Personal Statement: Please critique

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Anonymous User
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Personal Statement: Please critique

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:46 am

Any suggestions or criticisms are welcome... This is a rough draft in the sense that it is the first direction I have decided to go. I'm aware that the content is not very compelling or unique, but it is all that has come to me at the moment... As an URM (AA male) do you think that I should incorporate that detail? If so, in what way?

Some notes on my markings:
Red text indicates wording/phrasing that I’m not sure if I want to keep or not. I’m either not sure if I’m communicating well, I don’t like the word choice, or I think it may be awkwardly phrased. I’m open to alternative suggestions and your opinion if I am properly conveying meaning.
Blue text just represents a section that is school specific.
Underlining means that is where I will insert the name of the institution.

Also, I have a comma addiction, and have been known to use a semicolon improperly a time or two…

Thanks in advance...

When my elementary school librarian introduced me to the concept of the children’s novel I nearly forgot to watch television. By the third grade I was certainly familiar enough with picture books and short stories, but books for children, with longer, more complex plots that went on for nearly one hundred pages or more? These were uncharted lands. As library visits became recurring, and as my book selection became more challenging, she enrolled me in an extracurricular literary guild, which each year required reading of twenty to thirty selections from an eclectic list of about one hundred classic and award-winning children’s novels and famous poems, as well as abridged versions and excerpts of historically significant works such as Greek mythology and various religious texts. I was so thoroughly captivated by this program that I enrolled in it and fulfilled its requirements each year until my family moved out of that school district in the 7th grade.

This awakened appetite for literature did not surprise my father. From an early age, he began to instill in me a reliance on reading and research as a means of obtaining knowledge. As soon as I could read well enough to sound out basic words, he began to refuse to answer any questions I had concerning any unfamiliar terms or concepts that I encountered in my young life. Without fail, he always pointed me to a dictionary, or to our old encyclopedia set to, “Look it up”. When he began these exercises I was not fully capable of properly understanding or using such tools, but each time he guided me through the task until I was able to read and comprehend reference materials independently. Though often I would have preferred to forgo acquiring an answer so as to avoid this research, my father used this practice to teach me that it does one no good to remain in blissful ignorance due to laziness. I have learned that once one encounters new information, they are accountable to understand it to the best of their ability and to use it responsibly for the betterment of themselves and their community. In this manner, he wrought in me an ethic of self-education, with the acquisition of knowledge as a worthy end unto itself. When that librarian introduced me to literature that was simultaneously challenging, intellectually fulfilling, and artistically intriguing I found a newer and deeper appreciation for the power of words, as well as many more things to look up. Thus, a significant portion of my childhood was spent reading books of varying sizes, subject matters, genres, and reading levels.

Over the years, my love of literature has only grown richer, and has greatly shaped my vocabulary, my ability to digest and comprehend large amounts of text, as well as my own writing. Throughout my academic career, both instructors and fellow students have consistently given me positive feedback in regards to my writing abilities. The voice of my writing is often described as mature, controlled, and consistent. In the classroom setting, I often find myself right in the middle of lively discussion and debate. I also frequently find myself holding to minority positions; yet, having garnered the mutual respect and consideration of both the instructor and my peers. In my senior year of undergraduate, a professor attempted to woo me into pursuing an American history graduate degree instead of a Juris Doctor due to the potential he saw in my historical argumentation. Though I declined his offer, he graciously agreed to write a letter of recommendation on my behalf.

With a legal education I wish to develop an understanding of the legal system beyond what I can acquire through self-study, as well as to gain the credibility that such a degree affords−not as a means to argue from authority, but as a true mark of an intimate familiarity with a complex and significant field of study. As an adult I have developed a deep interested in, and become passionate about the intersection of history, religion, politics, and law. I am particularly intrigued by the work of __certain Profesor__ as well as the __department of law and Religion _. John Calvin, the subject of much of certain professor's work, is one of my favorite theologians, and a personal hero in matters of faith, ethics, and legal thought.

As I reach this transitional moment in my life and attempt to assess my motivations for pursing this path, I realize that above all I seek to honor God in all that I do, and to create a legacy of education that will make my family proud. Though I understand that this undertaking will be taxing, I do believe that I possess a skill set that is conducive to success in law school, and I have no doubt that I will leave your institution equipped with the education needed to pursue a career that your institution will be proud to have made possible. I do believe that I will add a unique perspective to the class of 2016, and I eagerly look forward to the _______ Law experience.

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kwais
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Re: Personal Statement: Please critique

Postby kwais » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:47 am

A few comments:

Your third paragraph is classic "telling." You either need to trust that you have sufficiently shown those to be attributes you possess, or trust that a recommender will discuss them. Simply saying that you have so and so quality comes off poorly.

There is no real connection made between your interests (reading, research) and your interest in law school (credibility? familiarity with an important field of study? honoring God?). You just seem to hope that reader will allow you to make that leap. I think it makes you sound like you are romanticizing law school a bit.

Some disagree, but I almost always hate when people namedrop philosophers/authors. This is not an exception. Why mention Calvin? It proves only that you read a bio of a professor. And unless you are applying to Regent or Liberty, I just don't see what it gets you. If you are not going to explain what it is about Calvin you like, leave him out.

I imagine that those who work at law schools are seeing many people come through their halls who are disillusioned, be it with the job market or the distinctly unromantic realities of a legal education (this coming from someone who enjoys law school). I think you need to ground your interest in law school in something a little more practical than God and a love of books. I'm not saying that you should make anything up, but maybe just develop a little more about what you might do with the degree. It you do that well, then the other things could probably stay.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Personal Statement: Please critique

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:32 am

kwais wrote:A few comments:

Your third paragraph is classic "telling." You either need to trust that you have sufficiently shown those to be attributes you possess, or trust that a recommender will discuss them. Simply saying that you have so and so quality comes off poorly.

There is no real connection made between your interests (reading, research) and your interest in law school (credibility? familiarity with an important field of study? honoring God?). You just seem to hope that reader will allow you to make that leap. I think it makes you sound like you are romanticizing law school a bit.

Some disagree, but I almost always hate when people namedrop philosophers/authors. This is not an exception. Why mention Calvin? It proves only that you read a bio of a professor. And unless you are applying to Regent or Liberty, I just don't see what it gets you. If you are not going to explain what it is about Calvin you like, leave him out.

I imagine that those who work at law schools are seeing many people come through their halls who are disillusioned, be it with the job market or the distinctly unromantic realities of a legal education (this coming from someone who enjoys law school). I think you need to ground your interest in law school in something a little more practical than God and a love of books. I'm not saying that you should make anything up, but maybe just develop a little more about what you might do with the degree. It you do that well, then the other things could probably stay.



Ok, thanks...

Yeah, I'm counting on my LORs discussing my writing... I've been told that some of them definitely do, and prominently, and the others I suspect do, at least in passing...

I will work on making the connection between my interests/skills and effect in school. To this, as well as the Calvin bit, I guess i am trying to fit a lot in to where it is all only surface level?

To the discussion of what I would do with a degree what do people say besides "to have a career as a lawyer" or "make a difference in my community" or "save the world" ?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273071
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Personal Statement: Please critique

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:24 am

kwais wrote:A few comments:

Your third paragraph is classic "telling." You either need to trust that you have sufficiently shown those to be attributes you possess, or trust that a recommender will discuss them. Simply saying that you have so and so quality comes off poorly.

There is no real connection made between your interests (reading, research) and your interest in law school (credibility? familiarity with an important field of study? honoring God?). You just seem to hope that reader will allow you to make that leap. I think it makes you sound like you are romanticizing law school a bit.

Some disagree, but I almost always hate when people namedrop philosophers/authors. This is not an exception. Why mention Calvin? It proves only that you read a bio of a professor. And unless you are applying to Regent or Liberty, I just don't see what it gets you. If you are not going to explain what it is about Calvin you like, leave him out.

I imagine that those who work at law schools are seeing many people come through their halls who are disillusioned, be it with the job market or the distinctly unromantic realities of a legal education (this coming from someone who enjoys law school). I think you need to ground your interest in law school in something a little more practical than God and a love of books. I'm not saying that you should make anything up, but maybe just develop a little more about what you might do with the degree. It you do that well, then the other things could probably stay.


To remedy some of these concerns, what if I trimmed down the first two paragraphs and added a section explaining the connection to law like this (still rough):


I desire to pursue education beyond that of a bachelor’s degree. I have felt drawn to the legal field for some time now because of the broad scope of influence that legal actors have on a society as a whole. All persons are affected by some aspect of law and its interpretation each day, whether at the Constitutional, state, or local level.
I am also particularly attracted to this field because of its textually-based nature, as well as its reliance on a highly specialized style of writing as its primary means of communication. The ability to effectively write is one of the greatest skills a lawyer can possess, and I believe that with the proper education I can thrive in a field that is so grounded in words, their meanings, and their effective use in communication.
I believe that my writing will adapt well, and translate into legal writing. Though it is tedious work, I have the desire, patience, and foundational skill necessary to become a valuable legal communicator.
Perhaps I could use my communication for the benefit of those who may not be as exposed to/comfortable with the intricacies of language.




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