(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )

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Postby shep33 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:12 pm

Walking up to the door of a hostile guest’s room, my heart on cue begins to race wildly, as my brother’s instruction loops through my head. “Always be afraid, but never show it”. Despite my relatively large stature, feelings of vulnerability consistently overtake me when placed in such situations at work. Fortunately, most of these events have ended relatively peacefully, never leading to any serious harm. City Police have catalogued our family owned motel as an affiliate of “Motel Row”, due to the high volume of crime and disturbance issues surrounding the area. Managing disputes between intoxicated guests, being threatened by gang members, and even dealing with the aftermath of a several suicides are all some of the more unfortunate responsibilities that I have experienced. Accordingly, the daily grind of dealing with such problems faced by many lower budget urban motels are probably enough to discourage a young adult and revaluate the direction of their life. However, with the premature end to a once promising future in athletics, and my father’s lectures on the “economic impracticality” of a university degree, a future in the not so hospitable accommodation industry seemed appropriate.

Growing up in a number of locations across North America, my earliest recollection of my parents occupation involved my mother cleaning rooms that were often rented by inebriated bar patrons served by my father the previous night. From that moment, the hotel and motel business in particular has been the most familiar facet of my life. Cleaning and renting rooms, washing dishes, maintenance and administrative duties are just some of the responsibilities that have allowed me to gain comprehensive experience in how to run a successful business. As a result, I’ve always felt unusually mature for my age, due to the nature of some of the events that have taken place at the motel. Friends and classmates are often struck by my familiarity with issues that they’ve dealt with only on a theoretical level at university. Reading about alcoholism in a textbook and witnessing the slow decay of a man who eventually drank himself to death are vastly different experiences. A class discussion pertaining to addiction is unlike helplessly watching a semi-conscious intoxicated man legally refuse police and medical assistance, only to die soon after. This is not to imply that academic knowledge is impractical, but direct exposure to the reality of themes normally presented in academia provides for a more intimate perspective to such matters.

My time spent on “Motel Row” has continued to be an impactful facet in my life, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to expand on my work experiences through the knowledge I’ve acquired at university. Without question there has been a reciprocal dynamic between work and my studies that has allowed me to better adapt to each environment. In neuropsychology and pharmacology classes that I’ve taken, I could better relate to topics of alcoholism and drug addiction than many students, due to my exposure with such issues. Moreover, communicating with a diverse group of customers for years has enabled me to debate and speak confidently when given the opportunity in seminars and class discussions. Conversely, professors and fellow students have inspired me to play a role in the lives of others, which initially began as financial support to international aid organizations, has also translated to helping some of the less fortunate guests at our motel. In addition to providing holiday meals to our patrons, my family and I have also donated clothes and provided basic amenities to patrons in need.

Looking back on life, I’ve been fortunate to receive a well-rounded education predicated on hard work and my experiences both in and out of the classroom. However, I aspire to continue building off this foundation. While choosing to succeed a family business is an honorable duty, I believe my dynamic skillset reflects the attributes of an ideal law school candidate. The opportunity to study and eventually practice law is the next door I hope to approach in life, the next challenge to face, and the next experience to appreciate.
Last edited by shep33 on Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Am I on the right track? Help would be greatly welcomed!

Postby ph14 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:47 pm

A couple quick thoughts:

1. It reads too much like, "here is my biography," or here is the chronological events of the past 5+ years. It just seems very scattered and a bunch of random items. Make it more focused and narrow. Obviously this is a first draft so that's to be expected.
2. I thought you were going to tie in the basketball thing at the end. It seems like an interesting tangent but then it is just totally abandoned. I would cut it out completely unless it relates somehow to something you did in college. I wouldn't discrete high school events or activities in my personal statement. Only worth discussing if it ties into something else.
3. I would focus more on showing rather than telling. For example, my favorite part of your piece was the discussion about the things you saw in the motel (the fights, threats, and aftermath of a suicide "victim" (I would pick another word)). Not because it ties in to the rest of the essay or anything, but because it somewhat shows rather than tells.
4. I would omit your last four sentences as they read extremely cliched, completely hollow, and wholly unnecessary. Your personal statement does not have to be in the mold of why you want to go to this school. You can talk about what your experiences/traits show that you can contribute to your class.
5. Figure out a theme for your personal statement, and play on it throughout. For example, your discussion about all you've had to overcome (and your father's lectures on the economic impracticability of a university degree doesn't come off as anything significant) doesn't really tie into or explain your ending about why you want to study law and why this is the best law school for you. But really, fundamentally, what are you going to try and communicate with your personal statement. Then, figure out how your experiences can add credibility to this. There are multiple directions you can go. I suggest not taking the "here is all that I have overcome" angle, because your background doesn't lend enough support for this.
6. If I were you, I would focus on your work on the motel, as that is the most interesting. Talk about your responsibilities, what you saw, what character traits or experiences that demonstrates. Then let that speak for itself as what you would add to the class.


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Re: Am I on the right track? Help would be greatly welcomed!

Postby shep33 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 7:12 pm

Wow, thank you so much for your reply! I definitely see what your talking about, it does feel like a biography of the past few years of my life.

I totally forgot to add in a point about basketball to close it out.

Thank you so much for your help! I've got a lot of work to do!

Thanks again

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