Looking for honest feedback...

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
fsuitw
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:12 pm

Looking for honest feedback...

Postby fsuitw » Tue Nov 22, 2011 2:16 am

I have been working on this for a few days now and want to know if I am going in a useable direction. All criticism is welcome.


“…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

Some people might call this particular quote banal, that it has been overused and its impact lessened due to that popularity. But still, so much of my current philosophy is described by what Theodore Roosevelt said. When I originally heard these words, they told me certain things about how I wanted to feel about myself. They were telling me to get in there, to give it my best shot, because trying and failing is better than never having tried at all. It was a good motivator for a kid who was so unsure about what he wanted to be.

Now things read a little differently, or better, my feelings towards that quote have changed. The actual message is not any different; there is very little room for interpretation. Reading this quote nine years ago made me want to pursue great endeavors, to be a bold decision maker and ignore any restriction on how successful I could be. I would be in that arena and through my accumulation of blood, sweat, and dirt I would know the “triumph of high achievement”. What Mr. Roosevelt fails to mention is that high achievement comes much more sparingly than error or shortcoming, which turns out was a lesson better learned through experience.

My final year at university was a bittersweet one. Plagued by injury during the athletic season, I never lived up to the lofty goals I had set for myself. Now with the aid of hindsight it is apparent that doing poorly in my sport is not my greatest regret. Half-heartedly, and with a nonchalance that I can now admit to, I applied to four law schools. My LSAT score was dismal and my applications were, to be frank, unprofessional. After four rejection notices came in the mail I resigned myself to failure and became convinced that law school was not the path I was supposed to go on.

You become that timid soul when you halt the pursuit of the worthy cause. He never mentions that you can fall out of the ring, dismiss yourself from the battle. Now it seems like the man who strives and fails but does not continue on suffers the greatest agony, he suffers both a defeat in the moment and, perhaps, a permanent defeat of the psyche. A year ago that was me; just a lingering onlooker with no plan or purpose who had given up at the first notice of rejection. There was no glory in that place, no consolation that I had at least tried. There was only mediocrity and a deep, ever present sense of disappointment.

It took a lot of soul searching to come back to this. I moved across the country, endured dead end jobs, and eventually ended up back home with my parents after running out of money. The wandering took its toll, and one day after waking up in my childhood bedroom, I made the decision to get a job. I was exceedingly fortunate to be hired by an insurance company, and while I didn’t know the first thing about insurance, I was happy to be employed. Taking this as a second chance, I applied myself enthusiastically to my new profession, and it has been gratifying seeing my hard work pay off.

Once again, however, a revelation came to me as I woke up. While I was living in security I also saw that I was living in mediocrity, and that I would never be sincerely challenged unless I was willing to take a chance. This is when my mind turned towards law school once again. That initial failure was still very present in my mind, but my motivation and capacity for work were profoundly changed.

Now I can see what Roosevelt means, that high achievement, the apex goal, only comes in the end. Resigning yourself to failure only creates an artificial conclusion. That kind of defeat has no glory, no one can dare greatly if they quit halfway through the scene. My experiences through failure eventually fostered in me an intense resolve that would have not existed had someone not told me “No.”

User avatar
FryBreadPower
Posts: 908
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:46 pm

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby FryBreadPower » Tue Nov 22, 2011 2:21 am

This just may be me, but never started with a quote. You have 2 pages to tell AdComms as much as you possibly can about yourself and why you are a fit for their law school; why would you use (especially start) one-fourth of a page with someone else's words?

I have to be honest, I didn't read the whole thing. By the second paragraph I literally said out loud, this PS has literally told me nothing about you. I don't know if AdComms ever stop reading PS's, but I wouldn't put it past them. You need to get out of the rhetoric earlier and get into your own story earlier.

fsuitw
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:12 pm

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby fsuitw » Tue Nov 22, 2011 2:42 am

Thanks for the quick response. I can definitely see the need to include more content that is actually about who I am and why I am a good fit for XYZ school. I agree that the quote is long, it was just one that I had always liked and it came to me while I was brainstorming. Maybe I could cut it down?

User avatar
paratactical
Posts: 5961
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:06 pm

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby paratactical » Tue Nov 22, 2011 2:44 am

Never start with a quote.

fsuitw
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:12 pm

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby fsuitw » Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:43 pm

Any particular reason why starting with a quote doesn't look good?

User avatar
FryBreadPower
Posts: 908
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:46 pm

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby FryBreadPower » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:17 pm

fsuitw wrote:Any particular reason why starting with a quote doesn't look good?


Trite.
Cheesy.
Not your own words.
It was a bad ploy in HS; why would it work now?
What I mentioned beforehand regarding length and needing to use every word for maximum effect.
Sounds like you plucked it out of a wiki page or a random book for some dramatic effect.

Take your pick.

User avatar
FryBreadPower
Posts: 908
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:46 pm

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby FryBreadPower » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:18 pm

fsuitw wrote:
Some people might call this particular quote banal, that it has been overused and its impact lessened due to that popularity.


Also, every sentence needs to punch and be full of meaning. What does this sentence say about you? Nothing, so it should be axe'd. I think you need to evaluate each and every sentence in your PS in this manner.

User avatar
89vision
Posts: 431
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:49 pm

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby 89vision » Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:19 am

It's a little wordy, as in, you could definitely cut out things like "but still," "Now things read a little differently, or better," "was a bittersweet one (cut out one) etc; Some of it sounds cliche, there are a lot of "sayings."

You use the passive voice a few times, which you may want to change.

User avatar
law4vus
Posts: 743
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:35 am

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby law4vus » Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:24 am

Echoing the never start with a quote. Even if you DO choose to start with a quote, it should be a one sentence quote at must. It needs to be quick and to the point while illustrating what the rest of your PS is about. If adcomms are forced to read a few sentences from someone else at the beginning of your PS, they will either 1) stop reading or 2) skip the quote altogether and miss the point of your PS.

Anyway, please don't use a quote to begin. It is definitely very overdone and cheesy.

User avatar
law4vus
Posts: 743
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:35 am

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby law4vus » Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:28 am

Additionally, a lot of people get confused on their PS and begin writing about why they want to pursue a higher level of education in general and don't address why LAW SCHOOL.

You could have submitted your PS to medical school, business school, or a PhD program simply by removing the words "Law School" and replacing them accordingly. That's a bad sign. It needs to be about why you want to pursue the law, not why you want another degree.

fsuitw
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:12 pm

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby fsuitw » Wed Nov 23, 2011 10:28 am

Great feedback so far, thanks for your help everyone.

smokemonsterfromLOST
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:26 am

Re: Looking for honest feedback...

Postby smokemonsterfromLOST » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:42 am

“triumph of high achievement”. - punctuation goes inside the quotation marks.

Agree that you should never lead with a quote, or even include them unless utterly vital.

There's a lot of passive voice in the essay, and not a great deal of detail that really makes it personal. Not only can you substitute any other professional school for law school, but you can substitute almost any young person for the speaker.

Anyway, you're not TR, and even if your life philosophy resonates with his, you're the student they'll be admitting, not him. Develop this philosophy in your own voice.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.