First draft: Headed in a good direction?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
dmansh55
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:56 pm

First draft: Headed in a good direction?

Postby dmansh55 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:48 am

This is my personal statement for Lewis and Clark. I am a splitter with a 165 LSAT and a 3.25 UGPA (and a fairly drastic upward trend.) Keep in mind this is my an early draft; other than a few quick revisions I haven't done much to it. I plan on cleaning it up quite a bit, and would more or less just like to know if I am on the right track. I am in the market for CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. If you’re here to be an elitist or to improve your self image by insulting someone's work, please find another thread…or maybe go try and get laid or something - it might make you feel better.

For the rest of you, have at it. And thank you for your help.


It is fortunate that the sun looks so incredible as it rises over Lake Superior, otherwise waking up at dawn and driving a half an hour along the western corner of the North Shore would require a much longer and more intense internal struggle. I am, however, on the whole happy, despite my reluctant muscles and tired eyes, to be rolling out of bed to make my way to the North Shore Community School. I work here as an AmeriCorps volunteer, tutoring 3rd and 6th graders and generally enjoying my life. I spend four days a week in this elementary school just north of downtown Duluth, Minnesota about ten miles. It has been frustrating, challenging, and exhausting, but also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I was not always this excited about it, however.

Four months ago I was in a completely different place, metaphorically at least. September was quickly approaching, and my AmeriCorps orientation was only days away. The excitement I feel now was then apprehension, and I found myself filled with questions and unsure about whether the position I had previously committed to was right for me. Though I now take medication for Crohn’s Disease, at the time I had recently suffered from a serious episode of an undiagnosed abdominal condition that caused me to have recurring bouts of extreme pain and discomfort. Every month or so for over a year at that point I was debilitated by these attacks for up to two days at a time. I had seen multiple doctors, and subjected myself to a variety of unpleasant tests. With no answer in sight, I was discouraged about my life in general and doubtful that I was ready to make such a giant leap out of my comfort zone. I had no experience working in education, and aside from a few high school summers spent volunteering at an overnight camp, very little of the same with children. After a conversation with a few family members, in which I was encouraged to spend a few days thinking before a I made a decision, I began to think critically about why I was interested in AmeriCorps service in the first place. Other than a job serving and cooking at a local Italian restaurant, I really had no idea how I was going to spend my first year out of college. I wanted to gain real world experience while simultaneously making a difference in my community, and I wanted the opportunity to try something unfamiliar and exciting. With that in mind, I came to the conclusion that venturing out of my comfort zone was exactly what I needed, and set up a day to spring my service into action.

Though it was difficult at first, and though I was just shy of terrified, I jumped in with both feet and sought out to help the teachers in any way I could. At first, my inexperience was obvious. I am sure the students could sense my apprehension, and it took a while for me to adjust to spending so much of my time in a new atmosphere. As time has passed, however, I have began to feel more and more comfortable with everything. I now run an after school homework program for 4th through 6th graders, and I am designing a project with the intent of heightening environmental awareness and appreciation. I have started developing relationships with the students I work with, and my approach to helping them learn has constantly been evolving. My attitude towards the position has changed from dubious to enthusiastic, and more than anything I have opened myself to the nostalgia one working in an elementary school can experience. I am continually reminded of the enjoyment I used to receive from simple games and interactions, and I have recognized the passion for learning I have always had in many of the children.

I use the word always because this passion is one aspect of my personality that has, over the years, remained static. I loved to learn as an elementary student, and I love to learn today. I believe it is this inquisitiveness and curiosity that are most important in assessing my potential to excel in law school. In addition to the power one can generate from these traits in and of themselves, they have also pushed me to make the most out of my opportunities to obtain information. I even had difficulty choosing a major in college; not because I had no clue what I was interested in, but because I was interested in everything. It may have led to a slightly longer undergraduate tenure and a subsequently larger tuition bill, but it has also helped me develop a unique set of proficiencies. Courses in the sciences have helped me recognize the power of observation and objectivity in solving problems of a complex nature, and a political science background has honed my skills for critically reading through scholarly literature. And the diversity of my collegiate course selection did not apply simply to academics, as I was also able to apply my education to my personal interests and hobbies such as fishing and playing music. My university’s music department provided me with the opportunity to study jazz guitar, and my prerequisite completion record in biology allowed me to enroll in an ichthyology class. If you ever need to know the binomial nomenclature of the Minnesota fishes, or require an explanation of how gill structure has evolved to maximize oxygen diffusion, then I am your man.

To put this all in simpler terms, my appetite for knowledge is insatiable. I am therefore filled with enthusiasm at the idea of attaining an in depth knowledge of the law and its practice. I look forward to the education as much as the career, and I believe that Lewis and Clark is the ideal venue for my legal training. I am especially intrigued by the prestige associated with the environmental law program. Throughout college, I enrolled in a variety of biology courses, and I developed a profound affinity for studying ecological interactions and the way that organisms depend on one another. I feel that humanity‘s recognition of its impact on the environment is paramount, and that in order to resolve problems we must learn to compromise. It is thus important to me that I can develop the skills necessary to make my contribution while in law school, and I have recently been convinced that Lewis in Clark is the place to do so. After paging through the law school mailer, I was enlightened as to both the beauty that the Portland area has to offer and the fact that the school has a dynamic and well respected environmental law concentration. After considering the educational advantages along with the proximity to the Pacific Ocean and a wide variety of chances to enjoy the outdoors, I was sold. Lewis and Clark is now my top choice, and It would be a pleasure to spend the next three years and more in Portland. So in case anyone is curious, the view book is effective.

As I sit here, in the North Shore Community School library, putting the final touches on what is perhaps the most important piece writing I have ever drafted, I find myself repeatedly responding to inquisition as to the nature of the words on this page. The students are relentless in their desire to uncover as much information about me as possible, and I find myself answering questions such as “How old are you?“ and “Are you still in college?” on a daily basis. When the students in my homework program learned that I was not a teacher in training they were quick to devise that I was working on law school applications. I would imagine the idea of working as an attorney is not all that exciting to most ten year old children, but if I had more time, and quite frankly if they were more interested, I would explain to them that I believe that a person’s gifts and interests should be used to help make the world a better place. In my case, these gifts and interests are a unique set of problem solving skills and a passion for learning. My AmeriCorps service has given me the chance to apply my skills and it has ultimately increased my potential to become an excellent lawyer. It is now my intention to continue to work in the interests of a better world, and I am prepared to dedicate myself to my legal education. I would be honored to be offered the opportunity to do so at Lewis and Clark.

tourdeforcex
Posts: 428
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 2:19 pm

Re: First draft: Headed in a good direction?

Postby tourdeforcex » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:25 am

constructive criticism:

definitely a good start for an early draft. general comments:
[*] a little long, but that's great b/c it's an early draft and it's better to write a lot and cut away than to write a little and try to expand and expand.
[*] i feel the PS has too much explanation. as an example: "Four months ago I was in a completely different place, metaphorically at least." "metaphorically at least" is unnecessary and even hurtful b/c it slows down the piece. it's important to be self-aware and demonstrate that in a PS but it's not necessary to explicate everything
[*] i am a strong believer in short personal statements mainly because adcomms have to plow through thousands of these every cycle. so in sum, try to cut out as much as possible.
[*] doing AmeriCorps should be helpful in your cycle but also note that there are many others out there doing the same thing and it really comes down to how you present your experience, your insights gained, and your development from doing AC; what i am most interested about is this:
I now run an after school homework program for 4th through 6th graders, and I am designing a project with the intent of heightening environmental awareness and appreciation. I have started developing relationships with the students I work with, and my approach to helping them learn has constantly been evolving. My attitude towards the position has changed from dubious to enthusiastic, and more than anything I have opened myself to the nostalgia one working in an elementary school can experience.

try focus on that when you're editing the piece.

feel free to PM w/ questions




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