap my head around.

That first run went how one could imagine it going. As a former defensive end, I did not possess the typical body of a long distance runner nor the aerobic capacity to carry me through to the finish. By the time I had ran a mile and a half, I was bent at the waist, gasping for air in a futile attempt to quell the burning in my chest.

The disappointing end to that first run led to eventual discovery. The failure to finish the two miles bothered me a great deal. I made it my goal to continue running until I could finish the distance without stopping. The day when I managed the two miles, satisfaction washed over me, and with it, the understanding of why millions of people put themselves through the pain and exhaustion.

Any of feeling of accomplishment was short-lived; quickly replaced with wide-eyed ambition. I had proven to myself that I could put in the work and achieve running two miles. Who was to say that I couldn’t run three miles? Three turned into four, four into seven, seven into ten, and so on.

Each run became a reward because I knew every one was a piece of my goal. No longer avoiding the difficult, I relished in the demanding and punishing nature of my runs. Scorching heat, blustering wind, and icy snow storms didn’t serve as deterrents, but obstacles that made the finish all the better and more gratifying.

So why do I run? I run because of what it has taught me about myself. Running has shown me that I don’t have to be intimidated by how difficult something may seem. That if I keep my feet moving, my head up, and my eyes forward I can accomplish and overcome the most daunting of tasks. Running has taught me that I am capable of much more than I ever imagined: fashioning a self-confidence that I never had before. No exceptional talent or special equipment is needed for running. Instead, all it takes is an unrelenting determination to put one foot in front of the other until the finish: a stubbornness to never quit when the road steepens or when the weather worsens.

The characteristics distilled in me from running do not remain independent of the rest of my life; they have become central to who I am and permeate through every decision I make and every activity I shoulder. Running has not played a central role in my desire to attend law school, but equipped with the attributes I have garnered through all the miles ran, I am confident and prepared for any challenge that lies ahead.

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dlbuhr
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Re: The debut of a personal statement

Postby dlbuhr » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:48 am

Bump?

daydreamer
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Re: The debut of a personal statement

Postby daydreamer » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:57 am

To preface, I'm not anything close to an expert on personal statements or writing in general...

I liked your essay a lot! It was an easy and interesting read. I felt like I learned something about you, but I wanted to know more. Specifically, why law school?

Maybe others will be able to give you better advice - that's just my take on it. Good luck!

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kitmitzi
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Re: The debut of a personal statement

Postby kitmitzi » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:09 am

The characteristics distilled in me from running do not remain independent of the rest of my life; they have become central to who I am and permeate through every decision I make and every activity I shoulder. Running has not played a central role in my desire to attend law school, but equipped with the attributes I have garnered through all the miles ran, I am confident and prepared for any challenge that lies ahead.


IMO, you need to connect your essay more to why you're a good candidate for law school by adding to this paragraph. Explain the attributes more in detail and how you can apply this to certain things you have to do in law school (determination, concentration, etc.) Also maybe consider taking out the part about how your reluctance stemmed from you shying away from difficult activities. Even if you explicitly say that this changed and now you're willing to take on challenges, the adcomm might focus on that sentence. Maybe saw something about your reluctance was from lack of confidence and that changed? You say that in the last few paragraphs, so might as well mention a lack of confidence in the beginning.

I think you can take out a lot of material describing some of your running failures, other athletic talent, coaches, etc. to make more room for explaining why it makes you a good lawyer.

Hope this helped.

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dlbuhr
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Re: The debut of a personal statement

Postby dlbuhr » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:10 am

Thanks for the advice. Anyone else?

CanadianWolf
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Re: The debut of a personal statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:44 am

Your first & last paragraphs need substantial revision. This essay lacks substantive insights. Too simplistic.
On the positive side, your writing is clear & to the point--it just needs a better frame.

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dlbuhr
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Re: The debut of a personal statement

Postby dlbuhr » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:12 am

CanadianWolf: I appreciate the criticism. I know the first paragraph needs to be retooled. Can you elaborate though on what you mean by substantive insight? More emphasis on what running has taught me?

CanadianWolf
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Re: The debut of a personal statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:17 am

Basically your essay suggests that learning to build up endurance by practicing is a life altering accomplishment for you. Consider relating lessons learned from running to other areas in your life. I realize that you did write that learning to build-up your running endurance made you feel confident about taking on other challenges, but it is not convincing (and I was a highly competitive distance runner who also competed in other sports such as football, wrestling & boxing).
Refining your first & last paragraphs should make this personal statement much more palatable.

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kwais
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Re: The debut of a personal statement

Postby kwais » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:31 am

You definitly write well. However, at no point was there an insight or analysis that was unexpected. I'm not endorsing forcing some sort of shock into the statement, just that if an adcomm can finish the PS in their head half way through reading it, you might want to revise.

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dlbuhr
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Re: The debut of a personal statement

Postby dlbuhr » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:22 pm

Thanks to everyone for their input. I'll do some revisions and put up the second version hopefully tonight. If anyone else has anymore suggestions feel free.

tarakit
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Re: The debut of a personal statement

Postby tarakit » Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:34 am

Some of your language is very awkward: "The disappointing end to that first run led to eventual discovery." Discovery of what? This is typical of an early draft, and overall, your personal statement is very good. Try reading it out loud, and you should be able to find most of the awkward spots.




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