Personal Statement - Please critique

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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SentinelsOfEvil
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Personal Statement - Please critique

Postby SentinelsOfEvil » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:34 am

After a few rough drafts, this is what I came up with -

In February of this year, I was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, which at 5895m (19,341ft) is the tallest peak in Africa. It was a gruelling climb which lasted for 5 days. Each day involved over 9 hours of climbing in silence which provided a perfect opportunity for introspection. I looked back at the choices I've made in my life. And no matter how I looked at it, I came to same conclusion - every major academic or career decision I've ever made, I've made it for the wrong reason.

While the Indian education system provides students an excellent understanding of English, mathematics and science, this is most often at the expense of even the most basic education in every other subject. This is one of the reasons that India currently produces among the world's highest number of engineers every year. While entering high school, I had the chance to choose the subject of my choice. The only reason I chose to study science was because I had a very limited exposure to other subjects. In retrospect, this was probably not the best decision, but it gave me an excellent grounding in problem solving which I've found to be useful time and time again.

After graduating from high school as one of the top students in my class, I had to choose my undergraduate course. Many of my peers were forced into following parents' careers even though they didn't like it. I consider myself lucky when compared to them as I have no one but myself to blame for that decision. Both my father and my brother are engineers and since no field really intrigued me, I decided to follow in their footsteps and become an engineer.

The next major decision was to choose the university that I would pursue my degree in. I was admitted into quite a few universities and the choice finally boiled down to one of the top 5 universities in India or the XXXXX University in Singapore. I chose the latter because I was offered a full scholarship for the duration of my course. Looking back, I believe this is the only choice that I wouldn't change. While I believe that it was an immature decision to choose a school solely on the basis of a scholarship, studying in a multi-cultural society like Singapore offered me lessons that I would probably not have learnt for a long time had I stayed in India.

Although I had scholarships covering all my expenses since high school, the first time I was able to make all my financial decisions was during my undergraduate study. It was also the first time I had constant internet access. I was finally in an environment where I was surrounded by vast amounts of information and where an inquisitive mind was rewarded. During the four years of my study, I read voraciously and got my first proper introduction to numerous subjects including finance, history, geography, politics, film, psychology, economics and law.

I immediately realised that I had an affinity towards economics. I loved the fact that so many of life's decisions could be explained by something as fundamental and simple as incentives. But the more I read, the more I felt that while economics dealt with just theory of incentives, it was law which dealt with the practicalities. While economics talks of costless negotiations and agreements, these agreements are actually implemented using contracts. While economics advocates increased competition, this is enforced in reality through anti-competition laws. I slowly started to look at law without the prism of economics and started appreciating the role of the rule of law in society. I realised that it is the rule of law that enables us to live in civilised societies. I finally found a subject that truly fascinated me and it has continued to do so.

But when it was time to step out into the real world, my immediate focus was on paying the bills. I had a few interviews and when I was offered a job at XXXXX, I accepted the offer because it was the highest paying job offer I received. I thought I could learn to like a career in investment banking. Working in a completely new field was initially challenging, but after a year I found myself in a routine 9 to 6 job. I knew that I was in job that neither fascinated nor challenged me.

Then in January, one of my closest friends and colleagues quit his job at the age of 35 to pursue a career in dentistry. While I initially assumed that this was some sort of mid-life crisis, a long talk with him revealed that this was a carefully considered decision. He told me that it was never too late to switch to a job or field that one loved. This got me thinking and luckily for me, the next few days would give me ample opportunity to do just that.

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was one of the most audacious things I've ever done. I had never climbed a mountain before and I believe that this only enhanced the experience for me as I hadn't seen such sheer natural beauty in my life before. I soon realised that any attempt at conversation during the climbs quickly left me breathless. This enforced silence was tougher to cope with than the punishing climb itself. With nothing but my own thoughts to entertain me, I started analysing the decisions I had made in my life and the career path I had chosen. I can't claim that I had a Eureka moment when I reached the peak, but by the time I returned from Tanzania, I knew that my future was as a lawyer.

I decided to study science because I didn't know about other options. I decided to become an engineer because my father is an engineer. I chose my university only because I was offered a full scholarship. I joined an investment bank because it was the highest paying job offer. In spite of the fact that all of these were decisions made for the wrong reasons, these experiences have shaped me into the individual that I am today. All the missteps also helped me realise that for the first time I've made a career choice after considering all my options and carefully pondering over all the information at hand. But most importantly, I've decided to pursue a career that actually fascinates me and in which I can make a difference.

With my background, I hope to bring a different perspective to the discussions in class and add to the diversity of your incoming cohort. I believe that my hunger to learn and enthusiasm will be a positive addition to the law school community. I am positive that studying at the New York University School of Law will provide me with the perfect platform to excel in my future career as a lawyer.

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ach24
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Re: Personal Statement - Please critique

Postby ach24 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:07 am

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Last edited by ach24 on Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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SentinelsOfEvil
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Re: Personal Statement - Please critique

Postby SentinelsOfEvil » Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:30 am

ach24 wrote:"Although I had scholarships covering all my expenses since high school, the first time I was able to make all my financial decisions was during my undergraduate study."

I stopped reading here. The first few paragraphs are too long and burdensome to get through. Edit it down.


Thanks for the critique. The problem for me was to I had to explain a very weird education/career path - Science->Engineering (with an econs minor)->Finance->Law - without sounding fickle minded. I have hardly any extra-curricular activities and I have only an "Above Average" foreign degree. I felt that the only way I could convince an elite school to admit me is by grabbing their attention with a very different kind of personal statement. Luckily, it worked (or they ignored it) and I got into Columbia.

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JRDallas11
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Re: Personal Statement - Please critique

Postby JRDallas11 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:56 am

I stopped reading as well because it wasn't moving fast enough for me. Take your main theme and make it fit into 4 or 5 paragraphs.

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JRDallas11
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Re: Personal Statement - Please critique

Postby JRDallas11 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:57 am

Just read your post. Congrats!

sparty99
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Re: Personal Statement - Please critique

Postby sparty99 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:02 am

This is a long winded essay. It has some bright spots, but you spend too much time discussing your mistakes and I'm fatigued after reading it. Spending so much time discussing your mistakes, makes me wonder if choosing law school will be a mistake as well. You need to quickly explain your past mistakes and do a better job explaining how you are a better person for those decisions and how your experience in engineering, i-banking, and economics will make you a strong candidate for law school and a career as a lawyer......

Also, I thought I-Banking was more like 9 am to 2 am ? Not 9am to 6pm.

Your word usage can be stronger. "truly fascinated," "read voraciously," "learnt," "I consider myself lucky when compared to them as I have no one but myself to blame for that decision," "constant internet access," "the real world," "incoming cohort" - um, no.

The last paragraph is weak....

You must of had a strong LSAT score and gpa to get accepted into Columbia. Your essay has potential and can be a unique story, however, it is a slow read and is probably the weakest part of your application.

zomginternets
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Re: Personal Statement - Please critique

Postby zomginternets » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:53 pm

SentinelsOfEvil wrote:And no matter how I looked at it, I came to same conclusion - every major academic or career decision I've ever made, I've made it for the wrong reason.


I'll admit I didn't read through the whole thing, but this sentence kinda raised an eyebrow. I'm sure you later describe how your experiences have changed your outlook, etc., but I don't think it's a good idea to so strongly emphasize a long history of poor judgment right off the bat.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Personal Statement - Please critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:15 pm

My best guess is that your LSAT score of 179 got you into Columbia despite this personal statement.




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