Personal Statement advice - please be honest/brutal

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
courtneye
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Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:12 am

Personal Statement advice - please be honest/brutal

Postby courtneye » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:54 am

So this is my personal statement, but it's still a very rough draft. Could you guys offer me some advice on where I need to go from here? Thanks.


Being the first member of my family to pursue a bachelor’s degree is both a triumph and a trial. As a member of my school’s Dean’s List, plus a number of different clubs and organizations, I gave my parents something to root for. But at the same time my parents’ modest income simply could not pay for the tuition that a four-year institution demanded. Like a deep-sea diver exploring an infinite ocean with inadequate supplies, I recklessly plunged in. I understood that being the first-generation to earn a bachelors degree would have its hardships. I also knew that I could not defer my acceptance to [college name] just because of money, and my parents agreed. I had to complete my college education and earn that degree.

I felt the financial burden of my college education in the spring semester of my freshman year after my parents told me they could no longer pay for my expenses that my federal education loans and grants did not cover. I had the feeling as though someone cut my tether line I started drifting into the endless ocean with no rescue crew in sight. I barely had enough money in my personal savings to pay for that semester’s tuition, let alone the textbooks. To improve my mediocre grades from the previous semester I decided not to seek employment because I needed more time to study for my classes. After the school year ended, I moved back in with my parents for the summer and resumed employment at my summertime job where I worked approximately fifty hours each week. I saved most of my earnings and only spent money when I desperately needed it, as I knew my tuition and fees would take a significant part of my savings.

Working all summer long and devoting my free time for school became the status quo for the next couple of years. After my grades improved, I worked up the courage to challenge myself to get a job while enrolled in classes. Getting a job was the most rewarding experience I had while in college. It taught me to make better use of my time because now that I had many commitments I had to organize my coursework far in advance. The job is also great because I hold a manager position. As part of a three-person management team, we oversee a staff of thirty who provide services and information to a residence hall community of over three thousand students. Considering the multitude of students and their various needs, I anticipate any reasonable situation, since my staff relies on me for answers and leadership. And with the extra income I earn I can help my younger sister, who now attends [college name], with some of her expenses. I always get a sense of accomplishment after I help someone because I know how it feels when I cannot do something on my own, which further inspires me to pursue law. Even though I found ways to help myself and those closest to me, I know the same cannot be said for everyone else. In some instances a person’s way of life can change in a matter of minutes.

While volunteer firefighting I occasionally had the disheartening task of extinguishing a structural fire for someone I knew and cared for. Fortunately, in most situations the owner could rebuild and return to normalcy, thanks impart to insurance. Others however, were not as lucky and could not rebuild due to terms in their insurance contract or another legal technicality. In those situations, the owner, having no other options, took all that he could and left everything else behind. This was when my drive for studying law began to shine. I aspire to be the person that people can turn to when they cannot turn to anyone else. I want to answer the difficult “why” and “how” questions when planning their assets and making sure their prepared if the unimaginable happens. And I think [specific law school] can help me with my career goals.

[Paragraph specific to each particular law school]

If I learned anything about myself from my college experience it is that I will almost instinctively help other people, even if I had to put myself in a dangerous situation. Over the past four years I overcame economic obstacles and as a result learned valuable organizational and leadership skills. It is these skills, along with others, that I believe make a great lawyer and I hope one day I would receive the opportunity to help others in the field of law. And much like the deep-sea diver from before, I too am venturing into the infinite unknown with the intent of benefiting those around me.

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luuma
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Re: Personal Statement advice - please be honest/brutal

Postby luuma » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:13 pm

The first sentence captivates. I liked the "Like a deep-sea diver exploring an infinite ocean with inadequate supplies". Your writing style flows.

"And much like the deep-sea diver from before, I too am venturing into the infinite unknown with the intent of benefiting those around me." Though a beautiful ending "infinite unknown" might sound like you don't know what you're getting into?

All in all, very nicely written..

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CorkBoard
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Re: Personal Statement advice - please be honest/brutal

Postby CorkBoard » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:23 pm

I'd talk more about being a volunteer firefighter than about your financial situation for UG, which is not particularly unique, IMO.

Ti Malice
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:55 am

Re: Personal Statement advice - please be honest/brutal

Postby Ti Malice » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:21 pm

Don't worry about adding a paragraph specific for each law school or dropping the specific school's name in a sentence that will accommodate any law school's name. There's no upside, and it often comes across as a bit disingenuous.

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Justin Genious
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Re: Personal Statement advice - please be honest/brutal

Postby Justin Genious » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:31 am

Second paragraph, second sentence: "I had the feeling as though someone cut my tether line I started drifting into the endless ocean with no rescue crew in sight" is a bit wordy. Also, in the third paragraph I would write "3,000" instead of "three-thousand."

Jack86
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:14 am

Re: Personal Statement advice - please be honest/brutal

Postby Jack86 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:22 am

I liked it, like the previous comment, I would elaborate on the volunteer firefighter position, it gives a palatable sincerity to why you want to be a lawyer. Good Luck!

cgw
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Re: Personal Statement advice - please be honest/brutal

Postby cgw » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:25 am

CorkBoard wrote:I'd talk more about being a volunteer firefighter than about your financial situation for UG, which is not particularly unique, IMO.


This.

Did you go to a school with a wealthy student body or something? Everyone I knew in college was basically in the same boat, myself included, except I knew so many people that were way worse off. All that endless ocean stuff just sounds melodramatic to me, sorry.

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thelawschoolproject
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Re: Personal Statement advice - please be honest/brutal

Postby thelawschoolproject » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:37 am

So...

1). I agree with the previous comments about the financial woes not being that woeful. There are many (in fact, I'd say most) people in that exact situation. And, the way you present the story plus the facts you present don't set you apart from anyone. What you want is to stand out, and there's nothing about you that I read in that PS that makes you stand out other than the firefighter thing and the brief mention of you being the first in your family to go to school. Is there something different about your family's financial circumstances? I just realized that this generation of students entered/planned on going to college during the financial meltdown--so maybe if that played into it that'd be a interesting angle? But if you stick with financial strife, there needs to be more.

2). As to the other parts that seem interesting...the firefighter thing could work but it depends on how you use it. As it is not, it's not that compelling. I'm actually more interested in the first generation college thing, especially since you did that and now want grad school. I think that says a lot about you and I might pursue that further and see what happens.

3). Your writing style. So, I know a previous poster liked your little "under the sea" "tugboat" stuff. I'm not a fan. I think it's contrived and inauthentic and it literally made me roll my eyes. I don't understand why you're using it, which is the biggest problem. Perhaps it could be crafty if you wove it into saving people a la firefighting, but as of right now it really has no tie ins to your life and therefore seems random.

4). Moreover, I don't get a sense of who you are by reading this. I really don't feel like I can see you as a person--it comes across as very bland. I sense no personality, and IMO that's not a good thing. Try to really bring across who you are by showing, not telling (I know, I'm sure you've heard that before, but it's true).

Good luck.

courtneye
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:12 am

Re: Personal Statement advice - please be honest/brutal

Postby courtneye » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:03 pm

Thank you all for your comments and advice. I will post an updated draft in the next few days.




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