Substance Abuse PS

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Marionberry
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Marionberry » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:57 pm

well-hello-there wrote: ridiculousness


Do you have anything meaningful to contribute? Because I can't find a single point in any of your posts in this thread.

kcdc
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby kcdc » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:59 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 was to disclose using an appropriate amount of discretion.



+1 a million times over.

I think you need to identify your most overwhelming emotion when you think about your situation. Is it shame, over what you've done? Or pride, over how hard you had to work to get over it?

Honestly, in my admittedly worthless and uncredentialed (not a word) opinion, I feel like most people have either been on drugs themselves, or know someone who has. It's all about how you feel about it and how you present it. If it's something you're uncomfortable with, don't write it, because it won't be a positive essay. If you're proud of your sobriety and you feel it's what you need to write about, then do it. But listen to yourself, not anyone on here. At the end of the day, most of us are your competitors anyway :wink:

jblev1
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby jblev1 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:42 pm

Make up another excuse...the federal government takes away your grant money for a year if you are convicted of a drug related charge. Many people never know or affiliate with people who use drugs. DO NOT put this in your PS. Trust me on this one, it is a very bad move, and I have spoken with professors from Brown, Harvard, Yale about this. It makes you look stupid and people will think less of you. They may call the police and have the police come speak with you since many people at universities work for and with the police. With above 75% you could be denied just for the statement. RUN, don't walk from expressing your real feelings on this idea, at least until you are an underspoken law student at their university.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Lawquacious » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:58 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.


Not sure how exactly you got this impression from OP.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Lawquacious » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:58 pm

thegor1987 wrote:
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.


dude whats with the caps

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Lawquacious
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Lawquacious » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:03 pm

I think this is a risky topic, but 3 years of clean time is considerable IMO. It sounds like you are serious about your recovery and have quite a story to tell, so that could work to your advantage if you tell your recovery story in a compelling way. On the other hand, it is a pretty personal topic and there is some risk involved. Admissions is a numbers game for better or worse (there are exceptions here or there, but not many), so rather than looking at the PS to win you points I think I would be more concerned about making sure it doesn't lose you any.

FWIW, I would make sure you develop a strong support system in law school if you care to stay sober.
Last edited by Lawquacious on Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Marionberry
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Marionberry » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:13 am

jblev1 wrote:Make up another excuse...the federal government takes away your grant money for a year if you are convicted of a drug related charge. Many people never know or affiliate with people who use drugs. DO NOT put this in your PS. Trust me on this one, it is a very bad move, and I have spoken with professors from Brown, Harvard, Yale about this. It makes you look stupid and people will think less of you. They may call the police and have the police come speak with you since many people at universities work for and with the police. With above 75% you could be denied just for the statement. RUN, don't walk from expressing your real feelings on this idea, at least until you are an underspoken law student at their university.


You've only been on here for 3 days are you're already posting uninformed, indisputably retarded shit? This post is absurd.

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Marionberry
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Marionberry » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:27 am

Also, since so many people have never actually researched what adcomms have to say on the subject, here's what GULC's Dean of Admissions had to say on the subject:

TLS: How do you feel about applicants that have overcome a serious addiction or mental health issue (alcoholism, drugs, depression, etc.) that has led to their past record being somewhat tarnished?

For applicants that fit that profile, we pay even more attention to their personal statement and letters of recommendation, just to get the best possible picture we can of what happened and where the applicant was then and where they are now. Once we feel that the applicant has left that behind and is in good shape to begin law school, we think that shows a real strength of character and we would view that in a positive way. However, it's on a case-by-case basis, so we have to look at each individual and what their particular circumstances were, and we weigh all of those circumstances together. We do feel that anything that requires real strength of character and determination is something that we'll look upon favorably.


While some adcomms may me less enthusiastic about it than this one, it's safe to say that the DEA isn't going to kick in your door if you talk about a history of drug/alcohol use in your application.

I happen to know of another applicant this cycle who has already been accepted at two T14s who wrote their personal statement about the same topic. They had around a year sober.

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well-hello-there
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby well-hello-there » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:56 am

Marionberry wrote:
well-hello-there wrote: ridiculousness


Do you have anything meaningful to contribute? Because I can't find a single point in any of your posts in this thread.

Okay okay....I concede. You're right. OP, you should tell all the law schools to which you are applying about your past drug addiction because quite frankly, they will applaud you for your honesty and shoo you right in to their 1L class. In fact, at many schools, ex-drug addicts are afforded even more special admissions considerations than URM's and international students combined.
Go right ahead...it can only make you look better than all the other non-ex-drug addict applicants.

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well-hello-there
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby well-hello-there » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:59 am

I almost forgot....don't bother writing a traditional personal statement because the adcomms will see right through it. Your past transgressions are what define you and you couldn't possibly write a quality personal statement on ANY other topic.

NYCcops
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby NYCcops » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:02 am

I wrote my essays on substance abuse. I was in rehab for 6 months. I graduated with a very good but not excellent GPA and I got a 165 on the lsat october, so I will see how I stand in the coming weeks. Good luck.

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SMA22
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby SMA22 » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:07 am

Again, do whatever makes you feel most comfortable--if you think you can write a great addendum, then do it. If you want to keep this close to your chest, then do it. You can make an argument for both sides, but it's ultimately you who decides where you think you're at in the process and how much this contributes to explaining who you are and where you want to be.

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Marionberry
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Marionberry » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:11 am

SMA22 wrote:Again, do whatever makes you feel most comfortable--if you think you can write a great addendum, then do it. If you want to keep this close to your chest, then do it. You can make an argument for both sides, but it's ultimately you who decides where you think you're at in the process and how much this contributes to explaining who you are and where you want to be.


+1. The only point that I was trying to make is that it can be appropriate to disclose stuff like this in an application, and people often seem to be able to do it without any negative consequences. The responses to that point have been...interesting.

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arism87
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby arism87 » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:39 am

This thread is about played out, but my 2 cents:

I don't think it's worth risking it. I don't think this subject matter will give you a boost over another well-written PS, but it may cost you. At least for target schools, I always vote for sticking to a safe personal statement.

Pneumatic
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Pneumatic » Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:29 am

arism87 wrote:This thread is about played out, but my 2 cents:

I don't think it's worth risking it. I don't think this subject matter will give you a boost over another well-written PS, but it may cost you. At least for target schools, I always vote for sticking to a safe personal statement.


Best answer

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verklempt
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby verklempt » Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:37 am

Another thought: I have a family member who just passed the NY Bar in July after graduating from law school last May. To be accepted into the NY Bar, he has to go back through his pre-law years (he was 24 when he started law school) and among other tasks, thoroughly document his life, including written references from people he knew at every stage. Maybe all state bars are not as rigorous, but I would be strongly inclined to keep quiet about past indiscretions that could prove damaging at some point in your career and almost assuredly won't be helpful.

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ArchRoark
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby ArchRoark » Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:57 am

I wrote my PS on substance abuse. I believe it hurt me at a couple schools, but it hasn't ruined my cycle. FYI, IN at two T14, but neither were out of range for my numbers. I was denied at a school I ED'd at that wasn't that big of a reach and I believe it was in part due to my PS topic. Although, I have no concrete reason to think that.

I chose to write on my topic for two reasons, A) I had criminal charges that I was going to have to disclose to some schools and I was too lazy to write two PS and B) I focused on how I use my experience to help others who are currently struggling with addiction.

Feel free to PM if you have specific questions.

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well-hello-there
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby well-hello-there » Fri Dec 31, 2010 4:13 am

ArchRoark wrote:I wrote my PS on substance abuse. I believe it hurt me at a couple schools, but it hasn't ruined my cycle. FYI, IN at two T14, but neither were out of range for my numbers. I was denied at a school I ED'd at that wasn't that big of a reach and I believe it was in part due to my PS topic. Although, I have no concrete reason to think that.

I chose to write on my topic for two reasons, A) I had criminal charges that I was going to have to disclose to some schools and I was too lazy to write two PS and B) I focused on how I use my experience to help others who are currently struggling with addiction.

Feel free to PM if you have specific questions.

The topic of your personal statement was probably appropriate at the schools that asked for disclosure of criminal charges rather than just convictions (I infer that you were not convicted but only charged) because those schools were going to find out anyway.
I get the part about not wanting to write two PS as well but I wonder if you would have chose the same topic in the first place if you were not required by any of your schools to disclose the criminal charges.

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ArchRoark
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby ArchRoark » Fri Dec 31, 2010 4:22 am

well-hello-there wrote:(I infer that you were not convicted but only charged)

Correct. Charges were dismissed/expunged, but some schools ask for full disclosure despite their disposition.

well-hello-there wrote:I get the part about not wanting to write two PS as well but I wonder if you would have chose the same topic in the first place if you were not required by any of your schools to disclose the criminal charges.

I most likely would not have. Although, it is a large reason why I have decided to study law and when asked the inevitable "Why Law?" question, it is the only answer I have that doesn't feel forced or fake. I am currently considering deferring and reapplying next year. If I do, I will probably write on a new less risky topic.

thegor1987
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby thegor1987 » Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:44 pm

Marionberry wrote:Also, since so many people have never actually researched what adcomms have to say on the subject, here's what GULC's Dean of Admissions had to say on the subject:

TLS: How do you feel about applicants that have overcome a serious addiction or mental health issue (alcoholism, drugs, depression, etc.) that has led to their past record being somewhat tarnished?

For applicants that fit that profile, we pay even more attention to their personal statement and letters of recommendation, just to get the best possible picture we can of what happened and where the applicant was then and where they are now. Once we feel that the applicant has left that behind and is in good shape to begin law school, we think that shows a real strength of character and we would view that in a positive way. However, it's on a case-by-case basis, so we have to look at each individual and what their particular circumstances were, and we weigh all of those circumstances together. We do feel that anything that requires real strength of character and determination is something that we'll look upon favorably.


While some adcomms may me less enthusiastic about it than this one, it's safe to say that the DEA isn't going to kick in your door if you talk about a history of drug/alcohol use in your application.

I happen to know of another applicant this cycle who has already been accepted at two T14s who wrote their personal statement about the same topic. They had around a year sober.


Yes this is going to be their generic answer, but in reality this only applies if you have possession charges, etc... to explain. I don't remember any law schools I've applied too ask if you have ever been admitted to a rehabilitation facility, or had problems with alcohol/drug abuse. I agree such PS can help you, BUT ONLY IF THERE IS EVIDENCE OF DRUG USE WHICH NEEDS EXPLANATION!

plum
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby plum » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:01 pm

i wouldn't do this unless you are ok with having to prove to C&F committee that you're truly rehabilitated.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby Lawquacious » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:17 pm

plum wrote:i wouldn't do this unless you are ok with having to prove to C&F committee that you're truly rehabilitated.


This is something that may need to be disclosed anyway in C & F for whatever State OP takes Bar in. If it wouldn't come up as a question anyway then it prob won't be brought up because it's in a PS IMO. Also, depending on the school OP may need to disclose on the app anyway (prob not though unless convictions)- i think that is something that could be looked at by C & F committee down the road, but still prob wouldn't get scrutiny unless the app question was consistent with actual C & F questions. I don't think C & F committees even review apps (nevermind the PS of the app) unless there is something that triggers a review. This might depend on the State though, and I'm not saying it is impossible it could be brought up in the way you're suggesting. I just think it is very unlikely.

The above being said, i indicated previously that I think this is a somewhat risky topic (more for admissions purposes), and since IMO law admissions is in most cases a straight numbers game I think it is better to be safe in trying not to 'lose points' on the PS rather than (prob unrealistically) hoping to 'gain points.' OTOH, I also think if OP feels comfortable using this as a PS and can tell his story in a compelling (and reassuring) way, perhaps it could be better than a cookie-cutter safe BS PS. Heck, maybe one (or two) of the adcomms reviewing it at a given school are in 'recovery' and would be especially sympathetic.
Last edited by Lawquacious on Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

crit_racer
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby crit_racer » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:33 pm

.
Last edited by crit_racer on Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

sandaltan
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby sandaltan » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:15 pm

there is a zero (0) percent (%) chance you should include your past substance abuse in your ps, or anywhere in your application process. that is a part of your life that does not exist on paper.

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DamnLSAT
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Re: Substance Abuse PS

Postby DamnLSAT » Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:41 am

Have to say, skimming that whole thread from start to finish was very entertaining to say the least. In the end, my opinion to your initial question never changed: why do you want to open the door for more questions and more doubt during your application process?




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