Personal Statement Critique

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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kdoyon812
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Personal Statement Critique

Postby kdoyon812 » Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:52 am

Here is my first, very rough draft of my PS. I am wondering, does it sound to much like whining? This is not the intent, my intent was to describe a hardship in my life and tell what I have gotten out of it and how that will aid me in law school. This is why I added the first sentence of the last paragraph...is this necessary? Please provide any and all critique you wish and don't hold back...thanks.

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I was twelve years old and in the seventh grade. It came abruptly; it came with little warning; and it changed my life forever. The divorce of my parents was an event during my adolescence that impacted me heavily, in hind sight much more than I realized at the time. It brought along with it many hardships which have both taught me responsibility and independence and motivated me to succeed, which has aided and benefited me much throughout my life and will continue to benefit me in my pursuit of a legal education.

My parent’s divorce was complicated by other factors, the most prominent of which being our economic situation. Once my parents divorced I lived with my mom and brother, seven years my junior and five years old at the time, seeing my father almost exclusively on weekends only. He also paid no child support. This forced me, like it or not, into a role of responsibility in caring for my brother while my mom worked long hours at a low paying job. At the time it seemed unfair and burdensome, however taking on such a responsibility at a young age as I grew up ingrained the values of responsibility and accountability that I hold very closely and strongly today.

As a few years passed and I entered high school, the emotional aspect of my parents no longer being married passed as well; I was fifteen now and could look past the negative aspects to see that my parents could live happier apart. The reality, however, was that my emotional coming to terms with the situation had no impact on the financial aspect, and the economic burdens still loomed. Being of working age now, I took it upon myself to apply for a work permit at my town hall and begin searching for a job, and my efforts soon paid off. I found myself working twenty hours a week at a minimum wage job, not glamorous by any means, but it allowed me to engage in activities that I was never able to previously. Being on state health care and receiving food stamps and free school lunches for me and my brother, my mom still barely made enough to pay the bills. This meant I hardly ever got a ten dollar bill handed to me to go to the mall or out to eat with my friends; in fact at fifteen I was helping my mom pay the bills with the money I earned. If I wanted it, I had to earn it myself, and I did just that.

As high school progressed I took on other expenses, including a monthly cell phone bill and eventually buying my own vehicle which carried its own expenses, all with my earnings from my job. At the time it seemed unfair that I had to work so hard for what other kids didn’t seemingly have to lift a finger for, but looking on it now there are more positive aspects than I was ever able to realize. It taught me about independence and individual responsibility. It taught me about the importance of time management, and working hard to get what you want, all things which I have carried with me and will carry with me into law school.

Progressing into college, what I have taken from my parent’s divorce and my financial situation growing up has carried with me. Gaining so much independence at such a young age has aided me much in my undergraduate years; it has taught me that nobody is going to hold my hand and the importance of working hard for what I want for myself, and I fully believe that my success academically and as a student leader on my undergraduate campus can be attributed, at least in part, to the experiences discussed previously.

I share these experiences not as plea for sympathy but rather to attest to what I have learned throughout my life and why I am an excellent candidate for law school. I attribute much of my success in college largely to the independence and responsibility that I learned from the way I grew up. My parent’s divorce was certainly a hardship in my life that changed my life forever, but I don’t look back on it negatively because of what I was able to take out of it. Law school will be a hardship in the same sense, both financially and mentally, and just as I have confronted obstacles in my life in the past I am ready to confront law school with the same mentality emphasizing independence, responsibility and hard work, all three of which will lead me to success in law school and beyond.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Personal Statement Critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:01 am

Too much whining & too much focus on the impact of your parents' divorce upon you. The objctive of a law school personal statement essay is not to depress the reader, but to impress the reader.

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hypothalamus
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Re: Personal Statement Critique

Postby hypothalamus » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:47 pm

OP,

Your parents's divorce really shouldn't take up more than the first paragraph of this statement... I'm submitting a similarly-themed diversity addendum and I've done my best to keep the sob part to literally 100 words (and not really sobby in my case). But I did have a story opening my personal statement and when my school's career advisor looked at it, she said that it looks really bad if you focus so much on something that happened so long ago. Try to focus more on the "so what" and your life after the divorce.

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hypothalamus
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Re: Personal Statement Critique

Postby hypothalamus » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:49 pm

Also, I hate the last paragraph. It sounds condescending, yet it doesn't say much. Just delete it, then go to your first few and compress them into one. And work your way from there :)

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kdoyon812
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Re: Personal Statement Critique

Postby kdoyon812 » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:27 pm

Does this sound better as an introduction:

I was twelve years old and in the seventh grade. It came abruptly, and it changed my life forever. The divorce of my parents was an event during my adolescence that impacted me heavily. Complicated by economic factors, growing up in a single parent household living just barely above the poverty line was one of the hardest aspects of my childhood. At the age of twelve I had to become a parent figure for my brother; I got a job when I was fifteen, helping my mom pay for what her income and food stamps could not. It all seemed very unfair at the time, but in hind sight it helped me become the person I am today; it taught me about independence, responsibility, and has motivated me to succeed, and I attribute much of my drive and ambition towards a legal education to this.

I'm kind of stumped as to what direction to head in from here though; I'd like to talk about my independence growing up as I think this is important...paying my way through my childhood, buying my own vehicle, financing my own education, never receiving much help if any at all from anywhere else...does that seem like something I should talk about?

I can also talk about my success and leadership in college but that is really covered in my resume. I can also expand on my study abroad experience and how my independence allowed me to travel alone to a foreign country for six months and complete an internship working with poor immigrant children in Spain....

Can anyone else provide a little insight as to an appropriate direction to head from here? There's a lot I feel like I can talk about but I want to relate it as best I can to my positive qualities and why I am a good candidate for law school as a result...any help is appreciated.

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hypothalamus
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Re: Personal Statement Critique

Postby hypothalamus » Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:40 pm

whatever you write, please do not write "and this is what makes me an excellent candidate for law school." :D

you could talk about your work in Spain, but focus on what prompted you to go and how the experience impacted your future goals. i mean, Spain is not exactly a third-world country, so the fact that you survived there for 6 months isn't that impressive.

the sob story part is definitely better, but it needs more work. keep going at that paragraph until it sounds like a good piece of writing.

imjustjoking22
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Re: Personal Statement Critique

Postby imjustjoking22 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:36 pm

I dunno, I feel like a PS based around the hardship of divorce is just weak in light of the fact that soooooo many people have dealt with that. The financial hardship part is better, imo- can you fade the divorce out a bit and focus more on how you stepped up to help your family?




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