Help cutting it down

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Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 2:36 pm

Help cutting it down

Postby cheekman87 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 2:45 pm

Anyone else frustrated when they have to take their 2-3 page single space statement and cut it down to 2 pages double spaced? Anyways, any thoughts on my statement, any thoughts on how to cut it down are welcome. Thanks!

When I first decided to apply to law school, I realized that it would be a challenge that requires commitment and a willingness to devote myself entirely to the task at hand. As I considered this, I remembered a time when I experienced one of my greatest challenges as a student. The memory of my time spent studying Latin reminded me that I not only have the ability to overcome great obstacles when I apply sufficient effort, but that I also take pride in a job well done, knowing that such challenges hone my hidden potential and improve my ability to serve my community.

I might not have known it at the time, but my journey to law school started during my senior year of college. When I decided which classes to take, I was on course for a major in economics with a minor in classics. As I read the requirements for the classics major though, I realized that I could take two more classes and get a full major instead of the minor. However, these two courses had to be in advanced Latin, and at that time I had only completed the introduction classes while planning to take both intermediate classes over the course of my senior year. After consulting my adviser, I decided to schedule both advanced classes during my final semester of college alongside my second semester of intermediate Latin. Nine hours of Latin sounded difficult, but such a challenge would surely improve my comprehension of the language.

My final semester I had a schedule with twelve hours of coursework, and I had done well in my first semester of intermediate Latin. With this in mind, I confidently stepped into advanced Latin. After an initial day of going over the syllabus, we began our second class by reading from the first book of Tacitus’ Histories. After three semesters of Latin I thought I had a grasp of the language, but now I looked upon a Rubik’s cube of convoluted conjugations and declensions that left me dumbstruck. Professor McGinn called upon each of us and asked us to translate a few sentences at a time. Everyone else read their sentences without hesitation, while I was sweating bullets and fearing my turn. Finally I was asked to translate. I scanned the passage, translated a word or two, and mentioned with a quiver in my voice that I did not recognize some of the vocabulary. After a pause that seemed to last an eternity Professor McGinn took mercy upon me, told me it was a good try, and moved on to the next student. As he dismissed the class, he assigned two more pages for the next period.

Utterly embarrassed, I returned to my dorm room. I could barely read a sentence of this Latin, let alone two pages for a single class period! How could I have been so arrogant, thinking I could concurrently take both intermediate and advanced courses in Latin? My seemingly airtight plan for a double major had become a disaster. My mind scrambled for an escape hatch, a plan B, anything to fix this situation. I could drop the two advanced courses, find easier ones to take, and enjoy a less strenuous final semester of college. Yes, in order to save my GPA this was the most prudent course of action. Yet it did not feel right. I simply could not face myself if I ran at the first sign of difficulty. I took a deep breath, considered that I was overreacting, and made the decision to stay the course.

That night, I began translating the Tacitus passage assigned for the next day. The work went slowly, as it took me three hours to read two pages. When called upon the next class, I managed to stumble through the Latin and offer a better translation than the last period, still by no means eloquent though. Thus I settled into a routine to handle my Latin responsibilities. I read a combination of Virgil’s Aeneid, Tacitus’ Histories, and Cicero’s Pro Roscio Amerino, six days a week, for three hours outside of class each day. Despite taking only twelve hours of classes, this might have been my most reading intensive semester of college, and in a dead language. Some nights during sleep I had what I referred to as “Latin nightmares,” in which my friends and I spoke Latin gibberish to each other ad nauseam. At times I felt like a trained monkey, as I could only memorize the English translation of more complex sentences and hope to recite them from memory in class if asked.

Eventually I noticed a change though. Much to my surprise, the Latin began to make sense. There was no spotlight or the sound of trumpets in a singular moment of victorious inspiration of course, but rather a gradual improvement over time. Clauses looked less threatening, giving way to greater ease with sentences, and even paragraphs. Not only could I understand more of the Latin, but I was also doing so at greater speed. The daily three-hour Latin grind eased into two hours, and then closer to just one hour a day. For the first time since the beginning of the semester, I felt confident in my ability to take on this seemingly impossible task. However, finals approached and I once again became nervous. I had greatly improved my understanding of Latin, but that was with daily knowledge of which pages the class would be translating. The exam in Tacitus would be passages chosen at random from Histories as a whole. I took my last finals of college and felt proud with the knowledge that I had not let myself down. To be sure, I had chosen a harder path, but it was one that ended with greater achievement and the knowledge that I was cultivating my hidden potential.

A few days before commencement, I attended a reception hosted by the Classics Department. I spoke with some classmates and professors about the difficulties of the semester and how good it felt to be done with it all. My professors told me that they were proud of me for the job I had done, but I will always remember one conversation in particular, with Professor Solomon. He had taught me for two years, from the introduction courses through the intermediate, and was in fact the man who had recommended that I take both advanced Latin courses with a semester of intermediate Latin under my belt instead of splitting them over the course of the year. I was telling him about my trials with Tacitus’ writings when he told me that he had been completely confident that I could do well in advanced Latin, and then asked, “You know why I always called on you towards the end of class, right?” I told him that I just attributed it to luck of the draw and coincidence, to which he replied, “I knew that I could count on you to always have finished the passage and handle the more difficult parts that no one else could.” I was taken aback, and he then asked how I had done in my Latin courses that semester. I could only smile and tell him that I had gotten an A in all three.

My experience from my final semester of college reaffirmed my belief that I could accomplish great things, no matter the difficulty, when I set my mind to the task and devoted the appropriate amount of effort. I had considered an easier path, but instead found the satisfaction of knowing that I had done what was necessary to succeed. For these reasons I believe that I am a prime candidate for law school. I am willing to put my nose to the grindstone and devote however much time it takes to do a job in which I can take pride. I believe that the challenge of law school is the path that will allow me to further develop my talents so that I may better serve my community.


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Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:09 pm

Re: Help cutting it down

Postby LSATclincher » Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:55 pm

I do not feel this is an appropriate topic for a law school PS. We learn nothing about who you are. Maybe mention a sentence or two on how the Latin discipline taught you so and so, but then move on.


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Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:55 pm

Re: Help cutting it down

Postby dddhhh » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:08 pm

This topic may not be the best for a PS. I understand that you want to show that you do not give up and have a strong work ethic, however this PS is very long and too detailed on a subject that you never relate back to LS. If you really wish to use this example it needs to be re-worked a lot.

Instead, I would focus on points you briefly mentioned generally but did not explore: what made you interested in law/in what ways do you want to serve the community, what you can offer to the school (you say at the end that LS will allow you to develop your talents- explore this, what are your talents: how will they enrich the school and how will LS help you grow?)

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