Made improvements on my PS, what do you think?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
skarrysnowman
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:42 pm

Made improvements on my PS, what do you think?

Postby skarrysnowman » Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:03 am

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Last edited by skarrysnowman on Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

planeride
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:22 am

Re: Made improvements on my PS, what do you think?

Postby planeride » Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:52 am

Skarry, I think this is a good start. My first reaction is that you have two good statements here, and you should pick one.

#1: You became a father at 19. Instead of dropping out of the fraternity you decided to stay in it. You write: "Faced with the choice to leave the fraternity in order to dedicate my time to becoming a father, I opted to pursue initiation and reap the benefits of joining a Greek organization. Steering away from the social aspects, the birth of my daughter allowed me to mature and understand the importance of a proper education, ultimately transforming me into a better student."

I think you could explain this a little bit more. How exactly did the fraternity help you become a better student? What went through your head as you made the decision to stay in it? From the outside it's not obvious why that would be a good decision; most people would say just ditch the fraternity. The way it reads now, it kind of makes you look irresponsible. If you can give a detailed, compelling explanation, as to why it was the right decision for you + your daughter I think that could make a really interesting PS.


#2: (I actually like this one better) You took over as Scholarship Chairman of the fraternity. Prior to your taking over it was inefficient and unhelpful. When you came in you revitalized it -- office hours, tutoring, etc. You can flesh this out even more. When/why did you decide to run? Why did you decide to make these changes? Was it before or after you took the position? Did you encounter any resistance from anyone? How did the others in the fraternity react (Did you gain their respect? Can you point to some scholarship/job/position that someone got thanks to your efforts?) I think this shows real leadership and ambition, and as you say, a great desire to help others. So this is what I would go with.


General advice -- you talk about supporting your claims with "hard evidence". This is a good idea. But evidence does not always have to mean accomplishments like you would see on a resume. Sometimes the most compelling evidence is that which does not show up on a resume. What were you thinking at a particular time? What factors did you weigh in an important decision? How did you react to a particular event? How did others react? Emotions can be as convincing as facts.

Good luck!

skarrysnowman
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:42 pm

Re: Made improvements on my PS, what do you think?

Postby skarrysnowman » Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:42 am

Im having a lot of trouble moving on from here. I haven't had anyone really land a job/position as a result of my scholarship position. The only thing that happened was people started getting better grades through my motivation, knowledge of tutors, and utilizing the old tests, notes, study guides and books that I had collected. Through my personal statement, I am trying to express that the birth of my daughter is really what caused me to become a good student, which ultimately caused me to seek knowledge outside the classroom. I really don't know how to write a whole bunch about why i choose to join the fraternity other than I knew it would offer me a lot of great opportunities to network.

On my resume I listed scholarship chairman, but I didn't explain that I helped my fraternity raise its GPA to the second highest on campus. I listed treasurer of PAD, but didn't list my duties. Of course, I listed Political Science Major with a Minor in Accounting. But perhaps the the law school admissions committee wont recognize that I received straight A's in a pretty difficult program. They may see my upward trend in grades after my poor performance sophomore year, but they wont know that it resulted from the birth of my daughter.

Is it good that I am going more in depth will all these things, or should I scrap this PS, add these details to my resume and focus on something else? I truly don't feel I can make a strong personal statement based on "my decision to pursue the fraternity" or "what I did as scholarship chair"

planeride
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:22 am

Re: Made improvements on my PS, what do you think?

Postby planeride » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:54 am

First of all, definitely include all that stuff on your resume! That's what it's for. The resume is a list of all the things you've done. The PS is for you to focus on one experience in detail.

I don't think you need to scrap it. And you don't need to write about the fraternity, it was just a thought. You wrote:

"Through my personal statement, I am trying to express that the birth of my daughter is really what caused me to become a good student..."

This is perfectly fine to do. The reason I suggested the fraternity is that you have a lot more detail about that than you do about your daughter turning you into a good student. You pointed to some very specific things that you changed at the fraternity and the specific reasons for doing so. (Textbooks, tutoring, etc.)

If your main point is that you are going to show that your daughter CAUSED you to be a good student, it's not enough just to say "I got bad results before, and good results after." You should try to actually explain what happened, what you were thinking, what it was that CAUSED that change. It might seem obvious to you, but it will make your PS 100x better.

Here are some questions you might think about:

Before your daughter was born, how did you spend your time? What were you doing (or not doing) that led to your underperformance?
At the time, did you not think school was worthwhile? Why/why not?
When you learned that you were going to have a daughter, what was your first reaction? Was it a gradual decision reached over time? Or was it a quick, easy decision?
Were you nervous? Scared? Determined? Did these feelings change over time?
What, specifically, did you do to improve? Work harder? Go to office hours more? Pay more attention in class?
What did you have to sacrifice to take on the extra work? (Playing sports? Going out at night?) Do/did you miss these things?
What was your thought process? What factors did you weigh? Where did you think you were going to end up if you kept doing poorly, and what doors do you think your improvement has opened?
Did you learn from the experience of friends/family, or did you ask for anyone's advice? What did the mother say? What impact did this advice have?

Like I say, I think you are about halfway there. You established that you were underperforming before and doing much better now. Now the next step is to show that your daughter was the cause of this improvement. Show not just the results of the decision but the process of the decision, and really explain the motivation behind it. Good luck!

skarrysnowman
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:42 pm

Re: Made improvements on my PS, what do you think?

Postby skarrysnowman » Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:08 pm

Wow, that helps a lot! Thank you so much. I will fix it and then repost it on here in a few days.

skarrysnowman
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:42 pm

Re: Made improvements on my PS, what do you think?

Postby skarrysnowman » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:02 am

Okay, I dont want to perfect the sentences just yet because my last 4 versions of PS's were eventually scrapped. Thus, can someone tell me if this is better? Am i on the right track? Does this have a centralized theme and show my thought processes? Is there anything I should/could add? I know some sentences are weak, but is the structure decent? Thank you!

Throughout my undergraduate career, my life underwent a series of change that drastically impacted my character. At the beginning of my junior year, I decided to join a fraternity in order to take advantage the university experience that I had been deprived. Campus involvement was great, as I enjoyed meeting new people and participating in the various activities offered to the Greek community. However, two weeks prior to my initiation, I learned that I would be becoming a father at age nineteen.

Prior to that day, I spent the vast majority of my time socializing and practicing martial arts. Left with minimal time to study, my lack of dedication led to my poor academic performance. Although I was not been content with my grades, nothing sparked my desire to rearrange my priorities. Fortunately, the birth of my daughter was the turning point of my academic career, as it caused me to mature and ultimately become a better student.

When my ex-girlfriend called to inform me that she was four months pregnant, my heart instantly sunk as I thought my life was going to be over. All my dreams and passions would suddenly come to an end in order to dedicate my time to being a father. The thought having to quit school and obtain a mediocre job to provide for my daughter was horrifying. A couple weeks elapsed while I worried about how I would break the news to my parents. Eventually, I worked up the courage and was surprised to hear their response.

As my parents had always seen my academic potential, I was ecstatic to find out they wanted me to continue going to school. Although they were very disappointed in my actions, they stood by me as my daughter was born, and taught me how to become a parent. After holding my daughter for the first time, reality had set in, as I knew I was time to make serious changes in my life. After the thought of what my life could have been if I had to quit school, I understood how important education truly was. Thus, I was able to make sacrifices that ultimately allowed me to become a better student.

For my last two years as an undergraduate, I spent my time studying, parenting, and cleaning pools for extra money. Although I missed spending time with friends or working out in the gym, I knew that I had to focus on my education. By spending countless hours studying, visiting professors, and getting tutored, I was able to make significant improvements in my academic performance. Moreover, I was able to develop invaluable relationships with my professors and tutors, as they became my mentors and source of inspiration. Now as I look back on my improvement, I am confident that I have what it takes to overcome the next challenge in my life.

My vocation to become an attorney arose primarily from my desire to help others. As of now, my fascination with globalization has sparked my interest in studying international law. In doing so, my ultimate goal is to help mitigate the negative effects that result from industrialization of less developed countries. As I understand how severe the consequences are, I feel obligated to help. By attending XXX School of Law, I would be given the opportunity to study more about globalization. Moreover, I am drawn by the fact that the International Law program focuses on a wide variety of issues. Being a school with a highly acclaimed writing program, I am sure that I will be well equipped to carry out my ambitions as an attorney. Above all, my acceptance to XXX School of Law will allow me to stay in XXX to raise my daughter. As she has been the primary source of my motivation thus far, I am confident that my time spent with her will only continue to motive me throughout career as a law student.




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