Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
ht2988
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Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby ht2988 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:43 am

This is about as rough as a rough draft can be... My overall goal is to convey a strong sense of immediacy around why I MUST attend Columbia Law School. I'm very much aware that my story is "edgy" and might make some readers uncomfortable. But it's my story. I was suspended from school for a year because of my addiction, so I am in a position where I have to address it, and I think being honest is the best way to do this. I also want to be tactful.

Here it is:
Thanks for all the feedback - I'm all set to go!
Last edited by ht2988 on Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

ht2988
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby ht2988 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:57 am

I'll commit to providing feedback on anyone's PS if you would so graciously provide me with feedback... I'm coming up against the 11/15 ED deadline, so I'm desperate.

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whatisthewhat
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby whatisthewhat » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:09 am

honestly, i think the personal element of this is too much. it's a really interesting and powerful story, but i'm afraid that it'll turn adcomms off.

do like the rest of the essay though. maybe add some other personal element that's more mainstream?

Edit: for the suspension, if it wasn't for misconduct, perhaps it would be okay just to say you needed to leave for personal reasons or smthg similar. not sure how would be best to handle that, but my intuition says steer away from specifics if you're able.

ht2988
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby ht2988 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:33 am

I was suspended for reasons relating directly to my drug abuse - its explicitly mentioned in my Dean's Certification, which is why I've decided to address it head on. And honestly, this is the linchpin in my story, and has shaped everything about my desire to become a lawyer. Thanks for the feedback, though. I am going to think about how to make it more "mainstream" (yuck!).

hopin10
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby hopin10 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:36 am

Please don't "mainstream" this. That advice runs contrary to your experience.

If anything, I might personalize it more. Trim some of the fluff ("abstract jurisprudential dissonance")--get right to your experience. You're not writing an academic piece; you're trying to tell your story in a way that gets you into CLS.

The second and third paragraphs, in particular, feel a bit too broad and too much like an advocacy piece to me. After that, you dig right into your own experience, which I found much more compelling.

sabp21
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby sabp21 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:55 am

I don't think you should trim the second paragraph, though I with hopin about the third. Paragraph 2 demonstrates your academic achievement and a capacity for intellectual advocacy. In reading the Personal Statement section of TLS with adcoms' comments, it seems as though they recommended having a section that speak to ability to handle academic rigor.

To me, your PS reads as poignant and well-written, though as a warning, I don't exactly have the most expertise in reviewing personal statements. I don't think it reads as overly personal (though if you're concerned, I might remove the "needle" reference in paragraph 4, as it is a bit graphic). However, I don't think the last paragraph explains why you want a law degree, as opposed to another kind of graduate degree.

ht2988
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby ht2988 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:20 pm

sabp21 wrote:However, I don't think the last paragraph explains why you want a law degree, as opposed to another kind of graduate degree.


Thanks for the feedback, sabp21... just curious as to why you think the last ppg doesn't address the "why law school?" element? This has to be the strongest point, so I'm open to suggestions as to how I can make it stronger.

Would anyone else like to chime in? I'd be more than happy to proof your PS :)

Big Dog
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby Big Dog » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:38 pm

personally, I would delete the clauses that say, 'earning a JD at xx LS' since that is pretty obvious. Also, delete "elitist" in last par, as well as other adjectives or trite descriptions: 'dropping like flies'.

Second, my read is that your story is somewhat inconsistent but most LS adcoms probably won't care (or see it).

For example, in the first par, you say that "the majority of current laws.. render our stories." but in the second par you lead with "many of these solutions do not lie within...jurisprudence..."

In par 3, you appear to suggest that the "root cause of HIV" is the lack of needle exchange programs. Is that what you intend?

Also agree that the Concl par would be perfect for a grad program in Public Health or social work. Perhaps focus a little more on legal rules/regs that are a negative force towards obtaining treatment and how your legal work fits?
Last edited by Big Dog on Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

sabp21
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby sabp21 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:42 pm

Sure- I would be interested in what other posters say as well, who maybe have more experience in this realm. I may be off the mark.

My reasoning for my comment is that while you explain that the legal process offers a pathway for justice for the community you're advocating for, a law degree is not the only avenue to participate in the process. (In fact, the projected state of the legal market as well as the expense of a law degree might even suggest that a J.D. doesn't provide the most desirable pathway.) While you don't specify what role you see yourself in within the legal process, you do discuss sharing ideas with other scholars and activists, which would lead even lead me to infer goals in policy advocacy/lobbying work. If those are your ends, a graduate degree in public affairs or public policy might be more fitting, and I believe, much more affordable due to more generous fellowships/teaching assistant positions (that is, if you choose to pursue more education at all). I was looking for an explanation of how a law degree would help you to have the impact you desire- what kind of work could you see yourself doing that makes a J.D. a worthwhile investment?
Last edited by sabp21 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:52 pm

"Our isues are not marriage or equal right to participation in the armed forces..." seems a bit shallow. As a college graduate, whether gay or straight, you should be able to understand the impact that gaining rights & recognition in one arena has on other areas.

Much of your writing focuses on blaming society rather than taking responsibility for engaging in risky behaviour. This raises maturity concerns, in my opinion.

Bluntly speaking, although your focus is passionate & sincere, it is somewhat narrow minded. A more well reasoned, balanced approach might help your cause.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:01 pm, edited 5 times in total.

ht2988
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby ht2988 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:52 pm

Big Dog wrote:personally, I would delete the clauses that say, 'earning a JD at xx LS' since that is pretty obvious. Also, delete "elitist" in last par, as well as other adjectives or trite descriptions: 'dropping like flies'.

Second, my read is that your story is somewhat inconsistent but most LS adcoms probably won't care (or see it).

For example, in the first par, you say that "the majority of current laws.. render our stories." but in the second par you lead with "many of these solutions do not lie within...jurisprudence..."

In par 3, you appear to suggest that the "root cause of HIV" is the lack of needle exchange programs. Is that what you intend?

Also agree that the Concl par would be perfect for a grad program in Public Health or social work. Perhaps focus a little more on legal rules/regs that are a negative force towards obtaining treatment and how your legal work fits?


Thanks for pointing all of this out - I've edited accordingly :)

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dingbat
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby dingbat » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:59 pm

I'm on cellphone so I got to keep it short

My initial reaction was that it is a very dangerous topic
My second reaction was TMI
My final reaction was that while it needs work, it has legs.

You will turn off some readers, which I'd ordinarily advise against.
However, for those who are not prejudiced (against black gay drug users), it can be a powerful statement. You represent a certain ideal. Run with it and cast a wide net

sabp21
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby sabp21 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:12 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:"Our isues are not marriage or equal right to participation in the armed forces..." seems a bit shallow. As a college graduate, whether gay or straight, you should be able to understand the impact that gaining rights & recognition in one arena has on other areas.

Much of your writing focuses on blaming society rather than taking responsibility for engaging in risky behaviour. This raises maturity concerns, in my opinion.

Bluntly speaking, although your focus is passionate & sincere, it is somewhat narrow minded. A more well reasoned, balanced approach might help your cause.


OP, I tend to agree with your politics, which leads me to advise against making these changes, though it may be in your interest to preempt his arguments in your PS. As I would imagine you know, the argument he raises about the focus among LGBT activists is a fairly common one in academia- in minority advocacy, where is it smartest to concentrate time and resources. I would also guess that I would be preaching to the choir in saying that you could easily make the case for discrimination in public health resources, favoring, say, white heterosexual males.

An important take-away though might be how your PS will resonate among adcoms who hold different positions than yours. Personally, I would find your position well-argued and personal (I find that it takes risks in the right way), but I think his comment illuminates that others might perceive it differently and that it would be in your interest to address their arguments in your statement and leave the most controversial parts out.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:26 pm

@sabp21: I don't think that you fully understand my critique. Please don't stereotype my comments . OP has a choice of whether to present his cause using the same method as used by Fox News to "advance" their political agenda, or to present his issues from a more mature & persuasive context.

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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:28 pm

OP: In answer to your question: Yes, your PS may make adcomms too uncomfortable, just not for the reasons that you may think.

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PickMe!
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby PickMe! » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:29 pm

I didn't make it past the first sentence.

sabp21
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby sabp21 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:45 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:@sabp21: I don't think that you fully understand my critique. Please don't stereotype my comments . OP has a choice of whether to present his cause using the same method as used by Fox News to "advance" their political agenda, or to present his issues from a more mature & persuasive context.


I didn't think that I did, and even told OP that it would be in his interest to address the points that you made.

However, your comments are not facts, but arguments (as are mine), and ones that are made and responded to fairly often in this kind of discourse. There are some who feel that any advancement of minority rights is a victory, and others who argue that a coalition should be strategic in the way it sets its agenda. I tend to subscribe to the latter position, though you are allowed to feel differently, and I believe OP should address (or not alienate) those who are partial to the first.

There are also many groups who engage in self-inflicted risky behavior, but the social resources that are available tend to change according to the demographic, which was why I responded the way I did above. I don't believe I responded to a caricature of your argument, though apologize if I did not fairly represent your position.

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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:59 pm

The maturity issue remains. I doubt that OP "MUST" attend CLS & , based on the posted PS draft, I doubt that OP is willing to understand other perspectives. This is a significant flaw in a law school personal statement, in my opinion. The arguments & reasoning of OP lack balance thereby rendering much of the writing unpersuasive & relegating these serious issues to the level of complaint box assertions.

ht2988
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby ht2988 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:22 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:The maturity issue remains. I doubt that OP "MUST" attend CLS & , based on the posted PS draft, I doubt that OP is willing to understand other perspectives. This is a significant flaw in a law school personal statement, in my opinion. The arguments & reasoning of OP lack balance thereby rendering much of the writing unpersuasive & relegating these serious issues to the level of complaint box assertions.


I'm not sure what leads you to believe that I am unwilling to understand other perspectives... This is MY personal statement, and so it is based on my experiences, which have indeed instilled in me a narrow perspective. That doesn't mean I don't understand the perspectives of others. I appreciate your feedback, and will definitely be working this over with an eye towards balance. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby fluffybunny » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:39 pm

Overall, I like this PS. To me, it communicates that you can write, that you've actually reflected on why you want to go to law school, and that you'd have deep diversity to contribute.

Few comments:
1. Rewrite the first two sentences of the third paragraph. They come off as imprecise and putting-on-airs-y. Figure out exactly what you want to say and then say it more clearly.
2. I'd call Obamacare the Affordable Care Act. No reason to inject that politicization of the law into your PS.
3. I agree the needle bit is too graphic.
3. Cut "elitist" and "nuanced" from the last paragraph. The rest of the paragraph makes "elitist" unnecesary since the theme is privilege. I cut "nuanced" because it sounds self-congratulatory--something, to your credit, that you've mostly managed to avoid in the rest of the PS. Also, as soon as I read "nuanced" I thought to myself, is his position actually nuanced?, which is a reaction you probably don't want.

ht2988
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby ht2988 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:40 pm

To all who have been so generous in reading and commenting thus far, please PM me your drafts and I'll get back to you with my own feedback. Many thanks!

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CO2016YEAH
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Re: Will this PS make adcomms TOO uncomfotable? I hope not...

Postby CO2016YEAH » Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:53 pm

Your statement is of such a controversial nature that I initially didn't want to touch it. Indeed, there are lots of interrelated subjects incorporated into your statement that can be the topic of extensive debate, different sides of which would have merit for different reasons, none of which are important here. I say this only as it speaks to the spirit of your statement, and the implications of this should be carefully considered.

I do think that you have indicated some controversial positions, and while you raise some good points controversy could be risky to your application status. Your personal statement, if you are fortunate, could be read by someone that sees you bring a perspective that is largely unique and not "mainstream," and believes that this would be beneficial in the classroom and culture of the school. Your statement might also be read by someone who agrees with you on most points and thinks that your voice is essential for the furtherance of the interests and issues you describe.

However, for many readers you could very well be presenting an objectionable social position, for reasons that have been described (specifically, providing justification for risky behavior). Furthermore, individuals that are not of your proximity to the effects of drug use are likely to be less concerned or even disdainful towards issues such as needle exchanges and safe injection sites. This type of reader is also unlikely to see that adverse affects of behaviors that he or she determines to be the result of poor decision making (i.e. drug use and unprotected prostitution) are of imminent social concern, and could therefore believe that your position would not make a valuable contribution to their institution.

It has been said that in reviewing applications adcoms are as much (or possibly more so) looking for reasons to reject an applicant as reasons to admit one. I think you potentially provide both here, but I think you run a severe risk of providing the former. In this vain, I would disclose what is necessary in the appropriate addenda and make your personal statement a little more widely "palatable" (I like this better than "mainstream").

Your position in the world as an HIV+, homosexual, recovering drug addict, man of color is not an easy one, but you already know this. In this regard, the responses you will get from your highly personalized personal statement will likely be a reflection of your difficult position in the world and the problems you have pointed out in the statement. I might suggest trying to highlight how you have overcome your circumstances, but you've kind of done that. I don't think it's good to dwell on setbacks, but these are at the root of your purpose in pursuing law. In the end, while it may feel personally stifling in the interim, you might be best served to focus on "getting in the door" and saving the declaration of your controversial ambitions for a later day. But if you decide to run with it, let us know if you get into CLS; I'm curious.

Good luck!




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