Please review my personal statement

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
flounder
Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:09 pm

Please review my personal statement

Postby flounder » Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:51 am

Okay...
There are some caveats to this. First this was just written in 15 minutes. I guarantee you it is a piece of crap. It needs to be expanded in some areas and contracted in others etc. The ending also just kind of ends. What I am looking for here is a general opinion if I am in going in the right direction. Is it too much of one, not enough of another? What should I expand, what should I focus on? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Tim is an intelligent student but he just does not apply himself. That statement was written so often on my report cards, that my teachers should have purchased a stamp to avoid carpal tunnel from repetitive writing. It took me to the age of 31 to realize my potential, apply myself and finally, at the age of 39, sit to write this personal statement.
I am the youngest of four children. My father died when I was very young, so young in fact that I do not even remember him. My mother raised four children by herself. Although we were happy I know things were difficult for my mother. Along with the stress of four children, my older sister is autistic.
My life as a child was difficult. We did not have a lot of money and we lived on government assistance until I was in school fulltime and my mother could work. My mother did not have a lot of time to nurture her children. We were expected to do well in school, get a job and move out.
I was an average student throughout high school and I entered college with a dream of being an actor. While in college, I found that the part I liked least about school was the actual studying. Tim is an intelligent student but he just does not apply himself. I left school after two years to “take a semester off.”
I did not immediately return to school. Life happened; I got a job and got married. My childhood spent without material things made me seek them out. I spent my money on frivolous things, got into severe debt and defaulted on my student loans. By the time my 31st birthday came and went, I was going through a divorce, my credit was in shambles and I owed thousands of dollars.
Luckily for me, I had the help of a good friend. I moved to North Carolina and went to work. We tried to open a small business that failed, but it was my first glimpse into what I could actually be. Working on this business helped me overcome my biggest obstacle in life, fear of failure. Attempting to open a business is a lot of work. You must believe in yourself and your abilities. For most of my adult life, I was afraid of failing. My fear of failure, kept me a failure.
I met a wonderful woman shortly thereafter and moved to her home state of Connecticut. Strengthened with my new found courage, I started to get my life back on track. I took the next year and a half to get my finances in order and to pay off a lot of debt. With my credit back in reasonable shape, I concurred my next greatest obstacle; My Bachelor’s Degree.
With a lot of fear and trepidation, I returned to college at the 33. I had no more time to spare so I attended an accelerated program for adult learners at Quinnipiac University. While working full time and taking 12 credits per semester, I finished my BS while achieving straight A’s. I finally applied myself.
I decided last year to try for a paralegal certificate. After the first week of my Introduction to Law class, I knew I had finally found my calling. Never in all of my studies have I found something that excited me so much. I was engaged and enthralled. Through the program, I worked with clients at a Foreclosure Clinic supported by Connecticut Fair Housing, I participated in moot court and assisted a professor in the development and delivery of Technology in Law presentation to paralegal educators.
I took me until the age of 38 to find my true calling. I love working with people and feeling like I made a difference. I truly believe a career in law will be fulfilling.

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chem
Posts: 867
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:14 pm

Re: Please review my personal statement

Postby chem » Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:01 am

There are like different narratives and topics in here. Pick one event

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mmkitkat
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:24 pm

Re: Please review my personal statement

Postby mmkitkat » Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:15 am

I think that mentioning your difficult childhood, failed first undergrad attempt, divorce, etc as a lead-in to the business failure that inspired you to begin working hard and focus mainly on how you came to discover that the legal field is for you might be your best bet (although lots of personal statements go the "law is my calling route"). You're spending too much time on background information and not enough developing a coherent narrative to tell the adcomms something about yourself. SInce you're older, focusing so much time in your personal statement on your childhood is kind of a waste of time since hopefully you've come a long way since then. Good luck and HTH :)

flounder
Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:09 pm

Re: Please review my personal statement

Postby flounder » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:44 pm

There are like different narratives and topics in here. Pick one event

That was what I was hoping for suggestions about.

I think that mentioning your difficult childhood, failed first undergrad attempt, divorce, etc as a lead-in to the business failure that inspired you to begin working hard and focus mainly on how you came to discover that the legal field is for you might be your best bet (although lots of personal statements go the "law is my calling route").

That makes sense.
Thanks!

sold123
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:39 am

Re: Please review my personal statement

Postby sold123 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:45 pm

I disagree with the above poster; I see only one narrative.

Clearly, your PS is styled in the fashion of a "I'm on a journey"-type narrative. So use that theme to build a personalized frame, such as: "I am afraid of failure, but got over that fear of failure".

By using that frame, you can create a more cohesive narrative, so that a quick read doesn't lead the reader to believe that the writer is digressing.

You don't need to display "failure" over and over again, just produce two events in your life where the "failure" really struck you, and led you to the current state you find yourself in.

flounder
Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:09 pm

Re: Please review my personal statement

Postby flounder » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:06 am

Sold,
Thanks for the advice. I really had no idea how to go with this that is why I threw so many ideas down.

Some have suggested that since I am 39, I do not need to mention my troubles growing up.
What do you think?

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glewz
Posts: 785
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:32 pm

Re: Please review my personal statement

Postby glewz » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:21 am

I would err on the side of not going too much in depth on early-life experiences. Yes, you have one narrative, but it's littered with a good number of unnecessary facts that don't bring much value to the law school admissions table. (e.g. dream of being an actor in hs, youngest of 4 children, etc.)

The weakness of your current "going through my life" stream of thought is that it's exactly what I'd expect from a 39 year old individual applying to law school; I'm feeling underwhelmed when I read your statement.

Furthermore, questions keep on popping up and are left unanswered: what happened with the small business/what did he learn, what kind of work did he do at the foreclosure clinic/were there any cases that were really memorable, and probably a few more (though those two stick out as more promising)

Your essay was likely written with a lot of passion & drive, but it lacks focus. A safe bet would be to elaborate on 2-3 really meaningful experiences, which (most importantly) show the admissions committee that you would be a promising law student and legal practitioner.

freestallion
Posts: 944
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:17 pm

Re: Please review my personal statement

Postby freestallion » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:27 am

Remove this. No one wants a law student who is... lazy."Tim is an intelligent student but he just does not apply himself."[/b] That statement was written so often on my report cards, that my teachers should have purchased a stamp to avoid carpal tunnel from repetitive writing [b](<-- sounds weird, don't exaggerate. ALSO, don't start your personal statement with such a big glaring weakness, IMO. maybe start at a more positive moment and then go back to this moment later.). It took me tountil the age of 31 to realize my potential, and apply myself and finally, at the age of 39, sit to write this personal statement.

I am the youngest of four children. My father died when I was very young, so young in fact that I do not even remember him. My mother raised four children by herself. Although we were happy, I know things were difficult for my mother. Along with the stress of four children (awkward phrasing), my older sister is autistic.

My life as a child was difficult. We did not have a lot of money and we lived on government assistance until I was in school full time and my mother could work. My mother did not have a lot of time to nurture her children. We were expected to do well in school, get a job and move out.

I was an average student throughout high school and I entered college with a dream of being an actor. While in college, I found that the part I liked least about school was the actual studying. Sounds weirdTim is an intelligent student but he just does not apply himself. I left school after two years to “take a semester off.”

I did not immediately return to school. Life happened; I got a job and got married. My childhood spent without material things made me seek them out. I spent my money on frivolous things, got into severe debt and defaulted on my student loans. By the time my 31st birthday came and went, I was going through a divorce, my credit was in shambles and I owed thousands of dollars.

Luckily for me, I had the help of a good friend. I moved to North Carolina and went to work. We tried to open a small business that failed, but it was my first glimpse into what I could actually be. Working on this business helped me overcome my biggest obstacle in life, fear of failure. Attempting to open a business is a lot of work. You must believe in yourself and your abilities. For most of my adult life, I was afraid of failing. My fear of failure, kept me a failure.

I met a wonderful woman shortly thereafter and moved to her home state of Connecticut. Strengthened with my new found courage, I started to get my life back on track. I took the next year and a half to get my finances in order and to pay off a lot of debt. With my credit back in reasonable shape, I concurred my next greatest obstacle; My Bachelor’s Degree.

With a lot of fear and trepidation, I returned to college at the 33. I had no more time to spare so I attended an accelerated program for adult learners at Quinnipiac University. While working full time and taking 12 credits per semester, I finished my BS while achieving straight A’s. I finally applied myself.

I decided last year to try for a paralegal certificate. After the first week of my Introduction to Law class, I knew I had finally found my calling. Never in all of my studies have I found something that excited me so much. I was engaged and enthralled. Through the program, I worked with clients at a Foreclosure Clinic supported by Connecticut Fair Housing, I participated in moot court and assisted a professor in the development and delivery of Technology in Law presentation to paralegal educators.

I took me until the age of 38 to find my true calling. I love working with people and feeling like I made a difference. I truly believe a career in law will be fulfilling.


Here's my advice:

- Tighten up the writing. It sounds kind of boring quite honestly.
- It sounds like a resume and I don't think I want to hear your entire life story, year by year. Choose a compelling anecdote or "eureka" moment. For example, start out with the moment you worked with a client at the Foreclosure Clinic (that sounds pretty cool) OR when you were participating in the moot court/presenting to paralegal educators. Start out with an anecdote that describes what you were doing at that moment (e.g. "Standing in front of the class, I was nervous but excited... or "She began telling me about her foreclosure..." etc- just random examples) and make it sound exciting. Then have a flash-back to your previous days of lackluster academic performance/not knowing that you wanted to do/ then come back to this anecdote and explain how you got to that point
- Basically, don't emphasize your negatives as you have in the beginning. Emphasize the positives and how you have grown.
- Also, though it does sound like you have had a difficult childhood, I would either take that out or keep that and get rid of the part where you said you just didn't like studying. That just sounds lazy. Maybe you are being honest, but you have no good excuse for not applying yourself.

Edit: Also remove the part about wanting to be an actor. It just sounds kind of silly to me..
Last edited by freestallion on Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

lcw
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:15 pm

Re: Please review my personal statement

Postby lcw » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:35 am

flounder, with all due respect, I would encourage you to take the advice you've received here thus far and spend several hours thinking through and editing your statement before posting a polished rewrite for comment. I don't think your current statement is bad by any means, but by your own admission you wrote it in 15 minutes and believe it to be a piece of crap.

As a commenter, this makes me feel like you want me and the other people on TLS to do the heavy lifting for you. You are the one that needs to think through and develop the structure, tone, and coherence of your PS. Make an editorial choice and write what you believe is your best effort. At that point, please share it with the community and we will try to make your best effort even better. As a commenter, I want to help you improve your best work, not something you slapped together in 15 minutes.

flounder
Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:09 pm

Re: Please review my personal statement

Postby flounder » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:06 am

Thank you all for your opinions

LCW,
What I really wanted was opinions of, I like this bit, I dont like this bit. I had absolutely ZERO knowlege of what goes into a good personal statement. I am taking the suggestions of what to keep and re writing the whole thing. I needed to know where to start and I am getting great suggestions.

sold123
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:39 am

Re: Please review my personal statement

Postby sold123 » Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:29 pm

flounder wrote:Sold,
Thanks for the advice. I really had no idea how to go with this that is why I threw so many ideas down.

Some have suggested that since I am 39, I do not need to mention my troubles growing up.
What do you think?


If they are significant to you, mention them. If they are not, do not.

In determining the frame of the narrative, you will determine what is significant and what is not. Use the frame I mentioned above, and see what feels right. If you go over the page limit, go back and edit. The next edit will not be a final edit, so keep on playing around and see what works well, in your opinion.




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