What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
roranoa
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What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby roranoa » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:36 pm

I have two year of work experience. (social service, but worked only as office assistant)

Did two club activities. (music band, debate)

Lived abroad.

and that's it.

One might say that I could write about the stuff above but these activities were so unrelated to each other that it would be hard for me to conjure up a coherent story.

What are some themes one can write about in your PS that does not usually appear on one's resume?

Can someone give me some ideas on this?
Last edited by roranoa on Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

jasonc.
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby jasonc. » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:02 am

what are strong softs?

roranoa
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby roranoa » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:19 am

jasonc. wrote:what are strong softs?


you tell me.

LSATclincher
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby LSATclincher » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:23 am

I agree with the gentleman above. Take a few weeks to really focus on this. If you can't come up with a great theme in that time, take another year off. If you do come up with that theme, take another month or two to tweak it multiple times.

Good luck!

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WhatSarahSaid
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby WhatSarahSaid » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:50 am

I think a good first step is to figure out what adcomms actually want to see. The TLS interviews are a good way to do this. You can look around yourself, but here are some examples.

Harvard:

TLS: What advice do you have for writing a strong personal statement? Standing out in Harvard admissions can be tricky – what can an applicant do to really wow you?

JR: Ultimately, the personal statement is a chance to tell us more about you in a way that isn’t reflected in the other elements of your application. Let us know how your broad range of experiences, coursework, and extracurricular activities fit together and how they will allow you to make a unique contribution to the Harvard community. Let your personality and writing style shine through and tell us what we should know about you.

Read over your personal statement with a critical eye when you are done and ask yourself if it’s an accurate portrayal of who you are. Does your voice come through? Or is it just a laundry list of your achievements? When we read a personal statement, we are looking for a person, not a set of accomplishments. Also, don’t take for granted that the person reading your application is familiar with your point of view, so take the time to paint at least some broad strokes that provide context.


Virginia:

TLS: Do you have any general advice regarding personal statements for applicants who want to maximize their chances?

You want to make sure your personal statement gives us something we cannot find elsewhere in your application. We do not conduct interviews, so use the personal statement as a substitute. Tell me something about yourself that you would want me to know if you had 10 minutes with me.


The first quote applies to you, given that you mention a "broad range" of things. Paint a picture of yourself. Tell a story. Just pick some anecdote from your life and start writing. That doesn't need to be your PS, but it might spark something.

roranoa
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby roranoa » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:23 pm

LSATclincher wrote:I agree with the gentleman above. Take a few weeks to really focus on this. If you can't come up with a great theme in that time, take another year off. If you do come up with that theme, take another month or two to tweak it multiple times.

Good luck!


I don't understand, are you telling me to take a year off so I could do some activities that would be a possible theme for my PS?

If not, why do you recommend that I take a year off?

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verklempt
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby verklempt » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:45 pm

What inspires you and motivates you? What do you really care about? When have you been in a situation where you felt energized and enthusiastic? When were you really proud of some work that you did? Is there someone in your life that you truly admire, and if so, what do you value about that person, and could you work on your own attitude/outlook/behavior so as to become a similarly admirable person?

Taking a year off isn't going to help, but you do need to be introspective and think about what you really care about. If you don't care about your topic, your PS is going to fall flat.

weejonbu
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby weejonbu » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:50 pm

jasonc. wrote:what are strong softs?


If you are asking "what is a soft?" in general, it describes a non-LSAT/GPA factor, such as work experience, publications, unique stuff you have done, etc.

If you are asking what is a "GOOD soft", read the bio's of the peope in Georgetown's Global Law Scholars Program.

This is my new definition of good softs. I can't compare with most of these people.

http://www.law.georgetown.edu/gls/docum ... _21_10.pdf

roranoa
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby roranoa » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:46 pm

thanks for the replies above!

I'd like some more input from people who might think differently.

Bump!

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Veyron
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby Veyron » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:49 pm

Good Theme: I got a 180 on the LSAT.

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rman1201
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby rman1201 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:53 pm

Don't even listen to the "take a year off idea". Unless you plan on applying to NU, Berkeley, or Yale the impact of softs are negligible at best. I have crap softs and a PS I just whipped up for a pre-law writing class and so far I'm being accepted everywhere LSP/LSN is saying I have a shot at. As long as you can prove literacy in your PS all that matters are numbers.

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Lawquacious
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby Lawquacious » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:56 pm

roranoa wrote:I have two year of work experience. (social service)


The social service work experience sounds to me like a better soft than 1/2 the kids going straight into law school from UG have. I worked in social services for a number of years and had some pretty crazy experiences that made for good stories. I think you probably have some material to work with.

Other than that you can always emphasize the mafia connects ;) (totally kidding, random I know).

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Lawquacious
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby Lawquacious » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:57 pm

rman1201 wrote:Don't even listen to the "take a year off idea". Unless you plan on applying to NU, Berkeley, or Yale the impact of softs are negligible at best. I have crap softs and a PS I just whipped up for a pre-law writing class and so far I'm being accepted everywhere LSP/LSN is saying I have a shot at. As long as you can prove literacy in your PS all that matters are numbers.



+111111

roranoa
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby roranoa » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:59 am

The social service work experience sounds to me like a better soft than 1/2 the kids going straight into law school from UG have. I worked in social services for a number of years and had some pretty crazy experiences that made for good stories. I think you probably have some material to work with.



I have to clarify.
This social service thing was obligatory.
I'm an international student and men have to serve their country either in the military or for social services.
Anyway, I worked as an office assistant, you know, photocopying and taking phone calls and stuff. Nothing meaningful.

roranoa
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby roranoa » Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:00 am

Veyron wrote:Good Theme: I got a 180 on the LSAT.


This isn't even clever. But have a happy new year!
Last edited by roranoa on Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Lawquacious
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby Lawquacious » Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:06 am

roranoa wrote:
The social service work experience sounds to me like a better soft than 1/2 the kids going straight into law school from UG have. I worked in social services for a number of years and had some pretty crazy experiences that made for good stories. I think you probably have some material to work with.



I have to clarify.
This social service thing was obligatory.
I'm an international student and men have to serve their country either in the military or for social services.
Anyway, I worked as an office assistant, you know, photocopying and taking phone calls and stuff. Nothing meaningful.


Got it. I think your response highlights a key factor about softs though: a lot of it is how you look at and phrase your experiences rather than what actually happened. I'm not saying to exaggerate per se what you did or that there aren't plenty of people out there who have more dramatic non-quantifiable life experiences (or at least not fully quant. for admissions purposes). But your service experience, whether voluntary or not, actually could be considered a soft IMO that is better than what a lot of people may have (i.e. the people who have literally no real practical work experience). Also, I think the fact you are an international student is a MAJOR soft that I would emphasize in the admissions process (not saying it will buy you anything in the admissions process because I believe it is pretty much straight numbers). You have had life experience different in that regard than prob 99% or more of applicants, and that alone can be a valuable soft IMO if played right.

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brangara
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby brangara » Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:45 am

If you think that you didn't do much, perhaps try to find something that ties together a number of different activities. For example, could you perhaps relate debate, social service, and living abroad to a greater interest in social issues and general societal welfare? Or how one of these activities sparked your interest in other areas relating to working directly with people, and relate that to an interest in law?

Or don't even talk about your activities then, if you think that a weak point. You can talk about a figure that influenced you, or analyze current laws and talk about what reformations must be made, etc. I don't think any school requires you to limit your statement to your activities simply.

Hope this helps!

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TLSanders
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby TLSanders » Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:04 am

Verklampt asks good questions above, but those questions are difficult for most people to answer in the abstract. A better approach is to sit down and brainstorm all of the things that have been important to you, that you've really learned from or been inspired by (without the filter of "Is this personal statement material?" and "I don't think that's what they want to hear") and then look at all of those things in a group and figure out what the common thread is. That common thread is your theme--then you just have to figure out which one or two things best illustrate it to build your statement around.

WayBryson
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby WayBryson » Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:43 am

I happen to have pretty good softs, but I believe the approach I took to the PS would work out well for most. First, I made a list of every personality trait, talent, and accomplishment that I wanted to convey in my applications, with particular emphasis on the intangible things. Then I made a separate list of random anecdotes and experiences from my life. I set the lists aside and came back to them a few days later to do a bit of free writing. I gave everything a paragraph or two in a little spiral notebook. If find it easier to free write by hand. Finally, I got a bottle of wine and stared at the lists and free writes looking for a narrative structure that would allow me to tie it all (or at least a good chunk of it) together. I got a solid rough draft out of all this, and the same lists also helped me in making my final major revision.

On the note of softs, I would also say that something need not be "amazing" in order to complement an application. Look for the stories/experiences that highlight your character strengths, and you will be in pretty good shape. I hope this is of some help. Good luck to you.

WayBryson
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby WayBryson » Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:44 am

TLSanders wrote:Verklampt asks good questions above, but those questions are difficult for most people to answer in the abstract. A better approach is to sit down and brainstorm all of the things that have been important to you, that you've really learned from or been inspired by (without the filter of "Is this personal statement material?" and "I don't think that's what they want to hear") and then look at all of those things in a group and figure out what the common thread is. That common thread is your theme--then you just have to figure out which one or two things best illustrate it to build your statement around.


Lol, I posted my reply without reading this.

LSATclincher
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby LSATclincher » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:17 pm

roranoa wrote:
LSATclincher wrote:I agree with the gentleman above. Take a few weeks to really focus on this. If you can't come up with a great theme in that time, take another year off. If you do come up with that theme, take another month or two to tweak it multiple times.

Good luck!


I don't understand, are you telling me to take a year off so I could do some activities that would be a possible theme for my PS?

If not, why do you recommend that I take a year off?


I just think if you cannot come up with a theme for a law school personal statement after a week or two of deep thought, then maybe another year of thinking about a decision to enter law school is needed. But I also said, if you DO come up with a theme in that time, go for it!

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Lokomani
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby Lokomani » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:45 pm

roranoa wrote:I have two year of work experience. (social service, but worked only as office assistant)

Did two club activities. (music band, debate)

Lived abroad.

and that's it.

One might say that I could write about the stuff above but these activities were so unrelated to each other that it would be hard for me to conjure up a coherent story.

What are some themes one can write about in your PS that does not usually appear on one's resume?

Can someone give me some ideas on this?



You might just be a boring person (read:vanilla). In which case there's no need to apply, because there's no shortage of other semi-interesting people just like you who will fly like lemmings to what could possibly be the worst decision of their lives. It's cool though bro, just go to a different graduate school - maybe one where your unimpressive stats will be more competitive

I think this video is for you: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1944515

LSATclincher
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby LSATclincher » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:04 pm

Lokomani wrote:
roranoa wrote:I have two year of work experience. (social service, but worked only as office assistant)

Did two club activities. (music band, debate)

Lived abroad.

and that's it.

One might say that I could write about the stuff above but these activities were so unrelated to each other that it would be hard for me to conjure up a coherent story.

What are some themes one can write about in your PS that does not usually appear on one's resume?

Can someone give me some ideas on this?



You might just be a boring person (read:vanilla). In which case there's no need to apply, because there's no shortage of other semi-interesting people just like you who will fly like lemmings to what could possibly be the worst decision of their lives. It's cool though bro, just go to a different graduate school - maybe one where your unimpressive stats will be more competitive

I think this video is for you: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1944515


What a hilarious video. I keep playing the black guy's part over and over. His delivery is hilarious.

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verklempt
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby verklempt » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:14 pm

You say you "lived abroad" and are an international student. So it's not clear to me whether you've lived in two different countries or not, but if you have, you can usually find a story in the adapting to a different culture/dealing with unfamiliar behaviors that you can use to emphasize your soft skills.

roranoa
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Re: What are some good themes for someone with weak softs?

Postby roranoa » Sat Jan 01, 2011 12:46 am

verklempt wrote:You say you "lived abroad" and are an international student. So it's not clear to me whether you've lived in two different countries or not, but if you have, you can usually find a story in the adapting to a different culture/dealing with unfamiliar behaviors that you can use to emphasize your soft skills.


Oh, I'm an international student AND also lived abroad where I apparently learned my English.

And thanks for your idea!
Last edited by roranoa on Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:01 am, edited 1 time in total.




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