This is my final draft/ Please Critique.

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halostarbucks
Posts: 42
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:31 pm

This is my final draft/ Please Critique.

Postby halostarbucks » Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:09 pm

This is my third, and hopefully after receiving some feedback and making the necessary edits, final draft. I intend to start my applications tomorrow night. Please do not quote this section in full as I intend to delete after editing.
Any feedback is greatly appreciated. THANKS!


I want to become a lawyer because I believe that the pursuit of my highest value: living authentically, requires me to enter a profession where I am able to maximize the use of my talents and abilities to reach my full potential for my personal benefit as well as that of those around me. Although I have been fascinated with the legal profession and the prospect of becoming a lawyer since high school, I do admit that the knowledge I actually had about the practice of law itself was rather fragmentary and mostly gleaned from John Grisham and Law and Order. Upon entering Southwest Tennessee Community College as a Prelaw major, I was advised my first semester by a practicing attorney who taught an “Introduction to Law” class that I should change my major to Paralegal Studies as that program had a strong emphasis on the day to day practice of law.

By my second semester I was being sent on assignments to where local law library where I learned how to do perform legal research. As the professor warned, many students burned out very quickly on poring over volumes of case reporters in order to follow an elusive trail of precedent that would provide a clear rule of law that would apply to a given set of facts in our hypothetical cases the instructor outlined. I, however, loved it. I deeply enjoyed the challenge and I was absolutely thrilled at the prospect of doing something like this one day for my own clients. A few semesters later I had the opportunity to work as a paralegal in a local law office for a litigation attorney where I was responsible for drafting all sorts of legal documents, filing papers at the courthouse, interviewing clients, conducting legal research, and providing support during trials and settlement hearings to the attorney. The more involved I became the more I began sense that this was my calling, but I also acutely felt the limitations of a paralegal and realized that I would need to go farther.

After completing the requirements for my Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies, I then transferred to the University of Memphis where I have spent the last three years completing my Bachelors degree in the same field. Shortly after transferring, I began to pick up Spanish, which I had studied briefly in high school, as a second major and began to rigorously apply myself. Within a year I had achieved near-fluency, and with it a very interesting perspective on the role of language in shaping every aspect of human thought.

During this time, my family began a serious crisis as my younger brother, who was 12 at the time, was diagnosed with leukemia. He was put on chemotherapy immediately and, fortunately for us a local cancer research hospital agreed to provide treatment at no cost. His condition was very grave for over a year and a half, and he very nearly died several times before his condition-eventually stabilized. This harrowing experience really forced me to consider how fragile and precious life really is, and I found myself wanting to do everything I could to make certain that I was living my own life to the very fullest and making the most out of the opportunities I have been blessed with.

Over the course of the past year, I have found myself doing things which I would have once never thought myself capable. When I first entered college, I was shy and I had a severe fear of public speaking. I was able to overcome this to a great degree by taking where intense debate and persuasion where required but I was really tested in this regard last summer when I was hired as a crew leader for the U.S. Census Bureau where I was responsible for training and managing a crew of fifteen census takers, many who were several times my age, and going from door to door through some of the most dangerous slums of Memphis to conduct census interviews with respondents who were frequently overtly hostile. I was also able to put my recently learned-(classroom) Spanish to the test as I was assigned to conduct interviews in the Hispanic community with respondents who spoke no English. I was under incredible pressure and I thrived on it. By the end of that summer, I who was once terrified of speaking in public, had found the confidence to stand in front of any crowd or speak to any person with no fear whatsoever.

After the 2010 Census ended, I found part time work with a local immigration attorney who needed help translating documents and communicating with clients. One day, I helped this attorney interview a man who had overstayed his visa and was scheduled to be deported within a month unless a judge granted him an extension. While the client had, as a matter of fact, clearly broken the law, there was a major extenuating circumstance in that he had a young daughter who had a severe eye disease, for which she was receiving treatment at a local children’s hospital where my own brother had been treated. Unlike my brother, however, this girl and her mother were entirely dependent upon the client for support and would likely have had to return to Mexico if he were deported and the girl’s treatment prospects there, would be grim at best.

That day I realized that I wanted to help people like this family which was tremendously disadvantaged by both poverty and a language barrier that left them at the mercy of attorneys, like the one I worked for, who were willing to work pro bono. One day I want to provide similar services for people who are not able to afford representation. I have been given a lot of opportunities in my life, and I feel like I have a distinct responsibility to give back, in the form of helping the disadvantaged.
Like most people in college, there have been many times in the past when I used to obsessively pondering the “meaning of life”, after a while, however, I realized that I was wasting time by not instead pondering the meaning of my life. The answer, I am convinced lies in living my life as a work of art by striving for excellence and authenticity, by chasing great dreams, and giving back to the people in my life who help me achieve them. I would be incredibly grateful if the University of San Diego Law School would help me achieve this vision.

wokeemilo
Posts: 90
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:32 pm

Re: This is my final draft/ Please Critique.

Postby wokeemilo » Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:52 pm

seems a bit long - are you thinking of cutting it down significantly?

halostarbucks
Posts: 42
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:31 pm

Re: This is my final draft/ Please Critique.

Postby halostarbucks » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:05 pm

wokeemilo wrote:seems a bit long - are you thinking of cutting it down significantly?


I guess it might be a little bit long, I was actually terrified at first that it was going to be too short. Which parts would you advise trimming?

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rinkrat19
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Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: This is my final draft/ Please Critique.

Postby rinkrat19 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:28 pm

halostarbucks wrote:
wokeemilo wrote:seems a bit long - are you thinking of cutting it down significantly?


I guess it might be a little bit long, I was actually terrified at first that it was going to be too short. Which parts would you advise trimming?
All the parts that just lift items from your resume without giving further insight into you as a person.

The length is actually not that bad: just under 3 pages (TNR 11pt). If a school has a 2-page limit or requires 12pt font it would need some trimming, but it's ok for a 2-3 page limit.

However, parts of it are really boring, and it lists a lot of bare facts that can be found elsewhere in your application.

If I were you, I'd take out a lot of the "I did this. Then I did this. Then this happened" lists and elaborate on one or two of the more interesting tidbits you mention, like overcoming shyness to conduct Census surveys in bad neighborhoods or helping the guy who'd overstayed his visa.

The paragraph about your brother's leukemia manages to make what was undoubtedly an extremely emotional time sound uninteresting and irrelevant. It connects to nothing else in the essay and isn't used to explain anything (e.g. a semester of bad grades) or illustrate any emotional growth or learning experience. The reader is informed that the experience was "harrowing," but it is not shown as such. Either really use the event fully or take it out; don't just drop it in as a "btw this also happened and my life was like totally changed" without offering any examples. Show, don't tell.

You clearly have an interest in immigration law/minority rights/helping marginalized populations, so write more about that. If you really need to include a bullet point straight from your resume, elaborate on it, showing how that bullet point relates to your overall topic. Don't just move on to the next bullet point in the list.

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Bildungsroman
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Joined: Sun Apr 11, 2010 2:42 pm

Re: This is my final draft/ Please Critique.

Postby Bildungsroman » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:30 pm

halostarbucks wrote:
wokeemilo wrote:seems a bit long - are you thinking of cutting it down significantly?


I guess it might be a little bit long, I was actually terrified at first that it was going to be too short. Which parts would you advise trimming?

I think two pages double-spaced with 11 or 12 point font is the sweet spot for personal statements at all but a few schools (I think UWashington specifies they want a shorter one and I know Berkeley allows up to four pages that they seem to want you to use). Yours is about 3 full pages, which is a little too long in my opinion. Your PS can still benefit from some copyediting.

I was able to overcome this to a great degree by taking where intense debate and persuasion where required but I was really tested in this regard last summer when I was hired as a crew leader for the U.S. Census Bureau where I was responsible for training and managing a crew of fifteen census takers, many who were several times my age, and going from door to door through some of the most dangerous slums of Memphis to conduct census interviews with respondents who were frequently overtly hostile.

This sentence, for instance, is way, way too long, and the beginning still has some technical issues ("by taking [what?] where" and "debate and persuasion where[sic?] required). A number of other grammar/spelling issues jump out when reading it. The colon in your PS's first sentence should be replaced with a comma, the "and" in law and order should be replaced with an ampersand, the sentence where you change your major should be in the active voice and not in the passive voice, etc. Minor things, but they interrupt the flow and look of the PS and can make it look sloppy.

I think the whole PS can be tightened by identifying what you want the central them to be; there seem to be several, including overcoming your fear of public speaking; gaining experience in the legal field and really taking to it; and identifying the struggles faced by the disadvantaged in society. I don't think you've effectively meshed these three themes and the transition between them seems haphazard. If I were you, I'd make expand on the stories you tell in the PS; for instance, if you devoted the bulk of your PS to your experience with your brother (briefly) and the man who overstayed his visa in more depth (assuming there are no legal/ethical issues with talking about a client of a former employer) and cut out the vast majority of the extraneous stuff like learning Spanish, changing your major, etc., I think you could write a compelling narrative about how the intersection of your own life experiences and the challenges faced by others in the legal system has motivated you to pursue this education and career. You could even briefly tie in how you "found your voice," literally and figuratively, to show personal growth and development. I think you have some great material for an effective PS, but it's buried right now under everything else you've tried to cover.




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