The thread wherein you critique my personal statement.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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soccerfreak
Posts: 407
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:57 am

The thread wherein you critique my personal statement.

Postby soccerfreak » Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:57 am

Hey guys, so, uh, wanna critique my personal statement? Have at it!

Personal Statement

Although the study of law has been at the back of my mind for several years, up to this point other things have been the focus of my time and energy. For the past four years, physics and economics have been at the forefront of my academic career, while I have spent my summers fulfilling my passion for children’s work by serving as a counselor at children’s camps. While these areas of my life have thus far been separate, over time I have come to realize that it is possible for me to blend the technical, intellectual ,and social skills I have developed as well as the distinct energies and passions of these two separate fields into the unique study and practice of law.

When I arrived at the University of ------- several years ago, I had my sights set on obtaining a Ph.D. in physics. Based on my high school credentials, I received a fellowship from the honors college which enabled me to get paid to perform research as a freshman. I enthusiastically dove into the brand new world of college physics and research laboratories. I spent my first year working on determining the makeup of stars based on the wavelength and intensity of the light we see from them. It was fascinating to see how we could determine the elements composing the dust around a star from light waves which traveled thousands of years just to reach earth. My sophomore year I received an internship in a different research lab, in which I worked on a project to increase the efficiency of tanks to hold fuel for hydrogen and methane powered vehicles. I developed many skills during this time, including being a part of a research team, how to communicate within a team, and how to make technical presentations of research.

While my time spent working in labs and performing research was certainly valuable and taught me many skills, ironically it also taught me that graduate school in physics was not for me. I enjoyed the material, but I knew that I could not spend another six years of my life working in windowless laboratories on a single project. What I wanted was more direct contact with people, and a broader range of projects to work on, and after a period of research and reflection I decided to turn my focus to law school. However, despite my change in career plans, I have never for a second regretted my time spent. Although my many upper level math and physics courses have invariably proven to be far more challenging than any other undergraduate course I have taken, I feel it puts me at an advantage in anything else I desire to do. Despite the difficulty, I have always found the work to be very interesting, and the logical thinking and vast amount of time solving complex problems I have completed are invaluable experiences which students of other disciplines simply do not have. In addition, I am now in the unique position of being able to practice patent law in the future. The concept of continuing to be able to work with cutting edge research fascinates me, and I look forward to learning more about that field in law school.

Once I opted to go to law school, I decided to double major to provide variety to my undergraduate experience. I chose economics because, like physics, it deals with the big picture, striving to explain why things are the way they are. My experiences with economics provided me with valuable writing experience, the main area where my physics education was lacking. In addition, I was able to take a Law and Economics course, in which we looked at the law with an economic perspective of providing incentives. It was both my favorite class I have taken thus far, as well as a key part in affirming to myself that law is the field that I would like to study further.

Completely unrelated to my academic career, or at least I thought so, throughout high school and college I spent portions of five separate summers working at Turkey Hill Ranch Bible Camp and Kanakuk Kamps as a counselor working with children. I think that I have been at my happiest at camp, spending twenty four hours a day doing fun activities with fellow counselors who become dear friends, and lots of young children who look up to you. Although my duties ranged from shoe tier to miniature golf partner to waiter to homesickness curer, I learned enormous lessons in maturity and responsibility. Also, in working within the larger group of counselors, I gained valuable experience in teamwork and reliance on others. Furthermore, I learned that there is nothing more rewarding than making a difference in someone else’s life.

It is rewarding for me to look back at the path I have taken; there have definitely been twists and turns. While studying physics and economics, I learned that I didn’t want to go to physics graduate school, whilst gaining technical skills and a logical mind. While serving at camp, I learned how to put others’ needs before my own, and how to relate to other people. I know that whether I am representing either a client who wants to patent a new technology, or a client who otherwise would not even be represented, I have all of the necessary skills to be successful. I like to put it this way: my academic career has taught me how to think, my camp career has taught me how to act, and in my law career I will put all of my training to use.
THE END!!!!!!!!!!

Additional question: is it necessary to mention specific law schools somewhere in there? I realize it's "nice" to put a personal touch, but thus far I've decided against putting a token placement in there because it's so obvious that school names are interchangeable.

Peg
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:32 am

Re: The thread wherein you critique my personal statement.

Postby Peg » Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:04 pm

Here you go. My comments in blue.


soccerfreak wrote: Although the study of law has been at the back of my mind for several years, up to this point other things have been the focus of my time and energy. For the past four years, physics and economics have been at the forefront of my academic career, while I have spent my summers fulfilling my passion for children’s work by serving as a counselor at children’s camps. While these areas of my life have thus far been separate, over time I have come to realize that it is possible for me to blend the technical, intellectual ,and social skills I have developed as well as the distinct energies and passions of these two separate fields into the unique study and practice of law. [The meat of this isn't bad, but it's all blandly written and full of excess words. Case in point: the "unique study and practice of law"? What's so unique about putting your background to use to study law? It also doesn't necessarily sound good if you say that you've always had law in the back of your mind but never explain why you pursued other things instead of law. You may have said why you liked physics, econ and being a counselor, but what made you choose that over law? You also need to trim this paragraph down to the bare material IMO. Try deleting the first sentence entirely, putting an explanation in the second sentence ("why I chose this instead of law") and trim the third sentence considerably.]

When I arrived at the University of ------- several years ago, I had my sights set on obtaining a Ph.D. in physics. Based on my high school credentials, I received a fellowship from the honors college which enabled me to get paid to perform research as a freshman. I enthusiastically dove into the brand new world of college physics and research laboratories. I spent my first year working on determining the makeup of stars based on the wavelength and intensity of the light we see from them. It was fascinating to see how we could determine the elements composing the dust around a star from light waves which traveled thousands of years just to reach earth. My sophomore year I received an internship in a different research lab, in which I worked on a project to increase the efficiency of tanks to hold fuel for hydrogen and methane powered vehicles. I developed many skills during this time, including being a part of a research team, how to communicate within a team, and how to make technical presentations of research. [Again, good material, but it ends on a bit of a flat note. "I did all this cool stuff...and I got Skill X, Skill Y and Skill Z." I think this would have been more effective if you cut down on the job descriptions themselves and instead expanded on one anecdote that shows how you used one of these skills to do something, and then explain how working in the lab helped you gain the skill. Otherwise it sounds too detached, almost generic, to just name skills.]

While my time spent working in labs and performing research was certainly valuable and taught me many skills, [redundant - cut this out. You've already discussed this in the previous paragraph] ironically it also taught me that graduate school in physics was not for me. I enjoyed the material, but I knew that I could not spend another six years of my life working in windowless laboratories on a single project. What I wanted was more direct contact with people, and a broader range of projects to work on, and after a period of research and reflection I decided to turn my focus to law school. [I think a more explicit connection between "don't want windowless labs" and "law school" could be established here, or at least hinted at.] However, despite my change in career plans, I have never for a second regretted my time spent. [This is redundant and I really think you should just change the angle of this whole paragraph. There is no need for you to explain why you didn't want grad school, and why you shouldn't regret your major, and why it luckily puts you in a position to do IP - it almost sounds defensive, even if that wasn't the intention. I think you should use a whole new angle, namely: "I loved my major and thought it was exciting stuff, and I wanted to use these skills in my future career - but I did not want to restrict my future and my skills to lab work. Instead, I thought of different ways of applying my knowledge to do useful work that involved direct contact with people." <-- not the best example, but the approach should be cheerful, optimistic and proud of the direction you've taken so far.] Although my many upper level math and physics courses have invariably proven to be far more challenging than any other undergraduate course I have taken, I feel it puts me at an advantage in anything else I desire to do. Despite the difficulty, I have always found the work to be very interesting, and the logical thinking and vast amount of time solving complex problems I have completed are invaluable experiences which students of other disciplines simply do not have. In addition, I am now in the unique position of being able to practice patent law in the future. The concept of continuing to be able to work with cutting edge research fascinates me, and I look forward to learning more about that field in law school.

Once I opted to go to law school, I decided to double major to provide variety to my undergraduate experience. I chose economics because, like physics, it deals with the big picture, striving to explain why things are the way they are. My experiences with economics provided me with valuable writing experience, the main area where my physics education was lacking. [I like the way this paragraph began.] In addition, I was able to take a Law and Economics course, in which we looked at the law with an economic perspective of providing incentives. It was both my favorite class I have taken thus far, as well as a key part in affirming to myself that law is the field that I would like to study further. [Again, good on showing why you like law and what led you to it, without being verbose.]

Completely unrelated to my academic career, or at least I thought so, throughout high school and college I spent portions of five separate summers working at Turkey Hill Ranch Bible Camp and Kanakuk Kamps as a counselor working with children. [Awkward phrasing. Change the structure to something like, "Throughout hs and college I did this, without suspecting it would one day provide a skill set that would be useful for my academic career."] I think that I have been at my happiest at camp, spending twenty four hours a day doing fun activities with fellow counselors who become dear friends, and lots of young children who look up to you. Although my duties ranged from shoe tier to miniature golf partner to waiter to homesickness curer, I learned enormous lessons in maturity and responsibility. Also, in working within the larger group of counselors, I gained valuable experience in teamwork and reliance on others. Furthermore, I learned that there is nothing more rewarding than making a difference in someone else’s life. [Sounds lame and cliched. Give an example/anecdote or it will sound contrived, false and boring.]

It is rewarding for me to look back at the path I have taken; there have definitely been twists and turns. [Useless extra words, unless you replace the second part of the sentence with an assessment of your path that is both more concrete and more self-aware, especially of its specific impact on you. Why is it "rewarding" to see twists and turns? The point of this sentence should be to summarize the main thrust of this paragraph.] While studying physics and economics, I learned that I didn’t want to go to physics graduate school, whilst gaining technical skills and a logical mind. While serving at camp, I learned how to put others’ needs before my own, and how to relate to other people. I know that whether I am representing either a client who wants to patent a new technology, or a client who otherwise would not even be represented, I have all of the necessary skills to be successful. I like to put it this way: my academic career has taught me how to think, my camp career has taught me how to act, and in my law career I will put all of my training to use. [I like the way this ends.]


Additional question: is it necessary to mention specific law schools somewhere in there? [No. It detracts from your main theme and you're right, schools notice that it's interchangeable and just a token mention. Try a "Why X School" essay supplement instead.] I realize it's "nice" to put a personal touch, but thus far I've decided against putting a token placement in there because it's so obvious that school names are interchangeable.

User avatar
soccerfreak
Posts: 407
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:57 am

Re: The thread wherein you critique my personal statement.

Postby soccerfreak » Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:39 pm

Thanks Peg! Very helpful comments.

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Mattfl88
Posts: 137
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:41 pm

Re: The thread wherein you critique my personal statement.

Postby Mattfl88 » Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:55 pm

Not bad so far. I think you should emphasize connecting economics and law and why you chose the law route. Maybe a study or some story that really propelled your interest in IP law or law in general. I find myself emphasizing 'job descriptions' or skills rather than finding a way to illustrate them without listing. I think your PS would be stronger with some illustration of skills (as would mine). Off to a good start though.




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