Critique my personal statement, please

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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elibrarian
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Critique my personal statement, please

Postby elibrarian » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:35 pm

I am a fairly typical applicant, no true hardships or struggles to overcome. 3.83 GPA, 171 LSAT, 2 years WE. Any critiques or suggestions on my PS are appreciated. Thank you!

EDIT: Removed for editing.
Last edited by elibrarian on Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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kwais
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Re: Critique my personal statement, please

Postby kwais » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:47 pm

Pros: Well-written, fun to read.
Cons: At the end, I wanted more about your relationship with him. I think maybe an anecdote about something you guys shared more than personality traits. Also, the link from language to law was predictable and a little unsatisfying. I knew it was coming. Remember how many essays the adcomms will read. A decent number will try to do the language-to-law thing. Stick with it, but continue to develop it before sending it off.

airbear1012
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Re: Critique my personal statement, please

Postby airbear1012 » Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:07 pm

In some places the language reads as if you are trying a little bit too hard. I think it would really help you to focus more on the specifics of your situation. One area in which you could improve is if you specified what makes law different from others ways to study language--like continuing with your French, English, and linguistics studies. Like the poster above said, you don't want this to be something that any other applicant could have written. I think that really elaborating on your relationship with your grandfather would help a lot. Is he still alive? How does he feel about law? Let me know if you need any other help. This is a really great start!

CanadianWolf
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Re: Critique my personal statement, please

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:38 pm

Not relevant for almost all law schools as your GPA & LSAT are sufficient for admission.
To which law schools do you intend to apply ?

P.S. I lost respect for you when referring to your life as "small". Not a great way to end an essay, in my opinion, because you are playing with the reader in a condescending manner.
The not-so-subtle message in your essay is that you envision yourself as an appellate judge producing carefully tailored opinions.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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elibrarian
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Re: Critique my personal statement, please

Postby elibrarian » Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:44 pm

Thank you all for such quick responses. I do worry about the language-to-law theme as I realize it isn't wholly original but that's pretty much it for me. I will certainly be revising and adding more about the relationship with my Grandfather (who is still alive though I'm not sure he has any opinion about the law). Airbear, would you mind pointing out where the language reads as if i'm trying too hard? Any example would help.

Canadianwolf, I'm blanketing a good portion of the T-14, with Chicago as my goal. Bit strong to say you lost all respect for me, no? Good point though, I will be working on that line, for sure. Thanks.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Critique my personal statement, please

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:46 pm

Delete the word "small".

In at Chicago.

airbear1012
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Re: Critique my personal statement, please

Postby airbear1012 » Sun Jun 26, 2011 5:30 pm

Just take this as what it is, my personal taste and opinions. Some phrases I had trouble with:

"Small, deliberate cursive is sprinkled" To me this just reads as something someone with a thesaurus might have written, not what you are actually trying to say. For example, to me deliberate and sprinkled don't go together. With sprinkled I just get random. Anyway, because of that it just kind of seems like picking less used words just to pick them.

"Words like please and boats" This doesn't have to do with trying too hard, but I thought that the word choices of 'please' and 'boats' were a little strange. Maybe it is just my obsessive need to have everything match but I wished that it had been "boat and car" or "please and thank you." I understand that those are words he needs to learn, but just reading it it sounded a little strange at first.

"pages are soiled and frail from usage" Again this is just a word choice issue for me. I would just say 'use' instead of 'usage.' Simple. Also, I think of people being frail, not necessarily pages being frail. 'Thin' or 'delicate' might work better.

"I look forward to carefully measured words and the importance they bear not only on a page but in life." I'm not sure what you mean here when you say "look forward to carefully measured words." Look forward to reading them? Writing with them? Gaining better insight into understanding them? Also, in my opinion, the "on the page but in life" end of the sentence is a little cliche without backing it up with actual specifics.

Oh, and just to add, I didn't really understand this: "an inconsequential point across about the cost of milk"

One final thought: It might help to focus on what I thought were the two main points. The connection between the love of language and law (which was already addressed) and also having a love of language but also being more reserved. How might your grandfather's quiet nature (and I believe your own?) help you with becoming a lawyer? Connecting those two would really bring it more full circle while now it is a little disjointed.

I hope that some of that made some sense!

kublaikahn
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Re: Critique my personal statement, please

Postby kublaikahn » Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:00 pm

This a good piece of writing, although only a mediocre PS. The topic is hackneyed, although you do it better than most, which is what you would expect from and English major with a 3.85. The truth, as stated by CW, anything in this range is fine based on your numbers.

Having said that, I think the way to strenthen this is to give us more of yourself, beyond your love of language. Strengthen the argument of language -> law. And cut out some of the pretense.

elibrarian wrote: A Polish-English dictionary sits in the center drawer of my desk. Small, deliberate cursive smatters the yellowed, well-worn pages. is sprinkled throughout. Utilitarian words like please and boats are underlined or circled for quick recall and the pages are soiled and frail from usage. I value this book more than any other because it serves as a reminder of the man who was its owner.

I often like to think of my Grandfather, the previous owner of the dictionary, running his fingers over the pages as if to better understand the depth of the words he traced. Although by now the memory, like the dictionary's pages, has blurred of being given the dictionary is hazy, I still remember sitting on the floor of my Grandfather’s home watching him flip through the pages, smiling as he said Polish phrases I never had the foresight to learn. I remember thinking how much alike him and I were; the quiet ones in a family often overwhelmed by chatter.I remember we talked about the words he’d written, some in Polish, some German, some English, and I watched studied the self-approval on his face as he recounted each language he had managed to learn.

This admittedly cloudy memory has stayed with me through the years. The care and precision with which my Grandfather learned English, a necessity after being adopted into an American family during WWII and brought to America, has always struck me. This careful approach to language it what I have striven for in not only my academic pursuits but my daily life. Although I had have always been a reader, but possessing it was not until my Grandfather’s dictionary and the memories we shared found me that as my education advanced, I began to become passionate about words, their weight and the care that was their due right [this "care that was their due right" is poetic and yet pretentious douchiness]. This interest followed me throughout high school and college.

Language connected me to my grandfather, but also opened me to the excitement of new ideas/perspectives. [Something like this as a segue that matches your passion for language] Having declared myself an English major, I searched for further ways to immerse myself in language, eventually settling on a French minor that brought a freshness to words. In a small way it felt as if I was honoring my grandfather in this choice, sharing our kinship by struggling with a new language that eventually felt as if it were became one of my own. I focused on the structure of French, taking linguistic classes to understand the intonations and fluctuations of a language other than my own. I reveled in the thought that I was experiencing, on a much smaller scale, what my Grandfather had gone through in learning and familiarizing himself with the English language. He had taught me to love language for not only for what it expressed but for what it allowed one to do.

Coming from a family of educators, it would be easy to say this is where my love and fascination with language developed, but it would mean discounting the quiet man that I have indirectly modeled myself after. [moved this sentence here] Indirectly, and over time, my Grandfather pointed me to a career in law. Many will say they always wanted to practice law; I am not one of these people. I saw myself as a forever academic, toiling away behind stacks of books, producing articles on death in the Early Modern period. Yet, throughout my undergraduate career I began to miss the power of words, the intricacies that could be brought to a text. [I would think you woul dbe able to explore your passion for words in UG? This sentence causes dissonance.] [Can you find a better life experience that ties into your discovery of "law as a language"? That would make this work better.] This eventually led me to look for further possibilities to surround myself with language. The study and practice of law appears to me as a new language to learn. I look forward to carefully measured words and the importance they bear not only on a page but in life. [this paragraph needs work. and this end sentence is unrelated to the point of your paragraph (at least it is too broad a conclusion (life) than just "law")]

Coming from a family of educators, it would be easy to say this is where my love and fascination with language developed, but it would mean discounting the quiet man that I have indirectly modeled myself after. In a family of loud Polish women, he my grandfather would sit quietly, listening to what went on around him, not worried about getting an inconsequential point across about the cost of milk. I loved him for this, for his innate sense of the importance value of language. Brevity Economy of speech, he seemed to say through his restraint,is important respected the value of words. Though never one to force his opinions or thoughts on others, he has been the greatest influence in my small life.

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elibrarian
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Re: Critique my personal statement, please

Postby elibrarian » Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:13 am

This is really helpful, thank you. A quick question in regards to the topic; how worried should I be about it being overdone? While I understand entirely that addmissions is a numbers game, I'd like to make the remainder of my application as strong as possible. How badly does a run of the mill topic hurt? I have no struggles or out of the ordinary acheivements to focus on and, as cliche as it may be, my path to law truly was a love of language. I suppose I'm just hoping a fairly ordinary, though well written, PS is enough.
Last edited by elibrarian on Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

kublaikahn
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Re: Critique my personal statement, please

Postby kublaikahn » Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:24 pm

elibrarian wrote:This is really helpful, thank you. A quick question in regards to the topic; how worried should I be about it being overdone? While I understand entirely that addmissions is a numbers game, I'd like to make the remainder of my application as strong as possible. How badly does a run of the mill topic hurt? I have no struggles or out of the ordinary acheivements to focus on and, as cliche as it may be, my path to law truly was a love of language. I suppose I'm just hoping a fairly ordinary, though well written, PS is enough.


While the love of language topic is cliche, you make it interesting with your grandfather and good writing skills. So I think it is fine. If you are at/above the medians you have shown you can write, which is the price of admission (no pun intended).

If you wanted to improve this some more, IMO, you should remove the parts about what you studied in UG as that can be found in other parts of the app. I am not sure if you have a French speaking experience like a trip to Europe, but if you do you can use something like this to congruently tie your studies to both your grandfather and an application of the power of words. Thus, I would mention studying French in honor of your grandfather and then tell a story (that makes you look desirable) where you use your new language in a dinstinguished and utilitarian way (like your grandfather)

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elibrarian
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Re: Critique my personal statement, please

Postby elibrarian » Mon Jun 27, 2011 4:28 pm

kublaikahn wrote:
elibrarian wrote:This is really helpful, thank you. A quick question in regards to the topic; how worried should I be about it being overdone? While I understand entirely that addmissions is a numbers game, I'd like to make the remainder of my application as strong as possible. How badly does a run of the mill topic hurt? I have no struggles or out of the ordinary acheivements to focus on and, as cliche as it may be, my path to law truly was a love of language. I suppose I'm just hoping a fairly ordinary, though well written, PS is enough.


While the love of language topic is cliche, you make it interesting with your grandfather and good writing skills. So I think it is fine. If you are at/above the medians you have shown you can write, which is the price of admission (no pun intended).

If you wanted to improve this some more, IMO, you should remove the parts about what you studied in UG as that can be found in other parts of the app. I am not sure if you have a French speaking experience like a trip to Europe, but if you do you can use something like this to congruently tie your studies to both your grandfather and an application of the power of words. Thus, I would mention studying French in honor of your grandfather and then tell a story (that makes you look desirable) where you use your new language in a dinstinguished and utilitarian way (like your grandfather)


This is great. I will definitley incorporate my stint in Paris into a revised PS. You've been a wonderful help. Thanks again!




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