Hey guys, I'm completely stumped...Any advice?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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SoPro
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Hey guys, I'm completely stumped...Any advice?

Postby SoPro » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:03 pm

I've written a few drafts, but ultimately didn't like them.


How should I approach the PS? The prompts are so broad, that I really don't know where to begin. I know the PS is in a sense a "pitch" to law schools, but what are admission committees looking for?

kaiser
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Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 11:34 pm

Re: Hey guys, I'm completely stumped...Any advice?

Postby kaiser » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:06 pm

SoPro wrote:I've written a few drafts, but ultimately didn't like them.


How should I approach the PS? The prompts are so broad, that I really don't know where to begin. I know the PS is in a sense a "pitch" to law schools, but what are admission committees looking for?


Imagine you have 2 minutes to walk into the committee meeting when they are discussing whether or not to admit you. They are on the fence about you, and don't really know you as a person. All they have are your numbers. So imagine you walk into the room and have 2 minutes to tell them something. You can talk about anything you want, so long as it keeps them engaged and interested. Thats how you should approach the personal statement. There are no set guidelines for exactly what you should write about. Thats the whole point. If they wanted to hear the same thing over and over again, they would ask a very narrow question. Yet they usually frame it very generally to give you the flexibility to essentially write about anything. Take advantage of that lack of constraint.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Hey guys, I'm completely stumped...Any advice?

Postby rinkrat19 » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:25 pm

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.

kublaikahn
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Re: Hey guys, I'm completely stumped...Any advice?

Postby kublaikahn » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:24 pm

Don't write it like you have two minutes to tell them why they should select you. It is not an elevator pitch that hits all the high notes. Write it like you have two months to think of the most important asset you bring to the party. Then figure out the neatest most original way you can convey that one thought through what you did, not what what you said. And definitely not what someone else said.

Also, it should be something that integrates or contrasts with the other aspects of your application.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Hey guys, I'm completely stumped...Any advice?

Postby rinkrat19 » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:42 pm

kublaikahn wrote:Don't write it like you have two minutes to tell them why they should select you. It is not an elevator pitch that hits all the high notes. Write it like you have two months to think of the most important asset you bring to the party. Then figure out the neatest most original way you can convey that one thought through what you did, not what what you said. And definitely not what someone else said.

Also, it should be something that integrates or contrasts with the other aspects of your application.
To clarify, I didn't mean that anyone should actually write an essay on the topic "My friends say [X] about me." I meant, use that a brainstorm to think of something that defines you to your friends. If you think to yourself 'My friends always say I [XX]', then [XX] might be a good starting place for a topic, because it's obviously an important part of who you are.

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minnbills
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Re: Hey guys, I'm completely stumped...Any advice?

Postby minnbills » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:51 pm

What do you do? How do you spend your time? Have you learned any lessons in life that point you toward law school?

Say you were on a first date, what sort of info would you like to give? What are you about as a person?

The point of a PS is both to demonstrate your ability as a writer and help the admissions staff figure out who you are.

For example, my PS was about my involvement in my favorite sport. I wrote about it because participation in that activity has been a huge part of my life, and will help illustrate me as a person to the adcomms. It also served as an opportunity to show them some of my temperament and values through the particular story I told.




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