PS topic(s)/outline

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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westinghouse60
Posts: 392
Joined: Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:27 am

PS topic(s)/outline

Postby westinghouse60 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:28 am

I'm working on a draft right now but want to make sure it's even worth pursing. First of all, I should probably say that a PS will be one of the hardest things I've ever written, as I really dislike talking about myself in this format. It seems like almost every PS I've read begins with the occurrence of some anecdote which somehow leads to a realization as the statement goes on.

I really feel that my personal development has been a far more gradual process, and it would be a mis-characterization of this to relate anecdotal experiences as critical to my development. I've done internships, community service, etc, but I really can't say any of those have been fundamental in defining who I am. My being who I am (especially) and why I want to go to law school has came about from introspection, reading, and certain classes that have shaped the way I think about the world. Is it detrimental or considered boring if I take a more reflective tone in my PS? If this was the status quo I feel it might be the case, but since most PSs focus on experiences etc, I feel that this would actually differentiate mine somewhat.

The basic idea is something like this:

Our lives defined by what we encounter and others preconceive of us. We each have to realize what is the meaning of our own being however, thus despite the fact that we can never be more than what we experience, we can become more than what we strictly experience by thinking things through, weighing in on our different encounters, and so on.

(As a metaphor, think of adopting one party's platform exactly as your own, vs. weighing in on the issues and deciding which ones you agree with. All you can agree or disagree with are the issues, as all you can ever be is what you encounter, but you can evaluate them independently in this way. I wouldn't include this in the PS, and would explain it another way, but this is an example.)

In high school, the adults in my life told me I would make a good lawyer because of my specific interests and skills. So how is my applying a law school a deviation from others preconceptions about me? (My goal in this PS is to explain this, to show that I'm going to law school for my own reasons.)

Being is what we do, what we accomplish with our lives, (e.g. if someone asks you, "what are you?" the first idea is to say your job or career), the fulfillment of a role, not in the sense of "my role in history", but rather, that which, through our accomplishments, we effect change in the world, and thus realize ourselves.

Through reflection and introspection, as well as what I have done (primarily my education thus far), I have came to realize that what I believe to be my role, (in the sense of what how we realize ourselves), the one in which I may effect the most change in the world, is to become a lawyer.

Then I would go on to talk about what specifically it is about law that interests me. And/or further how initially (when first suggested to me in high school), although I was interested in law, I didn't think I had the ability to get into law school/practice law, but how my education (especially certain classes that have defined me) I have come to reaffirm faith in my ability/learn maturity, etc.

Don't know how this last part would go exactly or how I'd conclude, but I have some ideas. This isn't a draft but instead an outline, most of what's here would be an introduction, but basically, I want to know if this is too broad/nonspecific/impersonal to be pursued further.

Thoughts? I know the paragraphs are choppy but it's kind of in outline format.

kublaikahn
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:47 am

Re: PS topic(s)/outline

Postby kublaikahn » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:54 pm

IMO, this is a bad idea. This essay will not answer the prompt for most applications. This is more of a philosophy paper. It may be your philosophy but it is not about you. However, reading your "outline", I do discern (rightly or wrongly) some personal things about you as highlighted below. Pick the things you would most like to convey and develop a thesis around that.

westinghouse60 wrote:I'm working on a draft right now but want to make sure it's even worth pursing. First of all, I should probably say that a PS will be one of the hardest things I've ever written, as I really dislike talking about myself in this format. [you lack self-confidence or the opposite, that you feel a small blurb cannot do you justice] It seems like almost every PS I've read begins with the occurrence of some anecdote which somehow leads to a realization as the statement goes on. [your personal identity is to be different, excelling in your own way]

I really feel that my personal development has been a far more gradual process, and it would be a mis-characterization of this to relate anecdotal experiences as critical to my development. I've done internships, community service, etc, but I really can't say any of those have been fundamental in defining who I am. [you are an introspective deep thinker] My being who I am (especially) and why I want to go to law school has came about from introspection, reading, and certain classes that have shaped the way I think about the world. Is it detrimental or considered boring if I take a more reflective tone in my PS? [you are self-reflective to the point of writing a PS with yourself as the audience, seriously I am not being sarcastic] If this was the status quo I feel it might be the case, but since most PSs focus on experiences etc, I feel that this would actually differentiate mine somewhat.

The basic idea is something like this:

Our lives defined by what we encounter and others preconceive of us. We each have to realize what is the meaning of our own being however, thus despite the fact that we can never be more than what we experience, we can become more than what we strictly experience by thinking things through, weighing in on our different encounters, and so on. [You define yourself not just but what you have experienced/done but by your ability to process that information, (you are smart and deep)]

(As a metaphor, think of adopting one party's platform exactly as your own, vs. weighing in on the issues and deciding which ones you agree with. All you can agree or disagree with are the issues, as all you can ever be is what you encounter, but you can evaluate them independently in this way. I wouldn't include this in the PS, and would explain it another way, but this is an example.) [you are quite political, but dissatisfied with politics as they are, and things as they are in general]

In high school, the adults in my life told me I would make a good lawyer because of my specific interests and skills. So how is my applying a law school a deviation from others preconceptions about me? (My goal in this PS is to explain this, to show that I'm going to law school for my own reasons.) [I am independent and need to blaze my own trail]

Being is what we do, what we accomplish with our lives, (e.g. if someone asks you, "what are you?" the first idea is to say your job or career), the fulfillment of a role, not in the sense of "my role in history", but rather, that which, through our accomplishments, we effect change in the world, and thus realize ourselves. [I am the type of person that needs purpose]

Through reflection and introspection, as well as what I have done (primarily my education thus far), I have came to realize that what I believe to be my role, (in the sense of what how we realize ourselves), the one in which I may effect the most change in the world, is to become a lawyer. [I want to change the world for the better, I believe I can]

Then I would go on to talk about what specifically it is about law that interests me. And/or further how initially (when first suggested to me in high school), although I was interested in law, I didn't think I had the ability to get into law school/practice law, but how my education (especially certain classes that have defined me) I have come to reaffirm faith in my ability/learn maturity, etc. [I am what I know, and knowledge give me strength and confidence]

Don't know how this last part would go exactly or how I'd conclude, but I have some ideas. This isn't a draft but instead an outline, most of what's here would be an introduction, but basically, I want to know if this is too broad/nonspecific/impersonal to be pursued further. [I have trouble finishing what I start, hope this doesn't hurt you feelings, but you put a good amount of effort into this outline and then went out with a fizzle. Either your ideas for a close are too personal, or you limped across the finish line.]

Thoughts? I know the paragraphs are choppy but it's kind of in outline format.


My thoughts are, find that which makes you unique (in a positive way) and tell an interesting well-written story that conveys that thing or those things about you. I highlighted the above blurbs which are really just guesses to give you ideas of directions you could go. These may be totally offbase, but find what makes you tick and tell a story about it.

quetzal_bird
Posts: 206
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:45 am

Re: PS topic(s)/outline

Postby quetzal_bird » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:24 pm

Try to avoid sweeping generalizations about human nature and the meaning of life/learning/being/etc in a PS.

Personal statements are personal. This isn't. If you don't feel like there is that "oh wow, law school!" moment, but that you realized that law was a good fit for you gradually, there is nothing unusual in that. You could talk about the importance of your friends and family in your life and that, while your opinions have helped to shape yours about going to law school, they haven't defined you. That you want to go to law school for yourself, but that its good people like them - who believed in you - who helped you get there and that its people like them - generous, considerate - that you hope to help with your JD.

Or you could describe some of the those college classes, maybe a meaningful experience with a professor who taught them or an assignment that really challenged you. Instead of telling the reader that your education affected your beliefs, show the reader.

Ultimately, I think that you have too many ideas bouncing around. 2 pages will not perfectly describe who you are and there is no one topic you can pick that is going to capture everything about you. Concentrate on something narrow and show adcoms your writing skills and thought process




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