Please comment on and rate my PS

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

Rate me PS

Excellent
6
17%
Very Good
9
25%
Good
11
31%
Fair
8
22%
Poor
2
6%
 
Total votes: 36

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jselson
Posts: 6337
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby jselson » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:42 pm

dagnygalt wrote:
jselson wrote:Guys, let the guy rationally decide that 165 is a fantastic score, and rationally achieve top 1-5% at American and rationally realize that it's "not that important that I definitely do biglaw, there's always in-house," and then rationally take a job at Starbucks until his boss rationally lays him off, sells the business, and moves to Bermuda.


First, I am a chick.

Second, is it really T14 or no job prospects? I am assuming you will be starting law school in the fall, so what experience are you basing this on?


First, my apologies.

Second, no, but why shoot yourself in the foot? If you're from FL, then realistically with your score and the places you've applied to, you're looking at Vandy, Emory, UT, and Miami as your schools. (But seriously, apply to George Mason, they'll love you, and you might even get DC.) (And why not UF or UA or UGA?) Emory's the only place that's gonna give you decent money according to MyLSN and employment isn't horrible (http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school=emory), but it isn't great either, especially since you'll come out with over $150,000 in debt. And that's at 32/33. And very few people from Emory get the sort of jobs that can service that debt load. (And also, irony of ironies, your loan's gonna come from the government in all likelihood.) It also sounds like your folks aren't really going to be much help in getting you a job, so unless you have basically a guaranteed foot in with a current firm, you're taking a huge risk without much of a possibility of an upside. The fact that your PS is filled with special snowflake syndrome turned into a political mantra doesn't help either.

In any case, you write, "I’ve learned that my future is one without excuses, without laziness, one above mediocrity, one where I can try to get the best out of myself and be proud of it." Right now, you're making excuses and shooting for mediocrity, and mediocre schools love to sucker in folks who think that they are the only ones who work hard. And you applied to American, which is a lol school, but why apply to somewhere you wouldn't go to (which is the only sense in which my criticism wouldn't be relevant)?

Without ties, study for a year, work your ass off, and waltz into CCN and maybe even HYS, where you're as likely to get a biglaw job defending titans of industry as you would at Emory getting ANY job.

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BelugaWhale
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby BelugaWhale » Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:19 am

Getting 5 more questions right will literally put you on a seperate (and the highest) tier.

Given your strong PS and work expierience, you would be set for life. Retake.

XLogic
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:22 am

Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby XLogic » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:14 am

@dagnygalt, I think you should take all advice (including mine) with a grain of salt.

Some people on here only think they know exactly how the admission selection process works, when all they are doing is putting too much emphasis on the visible statistics published by schools and other agencies. Not to mention the misleading information spread by candidates who may not have secured admission for other reasons not related to their GPA and/or LSAT score.

No offense to John_rizzy_rawls, but I think he is wrong. For example, the statement that schools do not compare your LSAT score to your peers at your school is factually inaccurate. That does not even make practical/common sense. Adcomms also consider the major (English, Engineering, Business etc) and typical GPAs for that major in evaluating candidates.

Re-take if you feel you can improve, otherwise work on your PS, and other parts of your essay and apply.

A non T-14 is not the end of the world. A diamond will always stand out in the rough! A top 10% student in a T-20 with good extra-curriculars will be at the top of the list of good employers (especially regional ones).

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BelugaWhale
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby BelugaWhale » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:27 am

^^

John overstated and overgeneralized his point but his underlying fundamentals are strong.

Nobody would actually say majors and gpa's across schools don't matter. But it's just that they matter so small that it's ok to treat them as not mattering.

majors and gpa's would only come into play if one is already passed a certain threshold. In other words, a 3.7 gpa in advanced thermonuclear jet propulsion will never beat out a 4.0 in political science holding all else equal. The former major will probably beat out the 4.0 major if his gpa was 3.95.

But alas, it seldom works out like this.

A diamond will always stand out in the rough. A smaller diamond standing out in a field of larger diamonds? Harder bet.

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UnamSanctam
Posts: 7167
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:17 am

Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby UnamSanctam » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:13 am

XLogic wrote:@dagnygalt, I think you should take all advice (including mine) with a grain of salt.

Some people on here only think they know exactly how the admission selection process works, when all they are doing is putting too much emphasis on the visible statistics published by schools and other agencies. Not to mention the misleading information spread by candidates who may not have secured admission for other reasons not related to their GPA and/or LSAT score.

No offense to John_rizzy_rawls, but I think he is wrong. For example, the statement that schools do not compare your LSAT score to your peers at your school is factually inaccurate. That does not even make practical/common sense. Adcomms also consider the major (English, Engineering, Business etc) and typical GPAs for that major in evaluating candidates.

Re-take if you feel you can improve, otherwise work on your PS, and other parts of your essay and apply.

A non T-14 is not the end of the world. A diamond will always stand out in the rough! A top 10% student in a T-20 with good extra-curriculars will be at the top of the list of good employers (especially regional ones).


Do not take this advice. Except for the "retake" part.

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John_rizzy_rawls
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby John_rizzy_rawls » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:45 am

UnamSanctam wrote:
XLogic wrote:@dagnygalt, I think you should take all advice (including mine) with a grain of salt.

Some people on here only think they know exactly how the admission selection process works, when all they are doing is putting too much emphasis on the visible statistics published by schools and other agencies. Not to mention the misleading information spread by candidates who may not have secured admission for other reasons not related to their GPA and/or LSAT score.

No offense to John_rizzy_rawls, but I think he is wrong. For example, the statement that schools do not compare your LSAT score to your peers at your school is factually inaccurate. That does not even make practical/common sense. Adcomms also consider the major (English, Engineering, Business etc) and typical GPAs for that major in evaluating candidates.

Re-take if you feel you can improve, otherwise work on your PS, and other parts of your essay and apply.

A non T-14 is not the end of the world. A diamond will always stand out in the rough! A top 10% student in a T-20 with good extra-curriculars will be at the top of the list of good employers (especially regional ones).


Do not take this advice. Except for the "retake" part.



This. For the love of god this.

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Vexed
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby Vexed » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:52 pm

Prose wise I think this is pretty good, but it doesn't come across with a very cohesive message and quite honestly doesn't tell me much. To get to your original question, the message I get from your PS is this: The people that raised me were not hard working or motivated, but I am.

On face value, this summary probably sounds good for you, but as I think the statement through in my head, it's very shallow and I don't really understand why you are a hard worker - you simply state that you are.

Your best lines to answer that question are the paragraph following the U-Haul bit ("I left, because..."), yet, given the structure of the paper up to that point, I have zero idea how you got to that point. The first 50% of your paper is spent outlining all of the people in your life and their poor world views (which may be problematic in its own right, focus more of your PS on YOU), and then you abruptly tell me why you didn't like those views and wanted to leave. But how did you get there? What set you apart from the world you grew up in? Did you have a moment of revelation which caused you to distance yourself from their views? Did somebody with a different view of the world come into your life? As it stands right now, it seems as if either A) You always held different views than them, or, B) You just up and decided some day. And by the way the paper is structured now, I'd have a hard time picking between those two.

I also think that there should be a little bit more in terms of why you want to go to law school. I don't think you need to take an abrupt pivot and wax philosophical about "what being a lawyer means to you" that a lot of PS seem to, but I do think some sort of framing as to how your experiences or hard work have pointed you in the direction you're going would go a long way. What you conclude on is fairly shallow - everyone can claim they're a hard worker, but I'm not sure why that means you want to go to law school or would be happy there.

The best advice I can give you: Show me, don't tell me. Just about anybody can tell me how they had it rough at one point and ended up being a hard worker, but what sets each individual's story apart is the ways by which they got there.

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Xs20
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby Xs20 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:05 pm

XLogic wrote:@dagnygalt, I think you should take all advice (including mine) with a grain of salt.

Some people on here only think they know exactly how the admission selection process works, when all they are doing is putting too much emphasis on the visible statistics published by schools and other agencies. Not to mention the misleading information spread by candidates who may not have secured admission for other reasons not related to their GPA and/or LSAT score.

No offense to John_rizzy_rawls, but I think he is wrong. For example, the statement that schools do not compare your LSAT score to your peers at your school is factually inaccurate. That does not even make practical/common sense. Adcomms also consider the major (English, Engineering, Business etc) and typical GPAs for that major in evaluating candidates.


Re-take

if you feel you can improve, otherwise work on your PS, and other parts of your essay and apply.

A non T-14 is not the end of the world. A diamond will always stand out in the rough! A top 10% student in a T-20 with good extra-curriculars will be at the top of the list of good employers (especially regional ones).

kublaikahn
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:47 am

Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby kublaikahn » Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:34 pm

About the retake: higher score = better school, yes. but also higher score = more money. It would be stupid not to retake.

About the PS: On the one hand, you seem like a likable person, and have cleverly explained both your socioeconomic disadvantage and your over achievement (grades>LSAT). But, you do come off as a black and white thinker. In addition, I don't like the way you speak of your own "greatness."

dagnygalt
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:46 am

Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby dagnygalt » Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:59 am

XLogic wrote:The Bad: You do not go deep. You talk about your family members and their negative behavior, but you do not go into detail about how you felt about this, why were you different from them? what drove you to excellence? I was looking for the crescendo -- not required but it would make sense -- i.e., "this one incident (huge event) made me decide to leave, and I never looked back..." or "I will take this experience with me on my law school journey" etc...


I really took this advice to heart. There was something, pretty hurtful, that I was holding back from revealing - partly because I didn't know if it would sound to much like a sob story and partly because I just didn't know if I could go there emotionally. But I did. I went back and re-wrote a good bit of it. I would love to hear what you think.

Vexed wrote:Your best lines to answer that question are the paragraph following the U-Haul bit ("I left, because..."), yet, given the structure of the paper up to that point, I have zero idea how you got to that point. The first 50% of your paper is spent outlining all of the people in your life and their poor world views (which may be problematic in its own right, focus more of your PS on YOU), and then you abruptly tell me why you didn't like those views and wanted to leave. But how did you get there? What set you apart from the world you grew up in? Did you have a moment of revelation which caused you to distance yourself from their views? Did somebody with a different view of the world come into your life? As it stands right now, it seems as if either A) You always held different views than them, or, B) You just up and decided some day. And by the way the paper is structured now, I'd have a hard time picking between those two.

I also think that there should be a little bit more in terms of why you want to go to law school.


It's hard to explain how I just innately held different views, but I truly remember being six years old and knowing that my parents weren't good people. It's hard to put that into writing, but I did add something to the second paragraph that I hope helps that point stand out a little more. Additionally, I agree with you, and several others, who suggested that it may be a good idea to at least superficially mention why I want to go to law school. I added that in, and I think it works. I kind of stayed away from it because I didn't want it to seem all "I want to save the world," but that is kind of what I want to do, so...

Here is the revised draft. I completely took out one of the stories, deleted some lines and of course added a couple of things... I bolded the things that were added. (I still have a handful of schools I haven't submitted to yet.. I KNOW IT'S LATE... point is, changing my PS still matters)

Personal Statement

“Hide in the bathroom” he said. I was eight years old and the man talking to me was my mother’s boyfriend. We were in his motor home, pulling into the race track and he didn’t want to pay admission for the children. My brother and I squished into the tiny motor home bathroom and held our breath so that we didn’t make a peep. “You have to screw the world before it screws you” he said.

I grew up in a household where I was taught that everyone who had more than you didn’t deserve it, that stealing from them wasn’t wrong because it made things equal, that if you didn’t take, you would get taken. I knew that I needed to escape, that if I stayed I would run the risk of being trapped in the cycle of entitlement, that the greatness inside of me that somehow knew at eight years old that my parents were wrong about life, that this wasn’t the person I wanted to be, would be massacred.

“Capitalism is evil” she said. I was twelve years old and my aunt was driving me to school because my mother was too depressed to get out of bed. She had all the windows rolled down and the joint burning at the tips of her fingers was blowing in the wind, casting the smell of burning earth into the backseat. Her disability check for the mental condition she didn’t actually have kept her pot dealer in business. “It forces us to compete against each other instead of living in harmony” she said.

I was taught to believe that laziness and ineptitude were never the fault of the lazy or inept, but that the determined and capable brought them down with greed. I was taught that you had a right to be taken care of, that the world owed you something.

“I just can’t handle stress” she said. I was seventeen years old and the blubbering, half coherent woman who I was picking up off the bathroom floor was my mother. Earlier that night, I had walked into the house to see her huddled, shivering and crying in a corner with her boyfriend screaming at her at the top of his lungs, his face purple with anger. I had stepped in to shield her, but ended up being thrown through a glass table. “You are stronger than me. You have to take care of me” she said.

This was one of her worst nights. I had found an empty bottle of Oxycotin, but I had no idea how much she had taken. I stayed up all night watching her, holding her, making sure she was breathing and contemplating calling an ambulance. As the sun came up, I finally gave in to exhaustion. The jarring sensation of being shaken woke me up. “He is being released from jail and won’t come back if you’re here” she said. “You have to leave.”

I was taught that because I was strong, that my feelings, my thoughts, my well-being, shouldn’t be considered. I was taught that I should sacrifice myself for the good of others, that my happiness came last. I was taught that I didn’t matter.

“I can’t believe you’re leaving” he said. I was eighteen and my brother was standing in front of the U-Haul that housed everything I owned. Over the last few months, I had been staying with him while I finished high school. I had told my family three weeks earlier that I would be moving 1800 miles away. No one had believed me until they saw the 5000 pound declaration of independence parked in the driveway. “But, we need you” he said.

I left because I [b]needed [/b]to discover the people who had more than me and deserved it, the people who never wanted to take anything from anyone, but wanted to earn it. I left because I knew that there had to be a world out there, people out there, that didn’t think I owed them my life, simply because I existed.

“You’re a tough cookie” she said. I was 22 years old and my co-worker and I were standing on a scaffold, scrubbing the grease stained ceiling of a fast food restaurant’s kitchen. I had picked up a second job overnight to save more money for college. The woman speaking to me was a single mother of three who worked eighty hours a week so that her children wouldn’t have to go without. I had never once heard her complain. “I’ve never seen another woman do this job” she said.

I discovered the people who could inspire me, the people who taught me that I could take joy in any work, even in painstakingly scrubbing those ceiling tiles, because it was the product of my effort. I discovered that no matter what task I was undertaking, I wanted to do it to the best of my ability, that anything less was untrue to the person I wanted to be.

“Please take a seat here” he said. I was 26 years old and the Dean of my college was eagerly pointing to a chair next to the President of the university. I was being inducted as an officer of the highest ranking honor society at my school. Our guest speaker was a 58 year old professor of oceanography who had decided at 38, in the middle of a successful marketing career, that she was going to start all over, go back to school, earn her bachelors, masters and then doctorate, and teach. She had decided that she wanted her life to be different, and she changed it. “Congratulations. You should be proud” he said.

And, I was. I had discovered the people who took ownership of their own lives, that knew that they had the power to make themselves happy, the power to give themselves a purpose. I had learned that my drive, my ambition, my strength, these were values that made me a more moral person, not an intangible noose held over me as a threat of imprisonment.

“Yes, I am still going to go to law school” I said. I was 28 years old and the director of my department had asked me to come to his office to offer me a promotion. When I had started five years earlier, I had been open with my intentions to leave for law school before I turned thirty. I had explained that I wanted to work in politics, that I wanted to contribute to shaping the world around me. “Thank you, but I think I will be even luckier to have them” I said.

I’ve learned that my future is one without excuses, without laziness, one above mediocrity, one where I can try to get the best out of myself and be proud of it. I have learned that I would rather produce than take, that I would rather have self-worth than self-pity, that I would rather live than merely prevent death. I have learned that I matter.

XLogic
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby XLogic » Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:18 am

I finally get the tempo of your essay -- the transition from bad situation to good, the chronological order of events, and the topic "statements" setting the tone for each paragraph. I don't think I have come across this format before, it is risky, but I think it could work because it reads like a fast-paced novel.

I will print it out and read it again to see how it feels. I'll also forward it to 1 or 2 friends to get their take on your style. In my case, I had to write 5+ drafts before I had something that made sense to me, and that my trusted reviewers signed off on.

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domino
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby domino » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:01 am

I really enjoyed this in a "couldn't put it down" way. I thought your style was really engaging.

My two cents on the bad:

- Most of your essay focuses on the negative, meaning bad experiences with your family and values of theirs that you're rejecting. This left me feeling non-great generally, which might have translated into my not feeling great about you if I were an adcomm.
- You come across as angry, and your motivations for going to law school might not play well. I understand you to be implying that you are pursuing a legal career because you value individual achievement, which could read as your just looking for the credential or validation. You might want to spell it out that you're doing this for something beyond these things--interest in a way of thinking or the subject matter, how law affects issues that matter to you, or the like. (ETA: I see your edit on your goals now. I would go deeper when talking about them, though.)
- I agree that your essay would benefit from being more focused on you.

XLogic
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby XLogic » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:52 am

Okay -- I actually think this is really compelling stuff. I shared your paper with my toughest critics (my GF and sister), and they love it too. Here's an excerpt from one of them...

"My interest was kept till the very end. I like the writing style, this is a historical piece. In the past, I have found certain historical pieces to be tedious but this is not. The writer describes his difficulties through life. Those hardships shaped him into being hardworking and responsible. He does not dwell only on the hardships he also highlights his successes in school and at the work. He argued effectively why he should be admitted. This piece is good, but it can be improved. There are some grammatical errors that needs to be corrected. Certain phrases are awkward and need to be reworded. Certain sentences needs clarification, I was not sure if he was describing himself in those sentences or someone else."

I think it is interesting that she thought you were male ( to be honest, I thought so too ). And by the way, I totally agree with this assessment of your personal statement.

Your style is really unique, and I think if you have it proofed for grammar while keeping the essential style, you will have a winning personal statement.

I started critiquing some of the paragraphs, but stopped half way through because I think some of my suggestions will change your rhetorical flow. For example, you use "that" a lot. "that if I stayed I would run the risk of being trapped... that the greatness inside me... that this wasn't the person I wanted to be.."

But I think I understand what you are trying to achieve here... it's like you are building up suspense in the reader by saying "that X, that Y, that Z..." and I think it is very effective, but I still feel you can make it better, even though I'm not sure I can advise you exactly how.

If somebody locked me in a room for two days with a gallon of water and a flash light to read your essay and pick one section to improve, then I would pick the last sentence of the second paragraph. The structure of the sentence is awkward.

I thought of changing it to this, to make it flow better:

"I knew that I needed to escape, that if I stayed I would run the risk of being trapped in the cycle of entitlement, that the bright light burning intensely in me, even at a tender age of eight, would be in danger of burning out."

In any case, I think you have something here. Keep the essence, fix the grammar, submit!

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CyanIdes Of March
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:47 pm

Seems like a starter's guide to a Libertarian Manifesto. An unsubtle attack at "societal leeches" that doesn't really say anything about you other than "I'm resentful of my family and I'm a Libertarian, one of which may or may not be the cause of the other".

Decently well written, but not without needless repetitions.

masked kavana
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby masked kavana » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:17 pm

The revised version doesn't flow as well as the original. It seems like you just inserted phrases and words to make the whole PS more cogent and it disrupts the flow. Like others have said, I thought the original focused way too much on your family and made you seem angry...

Maybe take take one occassion that sticks out in your mind and go from there? I know it seems like such a hassle to start over, but I think you can definitely hammer out a better PS

XLogic
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby XLogic » Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:08 am

masked kavana wrote:The revised version doesn't flow as well as the original. It seems like you just inserted phrases and words to make the whole PS more cogent and it disrupts the flow. Like others have said, I thought the original focused way too much on your family and made you seem angry...

Maybe take take one occassion that sticks out in your mind and go from there? I know it seems like such a hassle to start over, but I think you can definitely hammer out a better PS

I don't agree -- fix the grammar and go with this.

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FantasticMrFox
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Re: Please comment on and rate my PS

Postby FantasticMrFox » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:00 pm

I didn't have the time to read everyone else's comments so this might be repetitive:

First, I'm a fan of the whole "chapters of my life" division but I think in your PS, it could be slightly more focused. Also, with these, you define yourself, so to speak, from these negatives (for the better). But, your departure paints you in a rather negative hue; you need to explain why you left (if there was a reason that was more than the general dislike of family since childhood).

Second, I was not a fan of the last paragraph except the last sentence, "I have learned that I matter." It was considerably stagnant.




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