Substance Abuse PS

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
crit_racer
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Substance Abuse PS

Postby crit_racer » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:26 pm

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LSATclincher
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby LSATclincher » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:46 pm

That's a tough subject. I would not disclose the substance abuse unless you have a documented criminal offense relating to it. No reason to disclose something that personal if you do not have to. I'm also not a fan of the "Grades Addendum." Almost all of us regret our freshman year grades. But also, most of us did improve upon them. There is no reason to write an addendum for that.

crit_racer
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby crit_racer » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:54 pm

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CanadianWolf
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:05 pm

Because your treatment occurred early in your college career, it can be described as "personal difficulties" or as an "adjustment period" or as "a growth & maturation period" and does not need to get into substance abuse & treatment if it does not appear in any academic or criminal record.

crit_racer
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby crit_racer » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:16 pm

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SMA22
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby SMA22 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:19 pm

It sounds like you really don't want to discuss your substance abuse problems and relive going to rehab. Go with your gut: if you don't feel comfortable disclosing this, then don't. A consultant should never force you to write an essay or addendum that you don't feel comfortable authoring. Perhaps instead you can talk about the root of the problem--what made you use. Was it hard to adjust to college? Problems at home? That teen ennui? Focus on that instead.

As an aside, I worked with an overopinionated "law school expert," and it got to the point where I fired her. She was intimidating and tossed out some great essays in favor of sob stories and confessions that I didn't really like--I switched consulants and couldn't be happier now. Take what they say with a grain of salt as it comes to certain issues--it is not the job of a consultant to make you "own up" to your problems, but rather frame you as the most flattering candidate possible. We've all made mistakes!

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verklempt
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby verklempt » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:36 pm

No, no, no.

I wonder if the tutor has ever been an adcomm? I doubt it. You talk about substance abuse, and I see a red flag. Unless you are coming in with top numbers -- which you aren't -- you're out.

Definitely mention the grades, probably in an addendum rather than in your PS. You can say you were hospitalized multiple times for illness, also mention the suicide. Pregnant girlfriend not such a good idea (assuming it was your pregnant girlfriend) because it shows poor judgment.

dddhhh
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby dddhhh » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:17 pm

SMA22 wrote:It sounds like you really don't want to discuss your substance abuse problems and relive going to rehab. Go with your gut: if you don't feel comfortable disclosing this, then don't. A consultant should never force you to write an essay or addendum that you don't feel comfortable authoring. Perhaps instead you can talk about the root of the problem--what made you use. Was it hard to adjust to college? Problems at home? That teen ennui? Focus on that instead.



I think that's really great advice and would make for a great addendum. Talk about the problems you had during that time and having to withdrawal to cope with those issues and then coming back with a new outlook and focus and being able to do really well! Good luck :D

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well-hello-there
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby well-hello-there » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:31 pm

LSATclincher wrote:I would not disclose the substance abuse unless you have a documented criminal offense relating to it. No reason to disclose something that personal if you do not have to.

This.
verklempt wrote:Pregnant girlfriend not such a good idea (assuming it was your pregnant girlfriend) because it shows poor judgment.

And This.

3 years is such a short time and you might just have a relapse while in school and start selling drugs to the other students, bringing down the other bright law students with you and possibly creating a scandal that draws media attention to the school...all while getting a few of the female law students knocked up in the process....at least that is what I would be worried about as an adcomm.
Make your PS as positive as possible and for the grades addendum, just say something about how you didn't take it seriously but you had some sort of epiphany or something.

crit_racer
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby crit_racer » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:54 pm

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SMA22
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby SMA22 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:07 pm

In no way do I think you're not fully recovered, and pat on the back for you pulling through and coming this far. I am sure that in recovery culture, being honest is part of the package. Same time, on a job interview, first date, or applying to law school, putting your best foot forward trumps being brutally honest with things like substance abuse. You don't have to go your entire life explaining that you had a weak moment--many people do.

crit_racer
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby crit_racer » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:17 pm

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Marionberry
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Marionberry » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:25 pm

It is appropriate to address it in a GPA addendum. It's debatable as to whether or not you should discuss it in your PS, it's a hard topic to do well but it can be done. It's appropriate in a GPA addendum, especially since you received treatment and can show a significant improvement in your academic performance and life in general post treatment. To be too vague in your GPA addendum could possibly be a bad idea, as it might be perceived (and rightly so) as though you were not being completely forthright for some reason.

thegor1987
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby thegor1987 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:41 pm

DO NOT DISCLOSE SUBSTANCE ABUSE IF THERE IS NO RECORD OF IT. IT IS LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED.

thegor1987
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby thegor1987 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:48 pm

triathlons > crits

is your avatar real or photoshop/joke?

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Marionberry
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Marionberry » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:51 pm

thegor1987 wrote:DO NOT DISCLOSE SUBSTANCE ABUSE IF THERE IS NO RECORD OF IT. IT IS LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED.


And what exactly are you basing this on?

thegor1987
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby thegor1987 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:19 pm

Marionberry wrote:
thegor1987 wrote:DO NOT DISCLOSE SUBSTANCE ABUSE IF THERE IS NO RECORD OF IT. IT IS LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED.


And what exactly are you basing this on?



First of all he would be disclosing illegal activity.

second of all, former drug addicts and alcoholics with legal infractions are disadvantaged at getting into licensed professions. They can become pilots, doctors, or lawyers. But I can assure you that those with documented DUIs, drug possession charges, etc... have an uphill battle and not all of them make it into their desired profession. There is no need for the OP to self-impose this unnecessary uphill battle. I am sure he could write a great story about coming clean and the story has it's place in the recovery world, but it has no place on a law school application, ESPECIALLY if he has never even been in a treatment facility to document the drug abuse.

OP do not listen to anyone who tells you to disclose it. It will only hurt you.

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Marionberry
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Marionberry » Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:35 pm

So, essentially, you're just basing it on conjecture and your own unfounded assumptions? OP, and anyone on these forums, would do well to listen to people who have some credibility on the law school admissions process. That's not you and it's not me. If T14 adcomms said something similar to what you're saying, it might have some merit. But as far as I know they don't, and the one that I've spoken to personally, in addition to several that have addressed this issue in interviews, say the opposite.

Edit: My apologies to the OP and others reading this thread. I usually try to avoid discussion board bickering, but when someone is posting stuff that is so very innaccurate, I sometimes can't help myself.

thegor1987
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby thegor1987 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:05 pm

Marionberry wrote:So, essentially, you're just basing it on conjecture and your own unfounded assumptions? OP, and anyone on these forums, would do well to listen to people who have some credibility on the law school admissions process. That's not you and it's not me. If T14 adcomms said something similar to what you're saying, it might have some merit. But as far as I know they don't, and the one that I've spoken to personally, in addition to several that have addressed this issue in interviews, say the opposite.

Edit: My apologies to the OP and others reading this thread. I usually try to avoid discussion board bickering, but when someone is posting stuff that is so very innaccurate, I sometimes can't help myself.


OP, DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS NO MATTER WHAT. MANY ENTERING COLLEGE STUDENTS DRINK TOO MUCH AND DO DRUGS, NOT ALL OF THEM MAKE IT OUT, FEWER STILL MAKE IT OUT WITHOUT ANY RECORD OF DRUG/EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL USE. YOU ARE ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES TO MAKE IT OUT WITHOUT ANY RECORD OF IT. MENTIONING IT IN YOUR PS WILL SEVERELY DISADVANTAGE YOU, DO NOT DO IT.

YOUR STORY HAS IT'S PLACE IN ANOTHER CONTEXT, BUT NOT WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO GET INTO LAW SCHOOL.

ht2988
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby ht2988 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:07 pm

If you truly are in recovery and consider overcoming addiction a central facet of your life, I think you ought to write a PS about it - but only if you can write it elegantly and convey if/how your struggles translate into your desire to go to law school. I was suspended for one semester and went on medical leave for another because of my meth addiction, lived on the streets, did a lot of shit - but it made me the man I am today, and I am better because of having overcome this. If you are able to write well and genuinely about your past, it would be a testament not only to your character, but it would also set you apart from the mass of generic PS's. If you'd like I can send you my PS so you can get an idea - but I'm all for full disclosure. Especially if you went to treatment for it. I've heard some pretty sick shit about employers and what not finding out about trips to rehab even in the absence of a shady criminal record. I suspect that may be the case with the bar as well.

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Marionberry
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Marionberry » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:15 pm

I just want to clarify that I don't recommed making it the topic of a PS in most cases unless, like the poster above me stated, you can do it really well. Often the addiction/recovery personal statements come off as hackneyed, and seem as though they would be more appropriate in an issue of The Grapevine than a law school application.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't disclose it, it can be appropriate material for a GPA addendum or something like that. I'm also not saying that it should always be disclosed, but that's a decision for people to make on a case by case basis.

I went to treatment, got sober, and my academic performance improved dramatically in addition to every other part of my life. I disclosed this stuff in an addendum that I feel was pretty effective. I'm headed to a T14 (one at which I am one of the lowest GPAs they accepted so far for non URM applicants.) next fall, so it's obviously not a death sentence if you discuss this stuff in an application.

crit_racer
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby crit_racer » Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:44 pm

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well-hello-there
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby well-hello-there » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:05 pm

On a more sarcastic note...
If you are a recovering child molester who never got caught and can write a compelling p.s. about how you have come such a long way from your old-school child molesting days, admissions committees are likely to be impressed with your candor and accomplishments and will thus let you right in to their school....with a full scholarship too!

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Marionberry
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Marionberry » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:46 pm

crit_racer wrote:This debate is making me really question whether or not I want to bring this up at all in my application. Clearly it's a divisive topic. I do think my addiction provides compelling evidence for a GPA addendum, but at what risk I'm not sure.



It seems to me that the general population's awareness and understanding of addiction has deepened tremendously within the last decade or two, as it has been within the last 15 years or so that the scientific and medical communities have concluded that addiction is a disease, rooted in brain chemistry and not solely a matter of choice or character. Some people may still dispute that, but the average adcomm is gonna be a lot more educated that most people. It's wise to approach it from the perspective of: "I struggled with a serious medical condition for which I received treatment, and it has now been in full remission for several years", not "I was a raging drug addict, but I hit bottom and decided to get better" I agree that the potential benefit in disclosing it is uncertain, but here is how I see it:

You have two candidates with a 3.0 and a 170.

Candidate a) Significant upward trend, poor early grades are the result of immaturity and fucking around. GPA addendum says this, albeit in more elegant words. Emphasizes that his later grades are more indicative of his academic abilities, because he stopped being lazy.

Candidate b) Marked uptick in grades at a certain point, after he withdrew from school to receive medical treatment for chemical dependency. GPA addendum says this, and provides additional evidence of both the strength of his recovery (hopefully with a few years sober under his belt), and why his later performance is more indicative of his academic abilities after taking responsibility for and addressing a serious issue.

Which applicant is more appealing? I would say candidate b, other people might see it differently. My advice from an admissions consultant (I used once since my application and profile were a little out of the ordinary) who was a former director of admissions at a T6 was to disclose using an appropriate amount of discretion.

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well-hello-there
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby well-hello-there » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:53 pm

Marionberry wrote:
crit_racer wrote:This debate is making me really question whether or not I want to bring this up at all in my application. Clearly it's a divisive topic. I do think my addiction provides compelling evidence for a GPA addendum, but at what risk I'm not sure.



It seems to me that the general population's awareness and understanding of addiction has deepened tremendously within the last decade or two, as it has been within the last 15 years or so that the scientific and medical communities have concluded that addiction is a disease, rooted in brain chemistry and not solely a matter of choice or character. Some people may still dispute that, but the average adcomm is gonna be a lot more educated that most people. It's wise to approach it from the perspective of: "I struggled with a serious medical condition for which I received treatment, and it has now been in full remission for several years", not "I was a raging drug addict, but I hit bottom and decided to get better" I agree that the potential benefit in disclosing it is uncertain, but here is how I see it:

You have two candidates with a 3.0 and a 170.

Candidate a) Significant upward trend, poor early grades are the result of immaturity and fucking around. GPA addendum says this, albeit in more elegant words. Emphasizes that his later grades are more indicative of his academic abilities, because he stopped being lazy.

Candidate b) Marked uptick in grades at a certain point, after he withdrew from school to receive medical treatment for chemical dependency. GPA addendum says this, and provides additional evidence of both the strength of his recovery (hopefully with a few years sober under his belt), and why his later performance is more indicative of his academic abilities after taking responsibility for and addressing a serious issue.

Which applicant is more appealing? I would say candidate b, other people might see it differently. My advice from an admissions consultant (I used once since my application and profile were a little out of the ordinary) who was a former director of admissions at a T6 that to disclose using an appropriate amount of discretion.

Hopefully a few years of sobriety but if not, that's cool too. If that personal statement is good enough, they'll admit him with just a month or two of sobriety right? What's more....if you've only got a 160 LSAT and 3.25 GPA, go right ahead and apply to HYS because if your personal statement is good enough, they'll overlook EVERYTHING else.




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