Critique my personal statement?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
ameliawhaley
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:51 am

Critique my personal statement?

Postby ameliawhaley » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:37 am

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Last edited by ameliawhaley on Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

meimei32
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:37 pm

Re: Critique my personal statement?

Postby meimei32 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:54 pm

Has potential but I think it sounds a little too dramatic. I wouldn't compare the LSAT and law school to a possible prison sentence... but I think the image of you studying your LSAT book across from the inmate with his discovery could be good without that. Also, you seem to make a few comments that imply that since your father was an inmate you were destined to be one as well. Well that might have been statistically likely, I don't think it is a given, and I think your journey to acceptance/forgiveness with your father's imprisonment is solid enough without implying that you were in danger of the same (unless you do have a criminal past that you're trying to address, which isn't clear.) I think calling your father's imprisonment a positive experience is going too far...
Also I think it sounds a little odd to make a point of mentioning an essay and then say the subject matter was unimportant. That should probably be reworded. Good Luck!

bzzingbee
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:58 pm

Re: Critique my personal statement?

Postby bzzingbee » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:07 pm

I don't like the phrase overcome the trauma in quotes. It makes it seem patronizing to people who would consider the experience traumatic.

"As I left the jail that day, I was thankful for the decisions I made putting me on the side of the table that meant I could leave as I pleased. My sitting on that side of the table may come as a surprise to some, however, if they first heard about my childhood. My father spent the majority of my childhood in that same detention center—though he was in West Charlie, the pod for the drug users and the mentally unstable (my father was both). " I put my changes in bold. Some words I deleted, which if you just compare, you'll notice. Mostly I deleted the "had"s, and tried to tighten up the writing. These are of course just suggestions from a fellow student, feel free to ignore.

Overall I like the subject, I think I would just go through the rest of the essay and try to make the verbs more active and tighten up the writing as I attempted to do with the above paragraph. (Get rid of passive voice!)

I hope my comments helped. :)

ameliawhaley
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:51 am

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Postby ameliawhaley » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:30 pm

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Last edited by ameliawhaley on Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

ameliawhaley
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:51 am

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Postby ameliawhaley » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:40 pm

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Last edited by ameliawhaley on Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

meimei32
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:37 pm

Re: Critique my personal statement?

Postby meimei32 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:15 pm

I would cut out the epiphany line and steer away from that theme... Here's what I would do:

Start out by jumping into a vivid description of you studying your lsat book across from the inmate. Maybe even in present tense, your call.

Then transition to about your father (for example: "As I glance(d) up at the inmate sitting across from me, I can't (couldn't) help but think of the number of times my father has been in his place.")

Then talk about your initial anger at the instability he caused in your and your family's lives (Do this so you can show personal growth in the next paragraph)

Then talk about how you reached a point of acceptance and forgiveness.

Then talk about how because of all this you bring a unique perspective to the legal system than many other prospective law students.

Then bring back an image from your introduction in your conclusion, maybe by saying something about wanting to help people like your father and the man across from you. (Also maybe in the conclusion or the previous paragraph you can mention something about how statistically many children of inmates end up following in their parents' footsteps but you're going to be an exception to the rule, if you'd like)


Side note: I would try to avoid parenthetical comments, for example, I think "...the pod for the drug users and the mentally unstable; my father was both." looks better.

Hope that helps!

ameliawhaley
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:51 am

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Postby ameliawhaley » Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:12 am

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Last edited by ameliawhaley on Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

canarykb
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:56 am

Re: Critique my personal statement?

Postby canarykb » Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:05 pm

A few months ago, I sat in a small room in Two North, the high security pod at Larimer County Detention Center. I was working as an investigator intern for the Larimer Country Public Defender’s Office, and I had been sent to sit with an inmate as he read the discovery of his case. [You never come back to this anecdote, and don't describe too clearly why you are here. This anecdote doesn't really serve too much of a prupose here to me. Why use an anecdote about another inmate to explain that your father was in prison, if you're not going to explain more why you were there or what visiting the prison meant to you? It's wasted space.] While we sat there—me with my LSAT study book (these meetings often took many hours), and him with his discovery—I couldn’t help but wonder [Cliche phrase. Reword.] how many times my father had sat in a room like that, reading over his own discovery. You see, my father had spent the majority of my childhood in that same detention center—though he was in West Charlie, the pod for the drug users and the mentally unstable; my father was both.

As a young girl, I did not understand my father’s addiction. I did not understand why my father had stopped bringing me salt-water taffy from his business trips; I did not understand why he stopped going on business trips all together. I did not understand why he moved out of our house, or why I would walk in on my mother, crying alone. And I did not understand when my mother told me that he had been arrested, or that he was in jail. But as I got older and began to understand the situation as well as any seven-year-old girl could, my confusion turned to anger. But as I grew up, that anger cooled and a deeper understanding set in, which soon turned to compassion and love. [This is the best paragraph in your PS, really feels personal and I get an idea of your experiences.]

Though I was certainly affected by having a father in and out of prison while growing up, I have since realized that this experience was ultimately not a negative one. Of course, there are the obvious effects that come with the decision to not be affected negatively by growing up with a father imprisoned [Wait, what? You decided not to be negatively affected by this? That doesn't totally makes sense to me.] : a personal strength, a belief in myself and my ability to succeed, a determination to not waste my intelligence the way that my father did. But it is the less obvious consequences that I find more revealing. [Maybe this is just a personal bias, but so many PSs I read on here take the line that something negative happened, but its actually a positive because you grew stronger because of it! It feels cliche to me, and maybe a little disingenuous? You can talk about personal growth without saying that your father being in prison was a positive thing. It clearly was not, as described above. ]

In my late teens, I began to realize two things—both of which, I now realize, stem from my father. The first was that everyone deserves compassion. As I started forgiving my father and coming to a better understanding of addiction, I realized that his crimes, and the crimes of many others, were not committed out of spite or hatred or evil. They were committed out of a weakness, a sickness. And those crimes and the people that commit them are not deserving of hatred. [I understand this is partly about forgiving your father and dealing with his crimes, but this assessment of the offender population feels a little... naive to me? Or maybe just vague? What do you mean by a "weakness" or a "sickness"? It seems odd to me that you're talking about possible reasons why people offend without mentioning cylical poverty, mental illness (and lack of care), drug addiction or experiences of violence/abuse.]
They, like everyone, are deserving of compassion. The second thing that I began to realize started with a problem-solution essay for my Composition class regarding the state of Larimer County Detention Center and others around the country. As I researched prison life, reasons for incarceration, recidivism rates and reasons, and prison budgets, I realized that I have a deep and intense interest in the state of prisons and the inmate population.

And now, almost four years later, these two realizations [You've already said realize in this essay 1,000 times. Use a thesuarus!] have become huge parts of who I am and why I want to go to law school. If admitted to XXX, [If you're not going to say why you want to go there, lose the namedropping] I will bring the passion, interest, and determination that I acquired when I decided that I would never wear an orange jumpsuit the way my father had, and that, rather, I would help those that did.

meimei32
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:37 pm

Re: Critique my personal statement?

Postby meimei32 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:33 pm

canarykb wrote:A few months ago, I sat in a small room in Two North, the high security pod at Larimer County Detention Center. I was working as an investigator intern for the Larimer Country Public Defender’s Office, and I had been sent to sit with an inmate as he read the discovery of his case. [You never come back to this anecdote, and don't describe too clearly why you are here. This anecdote doesn't really serve too much of a prupose here to me. Why use an anecdote about another inmate to explain that your father was in prison, if you're not going to explain more why you were there or what visiting the prison meant to you? It's wasted space.] Agree that you need to come back to it later in the essay While we sat there—me with my LSAT study book (these meetings often took many hours), and him with his discovery—I couldn’t help but wonder [Cliche phrase. Reword.] how many times my father had sat in a room like that, reading over his own discovery. You see, my father had spent the majority of my childhood in that same detention center—though he was in West Charlie, the pod for the drug users and the mentally unstable; my father was both.

As a young girl, I did not understand my father’s addiction. I did not understand why my father had stopped bringing me salt-water taffy from his business trips; I did not understand why he stopped going on business trips all together. I did not understand why he moved out of our house, or why I would walk in on my mother, crying alone. And I did not understand when my mother told me that he had been arrested, or that he was in jail. But as I got older and began to understand the situation as well as any seven-year-old girl could, my confusion turned to anger. But as I grew up, that anger cooled and a deeper understanding set in, which soon turned to compassion and love. [This is the best paragraph in your PS, really feels personal and I get an idea of your experiences.] I do think this paragraph is necessary to show personal growth/overcoming an obstacle. I would reword and expand the focus to include more of your childhood/adolecense.
Though I was certainly affected by having a father in and out of prison while growing up, I have since realized that this experience was ultimately not a negative one. Of course, there are the obvious effects that come with the decision to not be affected negatively by growing up with a father imprisoned [Wait, what? You decided not to be negatively affected by this? That doesn't totally makes sense to me.] : a personal strength, a belief in myself and my ability to succeed, a determination to not waste my intelligence the way that my father did. But it is the less obvious consequences that I find more revealing. [Maybe this is just a personal bias, but so many PSs I read on here take the line that something negative happened, but its actually a positive because you grew stronger because of it! It feels cliche to me, and maybe a little disingenuous? You can talk about personal growth without saying that your father being in prison was a positive thing. It clearly was not, as described above. ]

Agree that your language is still to strong by saying it's not negative, i don't think you need to classify it as not negative to say that you learned from it and it's shaped who you are. I would avoid the words positve and negative altogether.

In my late teens, I began to realize two things—both of which, I now realize, stem from my father. The first was that everyone deserves compassion. As I started forgiving my father and coming to a better understanding of addiction, I realized that his crimes, and the crimes of many others, were not committed out of spite or hatred or evil. They were committed out of a weakness, a sickness. And those crimes and the people that commit them are not deserving of hatred. [I understand this is partly about forgiving your father and dealing with his crimes, but this assessment of the offender population feels a little... naive to me? Or maybe just vague? What do you mean by a "weakness" or a "sickness"? It seems odd to me that you're talking about possible reasons why people offend without mentioning cylical poverty, mental illness (and lack of care), drug addiction or experiences of violence/abuse.]

Also agree that you need to be careful that you're not categorizing ALL crimes as being caused by weakness or illness, I know you wrote 'some' but that one little word could be overlooked when read quickly.


They, like everyone, are deserving of compassion. The second thing that I began to realize started with a problem-solution essay for my Composition class regarding the state of Larimer County Detention Center and others around the country. As I researched prison life, reasons for incarceration, recidivism rates and reasons, and prison budgets, I realized that I have a deep and intense interest in the state of prisons and the inmate population.

At this point you could mention your internship again to make the essay more cohesive.

And now, almost four years later, these two realizations [You've already said realize in this essay 1,000 times. Use a thesuarus!] have become huge parts of who I am and why I want to go to law school. If admitted to XXX, [If you're not going to say why you want to go there, lose the namedropping] I will bring the passion, interest, and determination that I acquired when I decided that I would never wear an orange jumpsuit the way my father had, and that, rather, I would help those that did.

meimei32
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:37 pm

Re: Critique my personal statement?

Postby meimei32 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:44 pm

I agreed with a lot of what the previous poster said so I just added some thoughts to their's.

I think the essay as a whole is stronger, but the wording needs a lot of work. For now I just focused on content.

I do think you need the anger paragraph, with substational rewording. I think once it's edited it won't seem as disjointed. Basically what I think your main focus should be is that your experiences dealing with your father's incarceration and journey to acceptance/forgiveness has not only sparked a desire to help those in his situation through legal work, but also provided you with a unique perspective compared to most prospective law students.

kublaikahn
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:47 am

Re: Critique my personal statement?

Postby kublaikahn » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:45 pm

ameliawhaley wrote:
Thank you so much for the suggestions. I have reworked it a bit...kind of combined the first two paragraphs, using one of your ideas. I also added a paragraph about the anger and such...but I'm wondering if it weakens the impact of the story? It sort of feels unorganized now. If you get a chance, will you read over it again and let me know what you think? I plan on adding a bit more to the final paragraph, as soon as some inspiration hits.


A few months ago, I sat in a small room in Two North, the high security pod at Larimer County Detention Center. I was working as an investigator intern for the Larimer Country Public Defender’s Office, and I had been sent to sit with an inmate as he read the discovery of his case. While we sat there—me with my LSAT study book (these meetings often took many hours), and him with his discovery—I couldn’t help but wonder how many times my father had sat in a room like that, reading over his own discovery. You see, my father had spent the majority of my childhood in that same detention center—though he was in West Charlie, the pod for the drug users and the mentally unstable; my father was both.

As a young girl, I did not understand my father’s addiction. I did not understand why my father had stopped bring me salt-water taffy from his business trips; I did not understand why he stopped going on business trips all together. I did not understand why he moved out of our house, or why I would walk in on my mother, crying alone. And I did not understand when my mother told me that he had been arrested, or that he was in jail. But as I got older and began to understand the situation as well as any seven-year-old girl could, my confusion turned to anger. But as I grew up, that anger cooled and a deeper understanding set in, which soon turned to compassion and love.

Though I was certainly affected by having a father in and out of prison while growing up, I have since realized that this experience was ultimately not a negative one. Of course, there are the obvious effects that come with the decision to not be affected negatively by growing up with a father imprisoned: a personal strength, a belief in myself and my ability to succeed, a determination to not waste my intelligence the way that my father did. But it is the less obvious consequences that I find more revealing.

In my late teens, I began to realize two things—both of which, I now realize, stem from my father. The first was that everyone deserves compassion. As I started forgiving my father and coming to a better understanding of addiction, I realized that his crimes, and the crimes of many others, were not committed out of spite or hatred or evil. They were committed out of a weakness, a sickness. And those crimes and the people that commit them are not deserving of hatred. They, like everyone, are deserving of compassion. The second thing that I began to realize started with a problem-solution essay for my Composition class regarding the state of Larimer County Detention Center and others around the country. As I researched prison life, reasons for incarceration, recidivism rates and reasons, and prison budgets, I realized that I have a deep and intense interest in the state of prisons and the inmate population.

And now, almost four years later, these two realizations have become huge parts of who I am and why I want to go to law school. If admitted to XXX, I will bring the passion, interest, and determination that I acquired when I decided that I would never wear an orange jumpsuit the way my father had, and that, rather, I would help those that did.


This is not a story. It is a brain dump of what you think of yourself, post childhood experience with your father's dependency and incarceration. Tell a story that explains your empathy and ability to find the good in a bad situation, it will read much better.

Secondly, think and speak like a lawyer. Avoid superlatives and over generalizations like "everyone deserves compassion." Do you mean something more like, "I can find compassion for almost anyone?"

And avoid the overuse of the passive voice. Example: "As I started forgiving my father and coming to a better understanding of addiction, I realized that his crimes, and the crimes of many others, were not committed out of spite or hatred or evil." Change to something like, "As I better understood addiction, I forgave me father. I realized he, and others like him, did not act out of hatred or evil, but out of weakness and pain."




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