Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
coclarke
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Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:40 pm

Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby coclarke » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:43 pm

“Last time I checked, there aren’t 36 months in a year,” my friend jokingly stated after asking me how the whole “law-thing” was going. Although I laughed along, something about that remark stuck to my mind like a suction cup. As innocent as it was intended to be, it got to me.

I did graduate college over three years ago. My plan was to take one year off after I graduated and to use that time to study for and to take the LSAT then I would apply to law school. I started off on track and suddenly it was three years later and my application was hauntingly blank. Where did that time go? Why was I dragging my feet?

I had let something stop me cold in my tracks from applying to law school: my LSAT score. I performed my due-diligence by taking the LSAT preparation course and I had studied hard; however, I just did not receive the glorious score that dreams are made of—I was barely average.

From the time that statement was uttered from my friend’s lips to this moment where you are reading my words, I decided I had a very important question to answer: where do I go from here? So I placed myself under a microscope. Not for self-denigration, but for self-understanding. In order to find out if law school was the next step for me, I had to start focusing on who I was as a person. I had to take a look at my personal and professional life to realize I am more than a series of numbers—I am strong, empathetic, intelligent, and logical.
At five years old I was communicating with my mentally autistic brother through sign language. My parents believed I was too young to take a sign language class, but I asked my older sister to teach me anyway. I knew it was vital for me to learn this skill because that was the only way my brother, Kevin, could communicate with his family. I took initiative at a very young age so I could be more help to my older brother and to my family.

At nine years old, as I was taking a sip from the water fountain in school, I was instructed by a Caucasian classmate to go back to Africa where I belonged. Being of Afro-Caribbean and Portuguese-Jewish descent in an all-white school, I was incredibly insulted, but I did not falter. I simply finished my sip, wiped my lips, and informed the misguided youth that I was, in fact, exactly where I belonged.

At fourteen, I watched over my older sister for months as she healed from the wounds, both physical and emotional, of her attempted suicide. My sister was hurting so much from childhood events such as rape and emotional abuse. I was there for her. I listened to her every tear-filled word. I counseled her when she needed advice and I sat with her when she needed a friend. I went beyond sympathy I opened the door to the mansion of emotions my sister was living in and I dwelled there too.

My childhood prepared me for college. I entered school with the emotional maturity of a person twice my age. I knew what I wanted. I was going to major in history and use that degree to pursue a career in law. I understood that the methods used to understand, to report, and to track historical elements were closely related to the methods used to study, to create, and to regulate law. I endlessly researched, reevaluated and argued my position. I researched, I read, and I wrote until my fingers were raw with logic, strategy and persuasion. I walked away with high honors in my major. A strategic move on my part, through my study of history and my successful legal internships, I thought I was ready for the next step.

After graduating, I took an office job to earn money while I prepared for law school. Although I was no stranger to hard work since I had worked throughout college, I was surprised to find that my supervisor was a horrible woman who told me that I should not even bother with law school because I would not make anything of myself. Unconsciously—a dull, hopeless routine set in. A once vibrant girl was turning into a miserable woman. I was beginning to believe that the “real” world was exactly what others had said—a ho-hum existence with a bleak undertone: my boss was mean, my car was old, and my pockets were empty. Why bother?

However, much like the other times in my life, I decided to rewrite the script. If this was my reality, then I would make the best of it. Suddenly, my supervisor’s rigid criticisms lost their edge, my old car seemed just as vibrant as its owner, and my empty pockets were abundant with a promising future. I remembered that sometimes people will try their hardest to tear you down and that it usually has little to do with you and more to do with their own suffering. I developed the skills to laugh when the stress built up and to take a break when I needed one. I could not have asked for a better learning experience. I emerged with more personal and, better yet, professional resilience.

Fast forward to today and I am the youngest senior level employee at a boutique technology consulting firm. I make most of the company’s financial and operational decisions and have used my skills as researcher and writer to produce the copy for the company’s marketing material and websites. I maintain a lead role in the human resource department helping with compliance analyses and supplying updated company policies that correlate with statewide laws and procedures. When I interviewed for this position I lacked “qualifying” experience, yet I still managed to get the job and I do it well. Professionally, I am almost where I want to be—a law degree will ensure that I get there.

I have grown and taken a piece from each stage of my life. The pieces I have taken have become the foundation on which I am writing this essay. Throughout the challenges I have encountered, I have always found a way to come out tougher, more irrepressible. Through writing this essay I had to focus on challenging the way in which I judge myself and my life. And although it has taken me three years, I have come to the realization that a score can deceivingly say very little and it is only one’s constitution that can truly speak for itself.

meimei32
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Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:37 pm

Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby meimei32 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:11 pm

I think this needs a lot of work.
First of all, I dont think your personal statement is the place to talk about your mediocre LSAT score. If you have a good reason for it (like a history of poor standardized scores) then you should write an addendum.
You sort of haphazardly list some childhood experiences- if one of these experiences had a overarching effect on your life/worldview (like having a brother with autism), than you should discuss it more in depth. They are currently very disjointed.
You also do a lot of listing positive qualities that you believe you have - for example, that you had the maturity of someone twice your age. Stating this just makes you look conceited with nothing to back it up, if you want to convey a certain quality to the reader, you should tell a story that SHOWS it.
Also, a lot of people take a few years off between undergrad and law school, I don't think you need to explain why you didn't go earlier, especially in a way that comes off as kind of negative.

It seems like you have a good number of life experiences that you can draw a personal statement from, you just need to pick one and explore it more in depth.

mls
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Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:32 pm

Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby mls » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:39 pm

It is also in poor form to refer to another person as "horrible" in a professional piece of writing.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:42 pm

meimei32 wrote:I think this needs a lot of work.
First of all, I dont think your personal statement is the place to talk about your mediocre LSAT score. If you have a good reason for it (like a history of poor standardized scores) then you should write an addendum.
You sort of haphazardly list some childhood experiences- if one of these experiences had a overarching effect on your life/worldview (like having a brother with autism), than you should discuss it more in depth. They are currently very disjointed.
You also do a lot of listing positive qualities that you believe you have - for example, that you had the maturity of someone twice your age. Stating this just makes you look conceited with nothing to back it up, if you want to convey a certain quality to the reader, you should tell a story that SHOWS it.
Also, a lot of people take a few years off between undergrad and law school, I don't think you need to explain why you didn't go earlier, especially in a way that comes off as kind of negative.

It seems like you have a good number of life experiences that you can draw a personal statement from, you just need to pick one and explore it more in depth.
I second everything in this critique.

coclarke
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Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby coclarke » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:04 pm

For future references, please keep in mind that I am a real person and worked very hard on this essay. However, I do appreciate the advice. I am actually almost done with a completely difference PS. Thanks for the advice, but again, remember you're dealing with a real person who has feelings and not a computer screen with words on it.
Last edited by coclarke on Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

soontobelawschooler
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Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby soontobelawschooler » Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:33 pm

You probably won't care about what I have to say now since you say you are already working on something else? Anyway, just throwing my two cents.

Before that though, I think you have some very strong traits that helped you through challenges in life, and that you can do a better job in communicating those. So no need for hurt feelings.

1. In my first glimpse I felt like, what, this person has just thrown away three years of life ("where did that go?") and suddenly decided to go to law school because, I don't know, she/he felt like it? THEN I realized, after forcing myself to read on, that your plan didn't jump out of no where and that you have some really great potential to succeed (e.g. you being the youngest senior level employee). I started to enjoy reading towards the end, but I think it is better if your beginning has a more positive/confident tone to it.

2. I didn't have a particularly negative impression when you first mentioned your LSAT score. but when it came up again .....it sounded like you were insecure.

3. There's a lot of hatred in the paragraph where you talk about your horrible supervisor. I understand your urge to diss people at work but I don't think it's time to go into the specifics if your intention was to talk about your pessimistic surroundings. Unfortunately, people can be very judgmental.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby rinkrat19 » Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:42 pm

coclarke wrote:For future references, please keep in mind that I am a real person and worked very hard on this essay. However, I do appreciate the advice. I am actually almost done with a completely difference PS. Thanks for the advice, but again, remember you're dealing with a real person who has feelings and not a computer screen with words on it.

You need to grow thicker skin. The critiques offered here were positively mild. No one is insulting you as a person; they're just pointing out weaknesses in your statement. Part of improving a piece of writing is accepting fair criticism. Another part is being able to look objectively at your own words without emotional attachment.

Many of us are law students; we don't have time to sugar coat stuff out of consideration for your special snowflake feelings. If you want unconditional praise, have your mommy read your essay.

And take your name off your post. If we now know your first and last name, it's also out there for creeps to see.

cgw
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Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby cgw » Sat Feb 09, 2013 2:56 am

coclarke wrote:For future references, please keep in mind that I am a real person and worked very hard on this essay. However, I do appreciate the advice. I am actually almost done with a completely difference PS. Thanks for the advice, but again, remember you're dealing with a real person who has feelings and not a computer screen with words on it.

-Courtney


I would similarly remind you that those offering critiques are real people who are generously donating their time and knowledge to give you their honest advice. No one in this thread was mean-spirited or unnecessarily harsh.

For what it's worth, I also agree with meimei32's critique. You should definitely skip any explanation of your LSAT or time off between UG and Law School in your PS. Focus on one significant experience in greater depth, it is a more effective method of highlighting positive character traits and skills.

totoro
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Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby totoro » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:19 pm

I feel like you have the material to write a really good PS though the form could be better - No need to write a completely different one. However, I agree with all of the advice given to you above, I know it sucks to be critiqued like this in an internet forum but I really think if you follow some of these suggestions, you could really turn this into an excellent statement. I think you have three great life experiences to discuss - sign language, the water fountain, your sister. These are all great potential topics. I would focus on one or two and discuss how it affected your worldview. Also, it is best not to waste space in your PS to discuss your LSAT. Just be attentive that the tone is mature and show rather than tell - you might be twice as mature as someone your age, but I think that many other people also have that maturity, also due to life experiences, but I would not say so in a PS because it's much better just to let them see how you are a mature writer and thinker.

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thelawschoolproject
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Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby thelawschoolproject » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:51 am

First of all, I agree with a lot of what has been said to you, both in critiquing your writing and your ability to handle criticism.

With that said, I'll expand on some of what meimei said.

1). You focus on far too much. You jump around from 1). time off from law school, 2). learning sign language 3). family values 4). URM difficulties 5). diligence in school 6). standing out at work...it's just too much. Far too much. A more successful PS will focus in on one of these issues and not make a separate paragraph out of each one. You need to focus on whichever situation it was that really made you change--or helped you to grow in some way.

2). The tone of your PS doesn't come across in the best way. I read it wondering if you were trying to make excuses for yourself, especially in regard to your LSAT score.

3). I know you've heard it before, but it's important--show, don't tell. You need to show us a situation where you developed some of these skills you reference rather than just telling us about them. Effective PSs really show the development of a person. I feel like maybe you tried to do this, but you can't show the development of your whole life. Some of the information you provided could go in a DS or an addendum if you really wanted to--or hell, even your resume. But, I don't think placing them as you have them makes it an effective piece of writing.

4). But, the overall issue with your PS for me is that it doesn't stand out in anyway. I'm not left with a good picture of who you are. I don't feel like I could sum you up in one sentence. I definitely don't feel like I could say "this girl is X." And, I think there's something valuable in crafting a piece where the reader walks away going "yeah, I feel like I understand some of what this person dealt with." Your PS is too broad and unfocused to achieve that.

5). I know you said you wanted to be done and go ahead and apply, but do yourself a favor and take some time to fix your PS. If you've waited "36 months" or however long until this point...might as well wait a couple days longer to fix it. I mean...you waited until February already so you're already going to be a late applicant, a few more days will make no difference.

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Jsa725
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Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby Jsa725 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:42 pm

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Last edited by Jsa725 on Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Davidbentley
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Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby Davidbentley » Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:43 pm

coclarke wrote:“Last time I checked, there aren’t 36 months in a year,” Started with a quote, I am immediately suspicious of impending twatery.my friend joked after asking me how the whole “law-thing” was going. Although I laughed along, something about that remark stuck to my mind like a suction cup.this is not a particularly evocative simile. If you can't write something brilliant, just deadpan it. "Something about that remark bothered me" would be fine here. As innocent as it was intended to be, it got to me.

I did graduate college over three years ago. My plan was to take one year off after I graduated and to use that time to study for and to take the LSAT then I would apply to law school. I started off on track and suddenly it was three years later and my application was hauntingly blank. Where did that time go? Why was I dragging my feet?

I had let something stop me cold in my tracks from applying to law school: my LSAT score. I performed my due-diligence by taking the LSAT preparation course and I had studied hard; however, I just did not receive the glorious score that dreams are made of—I was barely average. Overuse of the past-perfect tense is a personal pet peeve. Be Mindful of the adcom's perspective. You know that you are planning to turn this into some sweeping tale of redemption, but the adcom just thinks you are a dim slacker who writes poorly.

From the time that statement was uttered from my friend’s lips to this moment where you are reading my words, I decided I had a very important question to answer: where do I go from here?Strange phrasing here. So I placed myself under a microscope. Not for self-denigration, but for self-understanding.Prissy psychobabble. In order to find out if law school was the next step for me, I had to start focusing on who I was as a person. I had to take a look at my personal and professional lifeWhat professional life? At this point in the story, all i know is that you are a slacker Mcfly. to realize I am more than a series of numbers—I am strong, empathetic, intelligent, and logical. This whole sentence seems to assume the answer to the question. In other words, you had to focus on yourself to find out that you were special empathetic etc, but what if you weren't. Surely, you mean you had to focus on yourself, and then you found out that you were blah blah etc. As a sidenote, "empathetic, intelligent, and logical." Who says that about themselves? At this point in the story, I not only think you are a slacker, but also whiny. You sound like Stuart Smalley

At five years old I was communicating with my mentally autistic brother through sign language. My parents believed I was too young to take a sign language class, but I asked my older sister to teach me anyway. I knew it was vital for me to learn this skill because that was the only way my brother, Kevin, could communicate with his family. I took initiative at a very young age so I could be more help to my older brother and to my family. This screams of horseshit. Whose parents think you can be too young for sign language? Also, as a rule, you don't think things are vital for socially beneficial reasons when you're five, you think things are vital because they're cool, or neat, or smell funny. Further, I am not admitting a 5 year old, what the fuck does this tell me about you?

At nine years old, as I was taking a sip from the water fountain in school, I was instructed by a Caucasian classmate to go back to Africa where I belonged. Being of Afro-Caribbean and Portuguese-Jewish descent in an all-white school, I was incredibly insulted, but I did not falter. I simply finished my sip, wiped my lips, and informed the misguided youth that I was, in fact, exactly where I belonged. It's worth noting that you are painting the picture of a badass child. All I can think of now is "what went wrong?" I'm supposed to be thinking about how special you are.

At fourteen, I watched over my older sister for months as she healed from the wounds, both physical and emotional, of her attempted suicide. My sister was hurting so much from childhood events such as rape and emotional abuse. I was there for her. I listened to her every tear-filled word. I counseled her when she needed advice and I sat with her when she needed a friend. I went beyond sympathy I opened the door to the mansion of emotions my sister was living in and I dwelled there too. This last line is an overt, and bad, attempt at lyrical wit, it detracts from the seriousness of the paragraph and makes me think you are making it up.

My childhood prepared me for college. I entered school with the emotional maturity of a person twice my age.This is an absurd statement. How do you know? Nothing in your post college career--that i know about so far--suggests you have any particular wisdom. I knew what I wanted. I was going to major in history and use that degree to pursue a career in law. I understood that the methods used to understand, to report, and to track historical elements were closely related to the methods used to study, to create, and to regulate law. I endlessly researched, reevaluated and argued my position. I researched, I read, and I wrote until my fingers were raw with logic, strategy and persuasion.Listen, you are not a good writer. Stop trying so hard. That doesn't even make sense. I walked away with high honors in my major. A strategic move on my part, through my study of history and my successful legal internships, I thought I was ready for the next step. What?

After graduating, I took an office job to earn money while I prepared for law school. Although I was no stranger to hard work since I had worked throughout collegeI have no indication that you worked particularly hard. You say you researched etc, but that is college. Some people, whose essays I'll also be reading, did all of that while working 45-60 hours a week., I was surprised to find that my supervisor was a horrible woman who told me that I should not even bother with law school because I would not make anything of myself. Don't attack people who can't defend themselves. This seems like a catty attempt to take a shot at a person who you didn't like. At this point, my guess is she didn't fully embrace the aroma of your bullshit and now you don't like her for that.Unconsciously—a dull, hopeless routine set in.So you stopped giving a shit because someone told you not to go to law school? Really? It wasn't your fault, no. It was unconscious. A once vibrant girl was turning into a miserable woman.Again, I have no indication that you were vibrant. I was beginning to believe that the “real” world was exactly what others had said—a ho-hum existence with a bleak undertone: my boss was mean, my car was old, and my pockets were empty. Why bother? Let's pause here to assess the picture I have of you. You are a supposedly intelligent woman who was bright, inquisitive, and assertive as a child, who apparently achieved nothing worth noting in college beyond an honors designation(if you did, you didn't mention it) whose friends know she is a slacker, who is easily dissuaded and a shitty writer. Boy, these next three paragraphs better be great if they are going to save you.

However, much like the other times in my life, I decided to rewrite the script. What other times?If this was my reality, then I would make the best of it. Suddenly, my supervisor’s rigid criticisms lost their edge, my old car seemed just as vibrant as its owner, and my empty pockets were abundant with a promising future. I remembered that sometimes people will try their hardest to tear you down and that it usually has little to do with you and more to do with their own suffering. I developed the skills to laugh when the stress built up and to take a break when I needed one. I could not have asked for a better learning experience. I emerged with more personal and, better yet, professional resilience. Don't tell me, show me. Spouting platitudes about personal growth and generic facebook drivel about "people tearing you down" is not how you show me that you've grown.

Fast forward to today and I am the youngest senior level employee at a boutique technology consulting firm. I make most of the company’s financial and operational decisions and have used my skills as researcher and writer to produce the copy for the company’s marketing material and websites. What is it that you do? Don't be coy. Also, when you say you make financial and operational decisions and write copy, I think you are not working at a boutique, but rather at a mom and pop operation.I maintain a lead role in the human resource department helping with compliance analyses and supplying updated company policies that correlate with statewide laws and procedures. Wait, you work in HR? A second ago I thought you were the CEO or similar.When I interviewed for this position I lacked “qualifying” experience, yet I still managed to get the job and I do it well. So they have low hiring standards?Professionally, I am almost where I want to be—a law degree will ensure that I get there.Yes, but why silly? You are apparently highly successful, why do you want to leave your promising career for a law degree? Because you made a "strategic decision" by choosing History as your major?

I have grown and taken a piece from each stage of my life. The pieces I have taken have become the foundation on which I am writing this essay.This level of blatant pseudo-profundity makes my face hurt. Throughout the challenges I have encountered, I have always found a way to come out tougher, more irrepressible.You seem to have gotten weaker, more docile. Remember, this started because you got butthurt by a shitty joke from a friend. Through writing this essay I had to focus on challenging the way in which I judge myself and my life.You've lived your whole life, and the only fucking thing you could write about was writing this essay? What? And although it has taken me three years, I have come to the realization that a score can deceivingly say very little and it is only one’s constitution that can truly speak for itself.So rather than, I Dont' know, studying and trying again, you embarked on a 3 year journey just to be able to say "Hey, you know that thing that everyone who applies to law school is judged on? Well, it can't judge me."

Note: You set out to explain why you friend's slacker comment was bothering you, instead you appeared to argue that you were not a slacker. The dominant impression that I get from this essay is that you don't have much to say. I feel you are insubstantial, over-wrought, and nothing in this would disabuse me of the notion that your meager LSAT was a fair reflection of your worth. You may think this harsh, but I can only judge you based on what you've given me. Scrap it, and Rewrite, and ReTake.

LDVM4334
Posts: 62
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Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby LDVM4334 » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:17 am

I'd echo a lot of what was said here, but think the harshest critiques are a bit unwarranted. That said, it does need some fairly significant revision.

coclarke
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Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:40 pm

Re: Done with my personal statement would love some opinions

Postby coclarke » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:46 pm

Thank you to everyone who jumped in and critiqued. Wow! Some of the statements were rough lol, but I do understand that everyone is trying to help on some level. I'm actually not that sensitive of a person, but when it came to reading (what I already knew on some level) that my PS was not good, it made me very upset because I though I would never get my application done. Instead, I got to re-do my whole approach to my application. On top of a new PS, I added a Diversity Statement, and a LSAT Addendum. The LSAT addendum mentioned by the first person was probably the best advice since I have a history of poor performance on standardized tests. I thought, however, to mention that would be a sign of weakness but after researching more I found that it's ok to mention that.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks again.

*****If anyone is reading this and is in the same boat as I was but is too afraid to post their PS for fear of harsh criticism I would like to advise that it's better to get "harsh" advice from strangers than to make big mistakes on your application.




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