Personal Statement help please

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Funnystory...
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 6:33 pm

Personal Statement help please

Postby Funnystory... » Mon May 23, 2011 6:37 pm

If you had asked me five years ago what profession I would settle into I would have answered with brimming confidence, “I am going to be a computer engineer”. I did everything I could in high school to reach this goal; I attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Technology in San Jose during my junior year, I received my Honors Diploma early while getting credits from the local community college then applied to the best engineering college in the state. After acceptance into Oregon State’s engineering program I found myself hundreds of miles from home in a program in which I no longer felt sure about. It’s weird to think that engineering was romanticized but it is evident I did not have a grasp on what a computer engineer did every day, but the eight straight hours of labs in front of a computer were making it abundantly clear.
At this point I had two options; I could continue to plunge forward into a field that was becoming a hassle or I could make a change. Switching from one major to another would not be enough, I would risk falling into the same routine of not caring about classes. No, something more drastic was in order. I researched new careers, I job shadowed at a finance firm, I interviewed a few professors in differing engineering fields but most importantly I opened my eyes. My father has been a public defense attorney since opening his company in Anchorage, Alaska 25 years ago. He has never once suggested I follow his footsteps, he has never told stories of glorious courtroom debates nor saving the innocent from prison. Instead I heard stories of the corrupt city officials, of the grueling hours, of having to cancel vacations due to trials. So why does he do it? There had to be something deeper, and as I accompanied him on his trip to Washington DC for his case, Greene vs. Camreta, in front of the Supreme Court I found it. No, not in the grandeur of the Supreme Court, but in the gratitude of those he was defending, the family who knew they would have been split apart if it were not for their lawyer.
Fortunately one does not have to be a lawyer to help those less fortunate and I have found my own way of doing so. I have spent my last two summers as a camp counselor in New York working with children who have been deemed “special needs”. My first summer was all about learning; coming from rural Oregon I had hardly ran into the issues some of these inner-city children dealt with. From fist fights resulting from wrong looks to unexplainable rages from kids unable to show their frustrations through words I encountered new and testing situations daily. Out of the 200 counselors there that first summer only two were asked to come back as assistants head counselors; I was one of those counselors. In my second year I knew that this is what I wanted to do, I want to see the difference I am making in people’s lives.
Since my days after leaving Engineering I have joined the Pre-Law Society and helped to found the school’s first Mock Trial team. I have gone from a 2.0 GPA in my first two years to a 3.7 in my final two with a Psychology major. I have started to become the change I want to see, and I am hoping Willamette Law can help me down my path. I have volunteered with companies like the Red Cross and the Humane Society and hope to further my volunteer work with Willamette through the Pro Bono Honors Program. Since trial advocacy is a future prospect I am very interested in Willamette’s top notch Dispute Resolution field. I had the pleasure of joining Willamette on your open house day last year and was given a tour of the gorgeous campus. I loved not only the grounds but the lack of competitive attitude displayed by the school. This type of atmosphere is perfect for continuing not only my studies but my positive lifestyle as well.
This is my first draft and is tailored to Willamette Law in Oregon, Feedback would be great, thank you.

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Michaela
Posts: 183
Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:20 am

Re: Personal Statement help please

Postby Michaela » Mon May 23, 2011 7:04 pm

Funnystory... wrote:If you had asked me five years ago what profession I would settle into I would have answered with brimming confidence, “I am going to be a computer engineer”. I did everything I could in high school to reach this goal; I attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Technology in San Jose during my junior year, I received my Honors Diploma early while getting credits from the local community college then applied to the best engineering college in the state. After acceptance into Oregon State’s engineering program I found myself hundreds of miles from home in a program in which I no longer felt sure about. It’s weird to think that engineering was romanticized but it is evident I did not have a grasp on what a computer engineer did every day, but the eight straight hours of labs in front of a computer were making it abundantly clear.
At this point I had two options; I could continue to plunge forward into a field that was becoming a hassle or I could make a change. Switching from one major to another would not be enough, I would risk falling into the same routine of not caring about classes. No, something more drastic was in order. I researched new careers, I job shadowed at a finance firm, I interviewed a few professors in differing engineering fields but most importantly I opened my eyes. My father has been a public defense attorney since opening his company in Anchorage, Alaska 25 years ago. He has never once suggested I follow his footsteps, he has never told stories of glorious courtroom debates nor saving the innocent from prison. Instead I heard stories of the corrupt city officials, of the grueling hours, of having to cancel vacations due to trials. So why does he do it? There had to be something deeper, and as I accompanied him on his trip to Washington DC for his case, Greene vs. Camreta, in front of the Supreme Court I found it. No, not in the grandeur of the Supreme Court, but in the gratitude of those he was defending, the family who knew they would have been split apart if it were not for their lawyer.
Fortunately one does not have to be a lawyer to help those less fortunate and I have found my own way of doing so. I have spent my last two summers as a camp counselor in New York working with children who have been deemed “special needs”. My first summer was all about learning; coming from rural Oregon I had hardly ran into the issues some of these inner-city children dealt with. From fist fights resulting from wrong looks to unexplainable rages from kids unable to show their frustrations through words I encountered new and testing situations daily. Out of the 200 counselors there that first summer only two were asked to come back as assistants head counselors; I was one of those counselors. In my second year I knew that this is what I wanted to do, I want to see the difference I am making in people’s lives.
Since my days after leaving Engineering I have joined the Pre-Law Society and helped to found the school’s first Mock Trial team. I have gone from a 2.0 GPA in my first two years to a 3.7 in my final two with a Psychology major. I have started to become the change I want to see, and I am hoping Willamette Law can help me down my path. I have volunteered with companies like the Red Cross and the Humane Society and hope to further my volunteer work with Willamette through the Pro Bono Honors Program. Since trial advocacy is a future prospect I am very interested in Willamette’s top notch Dispute Resolution field. I had the pleasure of joining Willamette on your open house day last year and was given a tour of the gorgeous campus. I loved not only the grounds but the lack of competitive attitude displayed by the school. This type of atmosphere is perfect for continuing not only my studies but my positive lifestyle as well.
This is my first draft and is tailored to Willamette Law in Oregon, Feedback would be great, thank you.


Uhhh where to begin...

You don't need to rewrite your resume in your PS.

Beyond that I have to be honest, this is written with the sophistication of an 8th grader. Maybe you should visit your school's writing center or get with a prof. you know well because you're going to have to be able to write better than this if you're going to be a lawyer.

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Magnolia
Posts: 548
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:06 pm

Re: Personal Statement help please

Postby Magnolia » Mon May 23, 2011 8:11 pm

Funnystory... wrote:If you had asked me five years ago what profession I would settle into I would have answered with brimming confidence, “I am going to be a computer engineer”. I did everything I could in high school to reach this goal; I attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Technology in San Jose during my junior year, I received my Honors Diploma early while getting credits from the local community college then applied to the best engineering college in the state. After acceptance into Oregon State’s engineering program I found myself hundreds of miles from home in a program in which I no longer felt sure about. It’s weird [This can't seriously be the best adjective you could come up with] to think that engineering was romanticized but it is evident I did not have a grasp on what a computer engineer did every day, but the eight straight hours of labs in front of a computer were making it abundantly clear. [This whole paragraph should be shortened or maybe even cut completely. What you did in high school doesn't matter. Don't say that the reason you hated computer engineering is because you had to sit in front of a computer all day. WTF do you think lawyers do?]
At this point I had two options; I could continue to plunge forward into a field that was becoming a hassle or I could make a change. Switching from one major to another would not be enough, I would risk falling into the same routine of not caring about classes. No, something more drastic was in order. I researched new careers, I job shadowed at a finance firm, I interviewed a few professors in differing engineering fields but most importantly I opened my eyes. My father has been a public defense attorney since opening his company in Anchorage, Alaska 25 years ago. He has never once suggested I follow his footsteps, he has never told stories of glorious courtroom debates nor saving the innocent from prison. Instead I heard stories of the corrupt city officials, of the grueling hours, of having to cancel vacations due to trials. So why does he do it? There had to be something deeper, and as I accompanied him on his trip to Washington DC for his case, Greene vs. Camreta, in front of the Supreme Court I found it. No, not in the grandeur of the Supreme Court, but in the gratitude of those he was defending, the family who knew they would have been split apart if it were not for their lawyer. [This whole paragraph smacks of cliche and naivety. The other careers you considered are irrelevant. Your anecdote about your father's job sounds like you participated in a "take your child to work day" program as an 10 year old.]
Fortunately one does not have to be a lawyer to help those less fortunate and I have found my own way of doing so. I have spent my last two summers as a camp counselor in New York working with children who have been deemed “special needs”. My first summer was all about learning; coming from rural Oregon I had hardly ran into the issues some of these inner-city children dealt with. From fist fights resulting from wrong looks to unexplainable rages from kids unable to show their frustrations through words I encountered new and testing situations daily. Out of the 200 counselors there that first summer only two were asked to come back as assistants head counselors; I was one of those counselors. [This sounds arrogant.] In my second year I knew that this is what I wanted to do, I want to see the difference I am making in people’s lives. [This has the potential to be interesting, but it isn't, as written. Describe a something specific that a child was struggling with and what you did to help.]
Since my days after leaving Engineering I have joined the Pre-Law Society and helped to found the school’s first Mock Trial team. I have gone from a 2.0 GPA in my first two years to a 3.7 in my final two with a Psychology major. I have started to become the change I want to see, and I am hoping Willamette Law can help me down my path. I have volunteered with companies like the Red Cross and the Humane Society [We don't need the narrative version of your resume.] and hope to further my volunteer work with Willamette through the Pro Bono Honors Program. Since trial advocacy is a future prospect I am very interested in Willamette’s top notch Dispute Resolution field. I had the pleasure of joining Willamette on your open house day last year and was given a tour of the gorgeous campus. [This isn't really the place to mention that you've visited. And I'm not sure why the campus has any effect on how the trial advocacy program will help your career.] I loved not only the grounds but the lack of competitive attitude displayed by the school. This type of atmosphere is perfect for continuing not only my studies but my positive lifestyle [I'm not even sure what this is supposed to mean.] as well.


Your essay lacks focus and a coherent narrative. Right now it sounds like a stream of consciousness retelling of the last 10 years of your life. If you're interested in PI, then make that the focus point. Don't waste half of your PS explaining away your UG major. Unless it has a direct connection to why you want to be a lawyer (ie. to defend software copyrights or something), then it's irrelevant. Lots of people major in random things (myself included). Spend your time explaining why you want to be a lawyer, not why you don't want to be a computer engineer. Avoid making claims that you know exactly what it's like to be a lawyer because your father is one. Chances are high that you know less about being a lawyer than the adcomms reading your essay.

I would try exploring some meaningful anecdote about your time working at the special needs camp, the Red Cross, the Humane Society, whatever. Use that anecdote to demonstrate (not tell, which will just sound arrogant) what will make you a compassionate lawyer and a skilled advocate for your client. Then parlay that into your general interest in PI and how Willamette can help to further your goals. This will help make your interest in both PI and Willamette sound genuine, which this essay desperately needs.




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