Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
ineptimusprime
Posts: 356
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Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby ineptimusprime » Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:25 pm

removed.

Thanks for all the comments everyone!
Last edited by ineptimusprime on Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ineptimusprime
Posts: 356
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby ineptimusprime » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:06 am

No thoughts?

avemundi
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby avemundi » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:22 am

I think the link between your desire to go to law school and the rest of the essay is a bit weak. There doesn't seem to be any particular or compelling reason your next 'onde estou' moment should be law school. Right now, law school almost seems like it could be replaced with 'learn how to play the trombone', or 'become a maestro of haute cuisine', and it wouldn't really affect the rest of the essay.

NoJob
Posts: 237
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby NoJob » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:20 am

What I get out of this is "I have nothing to do so law school might be cool."

"A legal education will provide the base I need to be the helping hand that I never had through the overwhelming problems that life can bring."

No, it won't. It will bring misery and debt and horrible job prospects. I suppose it will give you a helping hand applying for IBR and Section 8 housing.

ineptimusprime
Posts: 356
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby ineptimusprime » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:21 am

NoJob wrote:What I get out of this is "I have nothing to do so law school might be cool."

"A legal education will provide the base I need to be the helping hand that I never had through the overwhelming problems that life can bring."

No, it won't. It will bring misery and debt and horrible job prospects. I suppose it will give you a helping hand applying for IBR and Section 8 housing.


I partially agree, but I can't rightly say that in a PS. :)

As I don't have a 165+ LSAT score (and think my odds of getting one in October are quite small), I'm only applying to schools where I already qualify, or where a loophole exists that would afford me resident tuition (Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Texas Tech).

I don't want big law by any stretch. I want to land a state level clerkship, then work in a lower key, small firm, or in a government job somewhere in one of those states. Yes, I realize that even those positions are extremely rare and competitive, but I'm doing my best to make the most prudent choice possible.

I'm thinking of changing things up by saying something like this at the end:

"Similar to the way I felt about my mission call, I see the law as a calling. I realize that law school will bring many "onde estou" moments similar to my mission. I will have to learn and adapt like I have done before, but just like my mission, my desire to help other people with the knowledge I possess will help me conquer these challenges. My desire to study law comes in part from a desire to comprehend the overwhelming, and then to use that comprehension to help someone who is similarly overwhelmed. To the layperson, legal problems are understandably scary. A legal education will provide the base I need to be the helping hand that I never had through the overwhelming problems that life can bring."

Would that be at least a slight improvement in terms of connection between the two? Also, other than the connection, was the rest of the PS adequate?

I struggle a lot with this type of self aggrandizing writing. :(

NoJob
Posts: 237
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby NoJob » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:24 pm

"I want to land a state level clerkship, then work in a lower key, small firm, or in a government job somewhere in one of those states. Yes, I realize that even those positions are extremely rare and competitive, but I'm doing my best to make the most prudent choice possible."

Things to consider:

STATE LEVEL CLERKSHIP (Judicial clerkship???)
State level clerkships are incredibly competitive as kids that would normally go into larger law firms are unable to find those jobs and thus have looked to these gigs after looking at federal clerkships too. Indeed, I remember meeting one guy who worked for a local judge who thought he would get a clerkship with that judge when he passed the bar and was pretty much assured that he would. Well, he didn't. Some U of Penn student applied, and the judge went with that kid. This is for some random county district court too. Looking to the appellate courts, it gets even more competitive as state-appellate judicial clerkships do have some prestige. You will be competing with kids who did very well and were on the law review. Finally, the recent government budget cuts have really reduced openings here. So, even if you are the next Franfurter, you might not get hired because there simply may be no money for you in the budget. If the teachers and cops are being laid off, you can bet that courts are feeling the rethug (aka Republican) pinch. As an aside, if you want a government job, you better vote liberal to protect government budgets. And what will you do after your two-year clerkship is over? Maybe staff attorney if really lucky.

GOVERNMENT
Government gigs suffer from the same budgetary problem as described above (even the prosecutors and the PDs do too as many of the newbies' salaries are paid by DOJ grants). But it is worse than that. Government atty positions usually require this thing called experience. And, they often can ask for and get at least 3 years of it. You won't have any of it coming out of law school; your 2L clerkship is not the practice of law. This is one place that many former biglaw associates wind up for a well-deserved break when they are no longer on the partnership track. Also, former prosecutors and PDs can wind up taking government attorney positions in areas outside of criminal law like in the State atty general office or the Bureau of Federal prisons. In sum, there are few openings, and you will be competing against people with a lot of more experience than you. Chances of success here? Slim. Odds improve if you know someone.

SMALL FIRM (shitlaw)
Shitlaw is a small law firm that hires new graduates and offers them slave wages say 25-35K with possible benefits to service 100K in student loan debt. They mainly focus on personal injury, collections, bankruptcy, criminal, and/or family law. There are always openings here as new associates quickly discover that they would starve than deal with another DUI or bullshit soft tissue damage case/slip & fall. You have little to no chance of becoming a partner at these shitholes, and you can't really lateral to much else other than more shitlaw. You will fight with your colleagues for office supplies and exhibit tags. Criminal law sucks, and your clients are going to try to short you on your money left and right. They likely will also be guilty, and you get the joy of pleading sexual assault to petty battery. Perhaps, the worst area to practice is family law. One, your clients think a $5-10,000 retainer is absurd and will try to bargain you down. Second, your clients are going to go all the way to trial to decide stupid issues like who gets custody of the dog & who pays for it. This really happened btw. They view this as their last opportunity to screw with each other. The only way out of shitlaw is to leave law, lateral into something better, or start your own shitlaw solo practice (and will prolly have to moonlight doing doc review though the agencies sometimes hate solos). If you go solo after shitlaw, take every sample pleading that you can get your hands on with you to your new office. Chances of success: slim but possible.

SMALL FIRM (boutique)
Boutiques are smaller firms that specialize in a certain area of law like construction or IP or Indian tribes. They generally do not hire inexperienced lawyers. Often, they will only hire former biglaw or government lawyers who are trained in their area of specialization. Why hire an inexperienced attorney like you? There are tons of attorneys who have experience in patents e.g. Chances of success: none to slim.

Final thought: I have spent twenty minutes of another useless day wasted in the practice of law at my office writing this response. I have no reason to lie about how much your life will be wasted in this field. Lawyers are alcholics for a reason. The jobs are just not there. There is nothing factually inaccurate that I have said here.

ineptimusprime
Posts: 356
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby ineptimusprime » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:35 pm

NoJob wrote:"I want to land a state level clerkship, then work in a lower key, small firm, or in a government job somewhere in one of those states. Yes, I realize that even those positions are extremely rare and competitive, but I'm doing my best to make the most prudent choice possible."

Things to consider:

STATE LEVEL CLERKSHIP (Judicial clerkship???)
State level clerkships are incredibly competitive as kids that would normally go into larger law firms are unable to find those jobs and thus have looked to these gigs after looking at federal clerkships too. Indeed, I remember meeting one guy who worked for a local judge who thought he would get a clerkship with that judge when he passed the bar and was pretty much assured that he would. Well, he didn't. Some U of Penn student applied, and the judge went with that kid. This is for some random county district court too. Looking to the appellate courts, it gets even more competitive as state-appellate judicial clerkships do have some prestige. You will be competing with kids who did very well and were on the law review. Finally, the recent government budget cuts have really reduced openings here. So, even if you are the next Franfurter, you might not get hired because there simply may be no money for you in the budget. If the teachers and cops are being laid off, you can bet that courts are feeling the rethug (aka Republican) pinch. As an aside, if you want a government job, you better vote liberal to protect government budgets. And what will you do after your two-year clerkship is over? Maybe staff attorney if really lucky.

GOVERNMENT
Government gigs suffer from the same budgetary problem as described above (even the prosecutors and the PDs do too as many of the newbies' salaries are paid by DOJ grants). But it is worse than that. Government atty positions usually require this thing called experience. And, they often can ask for and get at least 3 years of it. You won't have any of it coming out of law school; your 2L clerkship is not the practice of law. This is one place that many former biglaw associates wind up for a well-deserved break when they are no longer on the partnership track. Also, former prosecutors and PDs can wind up taking government attorney positions in areas outside of criminal law like in the State atty general office or the Bureau of Federal prisons. In sum, there are few openings, and you will be competing against people with a lot of more experience than you. Chances of success here? Slim. Odds improve if you know someone.

SMALL FIRM (shitlaw)
Shitlaw is a small law firm that hires new graduates and offers them slave wages say 25-35K with possible benefits to service 100K in student loan debt. They mainly focus on personal injury, collections, bankruptcy, criminal, and/or family law. There are always openings here as new associates quickly discover that they would starve than deal with another DUI or bullshit soft tissue damage case/slip & fall. You have little to no chance of becoming a partner at these shitholes, and you can't really lateral to much else other than more shitlaw. You will fight with your colleagues for office supplies and exhibit tags. Criminal law sucks, and your clients are going to try to short you on your money left and right. They likely will also be guilty, and you get the joy of pleading sexual assault to petty battery. Perhaps, the worst area to practice is family law. One, your clients think a $5-10,000 retainer is absurd and will try to bargain you down. Second, your clients are going to go all the way to trial to decide stupid issues like who gets custody of the dog & who pays for it. This really happened btw. They view this as their last opportunity to screw with each other. The only way out of shitlaw is to leave law, lateral into something better, or start your own shitlaw solo practice (and will prolly have to moonlight doing doc review though the agencies sometimes hate solos). If you go solo after shitlaw, take every sample pleading that you can get your hands on with you to your new office. Chances of success: slim but possible.

SMALL FIRM (boutique)
Boutiques are smaller firms that specialize in a certain area of law like construction or IP or Indian tribes. They generally do not hire inexperienced lawyers. Often, they will only hire former biglaw or government lawyers who are trained in their area of specialization. Why hire an inexperienced attorney like you? There are tons of attorneys who have experience in patents e.g. Chances of success: none to slim.

Final thought: I have spent twenty minutes of another useless day wasted in the practice of law at my office writing this response. I have no reason to lie about how much your life will be wasted in this field. Lawyers are alcholics for a reason. The jobs are just not there. There is nothing factually inaccurate that I have said here.


I agree with almost everything you've said here. Job prospects are horrendous at best, non-existant at worst. I get that. If I didn't have backing family support (in terms of money), two uncles in the profession, one a judge, the other a senior partner at a midsize (well, for the area anyway) firm, and a wife who will be working while I'm in school, I don't think I would have the guts to make an investment in law school. The debt is a big issue to me, which is why I plan to attend a school where I wont get into more than $20,000 total in debt.

That being said, do you have any additional feedback on my PS?

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thelawschoolproject
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby thelawschoolproject » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:54 pm

Okay, so, here we go.

1). You went on a mission trip to Brazil and the part that makes you the most qualified to be a lawyer is that you learned Portuguese? Of course learning a foreign language is difficult, particularly when you're just thrown into a situation, but is this really the most compelling part of your trip? You didn't change someone's life? You didn't contribute to the community? IMO, schools want to learn about what you can offer more than they do about a typical challenge. What is it that you bring to the table? You work through tough situations, that's well and good, but I think you can offer more than that and that's what you need to show.

2). When you talk about "needing the next challenge" or whatever, the other posters are right, it does come across as flippant. You could easily apply to medical school or for a PhD as well, it would be a new challenge. So, why do you specifically want to go to law school? I honestly, have no idea--and neither will the admissions committee.

3). The main issue is the way that you present your information. You obviously have a lot you could discuss, but you need to present it in a more effective way.

Keep working on it!

NoJob
Posts: 237
Joined: Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby NoJob » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:18 pm

ineptimusprime wrote:
NoJob wrote:"I want to land a state level clerkship, then work in a lower key, small firm, or in a government job somewhere in one of those states. Yes, I realize that even those positions are extremely rare and competitive, but I'm doing my best to make the most prudent choice possible."

Things to consider:

STATE LEVEL CLERKSHIP (Judicial clerkship???)
State level clerkships are incredibly competitive as kids that would normally go into larger law firms are unable to find those jobs and thus have looked to these gigs after looking at federal clerkships too. Indeed, I remember meeting one guy who worked for a local judge who thought he would get a clerkship with that judge when he passed the bar and was pretty much assured that he would. Well, he didn't. Some U of Penn student applied, and the judge went with that kid. This is for some random county district court too. Looking to the appellate courts, it gets even more competitive as state-appellate judicial clerkships do have some prestige. You will be competing with kids who did very well and were on the law review. Finally, the recent government budget cuts have really reduced openings here. So, even if you are the next Franfurter, you might not get hired because there simply may be no money for you in the budget. If the teachers and cops are being laid off, you can bet that courts are feeling the rethug (aka Republican) pinch. As an aside, if you want a government job, you better vote liberal to protect government budgets. And what will you do after your two-year clerkship is over? Maybe staff attorney if really lucky.

GOVERNMENT
Government gigs suffer from the same budgetary problem as described above (even the prosecutors and the PDs do too as many of the newbies' salaries are paid by DOJ grants). But it is worse than that. Government atty positions usually require this thing called experience. And, they often can ask for and get at least 3 years of it. You won't have any of it coming out of law school; your 2L clerkship is not the practice of law. This is one place that many former biglaw associates wind up for a well-deserved break when they are no longer on the partnership track. Also, former prosecutors and PDs can wind up taking government attorney positions in areas outside of criminal law like in the State atty general office or the Bureau of Federal prisons. In sum, there are few openings, and you will be competing against people with a lot of more experience than you. Chances of success here? Slim. Odds improve if you know someone.

SMALL FIRM (shitlaw)
Shitlaw is a small law firm that hires new graduates and offers them slave wages say 25-35K with possible benefits to service 100K in student loan debt. They mainly focus on personal injury, collections, bankruptcy, criminal, and/or family law. There are always openings here as new associates quickly discover that they would starve than deal with another DUI or bullshit soft tissue damage case/slip & fall. You have little to no chance of becoming a partner at these shitholes, and you can't really lateral to much else other than more shitlaw. You will fight with your colleagues for office supplies and exhibit tags. Criminal law sucks, and your clients are going to try to short you on your money left and right. They likely will also be guilty, and you get the joy of pleading sexual assault to petty battery. Perhaps, the worst area to practice is family law. One, your clients think a $5-10,000 retainer is absurd and will try to bargain you down. Second, your clients are going to go all the way to trial to decide stupid issues like who gets custody of the dog & who pays for it. This really happened btw. They view this as their last opportunity to screw with each other. The only way out of shitlaw is to leave law, lateral into something better, or start your own shitlaw solo practice (and will prolly have to moonlight doing doc review though the agencies sometimes hate solos). If you go solo after shitlaw, take every sample pleading that you can get your hands on with you to your new office. Chances of success: slim but possible.

SMALL FIRM (boutique)
Boutiques are smaller firms that specialize in a certain area of law like construction or IP or Indian tribes. They generally do not hire inexperienced lawyers. Often, they will only hire former biglaw or government lawyers who are trained in their area of specialization. Why hire an inexperienced attorney like you? There are tons of attorneys who have experience in patents e.g. Chances of success: none to slim.

Final thought: I have spent twenty minutes of another useless day wasted in the practice of law at my office writing this response. I have no reason to lie about how much your life will be wasted in this field. Lawyers are alcholics for a reason. The jobs are just not there. There is nothing factually inaccurate that I have said here.


I agree with almost everything you've said here. Job prospects are horrendous at best, non-existant at worst. I get that. If I didn't have backing family support (in terms of money), two uncles in the profession, one a judge, the other a senior partner at a midsize (well, for the area anyway) firm, and a wife who will be working while I'm in school, I don't think I would have the guts to make an investment in law school. The debt is a big issue to me, which is why I plan to attend a school where I wont get into more than $20,000 total in debt.

That being said, do you have any additional feedback on my PS?


You should have said that you had family connections before. Nepotism is one of my exceptions to my rule of not recommending law school actually. First, MAKE ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CERTAIN THAT SOMEBODY IN YOUR FAMILY WILL GIVE YOU A JOB COMING OUT OF THIS (assuming you can't get one on your own).

Second, bullshit something about helping people and being fascinated by the law through the work you did for your family. It wouldn't hurt to hang around their office so that you can put that on your resume.

Get the LSAT and GPA as high as you can and go to the school with the least amount of debt.

ineptimusprime
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby ineptimusprime » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:53 pm

thelawschoolproject wrote:You didn't change someone's life?


Aside from in a religious way? No. Sure, a couple of people got baptized and now attend church services regularly... not exactly PS worthy...

thelawschoolproject wrote:You didn't contribute to the community?


Not really. Unfortunately, LDS missions have a single purpose. Baptizing lots of people. I would have loved to participate in community projects, but they just weren't programmed into our schedules. I probably would have enjoyed the experience a lot more if it had been more like PeaceCorps or something.

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thelawschoolproject
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby thelawschoolproject » Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:35 pm

I don't know, I think I'd still try to discuss what it is that you did. If it was a mission trip, I assume that there was something you were expected to do. I'd discuss the ways in which you were an integral part of the trip's success. But, if you really feel that there's nothing there to discuss, then I don't know what to tell you. From most of the information I've gathered, adcomms are most impressed by what you can offer their legal community and the practice-at-large. I just don't think the way your PS is presented at the current time accomplishes this. The trend of being forced into a hard situation, failing at first, and then working it out enough to survive doesn't sound like a confident, and strong lawyer to me and that's how your PS reads to me. So if there's really no way for you to talk about what you offer as a lawyer then I'd definitely advise that you restructure your current statement and shift the focus or perhaps choose a different second anecdote.

Best of luck!

r3k790
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby r3k790 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:14 pm

Here's my hard edit, hope it helps. I hope that professor is one of your recommenders, because that could really be helpful if he was. If he is one of your rec writers, then you should say his name. On the whole, I disagree with those who say this is an inappropriate topic. It's of the pretty standard "I overcame some challenge" variety. Generally speaking, I think you should try to show that you have well thought out reasons for wanting to go to law school.

ineptimusprime wrote:Here's my second stab at a PS. All feedback is welcome. I've changed it almost completely from my first PS (http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewt ... 8&t=165102) and have converted the other one into a diversity statement. Let me know if this one is an improvement or a step back.

The alarm clock blared to lifeand my eyes blinked open. I stared up at an unfamiliar, rickety ceiling fan. and wondered where exactly I was. After a moment, I remembered. (This is cliché) I was in a crumbling house in the city of Birigui, in the interior of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo. It was the first area of my two year LDS mission in Brazil, and it was my first day there. I rolled out of bed and onto my feet, (pick one of these two, it's obvious that you didn't crawl into the bathroom) and headed towards the bathroom. As I splashed water onto my tired face, I noticed a small sticker stuck to the corner of the bathroom mirror. Written on that sticker were the words “Onde Estou?,” which translates into English as “Where Am I?” I never would have predicted that that seemingly harmless little sticker would haunt (spooky, reminds me of The Ring - maybe a different word?) me for the next few months.

Contrary to what I was expecting, or maybe just hoping,the Portuguese language did not come easily to me. I attempted talking to people in the streets, but often the words just wouldn’t come out. In the rare instances where the words did come out, they would come out awkwardly and poorly formed -- rendering them incomprehensible to listeners. On top of my struggles with pronouncing words was my struggle with Portuguese grammar. The rules seemed overly complex, vastly different from English, and overall just too daunting a task for me to handle.

As each day began and ended, I was constantly reminded of my seemingly futile situation incapability by that obnoxious little sticker on the bathroom window. As much as it hurts to admit, that sticker had a point. Where was I? What was I doing there? I couldn’t communicate with anyone, and communication was paramount in my role as a missionary. This realization of my complete lack of utility(Try not using the word realization, it'll force you to be more specific) Dissatisfaction with my own feeling of uselessness motivated me to buckle down and give learning the language my all. I could not let that annoying sticker be right.

I started by reading anything I could get my hands on in Portuguese. This helped me not only master the grammar, but helped me recognize contextual cues in the language. Because of this preparation, I began to understand what people were saying. At first, this wasn’t necessarily a good thing. The first things I began to understand were phrases like “ele nao fala nada,” which translates roughly to English as “he doesn’t know how to speak.” Rather than letting myself get offended, I used it as motivation to improve my mastery of the language. I started writing creative stories in Portuguese, which I would then read in my head, out loud to myself, or to my companion. My vocabulary, pronunciation, and creativity with the language improved. After a lot of hard work, I became fluent in the language andeventually became useful (say what you did, not just that you were useful)during my two years in Brazil.

The lessons I learned dealing with the overwhelming task of mastering a foreign language helped me with a similar situation when I arrived home from Brazil I returned to America. During my first semester I took an introductory level political science class from a professor well-known for being “difficult” (rearranged). I took the class very seriously, did the readings, attended every class, and arrived to the first exam feeling very good about my preparation and prospects for scoring a coveted “A” grade. When I received the results of the first exam, I was shocked to find a dark red “C” etched into the first page of my bluebook. Littered throughout my exam were comments along the lines of “this isn’t college level writing.” Memories of my first weeks in Brazil flooded through my mind.“What am I doing here?” “Why did I take this class from this professor?” and “What am I going to do now?” are just a few examples. (Probably cut the next sentence as well) It was another “Onde Estou?” moment like I had had those first months in Brazil. Rather than continuing to doubt myself, I remembered the lessons I had learned two years earlier in a little town in South America. Rather than just reading and attending class, I began to take copious notes and created outlines for each exam. Never again did I score lower than an A on any exam from that professor. I went on to take a class from him nearly every semester, and by my last class with him, my tests were filled with comments like “well articulated response” and “good thoughts.”

I’m looking for another “Onde Estou” experience in life to conquer. Law school and a legal career will provide that. My desire to study law comes in part from a desire to comprehend the overwhelming, and then to use that comprehension to help someone who is similarly overwhelmed. To the layperson, legal problems are understandably scary. A legal education will provide the base I need to be the helping hand that I never had through the overwhelming problems that life can bring.

ineptimusprime
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby ineptimusprime » Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:04 pm

He is one of my recommenders. I'll add his name. Thanks for the hard edit!

MumofCad
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby MumofCad » Thu Sep 15, 2011 6:07 pm

I skimmed, so understand that in my comments. Still, I didn't agree with some of the above so I thought I'd throw my opinion out there.

I like the theme you are working to develop - its nice with the added benefit that it is in Portuguese. I learn a little phrase that I'm repeating by the end. I wouldn't lose that in future drafts, because I think it shows originality, can be developed, and is effective as a strand to tie past, present, and future experiences together.

Now here's the downside - you need to develop your ideas more clearly and add a little flare to your narrative. It gets particularly dry when you are telling me about your work with this one professor. I've helped a fair number of candidates for prestigious scholarships with their apps, and the fact that you took a class from this prof nearly every semester of your UG career raises a red flag for me. I think you intend it to be a positive, but it really is not generally viewed as such. I always recommend taking multiple courses with a professor to develop a relationship and body of work in preparation for competitive scholarships/graduate school, but I've never heard of someone taking a class every semester. What are we talking here - 7? 5? 6? classes. That's a lot of feedback from one person and a huge weight of your UG GPA from a single source. What was once a representative sampling of the opinions of various academics on your merit is now a perhaps very small sample that doesn't tell me as much about how you performed. Particularly if you have a very mixed transcript, one might begin to wonder what your GPA would have looked like with a more representative polling of the profs at your school. Anyhow, I've never seen such a thing, but I know that when it comes down to borderline candidates in scholarship world, the difficulty of your curriculum is looked at and this wouldn't be a positive in the minds of most. I think its enough to leave it at telling my about the transformation.

Now the transformation itself is a little rocky - I'd think how you could tell me the same story without the rather brief comments on your papers that you have in "..." right now. They seem pretty elementary and don't tell me a whole lot about how you really grew. You are really telling me its true, rather than showing me how your thought process developed and matured with those quotes and I'd much prefer to know more about how you grew intellectually and as a writer, rather than knowing what sort of standard "good paper" vs "bad paper" stuff your prof might use when he grades. I think that change would strengthen that paragraph tremendously. If you tighten it, you could then flesh out the ideas you throw out in the short final paragraph more as well.

You might also keep your theme running. Maybe you could be a little more personal with your Where am I thoughts and instead, start right off about practicing law as a way to help people work through those same moments and find direction (not because you did, because you don't want to try to turn this into an overcoming obstacles essay, because frankly, these don't really qualify as examples and are pretty typical of most law school applicants and you want to convey that you understand that while expressing your unique take/growth over time). That part of the essay needs more substance to really fit as a conclusion.

ineptimusprime
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Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby ineptimusprime » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:26 pm

MumofCad wrote: I've helped a fair number of candidates for prestigious scholarships with their apps, and the fact that you took a class from this prof nearly every semester of your UG career raises a red flag for me. I think you intend it to be a positive, but it really is not generally viewed as such. I always recommend taking multiple courses with a professor to develop a relationship and body of work in preparation for competitive scholarships/graduate school, but I've never heard of someone taking a class every semester. What are we talking here - 7? 5? 6? classes. That's a lot of feedback from one person and a huge weight of your UG GPA from a single source. What was once a representative sampling of the opinions of various academics on your merit is now a perhaps very small sample that doesn't tell me as much about how you performed. Particularly if you have a very mixed transcript, one might begin to wonder what your GPA would have looked like with a more representative polling of the profs at your school. Anyhow, I've never seen such a thing, but I know that when it comes down to borderline candidates in scholarship world, the difficulty of your curriculum is looked at and this wouldn't be a positive in the minds of most. I think its enough to leave it at telling my about the transformation.


Probably should have clarified.. I'm a transfer at my current school and have taken 3 classes from this Prof. You're probably still right about cutting out the part where I mention taking multiple classes. It doesn't really add anything substantial.

Thanks for all the feedback guys, you've been a ton of help.

dani_burhop
Posts: 64
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:14 pm

Re: Second PS attempt...looking for feedback

Postby dani_burhop » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:39 pm

This essay is decent and memorable (I too am learning Portuguese, a difficult language - you should try playing more with the sounds of the language and with humor, because you must have found yourself in some odd situations in Brazil.)

You have a tendency to bog down your prose with overmodification - I'll show you some areas you could easily delete (below, underlined).

If you are applying to schools that ask you to deal with "why law" - you should do so more thoroughly. If not, this PS is fine topic-wise; law schools are looking for people who are smart, interesting, dedicated, devoted, determined, and a PS should illustrate these qualities. Yours does; I'd say you're in decent shape.

Best, Dani

The alarm clock blared to life and my eyes blinked open. I stared up at an unfamiliar, rickety ceiling fan and wondered where exactly I was. After a moment, I remembered. I was in a crumbling house in the city of Birigui, in the interior of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo. This was the first area of my two year LDS mission in Brazil, and this was my first day there. I rolled out of bed and onto my feet, and headed towards the bathroom. As I splashed water onto my tired face, I noticed a small sticker stuck to the corner of the bathroom mirror. Written on that sticker were the words “Onde Estou?,” which translates into English as “Where Am I?” I never would have predicted that that seemingly harmless little sticker would haunt me for the next few months.

Contrary to what I was expecting, or maybe just hoping, the Portuguese language did not come easily to me. I attempted talking to people in the streets, but often the words just wouldn’t come out. In the rare instances where the words did come out, they would come out awkwardly and poorly formed, rendering them incomprehensible to any listener. On top of my struggles with pronouncing words, was my struggle with Portuguese grammar. The rules seemed overly complex, vastly different from English, and overall just too daunting a task for me to handle.

As each day began and ended,
I was constantly reminded of my seemingly futile situation by that obnoxious little sticker on the bathroom window. As much as it hurts to admit, that sticker had a point. Where was I? What was I doing there? I couldn’t communicate with anyone, and communication was paramount in my role as a missionary. This realization of my complete lack of utility motivated me to buckle down and give learning the language my all. I couldn’t let that annoying sticker be right.

I started by reading anything I could get my hands on in Portuguese; this helped me not only master the grammar, but helped me recognize contextual cues in the language. Because of this preparation, I began to understand what people were saying. At first, this wasn’t necessarily a good thing. The first things I began to understand were phrases like “ele nao fala nada,” which translates roughly to English as “he doesn’t know how to speak.” Rather than letting myself get offended, I used this as motivation to improve my mastery of the language. I started writing creative stories in Portuguese, which I would then read in my head, out loud to myself, or to my companion. This allowed me to better my vocabulary, pronunciation, and creativity with the language. After a lot of hard work, I became fluent in the language and eventually became useful during my two years in Brazil.

The lessons I learned dealing with the overwhelming task of foreign language mastery helped me with a similar situation when I arrived home from Brazil. During my first semester I took an introductory level political science class from a well-known “difficult” professor in the department. I took the class very seriously, did the readings, attended every class, and arrived to the first exam feeling very good about my preparation and prospects for scoring a coveted “A” grade. When I received the results of the first exam I was shocked to find a dark red “C” etched into the first page of my bluebook. Littered throughout my exam were comments along the lines of “this isn’t college level writing.” Thoughts similar to my first weeks in Brazil flooded through my mind. “What am I doing here?” “Why did I take this class from this professor?” and “What am I going to do now?” are just a few examples. It was another “Onde Estou?” moment like I had had those first months in Brazil. Rather than continuing to doubt myself, I remembered the lessons I had learned two years earlier in a little town in South America. Rather than just reading and attending class, I began to take copious notes and created outlines for each exam. Never again did I score lower than an A on any exam from that professor. I went on to take a class from him nearly every semester, and by my last class with him, my tests were filled with comments like “well articulated response” and “good thoughts.”

I’m looking for another “Onde Estou” experience in life to conquer. Law school and a legal career will provide that. My desire to study law comes in part from a desire to comprehend the overwhelming, and then to use that comprehension to help someone who is similarly overwhelmed. To the layperson, legal problems are understandably scary. A legal education will provide the base I need to be the helping hand that I never had through the overwhelming problems that life can bring.




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