Second Draft - Personal Statement

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
MrT
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:37 am

Second Draft - Personal Statement

Postby MrT » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:33 pm

Hey everyone, hopefully I get a couple helpful critiques. I am not looking for grammar comments as I will focus on them later. I just want to make sure my statement meets these general criteria:
- Interesting
- Convey me
- Allude to struggles
- Convey success

The van rolled slowly into the parking lot of exchange number 17. I checked my laces one last time, turned on my head lamp, and rubbed my tired eyes. As the door opened, a brisk early morning breeze rushed in. It is 1:00 a.m. and pitch black. There are only a few vans scattered throughout the parking lot. I hear a distant cheer and gradually make my way toward it. With each hesitant step I can feel my heart rate intensify. My legs are sore, my tendons are beginning to flare up, and I have been awake for nearly 24 hours.

The distance was manageable, just 5 miles between me and the end of the second of my three legs of the Ragnar Relay, a 200-mile relay race from Madison, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois. Just a few months earlier, I had never run farther than one mile and now I have committed to running seven-, five-, and three-mile legs, each separated by a mere eight hours for rest. Between working full-time and wrapping up my graduate studies, running was often an afterthought and limited my training to less than once a week. Despite this, I finished my first leg strong. Perhaps it was the adrenaline, or conceivably it was the influx of caffeine prior to race time, but I finished my 7 miles in less than 63 minutes. But by the time my second leg arrived, the first leg seemed to be a distant memory. The novelty of the race had faded and reality began to set in.

The wait for my teammate at the designated exchange point seemed like an eternity and the longer I waited, the more doubts that entered my mind. And then I heard it, “134 approaching,” blaring from a volunteer’s two-way radio close by. I double-checked my bib and it was confirmed, I was up next. I stretched my neck to the right and then to left and hopped a couple times, much like something out of a boxing flick. Finally I stuck my arm out in anticipation of the sweaty slap bracelet that had been transferred between 11 other arms since the last time I had touched it. And with one quick and slimy slap, I was off and running.

In my limited training, I had never run at night, but the experience has since led me to a newfound respect for the practice. The serene ambiance allowed for much self reflection and gave me the opportunity to encourage myself to keep going. I had run alone before, but the added element of darkness elevated the feeling of isolation. Unable to see farther than a few yards ahead and nothing in my peripheral only added to the unknown. I was moving forward, guided by nothing more than a couple flashing signs along the way, toward a goal that was unachievable just a few months earlier. The sight of the finish line about a quarter of a mile out brought a feeling of elation that was accompanied by a second wind. The pain had subsided, the end was near, and the goal I had set for myself was within reach.

Reflecting on it now, I see this experience as much more than being just 1 of 36 legs. On its surface, this one leg may seem like an insignificant segment of the much larger race. However, mentally, it was perhaps the most important.

Like my first leg, highly caffeinated and hopped up on adrenaline, I made it through high school and my undergraduate studies while never working less than full time. During this period, I was successful despite the odds being against me. I come from a family with virtually no educational success whose history is filled with young, single parents working hard and living paycheck to paycheck. Learning through their struggles, I strived for more.

I knew I was going to work and I knew I wanted to go to school—there was never question in my mind that I would not do both. I started working early and was able to quickly establish a successful career. At first, my focus was skewed toward work, which I attribute to what I knew from my family, as well as being young and being able to buy the shiny things that my paycheck now afforded me.

Much like the first leg, the novelty of making money did not last long. I soon realized that going to law school would require more effort and a better balance of school and work if I was going to be successful. I switched priorities and progressively became a better student, which also made me a better employee. I was promoted to a position in our headquarters office in Chicago, where I was then able to pursue my graduate degree at Northwestern University—all in preparation for the next step in my career progression.

My career as a both student and employee have led me to my second leg. The caffeine high is fading, and I have a clearer view on what I must do to keep moving forward. I have achieved success despite my early lack of preparation, and now that I have recalibrated my focus, I am invested in the next stage of the race. I have learned that each leg brings me one step closer to achieving my goal of getting my law degree, and collectively they are helping me achieve my career goals. This is my sprint toward the finish line.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Second Draft - Personal Statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:46 pm

Does the last sentence refer to law school ("sprint toward the finish line") ?

MrT
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:37 am

Re: Second Draft - Personal Statement

Postby MrT » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:49 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Does the last sentence refer to law school ("sprint toward the finish line") ?


Correct, I should tidy that up. I want to get across that this process is my sprint to law school.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Second Draft - Personal Statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:53 pm

In my opinion, referring to law school, or to the process of getting to law school, as a "sprint" is self-defeating because it suggests that you may not be ready for the rigors of law school or that you haven't prepared properly. Law school is more like a marathon than like a sprint. It's important to be realistic about law school.

P.S. Running analogies are quite common in law school personal statements, so this writing is unlikely to make your application stand out.

MrT
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:37 am

Re: Second Draft - Personal Statement

Postby MrT » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:01 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:In my opinion, referring to law school, or to the process of getting to law school, as a "sprint" is self-defeating because it suggests that you may not be ready for the rigors of law school or that you haven't prepared properly. Law school is more like a marathon than like a sprint. It's important to be realistic about law school.

P.S. Running analogies are quite common in law school personal statements, so this writing is unlikely to make your application stand out.


I am referencing the application process not actually being in law school. Ideally they would take my application as a whole and realize I have worked harder than most and have accomplished everything I have while going to school full-time and working full-time.

Damn about the running analogy... At least my race is unique in that it's a 200 mile relay. I am going to stick with it.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Second Draft - Personal Statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:06 pm

Depends upon what you want to get from your PS. If fulfilling the requirement is your goal, then it's fine since it won't harm your application. Doubtful, however, that it will help since it's just too obvious & too common. On the positive side, your writing, for the most part, is clear.

MrT
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:37 am

Re: Second Draft - Personal Statement

Postby MrT » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:39 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Depends upon what you want to get from your PS. If fulfilling the requirement is your goal, then it's fine since it won't harm your application. Doubtful, however, that it will help since it's just too obvious & too common. On the positive side, your writing, for the most part, is clear.


Hmmm any other way I could liven it up? I really didn't have time in my life to do much outside of school or work so I don't really know what to reference outside of running. I don't want to be too straightforward or focus on struggles too much because I've gone that route and its boring. I'll leave it for my diversity statement and try to be more abstract here.

Edit: Thanks for all your help, by the way, it's appreciated.

MrT
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:37 am

Re: Second Draft - Personal Statement

Postby MrT » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:07 pm

any general thoughts or comments would be appreciated as well.

Goodman
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 4:06 pm

Re: Second Draft - Personal Statement

Postby Goodman » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:35 pm

Your verb tenses are inconsistent throughout. You need to pick the present or past tense and stick with it.




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