TLS, do your worst (first draft)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )

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TLS, do your worst (first draft)

Postby Justin.S » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:19 pm

Last edited by Justin.S on Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: TLS, do your worst (first draft)

Postby Peg » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:30 pm

I'll give you my impressions as I read, and final comments at the end of the essay.

When I was 15 years old, while most of my friends were spending their summer break relaxing at the local pool, I began working for my uncle’s construction plumbing company. [I like this opening already - doesn't waste time and immediately takes me into your world.] I liked to think of myself as a skilled craftsman, but in reality I spent most of my time digging ditches and awkwardly lugging around supplies and equipment that often outweighed me. To further complicate the situation, I initially faced a fair deal of resentment from the employees at the company. As they saw it, I was an outsider who had no business on a construction site; the skinny suburban kid whose family owned the business. Respect, I would find, was something that had to be earned. [Great opening paragraph. I can find nothing wrong here.]

Not even an hour into my first day, my crew was met with the news that the digging equipment scheduled to be at our job site would not be, but that the job needed to be completed regardless. [Very badly phrased, with rogue comma after "day". Try this: "Not even an hour into my first day we learned that our digging equipment would not arrive as scheduled, and yet the job had to be completed regardless."] This essentially left the responsibility of hand digging a length of trenches normally reserved for industrial mini-excavators up to my crew. [More bad phrasing. Try: "This essentially meant that our crew was responsible for hand digging a length of trenches, work that was normally reserved for industrial mini-excavators."] Though I didn’t initially understand the sour dispositions radiating from my co-workers, I quickly found myself identifying with them. [I am not thrilled about the "sour dispositions radiating..." part - I basically think that if you can cut the words down and describe things at bare minimum, DO IT.]

Standing knee-deep in a ditch on a humid summer day, drenched in sweat and baking in the ninety-five degree heat, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had gotten myself into. The trench needed to be extended another ten feet, but I wasn’t confident I could manage even one more strike at the parched ground. The pick-axe in my hand seemed to have gained twenty pounds as my muscles pleaded for mercy. [My suggestion is to keep your descriptions of everything - especially physical sensations - to the barest minimum. You could condense these first three sentences into two shorter ones.] For a moment, I stood back in desolation and surveyed my surroundings. I was astonished to find that the other members of the crew appeared just as anguished, with one exception: they had not stopped. I’m still not sure whether it was pride, embarrassment, or my competitive nature that caused it, but suddenly I was able to fight back my feelings of submission and push through my desire to give up. With my newfound determination, I grabbed my pick-axe and finished my trench. [I like the way you've used this little story to describe something that changed you.]

In the years since, as I continued to work seasonally with the company, I was asked to complete many strenuous tasks but none have been as impactful as that first trench. While completing a ditch may not constitute a significant achievement to most people, I constantly think back to that day with a great deal of pride. [Good way of reinforcing the importance of that story.] Pushed to my absolute limit, I summoned strength and determination I wasn’t aware I possessed to complete something I hadn’t thought possible. I tore down the preconceived notions my coworkers had formed about me and gained their respect in a single day. Over the course of the summer I managed to develop myself into a respected and valuable employee of the company. As tough as the work was, I developed a sort of strange attraction to it and the unique [I hate seeing the word "unique" - so overused! And I think it's unnecessary here.] feeling of gratification that accompanies the successful completion of a difficult task. Moreover, I cherished the lessons that I was able to take away from the experience.

As I continued to learn and grow through my college years, I realized that the things I learned from the trench and my work have stayed with me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I discovered things about myself and life that no textbook or teacher could have ever conveyed. I learned the value of hard work. I learned what it takes to push myself beyond perceived limitations. Perhaps most importantly, I learned to internalize my problems and look inward for solutions. Instead of seeking to make excuses or place blame on external factors when faced with a challenge, I began to critically evaluate my own methods to find resolutions. [Maybe an example of how you did this would help here.]

Life, I realized, is nothing more than a series of challenges. How we react to these challenges is how we define ourselves. [This sounds cliche and I don't think it helps your statement. I'd just delete these two sentences if I were you.] As I’ve faced other “trenches” in my life through schoolwork, studying abroad, working both as a tutor and in construction, and even in my relationships with friends and family, I remember what I learned. When it seems as if I cannot possibly continue, I remain steadfast and push on a little further.

The determination and drive to succeed that I discovered within myself has helped me achieve things I would have never dreamed to be possible. In May, I will become the first person from my mother’s side of the family to graduate from college with a four year degree. I will break that mold not as an average student, but Summa Cum Laude as a member of an elite and rigorous academic program within my university and a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. As proud and honored as I am to fill that position, I don’t intend to rest content with my achievements. I find myself hungry for more challenges, one of which I hope will be law school. When the arduous tasks that undoubtedly lie ahead do present themselves, I intend to employ the wisdom I gained from the trench and overcome them as I always have. [Very nicely written closing paragraph.]

I like that you write frankly and cleanly, without too many embellishments, and that you show a lot of self-awareness. I think you chose a good topic too. If you just fix up the language a little bit, delete some extra and unnecessary padding, and add some more examples, this should work well. Good luck!

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Re: TLS, do your worst (first draft)

Postby esq » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:48 pm

I was interested throughout. I also thought that you wrapped things up nicely by showing how your hard work has taught you life lessons that have and will help you succeed.

One thing that I think could be improved is your motivation to go to law school. I'm sure that you've thought of what you might like to do when you get to law school, and how a certain law school program fits with your interests. If you could help a law school understand why it is that you are interested in law, and what they can do for you, I think that it shows better motivation that just saying that its another challenge that you would like to accomplish. Though this is not a necessary step, and overall I think this is a very good statement.


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Joined: Sun Oct 31, 2010 3:28 pm

Re: TLS, do your worst (first draft)

Postby Justin.S » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:52 pm

Thank you guys so much. I took your comments into consideration as I finalized my revisions and I think it turned out much better!

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