PS First Draft

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
ineptimusprime
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PS First Draft

Postby ineptimusprime » Tue Sep 06, 2011 6:24 pm

Sweat dripped down my face and onto the grass below as I stared down at my newly won medal. Ostensibly, the medal signified only that I had successfully completed the requisite 13.1 miles of the South Jordan Half Marathon, and initially, that’s the only value I placed in it. Though tacky and likely made cheaply in some distant country, the medal now represents more to me than simply one race.

Growing up, I was always the target of less than savory nicknames and jokes. I was the fat kid, and everyone made sure I wasn’t quick to forget it. Names like “Cholesterol,” “Michelin Man,” and “Stay Puff Marshmallow” followed me down the halls of elementary and junior high and onto the football practice fields during high school. Looking back, I give my tormenters a “10” for creativity, and unfortunately, a “10” for effectiveness. While I always attempted to take the comments as good natured ribbing, I could never deny how much they hurt me. Even in my happy moments I was constantly reminded of my weight problem. I would laugh at a joke, and be laughed at for laughing because the fat on my face jiggled when I laughed. Even my mother, in a less considerate moment, told me to get my fat (expletive) out of her way. I was teased by those who were supposedly my friends about the way I looked in clothes and the way I ran. My father, a doctor, was constantly worried about my weight leading to high estrogen levels, which effectively emasculated me in my own mind.

By the time high school rolled around, my weight and the derisive comments peaked. I was a 245 pound mess. I felt as if those who were supposed to support me had abandoned me, and those who made fun of me had become more creative, more frequent, and more effective in their insults. I had no confidence to pursue anything; girls, academics, leadership positions, and new friendships were all out of the question. As all of this reached its pinnacle what was left of my self esteem began to unravel. Something snapped in me, and the summer before my junior year a transformation began.
I started a very restrictive diet. I limited myself to 1500 calories a day coupled with at least 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity. The weight didn’t come off easily, but I was able to bring myself to a more healthy weight by the time I finished my first semester of college and set out on my LDS mission to Brazil.

Brazil is where I really became the healthy and confident person that I am today, mostly due to my lucky pairing with a former Boston Marathon participant. He would often show me pictures from the many races he trained and competed in, and would share stories about the elation of the “runner’s high” and the satisfaction that comes with the completion of a long endurance race. At that point, I was in search of hobby that didn’t necessarily have to take up a lot of time, and was something that could translate to something more when I arrived back in the states after my two year sojourn.

Running and I became fast friends. I fell in love with the combination of the cool, yet humid mornings of southern Brazil, and the sound of my feet hitting the concrete with each stride. Two years passed more quickly than conceivably possible, and I arrived home a little bit taller, and whole lot fitter, weighing in at 165 pounds.

5 years and 80 pounds after my peak weight in high school, I crossed the finish line of my first competitive race, the South Jordan Half Marathon. To me, the medal I received that day represents not only the completion of a 13.1 mile course, but my personal victory over a lifelong struggle with weight and self-esteem. Completion of that race eased my doubts about my adequacy to accomplish tasks, silenced my critics, and put my past’s demons to rest.

The feeling of total victory I felt that day has given me not only the confidence necessary to excel in life, but a strong level of empathy for anyone struggling with crippling problems. Because of where I’ve been, and who I have become, I’ve cultivated a desire to help those who may still be in a rut. Law school and a subsequent legal career will allow me to work directly with many people who feel overwhelmed and hopeless about situations they may be facing. This empathy, coupled with my other credentials and skills would make me a solid addition to the incoming class.

It kind of tapers off there at the end... I'm pretty sure I need more of a conclusion.. any ideas? I'm also looking for any kind of feedback be it grammar or content related. Thanks.
Last edited by ineptimusprime on Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

LawSchoolChampion
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby LawSchoolChampion » Tue Sep 06, 2011 6:34 pm

Going to need more opinions about this, but I am not sure your topic is a great one.

You really don't highlight any academic ability or success throughout your weight-loss, nor how it affected you.

Saying you are happy that you lost the weight and enjoy being this is not a great PS. (My two cents).

ineptimusprime
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby ineptimusprime » Tue Sep 06, 2011 6:44 pm

LawSchoolChampion wrote:Going to need more opinions about this, but I am not sure your topic is a great one.

You really don't highlight any academic ability or success throughout your weight-loss, nor how it affected you.

Saying you are happy that you lost the weight and enjoy being this is not a great PS. (My two cents).


I've definitely tried to go a different direction than most... I guess that's bad. I just don't know how I can highlight my academic success without regurgitating my resume and transcript... any ideas?

ineptimusprime
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby ineptimusprime » Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:28 pm

Also, I thought that personal experiences/struggles > academic stuff when dealing with P.S.

I was under the impression this was our chance to express something else about us to the adcomm aside from our academic credentials. They know my academic/work experience from transcript, resume, LSAT score, and LORs... I would think it wise to shy away from academics in a PS and highlight other aspects of your life.

This was my attempt to show my ability to work through adversity and subsequently how I've become empathetic to others facing similar roadblocks in life.. is that a bad in and of itself or was it just executed poorly?

Any tips are welcome.

LawSchoolChampion
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby LawSchoolChampion » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:28 pm

Executed poorly.

While you are correct in what you believe a PS should accomplish, you haven't achieved that in this PS, at least, not to my eyes.

The best PS's show the attributes you are trying to convey and then go on to explain how they will make the candidate an avid student of law.

In all honesty, your topic seems weak. Perhaps I am biased as someone who comes from a similar background, and like you lost the weight, but I can honestly sum your statement up in one sentence:

A fat kid lost weight and became more confident.

That's really it. It doesn't stress how overcoming that challenge will make you a better law student, much less a better person. I would focus more on why you'll be a better law student because of the weight (if you still wish to use this topic).

ineptimusprime
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby ineptimusprime » Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:25 pm

*bump*

Does anyone else have any thoughts or opinions?

swoozie
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby swoozie » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:33 pm

Here is where I think your essay is weak:
I had no confidence to pursue anything; girls, academics, leadership positions, and new friendships were all out of the question. As all of this reached its pinnacle what was left of my self esteem began to unravel.

You go through your personal growth story. There’s half a thought dedicated to your newfound self esteem, and while your weight loss journey is admirable, there’s nothing that tells me your weight loss has fixed the problems your previous weight gave you. Instead your statement goes directly into what attracts you to law.
This empathy, coupled with my other credentials and skills would make me a solid addition to the incoming class.

I don’t see any indication of credentials or skills in this statement. Yeah, I’m not looking at your LSAT/GPA/resume/LoRs, but the way to work your achievements into your statement without repeating those things is to focus not on what you succeeded in, but why. What about you specifically gave you that success? Hm…did that help?

ineptimusprime
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby ineptimusprime » Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:47 pm

swoozie wrote:Here is where I think your essay is weak:
Quote:
I had no confidence to pursue anything; girls, academics, leadership positions, and new friendships were all out of the question. As all of this reached its pinnacle what was left of my self esteem began to unravel.

You go through your personal growth story. There’s half a thought dedicated to your newfound self esteem, and while your weight loss journey is admirable, there’s nothing that tells me your weight loss has fixed the problems your previous weight gave you. Instead your statement goes directly into what attracts you to law.
Quote:
This empathy, coupled with my other credentials and skills would make me a solid addition to the incoming class.

I don’t see any indication of credentials or skills in this statement. Yeah, I’m not looking at your LSAT/GPA/resume/LoRs, but the way to work your achievements into your statement without repeating those things is to focus not on what you succeeded in, but why. What about you specifically gave you that success? Hm…did that help?


Thanks, these are all good points. Do you think the topic is okay to stick with as long as I make the necessary changes and connections, or do you think I'm better off doing something else as the previous poster suggested?

swoozie
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby swoozie » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:03 pm

This is how I see your current statement:
- 1/3 about people making fun of you
- 1/3 about how you lost weight
- 1/6 of how this changed you (first paragraph and second to last paragraph - and again, weak because you claim it changed you other than weight, but don't show how. For example, you say "Completion of that race eased my doubts about my adequacy to accomplish tasks, silenced my critics, and put my past’s demons to rest." Here would be a great place to put a story about how you went to school, led a course project and got an A while gaining the respect and friendship of your classmates - or whatever it is you have that proves the sentence.)
- 1/6 why you want to go to law school

Personally, I think if you can work in what you need to, you don't necessarily have to scrap the topic. 2 paragraphs of people making fun of you is too many. More on the last two points I listed and less on the first two wouldn't hurt. If you find it's too difficult to work a more in-depth portrayal of yourself in, then consider doing a different topic.

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MrHaephestus
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby MrHaephestus » Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:31 pm

Howdy,

The problem with your statement is, as others have aptly noted, is that it fails to highlight any academic, and / or other success that would make you a good candidate for law school. If you are going to attempt a "triumph over adversity" style statement, then that triumph needs to tie into your desire to practice law, or your academic merit. My suggestion is that you limit your weight loss story to one paragraph maximum, then tie into something that highlights your skills that, in turn, would make you a good law school student.

Oh, and finally, try not to take all of this stuff too seriously. A little humor, appropriately, placed goes a long way; and, helps you keep your sanity. Cheers!

Best regards,
MrH.

anmar213
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby anmar213 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:06 am

just some more mechanical stuff, I've read that law schools don't like conjunction words. So like I've should be changed to I have, didn't to did not, etc. I personally like the story of overcoming adversity, however I agree with other posters that it isn't executed well. Lots of good advice up here already that I won't repeat.

ineptimusprime
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby ineptimusprime » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:38 am

thanks for the feedback guys!

masterthearts
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby masterthearts » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:25 pm

Wow. I am now a 1L at a T14 school and I don't want to brag, but after reading some of the PS here I think I got into my school because of my awesome PS. I had a very high gpa at an ivy but only a 163 lsat school (well below the 25th percentile at my school). So, I believe an awesome PS is what got me in. The fact that I am partially hispanic may have helped some, but I am convinced it must have been my PS.
Basically I discussed a chronic illness which I have and how it shaped me in my desire to help others with disabilities. I also included how I have made an impact in helping those less fortunate during my college years, and how I want to continue to help those less fortunate when I become a lawyer. I managed to weave in my fluent ability in Spanish ...all this in 1.5 pages.
I revised the essay multiple times and really spent a lot of time on it. I am now convinced it is what got me in to my T14 school.
I think it's well worth the time to craft an impressive PS, especially if you need to compensate for lower stats, as I did.

ineptimusprime
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby ineptimusprime » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:16 am

masterthearts wrote:Wow. I am now a 1L at a T14 school and I don't want to brag, but after reading some of the PS here I think I got into my school because of my awesome PS. I had a very high gpa at an ivy but only a 163 lsat school (well below the 25th percentile at my school). So, I believe an awesome PS is what got me in. The fact that I am partially hispanic may have helped some, but I am convinced it must have been my PS.
Basically I discussed a chronic illness which I have and how it shaped me in my desire to help others with disabilities. I also included how I have made an impact in helping those less fortunate during my college years, and how I want to continue to help those less fortunate when I become a lawyer. I managed to weave in my fluent ability in Spanish ...all this in 1.5 pages.
I revised the essay multiple times and really spent a lot of time on it. I am now convinced it is what got me in to my T14 school.
I think it's well worth the time to craft an impressive PS, especially if you need to compensate for lower stats, as I did.


<<Deleted>> Nevermind..

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thelawschoolproject
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby thelawschoolproject » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:55 am

I think most of the advice you've received here is good. The bottom line is that you want to show how overcoming this obstacle makes you more prepared to be a law student. And, unfortunately, your PS doesn't accomplish this.

Here are a few thoughts I was left with:

1). I feel like your LDS trip to Brazil might say more about your potential to be a lawyer than exercising and dieting do. This isn't to say that you should alter your topic, but you should alter the way you present your topic.

2). Did you have any personal motivation to make a change in your life beyond your concern for what other people thought about you?

3). At the end of your PS you make a statement about being able to help those who are overwhelmed, is there anyway you can provide proof of you doing this prior to law school? This might further substantiate your rather general claim.

4). Have you thought about using this more as a Diversity Statement? I think with some tweaking it could fit some application criteria for a DS. It's not an economic challenge, but could very well count as a social challenge or a health challenge.

Best of luck! Keep working on it!

ineptimusprime
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby ineptimusprime » Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:26 pm

I like the diversity statement idea. What tweaks should be made in order to make the conversion?

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thelawschoolproject
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Re: PS First Draft

Postby thelawschoolproject » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:23 pm

ineptimusprime wrote:I like the diversity statement idea. What tweaks should be made in order to make the conversion?



I think the main thing I'd focus on would be to show how your diversity makes you a better lawyer than someone who didn't have your particular struggle. For example, you had to teach yourself discipline, self-control, and tenacity. You had to motivate yourself. Additionally, what makes you more prepared to be a lawyer than Sally down the street who also went on a diet and lost a lot of weight? And, why do you feel your situation makes you "diverse" what qualities/characteristics did you learn because of your social/health diversity?

Hope this helps!




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