Critique my PS- PLEASE help!

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Anonymous User
Posts: 273214
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Critique my PS- PLEASE help!

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:09 pm

I've revamped my ps considerably as I prepare to apply to a couple of reach schools before this cycle ends. Any feedback or suggestions, please let me know- Ideally, I'd like to shorten it a bit if possible. Guidelines for the two remaining schools are 2 pgs double spaced- I can only get it down to two pgs with size 11 font and 1.5 spaces. I'd rather not be fudging the length requirement, but I feel stuck at this point.

Some issues I've noticed-
-I feel like the intro is pretty weak. It jumps right into a narrative of "this happened, then this happened, then this happened." I did have an introductory paragraph, but it was quite long and I eliminated it to cut down on the overall length of my ps. I'm not sure if there is some other way to begin this, or if I should add that back in and remove something else...
-I also feel like there is a disconnect in the writing style between the first portion of my ps and the last- specifically the last 3 paragraphs as compared to everything that came before it. It could just be that the first part is telling a story and the last part is explaining in greater detail the relevance of the story- I just don't know if this is okay. It seems awkward to me when I re-read it, but it could just be that I've been looking at this for months.
-Again, length is one of my primary concerns- what can I cut out here that is really not relevant? It all feels relevant to me- but that's because it's my life. I'm sure someone from an outside perspective could read it and say "I don't need to know about this part to get the point across"- so I'm hoping that someone can do that for me.

If you have anything positive to say about it- please do. I've been fine tuning this for months so I'd like to feel at least a little bit good about my efforts.

But also be brutally honest- if your feedback is purely negative, I want to hear it. While an ego stroking is nice now and then, I suppose now is not the time for it. Rip this apart if necessary.

Thanks in advance!

(removed names of people and schools I'm sending my app to- I plan on including those to personalize it a bit more)

Beginning with only few bags of clothes, a computer, and $100.00 in cash between the two of us, my partner *name* and I began to build a life for ourselves. After coming out as a lesbian at the age of 19, I had been abruptly forced out of my parents’ home and denied further financial assistance with my educational expenses. In August of 2005, we relocated from Long Island to Buffalo, NY, where the cost of living was significantly lower and I could attend a less expensive state school to complete my degree. Shortly thereafter, however, in December of 2005, *partner* began struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Given our financial circumstances, she was unable to seek treatment and was therefore unable to continue working. I subsequently found myself, within a matter of months, not only transitioning from complete dependence upon my family to a far greater degree of self-reliance, but also, very shortly thereafter, began providing both emotional and financial support for my sick partner as well.

I took a brief hiatus from my studies to focus on finding a stable job that paid enough to support us both. In August of 2006, I entered the world of pseudo-homeownership with the assistance of my partner’s family. The house, while mortgaged in *partner*’s grandmother’s name, was entirely mine and my partner’s responsibility to maintain, repair, and renovate. Despite the added responsibility of caring for a home, and the stresses associated with living in a low-income urban neighborhood with a high crime rate, this seemed the wisest financial decision we could make at the time. The mortgage, taxes and utilities still amounted to considerably less than monthly rent in the area. Shortly after we moved in, *partner*’s father, who was under-employed and uninsured, passed away from a treatable illness. This severely exacerbated her struggle with OCD, and I took on the bulk of responsibility for the house. Her condition quickly deteriorated, and I was soon responsible for ensuring that her essentials, from food to clothing to personal hygiene, were taken care of.

Having secured a position at HSBC Bank and becoming settled into our new home, I returned to SUNY College at Buffalo approximately one year later. I maintained a full time course-load while working more than full time to provide for us financially. Throughout this time, my relationship with my family remained strained. I visited several times per year, but they had no interest in meeting my partner. While we did communicate on a somewhat regular basis, our conversations were rarely little more than superficial. It was not until late 2010, as I was preparing to graduate, that the dynamic in our relationship shifted appreciably.

In November 2010, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Yet again, this time so close to graduation, my priorities needed modification to accommodate this critical need in my family. Traveling between Buffalo, NY and Long Island frequently to assist my mother with doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and care consumed a great deal of time and energy, both physically and emotionally. I needed to step back from my studies temporarily to assist my family. Although all required coursework was completed to receive my BA degree in May 2011, I was in the process of completing an optional independent study project pertaining to the intersection of law and morality at this time. I worked closely with my independent study advisor to make alternate arrangements for the completion of the project in process, and my graduation was rescheduled for a year later in May 2012.

My mother is now cancer-free. The experience seemed to impact her perspective on our relationship and how it had changed since I came out years ago. In what felt like a sudden shift, my parents both became more interested in becoming a part of my life again. Additionally, *partner* began seeking medical treatment for her OCD in early 2012, and within the past year has made substantial progress. After nearly eight years, my parents and my partner met one another at my May 2012 graduation ceremony. It was quite a surreal experience to be on stage, receiving my diploma, while looking out at the crowd and seeing my family and my partner standing together, smiling and waving at me. All that I had worked so hard for over the course of almost eight years seemed encapsulated in that moment.

It is not my intention, however, to convey that I believe one ought to simply hold out hope, and persevere until things work out the way that they’d like. For many, that which is hoped for may never be realized, and to proceed with such a perspective may ultimately prove to be a hindrance to true progress. Indeed, given the number of years that passed and the difficulties that I encountered along the way, I did not believe for many years that such a resolution were in fact possible in my situation. What kept me going was not the hope of regaining the stability I once knew, but, instead, an understanding of and appreciation for what I gained throughout those periods of instability. I learned, in a very concrete and practical sense, the importance of proper prioritization, unwavering perseverance, and balancing multiple responsibilities simultaneously. I became capable of adapting quickly to changing circumstances, evaluating risks, and making difficult decisions. The importance of remaining patient and understanding with others, even during trying times, was reinforced, and my character and sense of self were both tested and strengthened. While certainly assisting in the achievement of my goals, the value of the acquisition and strengthening of these skills and traits is not contingent upon the results that they produced. Proper management of the instability in my life facilitated the development of my character and stimulated the cultivation of values that I feel will serve me well not only during my time in law school, but throughout a career in law.

Furthermore, these experiences have solidified my desire to pursue a legal career. I have lived in poverty in a marginal neighborhood, where immigrant families, often with young children, are routinely taken advantage of by slumlords. I have witnessed and experienced discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. I have first-hand knowledge of the struggle that many low-income working class individuals face in obtaining proper health care, and the dire consequences that can easily result from an inability to do so. These experience have enabled me to recognize the ways in which the law and access to representation impacts the lives and opportunities of real people. The law is a thread that is woven into every aspect of our lives. My passion stems from a recognition that the most practical way of truly impacting society and ameliorating the problems I have seen and experienced is through the legal system.

I strongly believe that the opportunities presented by *school name* will assist me in the pursuit of my goals. The clinical offerings provided, particularly *specific examples*, will provide me with the real-world experience needed to prepare me to enter the job market as a strong candidate. I am confident that the reputation of *school name* and its professors, in conjunction with my own hard work and dedication, will open the doors of opportunity in ways that would not be possible at any other institution. I look forward to the new challenges which lie ahead, and the occasion to utilize the skills and strengths I have developed thus far to uncover new opportunities both to grow individually and to positively impact those with whom I learn and work.

WhatOurBodiesAreFor
Posts: 369
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:23 pm

Re: Critique my PS- PLEASE help!

Postby WhatOurBodiesAreFor » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:44 pm

Hellu -

It's not bad. You should definitely keep it and this PS won't hurt you in the least.

That said, there's room for improvement. I'm just going to throw a few things out, let me know if you need any clarification or for me to elaborate.

- Keep in mind that even though you had it bad at times, people have had it much worse. Don't talk about your problems as if they were immeasurably difficult and near-impossible to overcome. That said, leave your story. It's good. Just keep this thought in mind and go in and fix some dramatizations.

- Do add some sort of introduction, or at least set the context of your story a little better and more slowly. Again, keep it concise - don't focus too much on the details.

- In regards to length, you can certainly cut some of it out. Your story is a little drawn out and you seem to strive pretty hard - thereby taking up a lot of space - explaining your interest in law.

- I don't know how much time you have but your PS is very wordy and "this happened, this happened". Cut out some of the more recent stuff and just focus on a specific narrative.

- If you don't have a lot of time, don't worry about it. It's really fine and it won't hurt you.

soontobelawschooler
Posts: 30
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: Critique my PS- PLEASE help!

Postby soontobelawschooler » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:34 pm

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Last edited by soontobelawschooler on Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

WhatOurBodiesAreFor
Posts: 369
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:23 pm

Re: Critique my PS- PLEASE help!

Postby WhatOurBodiesAreFor » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:52 pm

While soontobelawschooler's advice, "show that you will excel in law school", is not wrong per se, she hints that this must be done explicitly. It doesn't.

A PS can be a discussion of an aspect of your character, like curiosity. It could also talk about that time where you overcome significant hardship. Or it could be how much you love the Saul character in Breaking Bad. Or it could be about how much you love the law.

But your PS doesn't even have to have the word "law" in it.

While there is so much to say about PS's and so much advice to be given, most fundamentally we should use our common sense. The instructions given on the apps are, basically, "tell us about yourself." Sure, the PS must speak to the type of person you will be at law school, but you don't ever have to say anything to that effect explicitly.

What feels right to talk about? For OP, it's the struggles she faced during those years in college. For me, that's all she needs to do. Maybe at the end she could say something like "over the years I have come to be very interested in the law.......these stuggles have tested me and made me stronger, and so I am very well-suited for the challenges of law school and the legal profession". She need not discuss law more than that.

mg1185
Posts: 52
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:37 pm

Re: Critique my PS- PLEASE help!

Postby mg1185 » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:30 pm

Thank you both for all the feedback- it is extremely helpful. I agree that it did become a bit boring as I detailed my circumstances- I'm just not sure what can be eliminated without impacting the rest or detracting from the totality of my circumstances- any suggestions? What do you fell like could be irrelevant/not necessary to explain? Also, I know that I tend to be a bit wordy- your suggestions with that have helped tremendously and I've noticed a number of other areas where I can make similar edits.

I also agree that it probably does sound a little over-the-top traumatic at points. Even though that's how I experienced it, I know that my difficulties don't even compare to what some people have had to deal with and surely will be writing personal statements about. I don't want to come off as though I think my life is oh-so-tragic... any particular places where you'd recommend editing things out? I could probably find some, but it would be helpful to know what sounds like it is a bit much from an outside perspective.

Thank you both again- I really appreciate the feedback!

cgw
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:06 pm

Re: Critique my PS- PLEASE help!

Postby cgw » Sat Feb 09, 2013 2:28 am

Your PS comes off as really...clinical, I think is the word I want. You provide a very detailed account of your life after leaving your parents' home, often too detailed (why do we need to know the house is in your partner's grandmother's name?), but it is almost completely devoid of emotion. I don't really get a sense of your character or the impact any of it had on you. I would try to narrow down the scope significantly. As it's written currently, it's difficult to identify growth, something that should be demonstrated in a PS with an adversity theme. I understand you're trying to provide a holistic portrait, but in doing so I think you lose a lot of potential depth. Not to mention, it can be a bit boring to read, what I imagine, is every significant thing that happened to you in the past eight years. Focus on your challenges with your family. Or your economic challenges. Or better still, focus on this paragraph:

Anonymous User wrote:Furthermore, these experiences have solidified my desire to pursue a legal career. I have lived in poverty in a marginal neighborhood, where immigrant families, often with young children, are routinely taken advantage of by slumlords. I have witnessed and experienced discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. I have first-hand knowledge of the struggle that many low-income working class individuals face in obtaining proper health care, and the dire consequences that can easily result from an inability to do so. These experience have enabled me to recognize the ways in which the law and access to representation impacts the lives and opportunities of real people. The law is a thread that is woven into every aspect of our lives. My passion stems from a recognition that the most practical way of truly impacting society and ameliorating the problems I have seen and experienced is through the legal system.


Maybe talk more about those experiences and how they relate to problems you have witnessed in your community. Whatever you choose, try to think of it in terms of theme. Identify a theme you want to convey and then relate only the experiences/elements that serve to enhance that theme. Everything else is superfluous.




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