Can someone critique my personal statement? Pretty Please...

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
Posts: 273139
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Can someone critique my personal statement? Pretty Please...

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:53 pm

This is my first draft. I did not concern myself with grammar rules and I already know it's too long. I'm looking for serious feedback. What are your thoughts, impressions? I have also removed all identifying information.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Why does an experienced salsa dancer, political enthusiast, avid sewer, gourmet cook, phenomenal baker, classical music aficionado, Broadway show lover, former violinist and piano player, domestic violence survivor, educational advocate, and classic book reader want to study law?

Stay tuned.

“You ain’t nothin’ like us.” shouted my cousins as they surrounded me on XXX Street in City, State on a sweltering summer’s day. As much as I hate to admit it, they were right, I was nothing like them. Despite the fact that we were all born to impoverished young African American parents, there was something about me that was intrinsically different. I did not realize it at the time, but I would go on to achieve some significant accomplishments in my life.

My mother was a fifteen year old elementary school dropout, recreational drug user and welfare recipient who shared a home in the heart of XXX with her habitually alcoholic mother and 10 siblings. My father, a nineteen year old high school graduate, was jobless and hardly prepared to support me. My mother was immature, naïve, and because of her inexperience, we found ourselves in households where domestic violence was a constant occurrence. Sadly, it was customary for me to witness the violence and try to assist my mother in her recovery once the episode concluded.

In spite of living in perpetual fear, I never lost hope that my life would improve. My mother and I lived in that abusive environment for 8 years until she garnered enough strength to remove us from the welfare system, obtain gainful employment and secure her own apartment. I was elated that we were free from our abuser; however, I was sadly mistaken. Having undergone years of abuse herself, my mother had now become my abuser. I endured the most atrocious mental abuse imaginable over the next eight years; regardless, it did not deter my resolve to have a better life. During High School, I was involved in the XXX Program at XXX College, studied French and Latin for 2 years, and taught myself fluent Spanish. These activities allowed me to get through another traumatic episode in my life.

At sixteen, my mother sent me to reside with my father; our relationship was volatile from the very beginning. Unable to endure the abuse any further, and while still in high school, I moved out of my father’s home 2 months prior to my eighteenth birthday. Graciously, my cousin allowed me to rent a room in her apartment, which was located in the most dangerous section of XXX. Determined to complete the last five months of my senior year, I woke at 4 a.m. to catch the 5:30 a.m. bus from the corner of our block to XXX in order to connect to another bus that would arrive at my high school in XXX by 8:30 a.m. every day. After school, I caught another bus to my part-time job and at the end of my work day I rode the bus two hours back home. It was an exhausting and challenging five months yet I persevered and graduated from high school, becoming the first individual to graduate on my mother’s side of the family in over two generations.

For the next few years, I worked full-time while ascertaining which direction I wanted my life to take. My objectives were thwarted, however, when I found out that I was expecting a child. Months later, every time I looked at my son, I wanted his upbringing to be radically different from my own. I finally decided that I was going to be different from my parents, that I would do everything possible to escape the life of crime, narcotics, impoverishment, and welfare dependency that was so ubiquitous in my family. Because I wanted so desperately to escape that lifestyle, I wholeheartedly threw myself into what I saw as my surest way to succeed, graduating from college.

My son was almost a year old when I enrolled in school. I knew it would be problematic as I needed to work full-time in order to support us. Initially, I attended full-time classes at night while maintaining my day job. It was during this time that I noticed that my son exhibited a plethora of challenging behavioral issues in addition to not meeting developmental milestones. After several evaluations and a neurological exam, he was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It was at this point, that my life took a drastic turn since my son required a significant amount of care. I, subsequently, graduated from XXX College and transferred my credits to XXX University, utilizing their distance degree program to earn a bachelor’s degree, which makes me the first person on both sides of the family to graduate from college. The switch from a brick and mortar school to one that offered an online option allowed me not only to continue working full-time, but to research Autism Spectrum Disorders and determine the appropriate medical services for my child.

At this point, my son was of school age and since the Board of Education (BOE) had extensive experience dealing with students on the Autism Spectrum, I deferred to their judgment on which program was appropriate for him. This was a grave mistake. Five years later and with a child who could barely read, talk and perform mathematics, I took matters into my own hands. I enrolled in a Paralegal Studies program at XXX University to learn how to research and interpret the law. After graduation, I immediately landed a position as a legal secretary at XXX, a small general practice law firm, where I learned the discipline, thoroughness, communication skills and minute attention to detail that are critical to legal study. In my position, I researched legal precedents, analyzed complex case issues, communicated opinions and wrote persuasive documentation as well as mastered the vocabulary and intricacies of several areas of law. It was during this time that I educated myself on State’s Special Education Laws and Parent/Student rights. Additionally, I learned how to interpret and understand evaluation results and Individualized Education Plans (IEP).

Armed with this new found knowledge and my experience as a Paralegal, I presented my son’s case to a very reluctant Board of Education. I fought to get a neurodevelopmental evaluation paid at their expense to correct his misclassification from communication impaired to Autistic. Moreover, I fought for him to receive a Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA), FBA plan and a remedial reading program. After years of pushback, they agreed to my recommendations. Now, my son reads fluently, speaks well and performs grade level mathematics. I now work full-time as his educational advocate as well as his case manager for medical and behavioral services. It was a challenging process to learn the intricacies of special education law and parent/student rights, but like other areas of my life, I was able to persevere and obtain the services that my son needs to reach his full potential. I want to use that knowledge and a law degree from XXX Law School to assist other parents in navigating the murky waters of the special education system. I know that you may have reservations about admitting me, but I believe that my unique personal experiences, professional background, and solid academic record, will give me an advantage in a law school’s challenging educational environment. For these reasons, I believe that I should be admission to XXX Law School.

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anteater1
Posts: 610
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:37 am

Re: Can someone critique my personal statement? Pretty Please...

Postby anteater1 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:This is my first draft. I did not concern myself with grammar rules and I already know it's too long. I'm looking for serious feedback. What are your thoughts, impressions? I have also removed all identifying information.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Why does an experienced salsa dancer, political enthusiast, avid sewer, gourmet cook, phenomenal baker, classical music aficionado, Broadway show lover, former violinist and piano player, domestic violence survivor, educational advocate, and classic book reader want to study law?

Seems a bit extensive if you're not going to mention virtually any of this in the body of your PS

Stay tuned.

Cliche

“You ain’t nothin’ like us.” shouted my cousins as they surrounded me on XXX Street in City, State on a sweltering summer’s day. As much as I hate to admit it, they were right, I was nothing like them. Despite the fact that we were all born to impoverished young African American parents, there was something about me that was intrinsically different. I did not realize it at the time, but I would go on to achieve some significant accomplishments in my life.

My mother was a fifteen year old elementary school dropout, recreational drug user and welfare recipient who shared a home in the heart of XXX with her habitually alcoholic mother and 10 siblings. My father, a nineteen year old high school graduate, was jobless and hardly prepared to support me. My mother was immature, naïve, and because of her inexperience, we found ourselves in households where domestic violence was a constant occurrence. Sadly, it was customary for me to witness the violence and try to assist my mother in her recovery once the episode concluded.

In spite of living in perpetual fear, I never lost hope that my life would improve. My mother and I lived in that abusive environment for 8 years until she garnered enough strength to remove us from the welfare system, obtain gainful employment and secure her own apartment. I was elated that we were free from our abuser; however, I was sadly mistaken. Having undergone years of abuse herself, my mother had now become my abuser. I endured the most atrocious mental abuse imaginable over the next eight years; regardless, it did not deter my resolve to have a better life. During High School, I was involved in the XXX Program at XXX College, studied French and Latin for 2 years, and taught myself fluent Spanish. These activities allowed me to get through another traumatic episode in my life.

At sixteen, my mother sent me to reside with my father; our relationship was volatile from the very beginning. Unable to endure the abuse any further, and while still in high school, I moved out of my father’s home 2 months prior to my eighteenth birthday. Graciously, my cousin allowed me to rent a room in her apartment, which was located in the most dangerous section of XXX. Determined to complete the last five months of my senior year, I woke at 4 a.m. to catch the 5:30 a.m. bus from the corner of our block to XXX in order to connect to another bus that would arrive at my high school in XXX by 8:30 a.m. every day. After school, I caught another bus to my part-time job and at the end of my work day I rode the bus two hours back home. It was an exhausting and challenging five months yet I persevered and graduated from high school, becoming the first individual to graduate on my mother’s side of the family in over two generations.

Reading this, although informative, seemed drab... Lost my interest and skimmed most, shorten it up and talk more about your son and experience

For the next few years, I worked full-time while ascertaining which direction I wanted my life to take. My objectives were thwarted, however, when I found out that I was expecting a child. Months later, every time I looked at my son, I wanted his upbringing to be radically different from my own. I finally decided that I was going to be different from my parents, that I would do everything possible to escape the life of crime, narcotics, impoverishment, and welfare dependency that was so ubiquitous in my family. Because I wanted so desperately to escape that lifestyle, I wholeheartedly threw myself into what I saw as my surest way to succeed, graduating from college.

My son was almost a year old when I enrolled in school. I knew it would be problematic as I needed to work full-time in order to support us. Initially, I attended full-time classes at night while maintaining my day job. It was during this time that I noticed that my son exhibited a plethora of challenging behavioral issues in addition to not meeting developmental milestones. After several evaluations and a neurological exam, he was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It was at this point, that my life took a drastic turn since my son required a significant amount of care. I, subsequently, graduated from XXX College and transferred my credits to XXX University, utilizing their distance degree program to earn a bachelor’s degree, which makes me the first person on both sides of the family to graduate from college. The switch from a brick and mortar school to one that offered an online option allowed me not only to continue working full-time, but to research Autism Spectrum Disorders and determine the appropriate medical services for my child.

At this point, my son was of school age and since the Board of Education (BOE) had extensive experience dealing with students on the Autism Spectrum, I deferred to their judgment on which program was appropriate for him. This was a grave mistake. Five years later and with a child who could barely read, talk and perform mathematics, I took matters into my own hands. I enrolled in a Paralegal Studies program at XXX University to learn how to research and interpret the law. After graduation, I immediately landed a position as a legal secretary at XXX, a small general practice law firm, where I learned the discipline, thoroughness, communication skills and minute attention to detail that are critical to legal study. In my position, I researched legal precedents, analyzed complex case issues, communicated opinions and wrote persuasive documentation as well as mastered the vocabulary and intricacies of several areas of law. It was during this time that I educated myself on State’s Special Education Laws and Parent/Student rights. Additionally, I learned how to interpret and understand evaluation results and Individualized Education Plans (IEP).

This is what they want to read more of

Armed with this new found knowledge and my experience as a Paralegal, I presented my son’s case to a very reluctant Board of Education. I fought to get a neurodevelopmental evaluation paid at their expense to correct his misclassification from communication impaired to Autistic. Moreover, I fought for him to receive a Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA), FBA plan and a remedial reading program. After years of pushback, they agreed to my recommendations. Now, my son reads fluently, speaks well and performs grade level mathematics. I now work full-time as his educational advocate as well as his case manager for medical and behavioral services. It was a challenging process to learn the intricacies of special education law and parent/student rights, but like other areas of my life, I was able to persevere and obtain the services that my son needs to reach his full potential. I want to use that knowledge and a law degree from XXX Law School to assist other parents in navigating the murky waters of the special education system. I know that you may have reservations about admitting me, but I believe that my unique personal experiences, professional background, and solid academic record, will give me an advantage in a law school’s challenging educational environment. For these reasons, I believe that I should be admission to XXX Law School.
Last sentence is unnecessary




Overall not bad, could do good by de-emphasizing your early years and focusing more on your formative years IMHO. Read mine if you get the chance, I'm not a great writer.

alex.feuerman
Posts: 147
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:32 pm

Re: Can someone critique my personal statement? Pretty Please...

Postby alex.feuerman » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:04 pm

{{Why does an experienced salsa dancer, political enthusiast, avid sewer, gourmet cook, phenomenal baker, classical music aficionado, Broadway show lover, former violinist and piano player, domestic violence survivor, educational advocate, and classic book reader want to study law?

Stay tuned.}}

Agree with the person above, both those sentences should go, they make you unlikeable, you don't want to be unlikeable.

Start it with "You ain't nothing like us." that's a fine start.

Slip this into two essays,one can be your URM essay, which solely talks about your growing up impoverished and abused, no mention of your son.

The other should focus on your son, your struggles with his education, and why you want to be a lawyer.

Most schools will accept two essays.

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Nom Sawyer
Posts: 933
Joined: Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:28 am

Re: Can someone critique my personal statement? Pretty Please...

Postby Nom Sawyer » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:08 pm

I just read over your PS and, although it's very powerful and often does a good job of showing your strength/ talents/ and accomplishments, it could definitely use some streamlining...

First the beginning section is unnecessary for a PS... you already have a perfect hook if you open directly with your quote, jumping right into your actual statement (you don't need anything that comes before it):

Anonymous User wrote:
“You ain’t nothin’ like us.” shouted my cousins as they surrounded me on XXX Street in City, State on a sweltering summer’s day. As much as I hate to admit it, they were right, I was nothing like them. Despite the fact that we were all born to impoverished young African American parents, there was something about me that was intrinsically different. I did not realize it at the time, but I would go on to achieve some significant accomplishments in my life.



At this point you really have to decide what you want to focus on... Some of the stuff you next discuss can be great material for a diversity statement (which I assume you are submitting?). Anyways one possibility is focusing on more of your hardships/ upbringing in a diversity statement... and then cutting out the majority of that except for a brief mention in the PS while focusing in on your achievements and actions that you managed while caring/ providing/ and advocating for your son.

I think the section where you talk about how you researched and fought successfully for a new program for your son would be especially effective in conveying your strengths. Here going beyond just a list and describing the actual progress (aka the "show not tell" rule of PS writing) would be very effective and allow you to expand on that portion.

I have to run, but send me a PM if you want more feedback along these lines or if you do decide to edit your PS in this way.

Edit: Haha looks like the poster above had the exact same comments while I was typing this up...

toothbrush
Posts: 2388
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: Can someone critique my personal statement? Pretty Please...

Postby toothbrush » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:13 pm

Agree with above. Just a general thing I want to say bc it's something I'm stifling with in reviewing my PS.

Keep it short. By the looks of it, that's 4 pg double spaced. Most schools want max 2pp, if not 3. I know Harvard dean even said if it's more than 2 she thinks you can't read directions.

It's really hard to slim down, 'cause you have great stuff, but it's something you have to do.




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