Very polished draft

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
anmar213
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:51 pm

Very polished draft

Postby anmar213 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:54 am

Hello, I'm hoping that this is pretty close to my final draft. Any tips would be great.




I am not your typical law school applicant. I am 31, I've been working for several years, and I struggled through my undergraduate coursework. Ten years ago I was tossing pizzas and driving an 18 wheeler while trying to attain a biology degree. I've made mistakes in life, but the difficulties I overcame made me more steadfast, and gave me skills that will forever empower me to do better things.
I have learned education is much like other things in life; it is a marathon in which losing focus can lead to downfall, regardless of the physical capacity to finish. Entering college in 1998, I was moderately excited to begin the next step in my path towards liberation from my family. I had the qualifications to attend prestigious schools, however my father, an immigrant from Iraq, didn't understand the educational system and threatened to cut me off if I did not attend the local state university. Naturally I obliged my father in order to keep the peace. I had already been recruited by the state university soccer coach, and had a job working at a local pizza parlor. My first undergrad years were relatively smooth. A friend and I published an environmental magazine that we called Impact. Our initial issue featured an investigative report on campus recycling and a review of new electric cars being built by Honda. We were even able to convince Honda to bring several models to the campus to publicize the magazine's release. Between the magazine, playing for the university soccer team, and working part time both at a political office and a pizza parlor, I stayed busy.
In the fall of 2000 my father became enthralled with the idea of owning a business. I was faced with a daunting decision, drop my extra-curricular activities and begin driving trucks, or face immediate expulsion from the family home. I was young and lacked confidence in myself. I was already paying my own tuition and bills, and I felt I could not afford to continue my education without being able to live with my parents, so I went to truck driving school in the evenings.
I was juggling too many activities and eventually crashed, literally. It was spring 2001, and I was sleeping very little. After a three day sleepless stretch, I finally wrecked one of the 18 wheelers we had purchased and nearly killed myself. I think at this point, most people would find themselves re-evaluating their lives. While I did take pause and wonder why I wasn't sleeping, I did not really consider whether or not I was making the best choices for my future. I gave up driving trucks, kept my part time jobs, and increased my role in the family business. In exchange for an ownership stake in the company, I began to learn the internal workings of the trucking industry. Within six months of my accident, I was running the day-to-day operations of the company on my own, which was not too surprising. I always had an inherent ability to teach myself things quickly, to adapt to new situations, and to operate independently. I made my first $1,000 at age 15 by running a candy selling operation that nearly got me kicked out of school.
I found that I enjoyed business. Every day brought exciting challenges, complicated problems, and interesting people. My career path changed, and although I did not want to stay in trucking, I knew that the new entrepreneurship program at my university would be perfect for me, so I enrolled. Unfortunately, everything else in my life was in ruins. I had left my job at the political office, even though I thoroughly enjoyed it. I remained registered in school, however I never seemed to be able to attend classes. The pattern became routine. After an early rise, I would work a solid 6 hours before my scheduled classes. I would wait futilely in the office for my father to arrive and take over the daily responsibilities there. More often than not, he didn’t show up, leaving me no choice but to skip class and remain in the office. Before each new quarter, my father and I would have a serious discussion about my needs and priorities with regards to obtaining my degree. I would seem to have his support, but when it came time for me to go to school, I was alone.
This pattern led to severe problems. I began to notice that I wasn't where I wanted to be in life. My relationship with my father was ruined. I had not received the education that I coveted so greatly. I was still trying to balance a myriad of obligations and had very little time to fulfill my need to build my own future. Perhaps it should have hit me sooner, but finally in the winter of 2007 I found myself academically disqualified. At this point I decided to change my life and take control of my future. While the change in attitude was sudden, the skill set that I needed to go forward had been accumulating over the previous years. Running a company had taught me many things about planning, setting goals, and achievement. I sold my portion of the trucking company and informed my father that he would need to find a new business manager. We didn't speak for over a year.
At this point, I believe most of these stories would then go on to describe how difficult school was. I can't do that. Getting back into school was easy. Finishing my coursework was easy. After completing school, finding a corporate job was also fairly easy despite the terrible economic climate. It became apparent that when I could focus my effort into achieving a singular goal, I could accomplish great things. Of course I still worked several part time jobs while finishing school, but I didn't have the constant stress of running a business.
Law school wasn't always my primary goal in life but it has always represented a path to pursue justice. Justice has always been important to me, and has played a significant role in who I am today. As a young teenager I began officiating soccer games, a hobby that I still continue at the highest levels. I often find myself standing up for what I believe is right, whether it's through writing editorials, participating in organizations, or attending rallies. More and more I feel a burning desire to deepen my level of participation in the communal pursuit of justice. I can no longer imagine a future in which I am not a lawyer.

anmar213
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:51 pm

Re: Very polished draft

Postby anmar213 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:11 pm

bump, anyone?

MumofCad
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:46 pm

Re: Very polished draft

Postby MumofCad » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:52 pm

I'll flag up some issues - this is not a final draft IMO.

1) Unless you are applying to Boalt and only Boalt, it is too long with too much unnecessary detail. You should be shooting for 2 pages double spaced, 1 inch margins, 11 pt TNR. If you need more because you are adding something specific to a law school, then that is fine, but you aren't here and in fact, you're only mildly throwing in reasons for law school at the end in a way that seems disjointed and not well-thought out.

2) There are a couple places in the essay where you include something irrelevant that actually makes you look like a worse candidate. I'm not sure if you are trying to be humble, but this isn't the place for that. This is the place to show them what you have, how you think about the world and your past experiences, etc. You want to look as strong as possible. (ie. "I made my first $1,000 at age 15 by running a candy selling operation that nearly got me kicked out of school." Why do I need to know you almost got kicked out of high school? You leave this there with no explanation and so my mind is left free to conjure up all sorts of illicit reasons. Making 1000 selling candy is hardly a crime or something worthy of academic rebuke. Think carefully about what you say and how you say it. You're not telling funny stories at a bar here, this is a formal essay).

3) The essay lacks personality and seems like a rather shallow chronological telling. I see all this potential to tell me more about you in an interesting narrative. You clearly come from a fairly traditional Iraq family, put me in your shoes and help me understand that value set. Right now you've got a standard re-telling of the facts, and just the facts, of your struggle to find your own way. I did this, then I did this, then I realized this, and now I think that - but I can't really identify with the choices you've made in any meaningful way.

4) The essay as a whole lacks focus. What are you trying to say? If you are just trying to explain away a bad GPA, that really belongs in a short GPA addendum of about a page. This is the place to tell me something about you and make yourself shine. You can implicitly touch on issues related to your growth and development, and thus overcoming a bad academic trajectory, but each paragraph should have purpose in the overall telling of the narrative. Go through the essay and ask yourself with each paragraph, what this contributes to the overall thesis or point you are trying to get across. Who are you? What aspect of yourself are you trying to sell to the adcom? That you bring maturity? That you bring life experiences that are unique? How does each segment of your telling help me draw that mental picture of you as a candidate? Go for cohesion. You can't possibly tell them everything about you that makes you tick in a short 2 page essay, but you can choose some things that build a narrative about the type of candidate your are that will help them get a good feel. Right now, I feel like you are trying to simultaneously throw everything from your resume at me and on the other hand, explain away any and all weaknesses. Somewhere in between, I am missing you.

thederangedwang
Posts: 1124
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:44 pm

Re: Very polished draft

Postby thederangedwang » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:05 pm

this is not a good ps imo. It needs a lot of work. This should be nowhere close to your final draft. Overall the writing is extremely elementary...filled with..I did this, I did that, I chose this school..I accomplished this...therefore I want to go to law school....

r3k790
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:21 pm

Re: Very polished draft

Postby r3k790 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:56 pm

Comments are a bit harsh out here, stay strong anmar213! As you can see below I've gone through and edited a bit, feel free to accept or reject what I've written. I'll say in general that you shouldn't have to tell as much, and you can let the facts speak for themselves. For example, if you're 31 then you're not a typical applicant, saying that you are an atypical applicant just distracts. Also, lose the moderately/relatively/tepidly/sort of vocabulary. Not only does it take up space that could be used for other words, it makes you feel indecisive. Be decisive in your statement, this is you telling them you want to go to law school!

I think that the biggest problem with this statement is that you're telling us not to think of an elephant. "Don't think about that elephant!" you're telling law schools. Of course, they're going to wonder what elephant you're talking about and that's what's going to stick with them. What I get from this statement is that you were really pissed at your dad and angry at yourself for letting him stick it to you, but that you've moved on and become mature. Well, that's not telling me how you're mature, but rather what you did because you were immature once upon a time.


One of the unique things about you as an applicant, and I think you're right to try and highlight this, is that you are older and wiser than most people. You've been in ridiculously stressful situations that have prepared you for the rigors of law school and the work place of law firms.


I think you shouldn't try to tell your life story. If you're admitted, the law professors will have a chance to hear it and realize how incredible you are to have gotten through all the stuff you did. Right now, you have to get to that door. So pick the three best traits you have and show where you got them. I mean, they're definitely in your statement, they're just not the focus. I'd say that maturity, patience, loyalty, enthusiasm, and generosity would be good ones. Better yet, show how those traits have brought you to the law. This needs to be about law school, convince them that you're going to do great things for their community.



anmar213 wrote:Hello, I'm hoping that this is pretty close to my final draft. Any tips would be great.




I am not your typical law school applicant. I am 31, I've been working for several years, and I struggled through my undergraduate coursework. Ten years ago I was tossing pizzas and driving an 18 wheeler while trying to attain a biology degree. Today, I am 31, have experience in the work force, and have overcome adversities that will forever empower me to do better things. I am a mature applicant eager to begin law school and enter the legal profession.
I have learned education is much like other things in life; it is a marathon in which losing focus can lead to downfall, regardless of the physical capacity to finish.Entering college in 1998, I was moderately excited to begin the next step in my path towards liberation from my family indepedence. Though I had the qualifications to attend prestigious schools, my father, an immigrant from Iraq, did not understand the educational system in America and threatened to cut me off if I did not attend the local state university. As I had already been recruited by the state university soccer coach and had a job working at a local pizza parlor, I chose to avoid acrimony with my father. My first undergrad years went relatively smoothly. A friend and I published an environmental magazine that we called Impact. Our initial issue featured an investigative report on campus recycling and a review of new electric cars being built by Honda. We were even able to convince Honda to bring several models to the campus to publicize the magazine's release. Between the magazine, playing for the university soccer team, and working part time both at a political office and a pizza parlor, I stayed busy was a highly active member of the community.
In the fall of 2000 my father became enthralled with the idea of owning a business. I was faced with a daunting decision: drop my extra-curricular activities and begin driving trucks, or face immediate expulsion from the family home. I was young and lacked confidence in myself. I was already paying my own bills, including tuition.and I felt I could not afford to continue my education without being able to live with my parents. I went to truck driving school in the evenings.
I was juggling too many activities and eventually crashed, literally. (I think you blow the shock value of this by not just letting it happen) It was the spring of 2001 and I was sleeping very little. After a three day sleepless stretch, I finally wrecked one of the 18 wheelers we had purchased and nearly killed myself. I think at this point, most people would find themselves re-evaluating their lives. While I did take pause and wonder why I wasn't sleeping, I did not really consider whether or not I was making the best choices for my future. I gave up driving trucks, kept my part time jobs, and increased my role in the family business. In exchange for an ownership stake in the company, I began to learn the internal workings of the trucking industry. Within six months of my accident, I was running the day-to-day operations of the company on my own, which was not too surprising. I always had an inherent ability to teach myself things quickly, to adapt to new situations, and to operate independently. I made my first $1,000 at age 15 by running a candy selling operationthat nearly got me kicked out of school.
I found that I enjoyed business. Every day brought exciting challenges, complicated problems, and interesting people. My career path changed, and although I did not want to stay in trucking, I knew that the new entrepreneurship program at my university would be perfect for me. enrolled. Unfortunately, everything else in my life was in ruins. I had left my job at the political office, even though I thoroughly enjoyed it. I remained registered in school, however I never seemed to be able to attend classes. The pattern became routine. After an early rise, I would work a solid 6 hours before my scheduled classes. I would wait futilely in the office for my father to arrive and take over the daily responsibilities there. More often than not, he didn’t show up, leaving me no choice but to skip class and remain in the office. Before each new quarter, my father and I would have a serious discussion about my needs and priorities with regards to obtaining my degree. I would seem to have his support, but when it came time for me to go to school, I was alone.
This pattern led to severe problems. I began to notice that I wasn't where I wanted to be in life. My relationship with my father was ruined. I had not received the education that I coveted so greatly. I was still trying to balance a myriad of obligations and had very little time to fulfill my need to build my own future. Perhaps it should have hit me sooner, but finally in the winter of 2007 I found myself academically disqualified. At this point I decided to change my life and take control of my future. While the change in attitude was sudden, the skill set that I needed to go forward had been accumulating over the previous years. Running a company had taught me many things about planning, setting goals, and achievement. I sold my portion of the trucking company and informed my father that he would need to find a new business manager. We didn't speak for over a year.
At this point, I believe most of these stories would then go on to describe how difficult school was. I can't do that. Getting back into school was easy. Finishing my coursework was easy. After completing school, finding a corporate job was also fairly easy despite the terrible economic climate. It became apparent that when I could focus my effort into achieving a singular goal, I could accomplish great things. Of course I still worked several part time jobs while finishing school, but I didn't have the constant stress of running a business.
Law school wasn't always my primary goal in life but it has always represented a path to pursue justice. Justice has always been important to me, and has played a significant role in who I am today. As a young teenager I began officiating soccer games, a hobby that I still continue at the highest levels. I often find myself standing up for what I believe is right, whether it's through writing editorials, participating in organizations, or attending rallies. More and more I feel a burning desire to deepen my level of participation in the communal pursuit of justice. I can no longer imagine a future in which I am not a lawyer.

anmar213
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:51 pm

Re: Very polished draft

Postby anmar213 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:39 pm

Thanks for the comments. I titled the post "very polished" because it's been through several edits for grammar, spelling, and structure. I really do appreciate all of your responses, especially r3k790.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Very polished draft

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:59 pm

I agree with MumofCad's comments.

Try to write in a more clear & concise fashion. As is, this essay appears to be an early, rough draft. You need to deliver your thoughts in a more succinct manner.

The final paragraph is weak. Simply referring to a vague concept of "justice" suggests that you have little understanding of the legal system & less grasp of your reasons for wanting to attend law school.

Overall, this personal statement may harm your chances of admission to highly selective law schools due to the poor quality of writing which is too wordy, too unfocused & ambiguous (with respect to your reasons for wanting to study law & regarding issues with your father).

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Very polished draft

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:05 pm

Another observation: This personal statement seems to be a cathartic exercise for you rather than a well thought out self introduction. Once the anger & frustration subsides, try to develop a theme that will make you attractive to law school admissions officers.




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