I truly have no idea what to write about.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
JustSomebody
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I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby JustSomebody » Fri May 20, 2011 3:13 am

I have had no great personal tragedy in my life, I come from a normal white middle-class background, and I don't have any relevant work experience, internships, or leadership positions. Yes, my softs suck bigtime. I have a good GPA (3.95) but that's all I have going for me--I haven't taken the LSAT yet, though I hope to get a decently good score after studying my ass off this summer.

What sorts of topics do people with boring backgrounds and bad softs write about in their personal statements? Ugh.

Gideon Strumpet
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby Gideon Strumpet » Fri May 20, 2011 3:25 am

This is my normal white middle-class background. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

JustSomebody
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby JustSomebody » Fri May 20, 2011 3:58 am

Do you have any interests, hobbies?


Yes I do, but they're not really interesting enough to get a good personal statement out of them. Like I don't think writing about how I love to read is unique enough to get me into a good law school.

Would a PS about overcoming shyness work? I know this isn't something earth-shattering but I spent a big part of my life being too painfully shy to do much of anything, and in college I really "broke out of my shell" so to speak. I know it sounds rather lame but maybe I can make up for the lackluster topic by showing good writing skills or something.

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Kabuo
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby Kabuo » Fri May 20, 2011 6:22 am

JustSomebody wrote:
Do you have any interests, hobbies?


Yes I do, but they're not really interesting enough to get a good personal statement out of them. Like I don't think writing about how I love to read is unique enough to get me into a good law school.

Would a PS about overcoming shyness work? I know this isn't something earth-shattering but I spent a big part of my life being too painfully shy to do much of anything, and in college I really "broke out of my shell" so to speak. I know it sounds rather lame but maybe I can make up for the lackluster topic by showing good writing skills or something.


Does it involve copious amounts of alcohol?

dooood
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby dooood » Fri May 20, 2011 7:47 am

Kabuo wrote:
JustSomebody wrote:
Do you have any interests, hobbies?


Yes I do, but they're not really interesting enough to get a good personal statement out of them. Like I don't think writing about how I love to read is unique enough to get me into a good law school.

Would a PS about overcoming shyness work? I know this isn't something earth-shattering but I spent a big part of my life being too painfully shy to do much of anything, and in college I really "broke out of my shell" so to speak. I know it sounds rather lame but maybe I can make up for the lackluster topic by showing good writing skills or something.


Does it involve copious amounts of alcohol?

It always does

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memphisbelle
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby memphisbelle » Fri May 20, 2011 10:56 am

Gideon Strumpet wrote:This is my normal white middle-class background. There are many like it, but this one is mine.


+1

BeaverHunter
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby BeaverHunter » Fri May 20, 2011 11:00 am

The overcoming adversity theme is majorly worn out. So is talking about how your amazing work/life experience means you will excel in law.

Are you funny? If you have a boring background write something interesting even if it is not about yourself. Don't confine yourself to the conventional crap everybody writes about.

The "overcoming shyness" thing is a horrible idea.

2014jd
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby 2014jd » Fri May 20, 2011 11:18 am

memphisbelle wrote:
Gideon Strumpet wrote:This is my normal white middle-class background. There are many like it, but this one is mine.


+1

BeaverHunter wrote:The overcoming adversity theme is majorly worn out. So is talking about how your amazing work/life experience means you will excel in law.

Are you funny? If you have a boring background write something interesting even if it is not about yourself. Don't confine yourself to the conventional crap everybody writes about.

The "overcoming shyness" thing is a horrible idea.


I don't think it is a horrible idea. It seems like an okay idea. How you decided you want to go to law school and be a lawyer also seems like an obvious topic choice here. Showing serious thought and introspection regarding why law can overcome a lack of exceptional experiences I think.

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rinkrat19
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby rinkrat19 » Sun May 22, 2011 2:23 am

I'm also from a whitebread middle-class suburban background free of both tragedy and truly outstanding accomplishment. The piece of advice that got me going on my PS was "what makes you YOU?"

The things that immediately came to mind were the things that I know people identify with me. If you asked the people in my life (work, friends or family) to talk about me, I guarantee everyone would mention either ice hockey or snowboarding, or both. So I started writing about playing hockey and snowboarding. I pounded out a half-dozen partial essays full of sports cliches before I hit on something I could connect to A)the law and B)why I'm quitting my job to change direction and go back to school. In my case it was "everyone needs a passion in life." I talked about passion in a hobby vs. passion in a job, and why my current job does not inspire passion, and how I think the law could, and how hard work doesn't feel hard when it is in pursuit of a passion. As a subject it's pretty trite, but there's enough quirky detail about me in the essay that I think it avoided being too boilerplate.

So that's my advice. What makes you YOU? Your essay doesn't need to be about winning a Nobel Prize or saving orphans from a burning building to be interesting, if it's written well. Good writing can make a mundane subject (or person) worth reading about.

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krasivaya
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby krasivaya » Sun May 22, 2011 3:48 am

BeaverHunter wrote:The overcoming adversity theme is majorly worn out. So is talking about how your amazing work/life experience means you will excel in law.

Are you funny? If you have a boring background write something interesting even if it is not about yourself. Don't confine yourself to the conventional crap everybody writes about.

The "overcoming shyness" thing is a horrible idea.



It is called a personal statement for a reason.

You fail.

shoeshine
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby shoeshine » Sun May 22, 2011 4:36 am

You should write about what inspires you. Or what motivated you to apply to law school. If nothing inspires you then you may want to think about taking time off between UG and law school to find out who you are and make sure that law school is really what you want to do.

Seriously though this is a big time/financial commitment. Make sure you want this.

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cinephile
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby cinephile » Sun May 22, 2011 11:46 am

If you're going with the theme of overcoming shyness, perhaps it would be best to demonstrate this with a specific instance. Telling a story about a particular uncomfortable moment and how you reacted to it could be a powerful approach.

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Older Chest
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby Older Chest » Sun May 22, 2011 12:18 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:What makes you YOU? Your essay doesn't need to be about winning a Nobel Prize or saving orphans from a burning building to be interesting, if it's written well. Good writing can make a mundane subject (or person) worth reading about.


This! Great advice rinkrat.

A well-written essay is much more important than a poor/average essay about an interesting topic. Your personal statement also doesn't necessarily have to be about you. For instance, you can write about something you have observed or lived through, the effect on others, and how it made you feel.

Feel free to PM me if you would interested in reading mine. I'm not saying what I wrote is perfect (it most certainly is not), but for someone from a white, middle-class background, my cycle turned out better than I could have expected. From what I have been told, you would be surprised how many people submit uninteresting personal statements that are a bore to get through. If you can achieve having an Ad Comm read your essay and get through the whole thing, then you are accomplishing something. Remember, there are people in admissions offices that do nothing but read statements, so think about how you can make a positive impression in that context.

Finally, crafting a good statement does not happen overnight. For most people, it takes time -- maybe a couple of months, depending on how dedicated you are -- and a lot of peer support to put something together.

In my opinion, overcoming shyness is probably not the greatest topic unless you can incorporate a lot of humor. But, if you can engage the reader with a story that others can relate to (like trying to pick someone up at a party/bar), I can see that being successful. If shyness is your topic though, the degree of difficulty is probably greater than necessary.

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gin
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby gin » Fri May 27, 2011 2:10 am

Great advise. You also need to think of a theme which will connect your experience to why or how your experience has influenced you into the study of law. Honestly you don't need any of the sob stories or overcoming impossible amounts of adversity to have a good PS; I wrote about going to bible study of all things and my cycle went well in my opinion

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tdicks
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby tdicks » Fri May 27, 2011 10:58 am

gin wrote:Great advise. You also need to think of a theme which will connect your experience to why or how your experience has influenced you into the study of law. Honestly you don't need any of the sob stories or overcoming impossible amounts of adversity to have a good PS; I wrote about going to bible study of all things and my cycle went well in my opinion



is the bolded true? i feel like there are a lot of conflicting answers on this site. i'm trying to hone in on a particular topic for my own PS and am curious how much, if any, my decision to study law needs to play into it.

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gin
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby gin » Fri May 27, 2011 11:29 am

tdicks wrote:
gin wrote:Great advise. You also need to think of a theme which will connect your experience to why or how your experience has influenced you into the study of law. Honestly you don't need any of the sob stories or overcoming impossible amounts of adversity to have a good PS; I wrote about going to bible study of all things and my cycle went well in my opinion



is the bolded true? i feel like there are a lot of conflicting answers on this site. i'm trying to hone in on a particular topic for my own PS and am curious how much, if any, my decision to study law needs to play into it.

You need something to connect your experience and give it some meaning. My theme was basically conflict of ideas leads to growth. On my story I went to bible study (I'm an agnostic) and was exposed to different ideas just like the other people in the bible study were exposed from mine and we all learned something from each other. In society and the law, new ideas help us advance and grow (or something like that, I don't really remember). Then I said how my openness to that would help me in law school.
I thought I had said this but I guess I didn't, but in my opinion overcoming shyness is not a theme

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rinkrat19
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby rinkrat19 » Fri May 27, 2011 11:51 am

tdicks wrote:
gin wrote:Great advise. You also need to think of a theme which will connect your experience to why or how your experience has influenced you into the study of law. Honestly you don't need any of the sob stories or overcoming impossible amounts of adversity to have a good PS; I wrote about going to bible study of all things and my cycle went well in my opinion



is the bolded true? i feel like there are a lot of conflicting answers on this site. i'm trying to hone in on a particular topic for my own PS and am curious how much, if any, my decision to study law needs to play into it.


You're right, there are conflicting opinions. My thoughts are that it doesn't need to be an explicit Why I Want To Go To Law School essay, but it should probably mention law in some way, so that it doesn't leave the adcomms thinking, "okay, that was a nice story, but why in the heck is this person applying here if they are so passionate about playing the clarinet/rebuilding motorcycles/vaccinating orphans/raising their children?"

In my personal opinion, the essay serves three purposes:
1. Showcase your writing skills
2. Introduce yourself as an individual (notice that it is called a Personal Statement) beyond what is listed in your resume.
3. Convince them, if it might be unclear (unrelated major, previous career, non-traditional applicant, etc.) that you do actually have a reason for applying.

LSATclincher
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Re: I truly have no idea what to write about.

Postby LSATclincher » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:51 pm

Take a year off and try to get a job in the legal field. It will also give you a longer window to study for the LSAT. After some legal experience, you'll have a clear reason for entering law.




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