Personal Statement---Critique Please!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
brittanynicole_4
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:53 am

Personal Statement---Critique Please!

Postby brittanynicole_4 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:03 am

Below I have posted yet another draft of my personal statement. I posted one about a week ago, it was similar, but I have changed it up quite a bit. Please review and tell me what you think. How is the flow? Is it persuasive? Point out grammatical errors, please. What do you think about the topic? All thoughts please. Thanks!

We are defined by the many experiences in our lives, the decisions we make, and the moments from which we learn. Consequently, we are eventual products of such moments. My childhood was riddled with a number of these life experiences, from alcoholism, molestation, to a fatherless, impoverished upbringing, each have guided me. They have been the foundation for many of my decisions giving me a unique perspective and outlook on life. By slowly crafting and sculpting me, these experiences have made me who I am today.

At the age of fourteen I held my first job. My mom, a single mother of three, was not the model parent I wished for, but she was all I had. She abused alcohol frequently, has not obtained a driver’s license in years, nor could she provide us with a stable home. We lived with my grandmother most of my life, and a few family members here and there. Money was not a luxury in our household. Thus, I quickly learned the importance of the sacred dollar. This lesson carried me far. It showed me that I could achieve anything I strived for. At sixteen, I single-handedly obtained automobile insurance and purchased my first car. I also supported myself through college, graduating loan-free. Financial autonomy gave me my first taste of independence. A taste that only made me crave more.

This craving subsequently manifested into a thirst for knowledge and the cultivation of self-improvement. This is when my quest for a purpose began. I dove head first and submerged myself into recreation and event planning. Blindsided by an overshadowing ambition, focused on being the first in my family to complete a bachelor’s degree, I lost sight of that unfulfilled purpose. As I neared the completion of my degree I realized a hollow future stood before me. I began to analyze the available options after completing my undergraduate. Not knowing which path to choose, I looked to my past for inspiration.

Flashing through the memories, good and bad, there was one that resonated with me. I remembered being passionate and driven about law, how it enlightened and perplexed me all in the same. When I was ten years of age, I became a victim of molestation. It was from this experience and the resulting trial, that I became cognizant of the law and the system that is meant to protect us. I learned that though you may speak the truth and seek fairness, it may not always be delivered. While the verdict was not as I hoped, at such a young age I still realized the importance of each role within the court. I developed an appreciation and respect for the laws that govern us. Laws which I have continually tried to abide by, and laws that I hope to enforce.

Collectively these life experiences have inspired my growth. Each has uniquely molded intimate blocks of my personality, values, and morals. As a whittler carves intricate details into aged red oak, these experiences have whittled away at my surface exposing ripened character and zeal; a zealousness that fuels me through my educational pursuits, and a brawn-strapped character that has proved never to waver.

It would be easy for me to take the road walked by countless in my family, flooded by addiction and permeated with unwarranted contentment. However, I have chosen to trudge through thickets to avoid this inviting paved road. Thickets that have equipped me for anything I choose to do. As well as a life long preparation that has garnered me the knowledge, confidence, and experience to purse a new fulfilled future---exciting, satisfying, and meaningful, with law at the center.

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bluepenguin
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Re: Personal Statement---Critique Please!

Postby bluepenguin » Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:59 pm

For the most part I think it's fairly interesting and readable. Some quibbles with the writing, nothing major. There are major flow/clarity problems at certain points (I've pointed them out).

Persuasiveness as to:
Being interesting, having an interesting background: 7-9 out of 10
Work ethic, drive, determination: 6-8
Intelligence/aptitude for law study: not really mentioned (not at all to say that you must)
Law as an obvious or well thought out path: 3-6
Umm, anything else you were going for?

If I were to summarize this for someone else, this is what I'd say: "This person came from a difficult background - drugs, violence, poverty - and overcame a lot to be a very productive member of society. She seems to have a strong work ethic and she's a competent writer, but I'm not sure what really drives her into the legal field."

That's all just one man's opinion based on a quick evaluation. Your mileage my vary depending on who is giving you a response. Having looked at hundreds of personal/motivational statements and essays over the years I'm a bit cynical, but I imagine adcomms are as well.

Awkward phrasings in red
*Possible* grammar issues in orange (I have a pretty good eye but I don't know the exact rules. You can go to OWL and figure it out). These are ones that stood out. I didn't go through it thoroughly.
Comments in blue.

We are defined by the many experiences in our lives, the decisions we make, and the moments from which we learn. Consequently, we are eventual products of such moments. My childhood was riddled with a number of these life experiences, from alcoholism and molestation, to a fatherless, impoverished upbringing, each have guided me. They have been the foundation for many of my decisions, giving me a unique perspective and outlook on life. By slowly crafting and sculpting me, these experiences have made me who I am today.

At the age of fourteen I held my first job. My mom, a single mother of three, was not the model parent I wished for, but she was all I had. She abused alcohol frequently, has not obtained a driver’s license in years, nor could she provide us with a stable home. We lived with my grandmother most of my life, and a few family members here and there. Money was not a luxury in our household. Thus, I quickly learned the importance of the sacred dollar. This lesson carried me far. It showed me that I could achieve anything I strived for. How does that follow? At sixteen, I single-handedly obtained automobile insurance and purchased my first car. That doesn't sound right. If you mean you worked, saved, and bought a car and insured it with your own money, I would say that instead. I also supported myself through college, graduating loan-free. Financial autonomy gave me my first taste of independence. A taste that only made me crave more.

This craving subsequently manifested into a thirst for knowledge and the cultivation of self-improvement. How? What does that have to do with independence? Intellectual independence? Or the money that comes from a good education? Other? This is when my quest for a purpose began. I dove head first and submerged myself into recreation and event planning. Blindsided by an overshadowing ambition, focused on being the first in my family to complete a bachelor’s degree, I lost sight of that unfulfilled purpose. I just don't know what you're saying here. You lost sight of event planning?As I neared the completion of my degree, I realized a hollow future stood before me. I began to analyze the available options after completing my undergraduate. Not knowing which path to choose, I looked to my past for inspiration.

Flashing through the memories, good and bad, there was one that resonated with me. You just said you had one resonating memory; you need to describe it. Delete or move the next sentence. I remembered being passionate and driven about law, how it enlightened and perplexed me all in the same. When I was ten years of age, I became a victim of molestation. It was from this experience and the resulting trial, that I became cognizant of the law and the system that is meant to protect us. I learned that though you may speak the truth and seek fairness, it may not always be delivered. While the verdict was not as I hoped, at such a young age I still realized the importance of each role within the court. I developed an appreciation and respect for the laws that govern us. Laws which I have continually tried to abide by, and laws that I hope to enforce. I'd delete that last sentence. Sounds forced and unnecessary.

Collectively these life experiences have inspired my growth. Each has uniquely molded intimate blocks of my personality, values, and morals. Just as a whittler carves intricate details into aged red oak, This just strikes me as an overly florid metaphor that doesn't quite fit with the rest of the essay. Sounds forced. these experiences have whittled away at my surface exposing ripened character and zeal; a zealousness that fuels me through my educational pursuits, and a brawn-strapped character that has proved never to waver. Is this zealousness proved elsewhere on your app, like your resume and GPA? And I assume you have no C&F issues?

It would be easy for me to take the road walked by countless in my family, flooded by addiction and permeated with unwarranted contentment. However, I have chosen to trudge through thickets to avoid this inviting paved road. As a sheltered person, personally I'm not seeing how drug use and poverty are appealing as opposed to the fraught road of college classes. I'm sorry if I'm being insensitive to the issue, or if I'm wrong here. But you haven't convinced me in this essay. For instance, in the beginning you make it clear you didnt want to be like your mom. Thickets that have equipped me for anything I choose to do. As well as a life long preparation that has garnered me the knowledge, confidence, and experience to purse a new fulfilled future---exciting, satisfying, and meaningful, with law at the center.

CanadianWolf
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Personal Statement---Critique Please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:00 pm

I'm having difficulty reading through this personal statement because some of the sentences, although lyrically pleasing, are not well thought out. For example, the introductory sentence would be more credible if it asserted: " We learn from the many experiences in our lives and from the decisions that we make." I'm not convinced that people are "defined" by these events. Perhaps "molded" would be a better term than "defined". (This also further develops your theme of having been crafted & sculpted.)

"alcoholism and molestation", not "alcoholism, molestation".

"Consequently, we are eventual products of such moments." is redundant with the prior sentence.

"...each have guided me." is unnecessary. Consider deleting this phrase. No replacement is needed.

DELETE: "...giving me a unique perspective and outlook on life."
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Fri Dec 07, 2012 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Personal Statement---Critique Please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:27 pm

The first paragraph could be rewritten as :

We learn from the many experiences in our lives and from the decisions that we make. My childhood was riddled with a number of life experiences influenced by alcoholism, molestation and a fatherless, impoverished upbringing. They were the foundation for many of my decisions. By slowly crafting and sculpting me, these experiences and decisions made me who I am today.

CanadianWolf
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Personal Statement---Critique Please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:35 pm

Second paragraph:

"Money was not a luxury in our household" means the opposite of your intended message. As written, your statement suggests that money was commonplace, or abundant, in your household. Try: "Money was a luxury not present in our household." or "Money was scarce in our household."
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Personal Statement---Critique Please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:53 pm

I don't have the time to comb through the body of your draft, but, instead, want to focus on just the first & last paragraphs. I addressed the first paragraph in a post above.
The concluding paragraph could read as follows:

I have chosen to walk a path different than that taken by my family. Avoiding the perils of substance abuse and complacency, I have chosen education as the path to a fulfilling life of helping others [while helping myself] [while continuing to help myself].
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Personal Statement---Critique Please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:59 pm

The opening & closing paragraphs that I have presented are simple & clear. It is important to write with clarity. Hopefully, my suggestions will help you to present your thoughts in a more concise manner.

In short, you're using education as the means to craft & sculpt (develop) yourself so that you may enjoy a fulfilling life of helping others.




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