Subject for my PS

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

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Subject for my PS

Postby natcas90 » Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:54 am

Hi all!

As some of you may already know, I'm applying this coming (2011-12) cycle and, depending how the October LSAT goes (fingers crossed for a 170; I've been PTing around 165 consistently but am taking a Princeton Review course in August-September), my options run the gamut from T50 state schools all the way up to Stanford and CCN. Anyway, I'm looking ahead to writing my personal statement and am a bit stumped as to what I should write. It's not that I've had a dull life -- quite the opposite -- but I've seen some pretty tough critiques on this forum of other people's PSes I thought were perfectly fine, so some advice re: where to begin would be greatly appreciated. My thoughts have centered on two major topics:

- compelling anecdote (there are plenty of them) from when I worked for the Obama campaign from ages 16-17 managing a large field operation
- anecdote about my godfather's deafness (and battle for SS disability benefits) prompting my interest in labor law

I gather that there are a lot of no-nos with regards to PSes. Among them:

- don't restate your resume (this precludes me talking too much about my student org & internship experiences)
- don't pull an Elle Woods ("OMG, Law & Order is amazing and I want to be Jack McCoy")
- don't write a "why this school" statement unless specifically asked
- don't write a diversity statement unless specifically asked (I could easily write one with my background, but I find them trite in general and I'm sure adcomms get sick of them)
- don't write something third-person and off-topic (this is tough for me as I *love* writing about policy and existing law)
- don't write your autobiography (I've had a lot of unique experiences and want the admissions committees to know that, but how?)

Do you think one or both of my ideas is workable and, if not, what do you suggest instead? I realize I have until October 26 -- when LSAT scores are reported -- to write this thing, but I'm in China at the moment with little to do until the weekend and would like to start this thought process flowing.

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Re: Subject for my PS

Postby kwais » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:40 am

Either one of those topics could be good if well executed. The campaign one sounds more about you. Your list of no-nos is very good. One last thing I'd say, don't give yourself til Oct 26 to write this. You apps should be ready to press send on Oct 26, so that means this PS is written, revised, edited, written, revised etc. by then. Write one and post it. Good luck.


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Re: Subject for my PS

Postby czelede » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:32 am

In my opinion, the first option (compelling anecdote about campaigning) is better unless you assisted your godfather with his battle for benefits. A personal statement should capture your actions as well as your reflections, not just your reflections on the actions of others.

Also, I wrote a diversity statement for pretty much every school. Only one explicitly asked for it. I think it benefited me.

Edited to unquote.


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Re: Subject for my PS

Postby Peg » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:16 pm

1. DEFINITELY do the Obama campaign one. It's a million times better than the option concerning your grandfather - I'm sorry if this will come off as too blunt, but I see way too many PS drafts where the topic is about a relative or friend's illness/misfortune and it starts to sound really hackneyed and old.

The list of no-no's are good, although I don't think the diversity statement is a bad idea if you have something interesting to write. The problem is that people rarely make it sound truly different - it's like the assumption is that in order to be diverse, you have to be:
1. an ethnic minority
2. an underprivileged minority

I wrote a DS (and a damn good DS) and I think it helped me get into schools, with scholly, that wouldn't have admitted me so quickly otherwise.

The other no-no you want to be wary about is using too much description. Adjectives are not your friend! Detailed descriptions of scenes and feelings are not examples of good writing!

Good luck, and don't hesitate to PM me if you want someone to glance over your draft.

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Re: Subject for my PS

Postby FantasticMrFox » Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:00 pm

Obama one would end up very nice if your writing style furnishes the story well.
Good luck!

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Re: Subject for my PS

Postby Magnolia » Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:46 pm

Both sound like good possibilities, though I agree with czelede that writing about your grandfather's battle if you weren't involved won't be as compelling. Write drafts of both and see how they turn out (read: post them here and we will tell you how they turned out). You may find that one is infinitely more successful than the other, and you'll have an answer. Or you'll find out that neither topic is good and you'll come up with something else.

There's not a ton of advice we can give you without actually reading an essay because what you choose to write about isn't nearly as important as how you write about it.

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