Personal Statement-First Draft--All advice appreciated!! :)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
pangean
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Personal Statement-First Draft--All advice appreciated!! :)

Postby pangean » Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:07 pm

I was dealt an uneven deck of cards from the day I was born. Diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of four months old, my parents knew that my life would be anything but normal. As early as I can remember, I never understood why, unlike normal kids, I would have to drink medicines every day or be on a therapy machine three times a day. As I grew older I began to understand that I am normal in many ways, but also different in many. In almost every aspect of life, including academia, it was clear to me that I would have to work much harder than others to excel.
This disease completely changed my perspective on both life and death. In fact, death has always been something I’ve had to think about as I grew up because of the fact that I knew any negligence or even a simple accident such as catching a severe cold could have serious consequences for me. It was then that I began thinking to myself, “What will I be remembered for when I pass?” would I simply be remembered for being yet another person to die from Cystic Fibrosis. The answer to me was obvious, if I was to be remembered, it was going to be for my achievements as someone who had to overcome this obstacle.
Once in high school I was further reminded of the extent to which I would have to outwork my peers. Yet not only would I have to work harder in academics, I would also have to prove to everyone that I was normal. “Why are you always coughing?” was a question that I was asked several times during my high school years, and it was one I was never comfortable answering. Not due to the fact that I was embarrassed or ashamed of what I had, but mainly, because I wanted people to view me as just another person at school. Stereotypes are something all high school students end up dealing with, and I would have been happy to be labeled as “the nerd”, “the geek”, or “the salsa dancer”; any of those options were better than being known as the sick kid. I wanted to be able to dictate what I was known for, and have it be due to my personality, not my genetics. Furthermore, I never wanted anyone’s opinions of me to change and I didn’t want people sympathizing for me. I was going to have to prove to everyone that I was just as capable as them to succeed in other areas of life.
A revelation for me came my sophomore year of high school when I tried out for the tennis team. Two weeks after trying out, I received a call from no other than the tennis coach, I had made it!…I was now on the Varsity tennis team at Hamilton High School, this was the first step in my attempts to prove to everyone, but mainly to myself, that I could be normal. The next year I took it even further by trying out for the soccer team and making it onto the junior varsity team. The rest of my high school life seemed to go perfectly; I excelled in my studies—receiving many academic certificates throughout my high school years such as Principles Honor Roll and certificates in certain subjects such as Math—and my perseverance had paid off. It seemed as if nothing could stop me now.
My biggest challenge came when I moved out to college and began living on my own. I found myself overcome and overwhelmed by both the freedom and coursework that was suddenly dropped on me when I began at the University of California, San Diego. The stress of this new life had begun to get to me and my health began to suffer because of it, I would constantly miss class and be in the hospital due to illness brought about by my lack of care for myself, as I prioritized school over health. Quickly, I learned that something would have to change. My grades began to decline and I began to lose the confidence I had worked so hard to build up. I refused to give up and I continued to move forward because my goals were set for me. I was not about to let anyone down, especially myself.
Sadly during my last quarter in my third year at UCSD, I again fell to the villain that has plagued me for most of my life. It was during this visit that I finally made a drastic change in my life, one that impacted my life in a positive way. Although it may sound like the obvious choice, I began to care less about school and more about my health—something I had never done before because I was always so concerned about doing well in school and just being normal. As I got older and my condition got worse, as well as the added pressures that college brought onto me, I knew my current lifestyle would not suffice. I was determined to end the self-perpetuating cycle that was harming both my health and my academics. This new change in my lifestyle to my surprise did not cause my grades to drop as I thought they would, but rather my grades began to improve and I began to do much better in my academic work as well as with my health. With my newfound health, I began to excel in my work and was able to do a lot more with my life; including building connections with one of my favorite professors at UCSD—who awakened my interest in Law—and even starting an internship for Senator Joel Anderson during my last few months as a third year. My last year at UCSD flew by and my grades continued to improve; I had finally reached that level of maturity where I could balance both my life and school-work.
My journey has not always been an easy one, but I remain strengthened by my fervent goal: to overcome my disease and truly make something of myself in order to be remembered for my accomplishments. As a result, no obstacle can stand in my way for long. It is with this mindset that I intend to approach law school and like every other time in my life when I have been tested, I know that I will conquer it and excel at law school. I will be remembered as a man who overcame Cystic Fibrosis, obtained a J.D., and became a successful lawyer regardless of the harrowing odds.

User avatar
fruitoftheloom
Posts: 395
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:38 pm

Re: Personal Statement-First Draft--All advice appreciated!! :)

Postby fruitoftheloom » Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:20 pm

pangean wrote:I was dealt an uneven deck of cards from the day I was born. Diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of four months old, my parents knew that my life would be anything but normal. You start a lot of sentences this way and it reads awkwardly. I think you can do it maybe once or twice, but for the most part stick to normal structure. As early as I can remember, I never understood why, unlike normal kids, I would have to drink medicines every day or be on a therapy machine three times a day. As I grew older I began to understand that I am normal in many ways, but also different in many. In almost every aspect of life, including academia, it was clear to me that I would have to work much harder than others to excel.
Your intro paragraph doesn't do a lot. I'm sympathetic because I have a close friend with CF, and I know how awful the disease is. You need to shore this up a lot. I would scrap everything from this..

This disease completely changed my perspective on both life and death. In fact, death has always been something I’ve had to think about as I grew up because of the fact that I knew any negligence or even a simple accident such as catching a severe cold could have serious consequences for me. It was then that I began thinking to myself, “What will I be remembered for when I pass?” would I simply be remembered for being yet another person to die from Cystic Fibrosis. The answer to me was obvious, if I was to be remembered, it was going to be for my achievements as someone who had to overcome this obstacle.
Logically - you were diagnosed at 4 months old, so CF could not possibly have "changed your perspective" - you've always lived with it. Instead, make it clear that it has INFORMED your perspective. Also you use a lot of weird passive voice "if I was to be remembered" that just sounds weird. Make it active - "I want people to remember me for my achievements as someone who has overcome this obstacle".

Once in high school I was further reminded of the extent to which I would have to outwork my peers. "I was further reminded" another example of passive voice. Yet not only would I have to work harder in academics, I would also have to prove to everyone that I was normal. “Why are you always coughing?” was a question that I was asked several times during my high school years, and it was one I was never comfortable answering. Not due to the fact that I was embarrassed or ashamed of what I had, but mainly, because I wanted people to view me as just another person at school. Stereotypes are something all high school students end up dealing with, and I would have been happy to be labeled as “the nerd”, “the geek”, or “the salsa dancer”; any of those options were better than being known as the sick kid. I wanted to be able to dictate what I was known for, and have it be due to my personality, not my genetics. Furthermore, I never wanted anyone’s opinions of me to change and I didn’t want people sympathizing for me. I was going to have to prove to everyone that I was just as capable as them to succeed in other areas of life.
A revelation for me came my sophomore year of high school when I tried out for the tennis team. Two weeks after trying out, I received a call from no other than the tennis coach, I had made it!… what's with the random ellipses? I was now on the Varsity tennis team at Hamilton High School, this was the first step in my attempts to prove to everyone, but mainly to myself, that I could be normal. The next year I took it even further by trying out for the soccer team and making it onto the junior varsity team. The rest of my high school life seemed to go perfectly; I excelled in my studies—receiving many academic certificates throughout my high school years such as Principles Honor Roll and certificates in certain subjects such as Math—and my perseverance had paid off. It seemed as if nothing could stop me now.
Okay. do me a favor. Every time you see the word "was" ask yourself if you can reword the sentence in a way to eliminate that word. The last part of the statement sounds like a resume.

My biggest challenge came when I moved out to college and began living on my own. I found myself overcome and overwhelmed by both the freedom and coursework that was suddenly dropped on me when I began at the University of California, San Diego. The stress of this new life had begun to get to me and my health began to suffer because of it, I would constantly miss class and be in the hospital due to illness brought about by my lack of care for myself, as I prioritized school over health. Quickly, I learned that something would have to change. My grades began to decline and I began to lose the confidence I had worked so hard to build up. I refused to give up and I continued to move forward because my goals were set for me. I was not about to let anyone down, especially myself.
1) "my goals were set for me" - passive voice, that makes it sound like somoene else set your goals and you're just going with the plan. This also sounds like a grade addendum.
Sadly during my last quarter in my third year at UCSD, I again fell to the villain that has plagued me for most of my life. It was during this visit that I finally made a drastic change in my life, one that impacted my life in a positive way. Although it may sound like the obvious choice, I began to care less about school and more about my health—something I had never done before because I was always so concerned about doing well in school and just being normal. As I got older and my condition got worse, as well as the added pressures that college brought onto me, I knew my current lifestyle would not suffice. I was determined to end the self-perpetuating cycle that was harming both my health and my academics. This new change in my lifestyle to my surprise did not cause my grades to drop as I thought they would, but rather my grades began to improve and I began to do much better in my academic work as well as with my health. With my newfound health, I began to excel in my work and was able to do a lot more with my life; including building connections with one of my favorite professors at UCSD—who awakened my interest in Law—and even starting an internship for Senator Joel Anderson during my last few months as a third year. My last year at UCSD flew by and my grades continued to improve; I had finally reached that level of maturity where I could balance both my life and school-work.
My journey has not always been an easy one, but I remain strengthened by my fervent goal: to overcome my disease and truly make something of myself in order to be remembered for my accomplishments. As a result, no obstacle can stand in my way for long. It is with this mindset that I intend to approach law school and like every other time in my life when I have been tested, I know that I will conquer it and excel at law school. I will be remembered as a man who overcame Cystic Fibrosis, obtained a J.D., and became a successful lawyer regardless of the harrowing odds.


In this last paragraph, you don't talk about what you do to overcome CF and begin taking care of yourself. You make it sound like you just woke up one day and though, "you know, I think I'll be healthy" and then that happened. If you're going to use this as a statement, you should instead focus on the steps you took to make yourself more healthy. Did you quit taking your medicine and then start again? Did you create some new routine? I don't learn anything about you because you don't take me through the process of what you did to get better.

Okay - some thoughts - first, congrats on making it through college with CF. Truthfully - after reading your PS, you have some issues here. The sentences are mostly written in passive voice and the way you start many of them reads awkwardly. I think that you should consider making CF a diversity statement instead of a personal statement. I think the statement does two things: one, it sounds like an excuse for bad grades (never good - you could maybe write a combo DS / grade addendum), second, as a reader it leaves me concerned that you won't have the ability to manage your illness and make it through law school. I think part of the goal of a personal statement should be to let the ad comm feel like they know you or they know some aspect of your personality. I don't think your statement does that. I think if you're going to keep this as a statement, you need to add a lot more "meat" to the statement. You can do this by SPECIFICALLY describing how you managed both CF & school. I think (if it's true) you can talk about how that meant managing your time more efficiently than peers, etc. If you keep this, read your statement out loud because there is a lot there that just doesn't sound good the way it's worded.

If you revise & want additional comments, feel free to PM me. Also take what you like out of this and throw the rest in the trash :) Good luck!!

pangean
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Re: Personal Statement-First Draft--All advice appreciated!! :)

Postby pangean » Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:09 pm

Thank you for the advice. I'm going to turn this into my DS instead and work on a different personal statement like you suggested. :)




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.