Almost Final Draft

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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kaf5250
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Almost Final Draft

Postby kaf5250 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:19 pm

REVISED DRAFT BELOW

Ok, so I'm middle class, white, female; I never really had anything bad happen to me or overcome any great difficulties so instead I just wrote about why I want to practice law and what I would do with my degree. I'm at a 168, 3.68 LSDAS

I will never forget the first time someone told me I would make a good lawyer. In fifth grade, after coming to the revelation that our uniforms were oppressive and creatively damaging to our developing minds, I consulted with my fellow classmates and drafted a petition to make every Friday a “dress down day.” I took that piece of paper, carefully worded after the United State’s Constitution, which we had just learned about in History class, and handed it triumphantly to my teacher. I was sure that no rational adult could possibly say no to a political document signed by the entire class, especially one that addressed such a pressing issue.
My teacher, always the one to run with any educational opportunity she could find, agreed that a debate was in order. At the end of the debate, unsurprisingly, the “con” side won and the uniforms would stay. However, after school that day Mrs. Swan pulled me aside and told me that I would make an excellent attorney, and that piece of advice has always stuck with me.
I have always felt strongly that it is important to stand up for what you believe in, and even more importantly, to stand up for others. The role of advocate has always been one that enticed me, and throughout my college experience I have found myself seeking out opportunities to learn more about groups that may need advocates, as well as ways I could help them.
For years I have worked with children in many capacities: as a camp counselor, a childcare provider, and a volunteer. Working in childcare I have seen children from broken homes, children who had been abused, and children who had not eaten since the previous day at summer camp. Every December my sorority, Sigma Kappa, holds an annual Christmas party for underprivileged children in State College. Seeing how many of these children’s families had been torn apart by poverty, substance abuse, and other hardships truly showed me the need for children’s advocates.
The multiple courses that I have taken in Women’s Studies and Sociology, and especially the course I have taken on Sexual and Domestic Violence, have opened my eyes to the issues that are facing women in today’s society. I found troubling the statistics of how many women are abused each year, how many never receive help, and how many abusers walk free or get miniscule sentences for one reason or another. These courses opened my eyes to the need for advocates for these physical, emotional, and sexual abuse victims.
After the unfolding of the horrific events that have taken place in Centre County over the past few years, the YMCA at which I work in the after-school program offered training to all employees in child sexual abuse, “Darkness to Light”. The statistics for child sexual abuse were both shocking and horrifying to me. After this training I knew that these children needed someone to stand up and fight for them, and I knew that someone would be me. I immediately signed up to be trained as a facilitator for these trainings, and decided that I would dedicate my legal career to giving a voice to victims of these and other serious crimes.
I have always known that I wanted to become an attorney. I knew that my attention to detail, my strong moral compass, and my perseverance would make me an ideal law student and a successful attorney. However, now more than ever I am determined in my resolve to use a Juris Doctorate to become a legal advocate for abused and underprivileged women and children.
Last edited by kaf5250 on Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Steve2207
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Re: First Draft

Postby Steve2207 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:40 am

Im not an expert on this by any means, but you should really go over your comma usage, with attention to the ones I PM'd you. Your theme is good, but the overall grammer could use some improvement! Im here for another look over if you ever need another, just PM me.

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kaf5250
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Re: First Draft

Postby kaf5250 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:55 pm

thank you for the feedback, I did make the specific changes you advised in your email, I just feel like I should be going farther in this, everyone else has such compelling and moving stories and I feel like mine is kind of shallow.

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nickb285
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Re: First Draft

Postby nickb285 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:51 pm

Every single person who has ever applied to law school has had someone, somewhere tell them that they would "make a good lawyer," usually because of debate skills or public speaking ability or something else that has minimal bearing on the day-to-day work of an attorney. This will not make you stand out.

You have a lot of good stuff that you can work with--volunteering with children, a passion for defending the victims of sexual assault--but it feels like you're just cramming in anything you can that makes it sound like you want to be a lawyer. Personally, I'd much rather hear about your training on child sexual abuse--or possibly a PS that focused on children's advocacy more broadly--than hearing how 10-year-old you didn't like uniforms. I would do a serious rewrite and focus on your passions, not what someone else told you one time decades ago.

canarykb
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Re: First Draft

Postby canarykb » Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:07 pm

I have read multiple interviews with law school deans that specifically cite that they don't like essays about how your mom thinks you would be a great lawyer, or how you always wanted to be one. I would take the first three paragraphs out, actually. You are clearly passionate about children's advocacy, keep the focus on that.

NightmanCometh
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Re: First Draft

Postby NightmanCometh » Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:59 pm


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kaf5250
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Re: First Draft

Postby kaf5250 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:03 pm

So do you think if I scrapped the first two paragraphs and started with the third, then went into more detail about my background and goals I could make this overall theme work?

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nickb285
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Re: First Draft

Postby nickb285 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:09 pm

Yes, although you should also get rid of the first sentence of the third paragraph. Nobody has ever written a personal statement in which they said "I don't really care for standing up for my beliefs; I'm highly flexible, in moral and ethical terms, and have no real values. I also despise humanity as a whole."

Focus on your passion and your experience, and avoid cliched statements (this also includes "I have always known" and "now more than ever").

NightmanCometh
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Re: First Draft

Postby NightmanCometh » Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:30 pm

I would focus less on talking about why you would make a good lawyer and place more emphasis on your interest in helping underprivileged/abused women and children and how a legal education helps in that regard. As it stands, you have provided very little evidence that you would make a good lawyer simply by volunteering and taking classes (unless your resume says otherwise). Not saying that you won't, but it comes out of left field and seems generic, ie "attention to detail" etc. I think if a practicing attorney read this he/she might roll their eyes. Also, unfortunately for the legal profession and the world, a "strong moral compass" is not an essential criterion for becoming a good lawyer.. :P

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kaf5250
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Re: First Draft

Postby kaf5250 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:11 pm

Thank you everyone for your input! I moved some stuff around and added some more of what I hope are "visuals", I also took out the "first person who told me to be a lawyer" which I thought was a great beginning but now realize is probably what 90% of the boring applicants think is a good beginning haha so thats gone.. what do you think of this revised draft? it is still no where near perfect I just have a hard time seeing where I can fix things without falling back into saying the exact same thing I just deleted haha, definitely need a fresh set of eyes:

I have always felt strongly that it is important to stand up for what you believe in, and even more importantly, to stand up for others. It was never hard for me to see how blessed I have been in my life and to empathize with the struggles that others faced. It is for this reason that I have always seemed to find myself gravitating towards the role of advocate. Throughout my college experience I have sought out opportunities to learn more about groups that may need advocates, as well as ways I could help them.
For years I have worked with children in many capacities: as a camp counselor, a childcare provider, and a volunteer. Working in childcare I have seen children from broken homes, children who had been abused, and children who had not eaten since the previous day at summer camp. For two years I worked at a camp that was part of the “free lunch” program, and every day local children would come to get perhaps the only meal they would have that day. Many wore clothing that was dirty or torn. It was heartbreaking to see the older siblings giving up part of their small portion to their younger siblings who were still hungry. Unfortunately, the state only gave us a limited amount of lunches per day and every day I found myself wishing I could do something to help these children whom I had become so used to seeing every day.
Every December my sorority, Sigma Kappa, holds an annual Christmas party for underprivileged children in State College. We each donated Christmas gifts to be distributed to the children in attendance and a man from the Fraternity house that the event was held in that year would dress up like Santa Clause. Seeing how many of these children’s families had been torn apart by poverty, substance abuse, and other hardships again showed me the need for children’s advocates.
The multiple courses that I have taken in Women’s Studies and Sociology, and especially the course I have taken on Sexual and Domestic Violence, have opened my eyes to the issues that are facing women in today’s society. I found troubling the statistics of how many women are abused each year, how many never receive help, and how many abusers walk free or get miniscule sentences for one reason or another. These courses opened my eyes to the need for advocates for these physical, emotional, and sexual abuse victims.
After the unfolding of the horrific events that have taken place in Centre County over the past few years, the YMCA at which I work in the after-school program offered training to all employees in child sexual abuse, “Darkness to Light”. The statistics for child sexual abuse were both shocking and horrifying to me. I imagined the children in my after school program and the idea of any person hurting any one of them absolutely sickened me. After this training I knew that these children needed someone to stand up and fight for them, and I knew that someone would be me. I immediately signed up to be trained as a facilitator for these trainings, and decided that I would dedicate my legal career to giving a voice to victims of these and other serious crimes.
While I have always known that I wanted to be an attorney, encountering the immense need for women’s and children’s advocates in our courts system has given me a much clearer focus on the specifics of why I want to practice law, namely to give a voice to those who may not always have one. I believe that a legal education is the best preparation to advocate for those who are disadvantaged or underrepresented, and I believe that there would be no career that is more satisfying and rewarding than doing just that.

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nickb285
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Re: First Draft

Postby nickb285 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:43 pm

I think it's better with the focus squarely on your desire for advocacy. Still some things that could be improved though. Comments in bold

kaf5250 wrote:I have always felt strongly that it is important to stand up for what you believe in, and even more importantly, to stand up for others. It was never hard for me to see how blessed I have been in my life and to empathize with the struggles that others faced. It is for this reason that I have always seemed to find myself gravitating towards the role of advocate. [You didn't "seem to find yourself gravitating." That makes it sound like it just sort of happened. You actively worked to find ways in which you could help people--like it says in your next sentence.] Throughout my college experience I have sought out opportunities to learn more about groups that may need advocates, as well as ways I could help them.
For years I have worked with children in many capacities: as a camp counselor, a childcare provider, and a volunteer. Working in childcare I have seen children from broken homes, children who had been abused, and children who had not eaten since the previous day at summer camp. For two years I worked at a camp that was part of the “free lunch” program, and every day local children would come to get perhaps the only meal they would have that day. Many wore clothing that was dirty or torn. It was heartbreaking to see the older siblings giving up part of their small portion to their younger siblings who were still hungry. Unfortunately, the state only gave us a limited amount of lunches per day and every day I found myself wishing I could do something to help these children whom I had become so used to seeing every day. [Good paragraph]
Every December my sorority, Sigma Kappa, holds an annual Christmas party for underprivileged children in State College. We each donated Christmas gifts to be distributed to the children in attendance[,] and a man from the [fraternity house in which the event was held] that year would dress up like Santa [Claus]. Seeing how many of these children’s families had been torn apart by poverty, substance abuse, and other hardships again showed me the need for children’s advocates.
The multiple courses that I have taken in Women’s Studies and Sociology, and especially the course I have taken on Sexual and Domestic Violence, [I don't believe these things need to be capitalized unless it's the specific name of a course or department; I could be wrong though]have opened my eyes [avoid cliches] to the issues that are facing women in today’s society. I found troubling the statistics of how many women are abused each year, how many never receive help, and how many abusers walk free or get miniscule [pedantic people prefer spelling this "minuscule"] sentences for one reason or another. These courses opened my eyes [avoid cliches, especially more than once in paragraph] to the need for advocates for these [victims of] physical, emotional, and sexual abuse victims.
After the unfolding of the horrific events that have taken place in Centre County over the past few years [what are these events? Unless you're sending this to a school that's local to Centre County, and only to that school, you need to elaborate], the YMCA at which I work in the after-school program offered training to all employees in child sexual abuse, “Darkness to Light” [The name of the program isn't really necessary unless this is a particularly well-known or difficult program]. The statistics for child sexual abuse were both shocking and horrifying to me. I imagined the children in my after school program[, ]and the idea of any person hurting any one of them absolutely sickened me. After this training I knew that these children needed someone to stand up and fight for them [you already mention coming to this realization; modify this to reflect this training as part of a journey], and I knew that someone would be me. I immediately signed up to be trained as a facilitator for these trainings ["this program" or "these sessions" or something like that would be better; "these trainings" is clunky phrasing], and decided that I would dedicate my legal career [wait, what legal career? You never mention wanting one until now] to giving a voice to victims of these and other serious crimes.
While I have always known that I wanted to be an attorney [Nobody has "always known" that, but everyone says it. Starting the paragraph with your passion for advocacy is better and stronger], encountering the immense need for women’s and children’s advocates in our courts system has given me a much clearer focus on the specifics of why I want to practice law[; namely, ]to give a voice to those who may not always have one. I believe that a legal education is the best preparation to advocate for those who are disadvantaged or underrepresented, and I believe that there would be no career that is more satisfying and rewardingthan doing just that.


Take them or leave them as you will, but these are the things that stood out to me.

NightmanCometh
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Re: First Draft

Postby NightmanCometh » Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:39 pm

I agree with all the revisions made by the above poster.

That being said, I think this is now a lot better, good work. I think it's a pretty straightforward and solid personal statement. It won't win you any big points, but it won't have a negative influence on your app either. It gets the job done.

CanadianWolf
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Re: First Draft

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:44 pm

Your PS is sincere & convincing. It should help your law school applications. The weakest part, however, is the opening sentence, in my opinion. The opening sentence is a bit too soft & sleep inducing. Try to attract the reader's attention. One option might be to start with a more assertive opening. For example, CONSIDER: "Values are important; protecting those values is essential for a healthy society. While family & religion attempt to foster beliefs and morals, unfortunately it is often our legal system that is called upon to enforce certain essential rights & freedoms that ensure human dignity." OR "Beliefs are important; protecting those beliefs are even more important."

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kaf5250
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Re: Almost Final Draft

Postby kaf5250 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:31 pm

version 3 - hopefully getting close to final - bump

I have always felt strongly that it is important to stand up for what you believe in, and even more importantly, to stand up for others. It was never hard for me to see how blessed I have been in my life and to empathize with the struggles that others faced. From an early age this empathy fueled my passion to advocate for others. Throughout my college experience I have sought out opportunities to learn more about groups that may need advocates, as well as ways I could help them.
For years I have worked with children in many capacities: as a camp counselor, a childcare provider, and a volunteer. Working in childcare I have seen children from broken homes, children who had been abused, and children who had not eaten since the previous day at summer camp. For two years I worked at a camp that was part of the “free lunch” program, and every day local children would come to get perhaps the only meal they would have that day. Many wore clothing that was dirty or torn. It was heartbreaking to see the older siblings giving up part of their small portion to their younger siblings who were still hungry. Unfortunately, the state only gave us a limited amount of lunches per day and I found myself wishing I could do something to help these children whom I had become so accustomed to seeing every day.
Every December my sorority, Sigma Kappa, holds an annual Christmas party for underprivileged children in State College. Each sister donates Christmas gifts to be distributed to the children in attendance, and a man from the fraternity house in which the event was held that year would dress up like Santa Claus. Seeing how many of these children’s families had been torn apart by poverty, substance abuse, and other hardships again showed me the need for children’s advocates.
The courses that I have taken in Women’s Studies and Sociology, and especially the course I have taken on sexual and domestic violence, have given me further insight into the scope and severity of the issues that are facing women and children in today’s society. I found troubling the statistics of how many women are abused each year, how many never receive help, and how many abusers walk free or get minuscule sentences for these types of crimes. These courses truly showed me the pressing need for advocates for these victims of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
After the unfolding of the appalling events that have taken place in Centre County over the past few years, and the nation-wide child sexual abuse scandal that originated here, the YMCA at which I work in the after-school program offered training to all employees in child sexual abuse. The statistics for child sexual abuse were shocking and horrifying to me. I imagined the children in my after school program, and the idea of any person hurting even one of them absolutely sickened me. After this training I knew more than ever before that these children needed someone to stand up and fight for them, and I knew that someone would be me. I immediately signed up to be trained as a facilitator for future sessions of this program and decided that the best way to help these children was to pursue a legal career dedicated to giving a voice to victims of these and other serious crimes.
While my passion for advocacy started at an early age, it was my undergraduate study, my extracurricular activities, and my work experience that truly deepened this passion. Encountering the immense need for women’s and children’s advocates in our courts system has given me confidence that the study of law is right for me and a clear focus on the specifics of why I want to practice law; namely, to give a voice to those who may not always have one. I believe that a legal education is the best preparation to advocate for those who are disadvantaged or underrepresented, and I believe that there would be no career more satisfying and rewarding for me.

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nickb285
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Re: Almost Final Draft

Postby nickb285 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:21 pm

Much better. This is very close to a final draft. I would agree with what CanadianWolf wrote above, a stronger opening would be good. I would change "in Centre County" to "at Pennsylvania State University" unless you're applying to Penn State (and even then, I'd change it in all of your other applications). Maybe if you're only applying to East Coast schools they would immediately associate Centre County with Penn State, but I had no idea where Centre County was or what scandal started there until I googled "Centre County child abuse," which adcomms will likely not take the time to do.

You're very close, though; this is good work.




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