Subject Matter Help

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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emkay625
Posts: 1839
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:31 pm

Subject Matter Help

Postby emkay625 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:47 am

Hi guys-

I'm sitting here, trying to craft an outline for my PS, but I'm having trouble beginning. I want to write about my experience in TFA, but I know common wisdom is to write about something the ad comms can't already gather from your resume/rest of your app. TFA is all over my resume and accounts for one of my rec letters. Should I write about something else? (Problem is, I don't feel like I have anything else substantial to write about). Will ad comms be like, okay, we get it, you don't need t beat us over the head with TFA or will they not mind?

Seeking advice of all kinds.

(Also, in general, how did you guys go about writing about yourself? I feel very awkward and lost in coming up with strengths I feel ad comms will care about. I think I am: an excellent public speaker, a strong leader, intelligent, a self-starter, pro-active, a force for change, etc, but those seem like both arrogant and cliched things to say. Help!)

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rinkrat19
Posts: 13916
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: Subject Matter Help

Postby rinkrat19 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:02 am

Personally, I don't recommend outlining. (However, I've never voluntarily written an outline for a future written piece in my life. In high school, if we were being forced to turn in an outline, I wrote the essay first and then outlined from it. So take my advice FWIW.)

Here are my 'getting started on a PS' tips that I keep posting for people:

Don't worry so much about starting with an intro and writing straight through to a conclusion. Start writing with the interesting bits--something funny or startling or exciting or sad. Think of a specific instance, subject, situation or event that you can speak engagingly about, even if you can't immediately think of how it would relate to law. If your closest friends were asked about you, what would they say first? What makes you even slightly different than the next applicant in the pile? Pound out some paragraphs--don't worry about where it would go in an essay or how they fit together. Just get words on the page. From there, you may be able to take 'this', discard 'that', and add a little bit more about 'the other thing' to develop an overall theme or topic.

As an example, I started with a quote from a hockey coach I had, and wrote about pushing yourself to failure, and how I'd never really pushed myself that hard. I ended up using almost none of that. Then I started writing about sports more generally; why I like hockey and snowboarding. A few sentences of that actually made it into my final. Then I tried to write 'why I want to go to law school,' but it was mostly whining about how I hate my job. Obviously that wouldn't work, so I toned some of it down (from "I hate my job" to "my job is rewarding, but not something I'm passionate about"). I related that to things I actually am passionate about (snowboarding and hockey, from before), and how so few people are lucky enough to have jobs they love as much as their hobbies.

Just to show how several false starts came together in the end.

So, in your case, don't make the whole thing just a timeline of 'What I did in TFA.' But absolutely feel free to use an anecdote from it if it's something you can write interestingly about. Or use something like 'Things I learned in TFA' or 'Qualities that made me successful in TFA' as an overarching theme to tie several other bits (not all TFA, plz) together.

LawSchoolGuru
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:56 am

Re: Subject Matter Help

Postby LawSchoolGuru » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:07 am

rinkrat19 wrote:Personally, I don't recommend outlining. (However, I've never voluntarily written an outline for a future written piece in my life. In high school, if we were being forced to turn in an outline, I wrote the essay first and then outlined from it. So take my advice FWIW.)

Here are my 'getting started on a PS' tips that I keep posting for people:

Don't worry so much about starting with an intro and writing straight through to a conclusion. Start writing with the interesting bits--something funny or startling or exciting or sad. Think of a specific instance, subject, situation or event that you can speak engagingly about, even if you can't immediately think of how it would relate to law. If your closest friends were asked about you, what would they say first? What makes you even slightly different than the next applicant in the pile? Pound out some paragraphs--don't worry about where it would go in an essay or how they fit together. Just get words on the page. From there, you may be able to take 'this', discard 'that', and add a little bit more about 'the other thing' to develop an overall theme or topic.

As an example, I started with a quote from a hockey coach I had, and wrote about pushing yourself to failure, and how I'd never really pushed myself that hard. I ended up using almost none of that. Then I started writing about sports more generally; why I like hockey and snowboarding. A few sentences of that actually made it into my final. Then I tried to write 'why I want to go to law school,' but it was mostly whining about how I hate my job. Obviously that wouldn't work, so I toned some of it down (from "I hate my job" to "my job is rewarding, but not something I'm passionate about"). I related that to things I actually am passionate about (snowboarding and hockey, from before), and how so few people are lucky enough to have jobs they love as much as their hobbies.

Just to show how several false starts came together in the end.

So, in your case, don't make the whole thing just a timeline of 'What I did in TFA.' But absolutely feel free to use an anecdote from it if it's something you can write interestingly about. Or use something like 'Things I learned in TFA' or 'Qualities that made me successful in TFA' as an overarching theme to tie several other bits (not all TFA, plz) together.


+1. Interesting perspective on outlining.

Just something I want add, whatever you decide to talk about, make sure that you discuss an aspect that makes you unique from other applicants who have also been in TFA.




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