My Personal Statement 1st Draft, Please Help!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
jared6180
Posts: 306
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:47 pm

My Personal Statement 1st Draft, Please Help!

Postby jared6180 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:25 pm

I have a tendency to write the way I speak, so I know this might be wordy, but it is just a first draft I pumped out at 2am. I would like some constructive direction both in the positive and the negative, this will help me know where I am going right or wrong, and help me improve. Again, just a first draft, but I think you can see my general direction.



The practice of law requires many skills, and abilities of an individual. Honor and integrity are a couple of the most obvious, however there are three that I believe get overlooked by some. I have those three, they are voice, knowledge, and determination.

In May 1998 I graduated high school from Topeka High, in Topeka, Kansas. As a newly minted high school graduate, I had no idea where to go from that day in May. Raised in a strict conservative home under the shelter provided by repressive religious beliefs, my idea of what a life should be was a quarter of it’s way to completion. I was taught, with other young people in similar age, that the main things to accomplish in life was graduate from high school, get a job, get married, and have lots of babies. I had a job lined up, a girl my age that would marry me that was raised in the same religious environment, and I thought the completion of my aspirations in life would be complete.

In June 1998 I found within myself extreme anger and bitterness towards those who had spent the last 18 years of my life repressing me and felt that I would be better off with out the dogmatic religious environment I had been raised in. In a leap of faith or as the church called it, rebellion, I left the church, and moved out of my parent’s house in an attempt to live in the real world. Suddenly I was free, and quickly shunned by the religious group I had left behind, I decided to just live my life, and as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra sang, do it “My Way.” No longer was I ordered to read the Bible everyday, no longer was I expected to spend a minimum of one hour and up to four hours per day praying, no more was I expected to fast at a minimum of one day a week, and on random weeks fast three consecutive days because the pastor told me, God told him the whole church should.

After three years of doing things my way however, I made a sudden and life changing move that deeply impacted me, and the way I lived my life. In May 2001 I shipped off to Fort Benning, Georgia to begin my military career with the United States Army. Again in this decision the lack of exposure to what life and the world had to offer cost me a lot in so much as establishing a career. I took a simple job, as an Administrative Specialist because that is what the recruiter told me to do.

Once I reached my permanent duty station at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas at the command and General Staff College, I was tossed in with the other soldiers whom all out ranked me. During the first few weeks of my time at Fort Leavenworth I was quiet, and stayed to myself, I was extremely intimidated my both my surroundings, and those who surrounded me.

Fort Leavenworth at that time had an officer to enlisted ratio of approximately 4 to 1, which is highly unusual. As the lowest ranked member of the Army on the post literally everyone was my boss, but coming from my religious background that was fine with me because doing what I was told was what I was raised to do. I was quickly taught however that at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas not all the typical rules apply. This was a training center, we cycled through around a thousand Captains each year, and almost 300 Majors each year. At Fort Leavenworth the enlisted soldiers were in more authority than officers that far outranked us. Respect was expected obviously, but correction, and instruction was part of my job at the Command and General Staff College.
This could not have been more obvious than when on security patrol after September 11, 2001 I could not allow the College Commandant, General Huntoon, to enter the College because he did not have his military ID card with him. He graciously stood and waited outside the entrance while his assistant ran to his quarters to retrieve the ID. After I allowed him into the building he told me how grateful he was that I was in charge of the security detail and presented me with his General’s coin, which had no monetary value, but was a token of his personal appreciation. At that moment it became clear to me, and to those around me such as family and friends, that I had somehow changed, it was then that I realized that my will, my voice was important, and when spoken in accordance with rules and regulations I could take control of a situation, this was a giant step in my development and continues to be an inspiration to me.

In January 2004 I had just finished cycling out of the Army, the search for my new career path began, and quickly ended. Securing a job was incredibly difficult. Sure, I had spent two and a half years in the Army, but I had learned an occupational or employable skill, I was not a paralegal, or a light wheel mechanic, a dental assistant, or any occupation that offered the specificity to adapt to the civilian workforce. After a few jobs in fast food I was able to secure a position with Sprint, as a retail advisor, in other words it was my job to tell people what they needed, and if they did not believe me I told them why I was right. In my time in this position I transformed into someone that was neither shy nor timid when told that I was wrong. I was the subject matter expert, not just to my customers, to everyone that knew me. If someone had a problem with a phone they called me, sometimes at 2 o’clock in the morning to figure out what was wrong, and even in my sleep I could guide them step by step through the processes to determine what the problem was, and if possible, how to fix it. I became the go-to guy for cell phone problems. Customers of other carriers had heard that I was good with phones, and I was able to help them with their phone problems. I finally found my niche, all I had to do to be successful was know it all, and in that industry I did. Being a phone technician or salesman was not my end goal however.

In May 2005 I finally got the courage to enroll at my local university for a couple classes, at first I hated it, and decided college was not for me. Echoes of my past ripped through my mind, and religious rhetoric replayed in my imagination over and over again, and I was convinced that I was not capable of doing anything that required a college education. Finally, after over a year of not going to school I decided to give it another try, and had a bit more success. After being told over and over again by religious leaders that college was a waste of time, and then watching those same leaders send their children to college, and watching the leaders themselves go to college, I decided in 2010 that college was truly important, and deserving of my full attention, now in the last three semesters I have earned between a 3.00-3.75 each semester.

Law is what I have always wanted to do and now that I have started to be successful in my undergraduate filed of study, I am determined not to return to the time when I existed in ignorance because I was so depended on those around me to tell me what to do with my life. Today I use my voice, which I learned in the Army had power, to lead and guide others. I use my knowledge, which I try to continually refine through reading, and learning, and I use my determination, which I gained from my desire not to return to the dogmatic religious past, to propel me forward into the future I want for myself, and for my family. My future is in helping others by learning the law, and how it guides us in all our activities, whether it is in the area of civil rights protections, corporate mergers, international relations, or environmental law. As an attorney there will always be someone who will need my help. My voice is loud enough, my knowledge base is always expanding, and I am determined to make it successfully through law school. I bring a determination unmatched by anyone.

User avatar
rinkrat19
Posts: 13915
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: My Personal Statement 1st Draft, Please Help!

Postby rinkrat19 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:38 pm

The story about making the general wait at the entrance is really interesting, and if I were you, I'd base an entire essay around that and only tangentially mention your strict upbringing. You could get a lot of mileage out of describing that one event in more detail, in my opinion. It would also cut out a lot of the bitterness in the first few paragraphs, which while understandable, is a bit off-putting. It would also cut the overall length, which is WAY the hell too long (it's over 4 pages double-spaced. Too long for any school except Berkeley.)

More broadly, your grammar and punctuation need a lot of work. Commas and (a lack of) semicolons in particular.

User avatar
Jsa725
Posts: 2003
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:20 pm

Re: My Personal Statement 1st Draft, Please Help!

Postby Jsa725 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:49 pm

.
Last edited by Jsa725 on Wed May 29, 2013 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
ix88
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:24 pm

Re: My Personal Statement 1st Draft, Please Help!

Postby ix88 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:01 pm

I'm not going to nit-pick with copy-editing grammar issues, but will try to focus more on the broad content:

1) Your intro seems to imply you do not have honor and integrity.
"The practice of law requires many skills, and abilities of an individual. Honor and integrity are a couple of the most obvious, however there are three that I believe get overlooked by some. I have those three, they are voice, knowledge, and determination."

2) There are various uses of adjectives where instead of showing us, you tell us. (ie: repressive) Instead of telling us you were repressed, show us right away.

3) The PS is not very focused. You jump from running away (?) from home, to college, to armed forces to job - how do all of these elements work toward the focus of your paper? What is the focus of your paper? I'm not sure if it is life story or why law or something in between.

4) Why law? "Law is what I have always wanted to do" - yet it is not meaningfully mentioned in your story until the last paragraph? Why law and not any other alternative route? Show the adcom that you have thought meaningfully about a career in law and that you have exhausted all other alternatives. Your PS does not show this.

jared6180
Posts: 306
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:47 pm

Re: My Personal Statement 1st Draft, Please Help!

Postby jared6180 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:59 am

I appreciate all the feedback. I am trying to figure out how to make it shorter, I know it is wordy, and I can see I did not accomplish my goal so far.

I know a PS is not the platform for it, but I really want to tell people that religion should not stand in your way of becoming what you want to be, as long as it doesn't conflict with your beliefs. For me it wasn't even the religion I guess, but the church leadership that completely discouraged all the teenagers from going to college and pursuing their dreams.

I know a couple editors that will comb through the mess with a fine tooth comb to correct grammar and so forth.

ix88 wrote:1) Your intro seems to imply you do not have honor and integrity.
"The practice of law requires many skills, and abilities of an individual. Honor and integrity are a couple of the most obvious, however there are three that I believe get overlooked by some. I have those three, they are voice, knowledge, and determination."


I agree, I implied something that I did not express. I can't blame the reader for not knowing me well enough to know I work hard to live with honor and integrity. I should write it where I have honor and integrity AND these other three qualities.

rinkrat19 wrote:The story about making the general wait at the entrance is really interesting, and if I were you, I'd base an entire essay around that and only tangentially mention your strict upbringing. You could get a lot of mileage out of describing that one event in more detail, in my opinion.


Help me understand that. I agree it is a good story, but what qualities should come from that. I am obviously very close to the situation, and could come up with many lessons learned, but is there something specifically you would attempt to draw from this story?

Please everyone keep commenting. I know it needs lots of work, I just want you to help me find the places to massage, and rework.

THANKS!

User avatar
rinkrat19
Posts: 13915
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: My Personal Statement 1st Draft, Please Help!

Postby rinkrat19 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:20 am

jared6180 wrote:
ix88 wrote:1) Your intro seems to imply you do not have honor and integrity.
"The practice of law requires many skills, and abilities of an individual. Honor and integrity are a couple of the most obvious, however there are three that I believe get overlooked by some. I have those three, they are voice, knowledge, and determination."
I agree, I implied something that I did not express. I can't blame the reader for not knowing me well enough to know I work hard to live with honor and integrity. I should write it where I have honor and integrity AND these other three qualities.
No, you shouldn't just state that you have all these qualities. The reader has no reason to believe you. You can try to illustrate them (probably just one or two, not a whole list) by describing a situation in which you displayed integrity or determination or whatever.

jared6180 wrote:
rinkrat19 wrote:The story about making the general wait at the entrance is really interesting, and if I were you, I'd base an entire essay around that and only tangentially mention your strict upbringing. You could get a lot of mileage out of describing that one event in more detail, in my opinion.
Help me understand that. I agree it is a good story, but what qualities should come from that. I am obviously very close to the situation, and could come up with many lessons learned, but is there something specifically you would attempt to draw from this story?

A sample outline of one way to accomplish this:
Paragraph 1: Describe, vividly, using language that brings the reader into the situation, the exact moment when you had to tell a general that you couldn't let him in the door.
Paragraph 2: Describe your feelings: perhaps mixed apprehension and determination? Perhaps something about how although your strict conservative upbringing taught you to abide by rules unquestioningly, it also made you not used to defying authority figures. Should you follow the rule and keep the general out, or bow to a superior officer and let him in? Moment of tension as the reader wonders whether you're going to get in trouble or not...
Paragraph 3: General sends his aide to fetch his ID. General praises you and gives you the coin thingy. You keep this coin as a reminder to always act with equal integrity.
Paragraph 4: In the time since leaving the Army, you again struggled to move past the influence of your strict upbringing--describe your battle with deciding to persevere with college similar to the way you did in the original. (Leave out the whole thing about Sprint.)
Paragraph 5: You believe that the lessons you have learned both from your family/church and what you have taught yourself in moving beyond those lessons suits you to a career that requires integrity and honor: law. You plan to use the same determination that allowed you to refuse entry to a general to succeed in law school.

Obviously those are just summaries, and you'd need to flesh out each paragraph with 3-5 sentences or so.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.