Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

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affad
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Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby affad » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:56 pm

Mich just rejected my ED app. Pretty sure its because of my underwhelming ps. Now i'm sending in more apps.

Should I revise this or just trash it?


At first the prospect of writing this personal statement intimidated me. Writing has always been a hobby of mine but applying to law school gave me a case of writer’s block. I couldn’t find an anecdote from my past that truly describes me as a person and there isn’t one specific reason that I want to practice law. Then I began thinking about the bigger picture. I realized that my educational experiences actually provide a great explanation of my personality and aspirations.

My education was important to me because no one else in my family had ever gotten an undergraduate degree. Although I wanted to attend college, I was naïve about all the options at my disposal. After high school I hastily enrolled at an art institute to study photography. One week before classes started, however, I found out that the school’s accreditation was in jeopardy. Community college suddenly seemed like a better choice than taking out loans for a potentially worthless degree. It was difficult to rearrange my plans at the last minute but I’m glad that I made that decision. I got to maintain my interest in photography while exploring other courses that an art school just does not offer. Thankfully this allowed me to develop interests that would greatly influence my future academic endeavors.

Then an unfortunate event almost stopped me from studying photography completely. One day my camera and lenses were stolen. Although I couldn’t finish my favorite class, I decided to enroll in others that piqued my interest. I turned this setback into a new opportunity. That was the turning point when I became actively engaged in my education. But I still did not have a clear focus, which made choosing a major a long, drawn out affair. I have always prided myself on having a large range of passions and talents, which unfortunately made my selection process all the more grueling. Philosophy, economics, music, political science, literature, sociology and psychology courses left me feeling enriched but just as lost as before, if not more so. Each time I received a phone call from a relative asking about college I would have a different major in mind. I became quite discouraged by my indecision and realized that I would have to reevaluate my priorities if I wanted to be a productive student.

When I sat down and thought about, not only what interested me, but also what I was passionate about, one major stood out among the rest. I wanted to study Political Science because it seemed like a practical synthesis of all my favorite subjects; economics, philosophy, sociology, et al. After I figured out my major, my academic aspirations increased tremendously. Some local state schools had already accepted me as a transfer student, but suddenly I wanted to test my intellectual prowess in a more competitive environment. I decided to study for an additional year so that I could apply to a research university.

Eventually my plans came to fruition. I was finally living the university experience at UCLA but not everything turned out the way I imaged. Strict degree requirements had me taking lower division courses that I was eager to put behind me. Although I initially thought that I would spend most of my time in small seminars, I instead found myself surrounded by freshmen in large lecture halls. But I didn’t let this discourage me. I strayed outside my required courses and enrolled in a class on public policy. The class was small, intimate and opened my eyes to the more practical side of political science. Soon I became more interested in congressional legislation than the writings of Plato. My intellectual curiosity grew enormously during this first year but there were plenty of remedial classes I still had to complete. It became clear that I couldn’t finish a minor in public affairs and still graduate on time so instead of studying public policy I resigned myself to fulfilling bureaucratic requirements. And while there were some stimulating classes here and there, I really feel like I only scratched the surface of my academic potential.

These experiences may not be spectacularly diverse but they give a clear impression of who I am. I am decisive, dedicated and open to exploring different opportunities. Things may not always go according to plan, but I feel like everything happens for a reason. That cliché probably explains how I’ve found myself applying to law school. The courses that once merely filled the holes in my class schedule actually sparked the curiosity that now drives me to seek a law degree. I didn’t write this personal statement to tell you why I’m different because I believe that everyone is special in his or her own way. I also didn’t want to give a list of my achievements and qualifications because I know I’m not entitled to anything in this world. Hopefully I have convinced you that I’m able and willing to achieve my goals, because a degree from the University of Chicago would help me do that.

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emkay625
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby emkay625 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:03 pm

Are you sure the issue is your PS? What are your numbers?

This isn't a strong PS, but there are also no auto-reject issues going on here. I doubt they would flat out reject you because of a mediocre personal statement. Stats would give more insight.

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FlanAl
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby FlanAl » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:04 pm

I'm way too lazy to read the whole thing but were your optional essays good? I'm pretty sure the optional essays are what killed me last year. If you really aren't diverse its pretty hard to bs a whole page about it.

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T00L
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby T00L » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:11 pm

First, did the last line of the version you sent to Mich end with "university of chicago" like this one does?

----

I would start over completely. Pick a single event that helps you focus your experience.

In this one, your first paragraph might as well say, "I'm not sure why i'm applying to law school, and I'm warning you that this PS is about to be unfocused and sucky because nothing interesting has ever happened to me." I'm not trying to be too hard on you, but I wouldn't want to read past the first few lines if I were the dean.

You also need to have someone you trust go through the entirety of what you have written and give you help with punctuation. I stopped counting at 10 missing commas and the FIRST GRAMMATICAL ERROR IS IN THE FIRST SENTENCE!!!! "At first, the prospect of...."

cleareyesfullheart
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby cleareyesfullheart » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:13 pm

At the end you say a degree from University of Chicago could help you, didn't you apply to Michigan though? Maybe that was it. Also, I agree this is not particularly strong; it needs more focus. You basically give a summary of your academic experience over the last four year; you do not say anything about you other than you had trouble picking a major but finally picked one. You then say you were still not satisfied with the classes you took and wished you could have studied public policy more. Then at the end you say you are decisive, which completely contradicts everything you said before. It needs a more focused topic. Also, cut the stuff about writing a personal statement for law school.

c3pO4
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby c3pO4 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:14 pm

* applies to michigan *

* looks forward to attending chicago *

* ding *

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Mce252
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby Mce252 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:16 pm

FlanAl wrote:I'm way too lazy to read the whole thing but were your optional essays good? I'm pretty sure the optional essays are what killed me last year. If you really aren't diverse its pretty hard to bs a whole page about it.



Haha perfectly fitting response for your avatar.

OP: I thought that a lot of the writers block information was unnecessary. I think you could improve it by narrowing it to a specific topic of your policy class that spiked your academic curiosity. I don't think you got dinged purely because of this PS though.

iowalum
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby iowalum » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:18 pm

T00L wrote:
You also need to have someone you trust go through the entirety of what you have written and give you help with punctuation. I stopped counting at 10 missing commas and the FIRST GRAMMATICAL ERROR IS IN THE FIRST SENTENCE!!!! "At first, the prospect of...."


First - this isn't a hard-and-fast rule, you don't have to have a comma there but it is never incorrect to do so in this case.

But you do have a LOT of grammatical mistakes. Edit!

You really should find a way to demonstrate what kind of person/student you are. Like everyone else said, it would be beneficial to focus on one major event and extrapolating how you handled that event to how you would handle law school/what you have learned.

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chem
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby chem » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:20 pm

T00L wrote:First, did the last line of the version you sent to Mich end with "university of chicago" like this one does?

----

I would start over completely. Pick a single event that helps you focus your experience.

In this one, your first paragraph might as well say, "I'm not sure why i'm applying to law school, and I'm warning you that this PS is about to be unfocused and sucky because nothing interesting has ever happened to me." I'm not trying to be too hard on you, but I wouldn't want to read past the first few lines if I were the dean.

You also need to have someone you trust go through the entirety of what you have written and give you help with punctuation. I stopped counting at 10 missing commas and the FIRST GRAMMATICAL ERROR IS IN THE FIRST SENTENCE!!!! "At first, the prospect of...."


I didnt want to read past the first few lines

affad
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby affad » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:25 pm

Hey thanks everyone

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Genki
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby Genki » Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:40 pm

Although the topic of the essay is weak, I think the area you can really improve on is tone. These are some of my impressions and thoughts that went through my head as I read this.

At first the prospect of writing this personal statement intimidated me. Writing has always been a hobby of mine but applying to law school gave me a case of writer’s block.


This person struggles with writing. I wonder how they will handle the workload of law school.

I couldn’t find an anecdote from my past that truly describes me as a person and there isn’t one specific reason that I want to practice law.

I don't think the personal statement instructions ever said that it had to be written about an anecdote from you past or about why you want to practice law. I understand that these are common themes for a personal statement, but it makes me think that you get fixated on what other people do and it prevents you from coming up with your own ideas. An inability to think outside the box is a negative, you shouldn't point that out to the admissions committee.


Then I began thinking about the bigger picture. I realized that my educational experiences actually provide a great explanation of my personality and aspirations.


Where is this essay going? I should have an idea of what you are trying to communicate by this point, but each of the previous sentences have been disjointed and don't build towards the substance of your essay.
Sentence 1: I had trouble writing this
Sentence 2: I didn't know what to write about
Sentence 3: my education made me who I am?
This third sentence is especially weak considering that you spent the previous 2 sentences saying you struggled with writing (a skill usually associated with a person's education level)

My education was important to me because no one else in my family had ever gotten an undergraduate degree.

Why does being the first make it important? I was the first in my family too, so I understand what you are saying, but I only understand it because of my personal experiences, not because of what you wrote.

Although I wanted to attend college, I was naïve about all the options at my disposal. After high school I hastily enrolled at an art institute to study photography.

This essay so far has been full of negativity. think about the emotions that the words you choose convey (intimidate, writer's block, couldn’t, isn't, naive, hastily).

One week before classes started, however, I found out that the school’s accreditation was in jeopardy. Community college suddenly seemed like a better choice than taking out loans for a potentially worthless degree. It was difficult to rearrange my plans at the last minute but I’m glad that I made that decision. I got to maintain my interest in photography while exploring other courses that an art school just does not offer. Thankfully this allowed me to develop interests that would greatly influence my future academic endeavors.

This makes me wonder what aspect of your education you value. Is it the learning, or the prestige? I'm not saying that you were wrong in this situation, but your wording makes me consider your motivations. This paragraph also makes you sound like a poor planner that didn't do his homework (not a character trait usually associated with successful legal professionals).


Then an unfortunate event almost stopped me from studying photography completely. One day my camera and lenses were stolen. Although I couldn’t finish my favorite class, I decided to enroll in others that piqued my interest. I turned this setback into a new opportunity.

Once again, I'm getting negative imagery from your writing. It also makes you sound like a passive person. Instead of taking control of your own life, you let outside events dictate your path in life.

That was the turning point when I became actively engaged in my education. But I still did not have a clear focus, which made choosing a major a long, drawn out affair.

You say it was a turning point, but this sentence gives me the same image of you as the previous sentences. "no clear focus" is another example of negativity creeping into your writing.

I have always prided myself on having a large range of passions and talents, which unfortunately made my selection process all the more grueling.
You could have used this same personal trait to explain how excited you were to pursue your many interests, instead you write about how it made the choice difficult. Negativity again. I'm now about half way through the essay and I only have a couple redeeming qualities to balance against all of the weaknesses that you are pointing out to me.

Philosophy, economics, music, political science, literature, sociology and psychology courses left me feeling enriched but just as lost as before, if not more so. Each time I received a phone call from a relative asking about college I would have a different major in mind. I became quite discouraged by my indecision and realized that I would have to reevaluate my priorities if I wanted to be a productive student.

lost, discouraged, indecision. I think you are getting the point.

When I sat down and thought about, not only what interested me, but also what I was passionate about, one major stood out among the rest. I wanted to study Political Science because it seemed like a practical synthesis of all my favorite subjects; economics, philosophy, sociology, et al. After I figured out my major, my academic aspirations increased tremendously. Some local state schools had already accepted me as a transfer student, but suddenly I wanted to test my intellectual prowess in a more competitive environment. I decided to study for an additional year so that I could apply to a research university.

Finally I am starting to see some qualities that would make me want to learn more about you. However, I think for most people it might already be too late.

Eventually my plans came to fruition. I was finally living the university experience at UCLA but not everything turned out the way I imaged. Strict degree requirements had me taking lower division courses that I was eager to put behind me. Although I initially thought that I would spend most of my time in small seminars, I instead found myself surrounded by freshmen in large lecture halls.

Even now that you are in a great school, you are still pointing out the negatives of the situation.

But I didn’t let this discourage me. I strayed outside my required courses and enrolled in a class on public policy. The class was small, intimate and opened my eyes to the more practical side of political science. Soon I became more interested in congressional legislation than the writings of Plato. My intellectual curiosity grew enormously during this first year but there were plenty of remedial classes I still had to complete. It became clear that I couldn’t finish a minor in public affairs and still graduate on time so instead of studying public policy I resigned myself to fulfilling bureaucratic requirements. And while there were some stimulating classes here and there, I really feel like I only scratched the surface of my academic potential.

This ties back to my questions about what you value in your education. If you are willing to sacrifice learning and substitute classes just to fill a credit to make sure you graduate on time, this makes you sound like the paper your diploma comes printed on is more important than the education you received.

These experiences may not be spectacularly diverse but they give a clear impression of who I am. I am decisive, dedicated and open to exploring different opportunities.

Decisive? I thought you sounded indecisive. You admit trouble figuring out what to write the PS on. You couldn't decide on a major.
Dedicated? Dedicated to what? This didn't come across to me in the essay. If anything, it sounds like you sold out your education because you felt pressure to graduate in four years.
Open to exploring different opportunities? This relates to my earlier comment that you come off as a passive person. It sounds like different opportunities were forced on you, not that you were actively seeking them out.


Things may not always go according to plan, but I feel like everything happens for a reason. That cliché probably explains how I’ve found myself applying to law school.

Avoid cliche. and if you do use a cliche, don't immediately point it out to the reader.

The courses that once merely filled the holes in my class schedule actually sparked the curiosity that now drives me to seek a law degree.

This phrase from earlier makes it sound like the spark of curiosity was fairly rare: "there were some stimulating classes here and there"

I didn’t write this personal statement to tell you why I’m different because I believe that everyone is special in his or her own way. I also didn’t want to give a list of my achievements and qualifications because I know I’m not entitled to anything in this world. Hopefully I have convinced you that I’m able and willing to achieve my goals, because a degree from the University of Chicago would help me do that.

The person reading this paper is reading it to figure out why you are different from the thousands of other applicants. Basically you are admitting in this first sentence here that you failed to accomplish the purpose of the essay. Also, this sudden philosophical shift in your writing style has nothing to do with the rest of your essay and is jarring from a stylistic perspective.



I hope that this critique wasn't too harsh. But I think the issues extend far beyond it being boring or impersonal. The focus on your negative character traits would make me think twice about offering an admission even if I was considering it based on your numbers before I started reading the essay. I would start over and try to think of something that you can get excited about writing. When you are excited about your topic, the person reading it will feel that and your positive energy will come through.

I'm more than willing to provide feedback and help you out with your essay if you decide to rewrite. Send me a PM.
Good luck on your remaining applications. I hope you can turn your luck around and get accepted into a great school.

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moneybagsphd
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby moneybagsphd » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:42 pm

T00L wrote:You also need to have someone you trust go through the entirety of what you have written and give you help with punctuation. I stopped counting at 10 missing commas and the FIRST GRAMMATICAL ERROR IS IN THE FIRST SENTENCE!!!! "At first, the prospect of...."

This is a matter of punctuation, not grammar. I really doubt the adcomm would ding him for omitting a few commas. Arguably, punctuation comes down to a matter of style. Some people take a minimalist approach to punctuation.

kublaikahn
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby kublaikahn » Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:17 am

I am pretty sure this PS is why you were dinged assuming your numbers were sufficient. The opening paragraph screams "please don't read me," then it screams "please ding me." It is wrong on so many levels. You state up front that you write as a hobby which sets the bar high, but yet you struggled to write. FYI, everyone does. It is meant to be a difficult exercise.

In the essay you make statements like you almost gave up photography because your camera was stolen. Would you say that on a job interview? It is terribly weak minded, even if honest. Nobody wants a quitter in their T10 law school.

Start over. The part about your path through poli sci is not bad, but by then I think the reader is hitting it looking for more red flags. And who goes to UCLA expecting small classes?
Last edited by kublaikahn on Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DefyingGravity
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby DefyingGravity » Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:04 pm

i recommend that you start from scratch.

bobbyh1919
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby bobbyh1919 » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:15 pm

To me, this reads as "since high school I've kind of been drifting through various options, some good things have happened, some bad things have happened, some things I have found interesting, and now the next stop on my journey is law school."

I think the broad idea is good. You want to show that you've explored your options, think you have found your passion, and strongly believe that law school is the right option for you. However, the PS comes off as a rambling story of your life since high school. Remove some of the details about large class sizes, about your camera getting stolen, and just focus on your maturation over the years and how you've arrived at law school. When you get to that point, you need to make a much stronger argument to convince adcomms that law school isn't just another step for you in your education, it's the final step.

I would start from scratch, and just work under a broad framework with the themes I and other posters have discussed.

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TommyK
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby TommyK » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:19 pm

writing your ps about writing your ps... very meta

affad
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby affad » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:02 pm

Hey thanks Genki thats exactly what I needed.

Ima do some strategic editing based on your critiques

thederangedwang
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby thederangedwang » Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:47 pm

you still havent asnwered the question all of us are asking you....did you send this EXACT statement to mich?

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T00L
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby T00L » Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:49 pm

thederangedwang wrote:you still havent asnwered the question all of us are asking you....did you send this EXACT statement to mich?


+1

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fltanglab
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby fltanglab » Sat Dec 17, 2011 5:53 pm

I agree with what has been said about the quality of your PS and recommend redoing the entire thing.

arodd53
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby arodd53 » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:11 pm

One tip that I have found helpful is "show, don't tell." In other words, it's not enough to just tell your reader that "my educational experiences actually provide a great explanation of my personality and aspirations" or "give a clear impression of who I am." It's more effective to demonstrate how those experiences explain who you are, which means that you need to find a way to make them tell the story for you. Once the experiences you describe stand on their own and the reader can infer from them what your character is like, you will have a decent PS on your hands.
Same goes for "hopefully I have convinced you". You want to convince the adcomm during the body of your PS rather than looking back and crossing your fingers.
All that being said, if you really did tell Michigan you wanted to go to Chicago...c'mon man!

DefyingGravity
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby DefyingGravity » Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:41 pm

just curious, did u ever end up getting into michigan?

mehereuthere101787
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Re: Got dinged cuz of PS. Help me revise PLEASE

Postby mehereuthere101787 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:38 pm

.




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