edited PS

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Anonymous User
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edited PS

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:06 am

A Simple Call
About fifteen months ago I was sitting in class tapping my heels on the carpet in a nervous fit, chewing off the ends of my already worn down nails, unsuccessfully brainstorming ideas in regards to a paper that would determine the entirety of my grade in that class. I needed to write about a court and legal system of a country of my choice. Being half Persian, I chose Iran. Still however, I was completely stumped and decided to call my mother and ask for her experiences whilst growing up in Iran. I then moved to picking the thick calluses I had developed during the hours I spent in the gym. Skeptical was an understatement, I did not think this call would accomplish anything other than keeping me distracted from the paper for another twenty minutes. It turns out that in fact, this phone call I had with my mother not only changed my view of her, but also promoted a change in paradigm that I would never have had otherwise.
I knew my mother was never involved in legal issues during her adolescence in Iran. Albeit, when I made the call I asked if she had any encounters with the law while she was in Iran during the Iranian Revolution. As I suspected, she did not say anything I did not already find out through my research. I was ready to hang up. I appreciated what she had to say, but at the time I was focused on my set time constraints and needed to get to work as after all, I only had a few more days until the paper was due. However somehow, the conversation took a different direction and she mentioned honor killing. Honor killing is a practice in which Middle Eastern women who find a male spouse outside of their family’s interest are beaten or killed by males in their immediate family. This almost always resulted in little or no castigation for the perpetrator of the crime. This was something my mother then started to grow timid in regards to talking about this subject; however I assured that it was alright, and that she should explain to me what she obviously knew something about, I grew interested. My mother told me that part of the reason why she left Iran was because she wanted to find love, and was actually the victim of such an assault at her father’s barn when she was an adolescent. She then spoke of an event in which she was leaving a birthday party when her brother forced her into his car and took her to the old cow milk barn that her father worked at during the day. She was then told that she was suspected of talking to a boy at that party, and was to be beaten physically by her brother as punishment. Had her father not rushed out and stopped the development after hearing the commotion that had been developing for the last fifteen to twenty minutes, she probably would have been physically chastised. She explained to me how when she left Iran she felt as though she was almost forced to leave her country. This was not only because of the Iranian Revolution, but the physical and mental oppression of women that obligated her to leave her own country. I was in shock, my whole life I thought I saw a loving innocent woman, but to my disbelief my mother had been through more than I could imagine. My mother was sure that if she had stayed in Iran during the 1979 change from the westernized government that was in place to the rebellious “Islamic” government led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, she would either be dead or a slave of a man of whom she was assigned to marry. Her experience triggered something in me, an emotion I had never felt before. This simple call changed what I knew about my family, and gave me a sense of vigilantism that I needed to fulfill.
I had never formerly suspected this of my family; I see them all the time, I know them. This is the woman who has raised me and loved me since I was born; she is the purest and the most determined person I know, how could she of anyone been a victim of such heresy? At the time I didn’t know whether to be outraged at my mother’s deceased brother, who had died just a year earlier, or to channel my anger onto my paper and write up a storm. Ultimately, I decided neither. The respect I had for mother’s privacy was far more sacred. I decided that I would not tell anyone and instead use this knowledge to channel my own drive. I went from a somewhat apathetic person in these types of matters to a person who now knew his direction in life. I knew from that point forward that I would never be able to sit still and let these injustices continue. Instead of acting on this sense of vigilantism, the same pernicious sense my mother’s brother acted upon, I promised myself I would act upon knowledge and passion to create true justice.
Seeing such a primitive punitive system as an acceptable form of justice should be considered an outrage to human beings as a species, as we are capable of much more than that. This call sparked my interest in researching various world judicial systems, and has helped me come to the realization that the United States legal system plays a vital role in our society by allowing disputes to be resolved in a civilized manner, such that people do not take justice into their own hands. Someday, I wish to travel to Iran and use the skills I acquired in law school to help these underprivileged people realize that there are more civil ways to handle negative situations, and that honor killings or beatings are not an admissible form of cultural expression and should be considered archaic.
In my pursuit for a law degree at ______, I believe that I will be provided with the sustenance I will need to accomplish my goals, and that a quality legal education will play an integral role in my personally fueled drive for success and humanity.

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ashockofpink
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Re: edited PS

Postby ashockofpink » Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:53 pm

Hey there :) Gave this a quick read - very interesting topic but here are a few suggestions (just from my point of view):

(A) Focus more on yourself than your mother. While - yes- this call may have affected your decision to become a lawyer, what have you done since this call to promote the worldview you envision? I'm completely with you in feeling that there are many horrendous things in this world (I want to focus on International Law) and it might be good to focus on YOU and what YOU have achieved.

(B) On a similar vein, telling your mother's story is fine. However, telling it and then saying that you respected her too much to put it in a paper (yet you're willing to share it with/without (?) her permission to strangers at a law school) could be problematic. Either something along the lines of "My mother, sharing my desires to change, hopes her story will blablabla" or "While I needed time to process this story/whatever and it did not make its way into the essay, it changed my political views and ...".

(C) Beware of "In my pursuit for a law degree at ___" type statements. Almost every single interview with a law dean says that if they feel that their name is interchangeable with any other school's name, you earn zero brownie points and might even get some points taken away. If you can dedicate a full paragraph to the school, do so. I personally did not include anything like that in my statement and just chose to write a supplementary essay to 2 schools explaining my specific interest in them. I don't know what your numbers are like so don't hold me to it but so far I've gotten acceptances to W&M and UCLA - both with scholarships - and neither of them got a "Why X" essay/paragraph. At the end of the day, your story speaks for itself and obviously you hope to pursue your degree at school X - that's why you're applying! Take that space and use it to show how you stand out (which, judging by your PS so far, you definitely do)

(D) Just last little somewhat nit-picky thing that my LSAT tutor told me - anything that is not inherently necessary to your essay... remove it. Unless you're planning on emphasizing your physical achievements in college (were you on a varsity team? If so, it's more reasonable) the "hours at the gym" is unnecessary. Your mother's story, while both beautiful and chilling, can be stripped to its minimum (painful as that is) to shift the focus on you. Your anger, your feelings, your desire for change are what makes this PS & consequently you unique...as it SHOULD be, because YOU are the potential student.


I apologize if I sound blunt as hell, I hated having people reading my statement and just saying "oh that's nice!" or "wow, that's deep". Completely unhelpful. It took my LSAT tutor sitting me down and literally decimating it and leaving me to build up from the crumbs I had left to develop a statement that actually was MUCH better than the original. I'd rather have people give me too much feedback than not enough :). If you want to see mine, shoot me a message. It's also on a somewhat controversial topic and I too started with a heavy focus on the story/others instead of me/where I was going so it might be of some help to you (or not, either way).


Regardless, best of luck! Hope I was able to help you in some way!!! :D
Last edited by ashockofpink on Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PickMe!
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Re: edited PS

Postby PickMe! » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:23 pm

Grammatical errors aside, this PS is seemingly about your mother's journey, not yours. Furthermore, I'm confused by, "The respect I had for mother's privacy was far more sacred. I decided that I would not tell anyone and instead use this knowledge to channel my own drive." Huhh? You're using her narrative as your PS. :roll:

Anonymous User
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Re: edited PS

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:31 am

ashockofpink wrote:Hey there :) Gave this a quick read - very interesting topic but here are a few suggestions (just from my point of view):

(A) Focus more on yourself than your mother. While - yes- this call may have affected your decision to become a lawyer, what have you done since this call to promote the worldview you envision? I'm completely with you in feeling that there are many horrendous things in this world (I want to focus on International Law) and it might be good to focus on YOU and what YOU have achieved.

(B) On a similar vein, telling your mother's story is fine. However, telling it and then saying that you respected her too much to put it in a paper (yet you're willing to share it with/without (?) her permission to strangers at a law school) could be problematic. Either something along the lines of "My mother, sharing my desires to change, hopes her story will blablabla" or "While I needed time to process this story/whatever and it did not make its way into the essay, it changed my political views and ...".

(C) Beware of "In my pursuit for a law degree at ___" type statements. Almost every single interview with a law dean says that if they feel that their name is interchangeable with any other school's name, you earn zero brownie points and might even get some points taken away. If you can dedicate a full paragraph to the school, do so. I personally did not include anything like that in my statement and just chose to write a supplementary essay to 2 schools explaining my specific interest in them. I don't know what your numbers are like so don't hold me to it but so far I've gotten acceptances to W&M and UCLA - both with scholarships - and neither of them got a "Why X" essay/paragraph. At the end of the day, your story speaks for itself and obviously you hope to pursue your degree at school X - that's why you're applying! Take that space and use it to show how you stand out (which, judging by your PS so far, you definitely do)

(D) Just last little somewhat nit-picky thing that my LSAT tutor told me - anything that is not inherently necessary to your essay... remove it. Unless you're planning on emphasizing your physical achievements in college (were you on a varsity team? If so, it's more reasonable) the "hours at the gym" is unnecessary. Your mother's story, while both beautiful and chilling, can be stripped to its minimum (painful as that is) to shift the focus on you. Your anger, your feelings, your desire for change are what makes this PS & consequently you unique...as it SHOULD be, because YOU are the potential student.


I apologize if I sound blunt as hell, I hated having people reading my statement and just saying "oh that's nice!" or "wow, that's deep". Completely unhelpful. It took my LSAT tutor sitting me down and literally decimating it and leaving me to build up from the crumbs I had left to develop a statement that actually was MUCH better than the original. I'd rather have people give me too much feedback than not enough :). If you want to see mine, shoot me a message. It's also on a somewhat controversial topic and I too started with a heavy focus on the story/others instead of me/where I was going so it might be of some help to you (or not, either way).


Regardless, best of luck! Hope I was able to help you in some way!!! :D


I actually did ask my mother if I could use her story in my statement. She agreed (I'll be sure to clarify this notion, thanks for pointing that out). I'll remove the at X Law statement, and I am going to make Why X statements for a few of my apps, thanks for that as well, good advice.

And funny you mention it, yes, I did play division 1 college football, so the hours in the gym, although not relevant to my story, is relevant to me as a person.

and about your top point, I'm not trying to rebut your advice, but I'd like to clarify that I haven't done anything to pursue the worldview I envision, that's my point in the conclusion, I want to go to law school so that I can work to achieve the worldview I envision. Meaning, going to law school is in fact helping me achieve that goal. IE: through Intl Law or otherwise.



PickMe! wrote:Grammatical errors aside, this PS is seemingly about your mother's journey, not yours. Furthermore, I'm confused by, "The respect I had for mother's privacy was far more sacred. I decided that I would not tell anyone and instead use this knowledge to channel my own drive." Huhh? You're using her narrative as your PS. :roll:



other than the use of conjunctions, which I plan on removing. What grammatical errors are in my statement?



And I think you are misunderstanding my statement, the story my mother told me is not the point of the personal statement, the point is the reaction I had to what she told me. IE: my intro and my conclusion which elaborates on how this gave me a change in paradigm that I talked about in my first paragraph. I only elaborate on the story to show why it changed me so much.

I tried to add bits here and there during the story she told me to show this... maybe I didn't do as good a job at this as I think I did.

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PickMe!
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Re: edited PS

Postby PickMe! » Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:59 am

And I think you are misunderstanding my statement, the story my mother told me is not the point of the personal statement, the point is the reaction I had to what she told me. IE: my intro and my conclusion which elaborates on how this gave me a change in paradigm that I talked about in my first paragraph. I only elaborate on the story to show why it changed me so much.

I tried to add bits here and there during the story she told me to show this... maybe I didn't do as good a job at this as I think I did.


Hey! I didn’t misunderstand your statement. I understood your objective perfectly; you didn't accomplish it. To that end, you allowed your PS to be sidetracked with too much irrelevant detail and major mechanical and grammatical sentence problems. In short, your PS suffers from lack of editing. Also, google: The Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School.

What grammatical errors are in my statement?

There are a lot more, but I think you should start with these:

• Use digits for numbers greater than ten.
• Regarding, not “in regards to”
• "whilst" is Archaic, use while
• Delete “that in fact”
• Should be a space after otherwise(period) (SPACE) I
• Subject "law" conflicts with verb "while."
• “promoted a change in paradigm that I would never have had” Seriously, bro? How about, “changed my perspective”
• “as after all” Seriously, bro? Remove as, place a period and start a new sentence
• Either get rid of “however” and lead with “somehow” or place a comma after “However” and get rid of “somehow”
• “outside” not “outside of”
• “in regard to” not “in regards to”
• However(comma) I “assured her” not “assured that” it was alright (period)
• Subject "interest" conflicts with verb "are."
• You don’t need any of this “and that she should explain to me what she obviously knew something about, I grew interested.”
• “reason why she” is redundant, use reason she
• Try, “the old cow barn where her father worked during the day.”
• There are several ways of writing this for easy reading, try, “She was then accused of talking to a boy at a party; And, as punishment, she had to be beaten.”
• You don’t need any of this, “that had been developing for the last fifteen to twenty minutes”
• never “formerly” is Archaic, use
• My disbelief my is an unusual word combination
• “how could she of anyone been a victim of such heresy” I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.
• You don’t need “At the time”
• “who had died just a year earlier,” This is irrelevant.
• “Or” not “or to”
• This adds nothing, “write up a storm.”
• My disbelief my is an unusual word combination
• “Instead of acting on this sense of vigilantism, the same pernicious sense my mother's brother acted upon, I promised myself I would act upon knowledge and passion to create true justice.” Seriously, Bro? This is hyperbole.
• “upon” is Archaic, use on
• “outrage to human beings as a species” This is more hyperbole.
• “This call” What call? If you mean your mother’s story, say it.
• “sparked my interest in researching various world judicial systems, and has helped…” I’m a 0L, but I think you mean international human rights (law).
• Plural noun "people" conflicts with pronoun "that."

Anonymous User
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Re: edited PS

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:38 am

PickMe! wrote:
And I think you are misunderstanding my statement, the story my mother told me is not the point of the personal statement, the point is the reaction I had to what she told me. IE: my intro and my conclusion which elaborates on how this gave me a change in paradigm that I talked about in my first paragraph. I only elaborate on the story to show why it changed me so much.

I tried to add bits here and there during the story she told me to show this... maybe I didn't do as good a job at this as I think I did.


Hey! I didn’t misunderstand your statement. I understood your objective perfectly; you didn't accomplish it. To that end, you allowed your PS to be sidetracked with too much irrelevant detail and major mechanical and grammatical sentence problems. In short, your PS suffers from lack of editing. Also, google: The Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School.

What grammatical errors are in my statement?

There are a lot more, but I think you should start with these:

• Use digits for numbers greater than ten.
• Regarding, not “in regards to”
• "whilst" is Archaic, use while
• Delete “that in fact”
• Should be a space after otherwise(period) (SPACE) I
• Subject "law" conflicts with verb "while."
• “promoted a change in paradigm that I would never have had” Seriously, bro? How about, “changed my perspective”
• “as after all” Seriously, bro? Remove as, place a period and start a new sentence
• Either get rid of “however” and lead with “somehow” or place a comma after “However” and get rid of “somehow”
• “outside” not “outside of”
• “in regard to” not “in regards to”
• However(comma) I “assured her” not “assured that” it was alright (period)
• Subject "interest" conflicts with verb "are."
• You don’t need any of this “and that she should explain to me what she obviously knew something about, I grew interested.”
• “reason why she” is redundant, use reason she
• Try, “the old cow barn where her father worked during the day.”
• There are several ways of writing this for easy reading, try, “She was then accused of talking to a boy at a party; And, as punishment, she had to be beaten.”
• You don’t need any of this, “that had been developing for the last fifteen to twenty minutes”
• never “formerly” is Archaic, use
• My disbelief my is an unusual word combination
• “how could she of anyone been a victim of such heresy” I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.
• You don’t need “At the time”
• “who had died just a year earlier,” This is irrelevant.
• “Or” not “or to”
• This adds nothing, “write up a storm.”
• My disbelief my is an unusual word combination
• “Instead of acting on this sense of vigilantism, the same pernicious sense my mother's brother acted upon, I promised myself I would act upon knowledge and passion to create true justice.” Seriously, Bro? This is hyperbole.
• “upon” is Archaic, use on
• “outrage to human beings as a species” This is more hyperbole.
• “This call” What call? If you mean your mother’s story, say it.
• “sparked my interest in researching various world judicial systems, and has helped…” I’m a 0L, but I think you mean international human rights (law).
• Plural noun "people" conflicts with pronoun "that."


I appreciate the advice


I changed the wording you advised as well as the use of hyperbole.

Any advice you can give on the style i used to convey my story (IE: making it more focused on myself)

hannahk
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Re: edited PS

Postby hannahk » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:21 pm

Hi there,

Feel free to take or leave any of this advice. I'll start by saying that getting feedback on personal statements is a brutal and harsh process. I work at a law firm and shared my original PS with an attorney that I greatly respect and admire. And she ripped it apart. But, after feeling like an idiot and doubting myself for thinking I could ever go to law school, I started fresh and ended with a PS that was so much more genuine and heartfelt. When I was admitted to my first law school, the Dean included a handwritten note about my PS, commenting on it specifically and thanking me for sharing my reflections. It was complete validation after a brutal process.

I'll start with big themes. I heard the same comment over and over again. The personal statement is PERSONAL; use an anecdote but make it about you; what do you want to tell the adcoms? While this anecdote is intense and could potentially reveal a great deal about you, I do not think you use it quite right. Every word in a PS takes up valuable real estate. This story focuses too much on your mother and not enough on you. You might respond, well duh - it's a story about my mother. And that's great and perhaps in another venue, you can share it more fully but for a PS, you need to morph the story to focus on YOUR reactions. You can take out a lot of the narrative in your essay. It will feel bare bones at first but I guarantee it will be more compelling if you do. After all, the harshest stories are often most compelling when told raw.

Your introduction: I do not think this is effective. I understand wanting to open with a jarring sentence to really capture the attention of the reader but your sentence brought up some negative questions in my mind. Hopefully your application will demonstrate that you are a strong and capable student. If you are freaking out about a paper, tearing out your nails, and struggling to think of a topic, this might raise doubts in a reader's mind about your academic capacity. Can you handle the stress of law school? Law school grades are largely determined by one exam (just like this one paper). You should be able to demonstrate that you can handle this. I would start right in on your mother's story. This introduction also takes up valuable space and is largely irrelevant to the ultimate points of your PS.

I also heard this countless times and hated it every time I heard it but... "show don't tell." You should not need to tell the reader that this phone call changed a great deal. You should demonstrate these changes through vivid and compelling language and thoughtful reflection. Later in your PS, you write: "Her experienced triggered something in me, an emotion I had never felt before." I think demonstrating growth and change are great. But again, this sentence itself serves only as a place filler. Why not directly describe that emotion?

Language: Sure, some of the comments are a little harsh regarding your word choice but some are also helpful. We all want to use $10 words that demonstrate our vast vocabulary. However, flashy words can detract from the purpose of the sentence and distract from an otherwise original or thoughtful idea. I would sift through your essay and really think about what each word is doing - is that clear? Why did I choose "castigation" when punishment would do? Does "physically chastised" really do justice to a familial beating? Do you want to use the language "write up a storm"? Do you really want to be a vigilante when that implies going outside of the law? After all, you are applying to law school.

Content: Your readers will be smart. I think most people in this day and age know what an honor killing is and most people understand the basic premise of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Therefore, you do not need to devote valuable space and time to explaining what the readers should already know.

I think you chose a fantastic anecdote for your PS. However, I think you could use it better. If you tighten up your mother's story and dive headfirst into your reaction to that story, this PS will take you far. Right now, this PS focuses too much on her and not enough on your responses and it makes grand generalizations without really backing them up with descriptions. There are a few logical inconsistencies that others have already brought up, and I believe those will be taken care of if you sift through this PS and take out extraneous language.

Good luck and feel free to PM me with any questions or if you hate me and want to vent about these comments. I completely get it and apologize for the harshness. However, I really do think you can do a lot with this!

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Re: edited PS

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:29 pm

hannahk wrote:Hi there,

Feel free to take or leave any of this advice. I'll start by saying that getting feedback on personal statements is a brutal and harsh process. I work at a law firm and shared my original PS with an attorney that I greatly respect and admire. And she ripped it apart. But, after feeling like an idiot and doubting myself for thinking I could ever go to law school, I started fresh and ended with a PS that was so much more genuine and heartfelt. When I was admitted to my first law school, the Dean included a handwritten note about my PS, commenting on it specifically and thanking me for sharing my reflections. It was complete validation after a brutal process.

I'll start with big themes. I heard the same comment over and over again. The personal statement is PERSONAL; use an anecdote but make it about you; what do you want to tell the adcoms? While this anecdote is intense and could potentially reveal a great deal about you, I do not think you use it quite right. Every word in a PS takes up valuable real estate. This story focuses too much on your mother and not enough on you. You might respond, well duh - it's a story about my mother. And that's great and perhaps in another venue, you can share it more fully but for a PS, you need to morph the story to focus on YOUR reactions. You can take out a lot of the narrative in your essay. It will feel bare bones at first but I guarantee it will be more compelling if you do. After all, the harshest stories are often most compelling when told raw.

Your introduction: I do not think this is effective. I understand wanting to open with a jarring sentence to really capture the attention of the reader but your sentence brought up some negative questions in my mind. Hopefully your application will demonstrate that you are a strong and capable student. If you are freaking out about a paper, tearing out your nails, and struggling to think of a topic, this might raise doubts in a reader's mind about your academic capacity. Can you handle the stress of law school? Law school grades are largely determined by one exam (just like this one paper). You should be able to demonstrate that you can handle this. I would start right in on your mother's story. This introduction also takes up valuable space and is largely irrelevant to the ultimate points of your PS.

I also heard this countless times and hated it every time I heard it but... "show don't tell." You should not need to tell the reader that this phone call changed a great deal. You should demonstrate these changes through vivid and compelling language and thoughtful reflection. Later in your PS, you write: "Her experienced triggered something in me, an emotion I had never felt before." I think demonstrating growth and change are great. But again, this sentence itself serves only as a place filler. Why not directly describe that emotion?

Language: Sure, some of the comments are a little harsh regarding your word choice but some are also helpful. We all want to use $10 words that demonstrate our vast vocabulary. However, flashy words can detract from the purpose of the sentence and distract from an otherwise original or thoughtful idea. I would sift through your essay and really think about what each word is doing - is that clear? Why did I choose "castigation" when punishment would do? Does "physically chastised" really do justice to a familial beating? Do you want to use the language "write up a storm"? Do you really want to be a vigilante when that implies going outside of the law? After all, you are applying to law school.

Content: Your readers will be smart. I think most people in this day and age know what an honor killing is and most people understand the basic premise of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Therefore, you do not need to devote valuable space and time to explaining what the readers should already know.

I think you chose a fantastic anecdote for your PS. However, I think you could use it better. If you tighten up your mother's story and dive headfirst into your reaction to that story, this PS will take you far. Right now, this PS focuses too much on her and not enough on your responses and it makes grand generalizations without really backing them up with descriptions. There are a few logical inconsistencies that others have already brought up, and I believe those will be taken care of if you sift through this PS and take out extraneous language.

Good luck and feel free to PM me with any questions or if you hate me and want to vent about these comments. I completely get it and apologize for the harshness. However, I really do think you can do a lot with this!


Thanks a lot! This criticism helped me a lot, I think that is exactly what I will do. I'm going to change the intro to the story and then go into greater detail about my reactions and how it changed me.

This feedback helped a lot, I will make those changes and I will probably pm you within the next week or so (as I am in finals and have a lot of work to do, so I will probably wait until satuday to make most of the changes you advised). Again, thank you.

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Re: edited PS

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:29 pm

hannahk wrote:Hi there,

Feel free to take or leave any of this advice. I'll start by saying that getting feedback on personal statements is a brutal and harsh process. I work at a law firm and shared my original PS with an attorney that I greatly respect and admire. And she ripped it apart. But, after feeling like an idiot and doubting myself for thinking I could ever go to law school, I started fresh and ended with a PS that was so much more genuine and heartfelt. When I was admitted to my first law school, the Dean included a handwritten note about my PS, commenting on it specifically and thanking me for sharing my reflections. It was complete validation after a brutal process.

I'll start with big themes. I heard the same comment over and over again. The personal statement is PERSONAL; use an anecdote but make it about you; what do you want to tell the adcoms? While this anecdote is intense and could potentially reveal a great deal about you, I do not think you use it quite right. Every word in a PS takes up valuable real estate. This story focuses too much on your mother and not enough on you. You might respond, well duh - it's a story about my mother. And that's great and perhaps in another venue, you can share it more fully but for a PS, you need to morph the story to focus on YOUR reactions. You can take out a lot of the narrative in your essay. It will feel bare bones at first but I guarantee it will be more compelling if you do. After all, the harshest stories are often most compelling when told raw.

Your introduction: I do not think this is effective. I understand wanting to open with a jarring sentence to really capture the attention of the reader but your sentence brought up some negative questions in my mind. Hopefully your application will demonstrate that you are a strong and capable student. If you are freaking out about a paper, tearing out your nails, and struggling to think of a topic, this might raise doubts in a reader's mind about your academic capacity. Can you handle the stress of law school? Law school grades are largely determined by one exam (just like this one paper). You should be able to demonstrate that you can handle this. I would start right in on your mother's story. This introduction also takes up valuable space and is largely irrelevant to the ultimate points of your PS.

I also heard this countless times and hated it every time I heard it but... "show don't tell." You should not need to tell the reader that this phone call changed a great deal. You should demonstrate these changes through vivid and compelling language and thoughtful reflection. Later in your PS, you write: "Her experienced triggered something in me, an emotion I had never felt before." I think demonstrating growth and change are great. But again, this sentence itself serves only as a place filler. Why not directly describe that emotion?

Language: Sure, some of the comments are a little harsh regarding your word choice but some are also helpful. We all want to use $10 words that demonstrate our vast vocabulary. However, flashy words can detract from the purpose of the sentence and distract from an otherwise original or thoughtful idea. I would sift through your essay and really think about what each word is doing - is that clear? Why did I choose "castigation" when punishment would do? Does "physically chastised" really do justice to a familial beating? Do you want to use the language "write up a storm"? Do you really want to be a vigilante when that implies going outside of the law? After all, you are applying to law school.

Content: Your readers will be smart. I think most people in this day and age know what an honor killing is and most people understand the basic premise of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Therefore, you do not need to devote valuable space and time to explaining what the readers should already know.

I think you chose a fantastic anecdote for your PS. However, I think you could use it better. If you tighten up your mother's story and dive headfirst into your reaction to that story, this PS will take you far. Right now, this PS focuses too much on her and not enough on your responses and it makes grand generalizations without really backing them up with descriptions. There are a few logical inconsistencies that others have already brought up, and I believe those will be taken care of if you sift through this PS and take out extraneous language.

Good luck and feel free to PM me with any questions or if you hate me and want to vent about these comments. I completely get it and apologize for the harshness. However, I really do think you can do a lot with this!


Thanks a lot! This criticism helped me a lot, I think that is exactly what I will do. I'm going to change the intro to the story and then go into greater detail about my reactions and how it changed me.

This feedback helped a lot, I will make those changes and I will probably pm you within the next week or so (as I am in finals and have a lot of work to do, so I will probably wait until satuday to make most of the changes you advised). Again, thank you.




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