Personal Statement 1st Draft

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Personal Statement 1st Draft

Postby cfredmonski » Wed May 16, 2012 6:22 pm

If anyone wouldn't mind critiquing this, I'd greatly appreciate it. This was just an idea I came up with while free-writing/brainstorming, and it turned into what I think could be a personal statement. However, I don't necessarily know if the topic is appropriate for law school admissions. Any and all comments/advice are graciously accepted. Thanks!

Personal Statement

“What the hell am I doing with my life?” It was a five days before Christmas, 2011. I was sitting outside in the freezing weather in my pajamas on the cold concrete of my grandmother’s front porch in northern Pennsylvania, and I started to weep as this epiphany hit me. It’s funny how certain events can wake you up. My grandfather had passed away three days before, but I could still hear his voice as if he was sitting right next to me: “Christopher, you’ve got the world by the balls. Go to school and get good grades. Stay out of trouble. In every situation, you need to ask yourself, ‘Would your grandpa be happy if he knew that you were doing what you are doing?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ then stop whatever the hell you’re doing.” This lecture was a tale as old as time, and I had heard it preached at least once in every interaction I ever had with my grandfather, be it a holiday visit or a quick phone call. My grandfather, or “Grandpa Fred” as we called him, had been blind for as long as I knew him, and I had always brushed his lectures off as some self-fulfilling attempt for him to maintain some control in his life. It wasn’t until that moment on my grandmother’s porch that I realized he was the wisest person I had ever met. It wasn’t until that exact moment that I realized the past year of my life had be overshadowed by substance abuse, and it had been slowly destroying me.

It is ironic to think that I, of all people, could let this happen to myself. Although I graduated high school with decent grades and an above-average SAT score, I had little more to attribute to myself at the time, and I felt that I had spent four years developing myself into wasted potential. After my acceptance to the University of Florida, I vowed to make a name for myself, to push myself to be better. And that I did. Instead of taking a painless academic route, I chose to study mechanical engineering, regardless of the fact that I had no desire to become a practicing engineer, but because I have always had a burning interest to understand how things work. I took any elective opportunity I had to supplement my education with core business classes so that I could learn more about the economic world in which I live and so that I could become a more educated citizen. I became involved on campus in anything I could get my hands on. A natural leader, I quickly excelled and rose through the ranks of the organizations of which I cared most, and in my senior year I was inducted into one of the most prestigious recognition programs at the University of Florida for my dedication and service to the university and to the Gainesville community. My leadership experiences taught me the value of teamwork, the ability to harness strengths and supplement weaknesses. They taught me to use every piece of personal growth I obtained to help others excel even further in their own quests. These skills helped me attain two professional internships with a Fortune 500 company as a structural analysis engineer, through which I extensively developed my analytical and presentation skills. At the end of each summer, I received high praise for my work and contributions to the interdisciplinary product team. I was on the path to success, the path to be somebody. The irony was that despite my high-school graduation vow to myself, despite all the lessons I had learned and all that I had accomplished, I had been throwing it all away, bit by bit.

Back on that porch I finally understood what Grandpa Fred had been telling me for the past twenty-one years: the only force that can prevent me from achieving my goals is me. I don’t know if it was an act of God or simply sheer determination, but I sobered up at that moment. When I started the following spring semester I distanced myself from the social groups that would encourage my destructive behavior, and found solace in like-minded people who were equally determined to succeed in their respective career directions. I started going back to church, something I had neglected to do since I started college, and I found strength in the support and stability that my faith provided me. I discovered a side of myself free from the shackles of vice. If there was one thing I have always known about myself, that I have proven time and time again in my academic, leadership, and professional ventures, it is that I am diligent and resourceful enough to overcome any obstacle I will ever encounter. I have no fear of a relapse into bad habits and unfortunate company as the resonating memory of my grandfather and my recalibrated personal compass point only towards a path of virtue and excellence. I move forward now with a new onset of optimism stemmed from the knowledge I obtained from conquering the biggest obstacle of my life up to this point: myself.

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Re: Personal Statement 1st Draft

Postby thelawschoolproject » Wed May 16, 2012 11:28 pm

Here are a few thoughts:

1). You may want to ________ out some of your personal information like your name and the university you attend if anonymity matters to you at all.

2). When I began reading your first paragraph, I kind of cringed. I thought I was really going to regret taking the time to read your statement, but at the end of your first paragraph you make the turn away from your grandfather and toward your actual problem. This is quite effective and I would recommend you keeping this in your PS. It was something I didn't see coming, and I think that's what makes it so effective.

3). You use a lot of passive language (see your use of "had" throughout the PS.) You want to make sure that your language is active. For example, instead of writing "I had to go to the store" you could write "I drove to the store" or something that is more descriptive/active that enables your reader to really see the action that you're describing.

4). As far as subject matter is concerned, I think that this subject works quite well for a PS. The main goal of the PS is for them to see who you are. Your story of overcoming substance abuse, if crafted effectively, should do this. You'll want to hone in on a few things (maybe even one thing) that really changed within you because of this experience. This will help you keep your PS focused as right now you're not exploiting your story as much as you could. Tell us more about the experience, how you overcame it, and what you gained from it. Take us to the dark place and show us how you found the light.

5). One thing you are in danger of doing is relying too heavily on your grandfather's story. That first paragraph, until I reach the end, is messy. You'll want to revise that. Make sure that you are the focus of your PS, not your grandfather or your grandfather's wisdom. I think there is an effective way to use your grandfather as an interesting frame story, but you'll want to spend a lot of time revising what you have.

6). So, lastly, I suppose that you will really want to revise, revise, revise. But, I think you have an interesting story to tell.

Good luck!

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Re: Personal Statement 1st Draft

Postby cutecarmel » Wed May 30, 2012 5:20 pm

I personally didn't like this PS. I feel like I learned just as much about your grandfather as I did about you. Also, I have no idea why you want to go to law school. In seems like you could be successful in engineering. Why change careers paths? Did you quit? Get bored? Did something about engineering inspire you to pursue law?

oh and when you say "The irony was that despite my high-school graduation vow to myself, despite all the lessons I had learned and all that I had accomplished, I had been throwing it all away, bit by bit" I have no idea what you are talking about.

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