46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Bobnoxious
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46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Fri May 24, 2013 12:40 pm

We all have regrets. I know I have a ton of them. I have wallowed in them and felt guilty about their cause. I have done what I could to try to forget them, be content with them, or change my perspective so that I could convince myself there is need for regret. I have had a preference for the latter, when possible and capable of doing so. I believe I married too soon. I believe I was an arrogant and closed minded know-it-all in my youth. I believe I had children too soon. I believe I was too permissive in raising my daughter and too restrictive in raising my son. I believe I haven’t spent enough time showing my wife and children just how much I love them and support them. I believe that I kowtowed to my parent’s and my brother’s immediate needs and desires while working in their family business. I believe I have been too lazy when it comes to self-improvement. However, there is a wonderful rationalization that can make regrets seem like little more than water under the bridge. I have been able to foster in myself the belief that everyone, as a rule of thumb, does the best they can to be the person they want to be given who they are, and who they are is a combination of their past experiences, inclinations and desires, their ability to reason, and their ability to exercise willpower when their passions are in conflict with their reason. While I still believe that people generally do the best they can, based on who they are, the biggest risk for the coping mechanisms I listed above is that they can make a person content to be a quitter whenever the going gets tough.

I have changed, which is no great achievement by itself considering it is a literal impossibility to experience twenty-five years of marriage, raise two children, work for a living, gain and lose friends, and everything else that goes with living an adult life without changing. However, the day-to-day grind, while being somewhat tedious and occasionally depressing, is a powerful anesthetic and can numb a person to the point where the grind becomes comfortable because it is normal and one can become content with the small victories in life, like successfully fixing a broken toilet or patching a damaged roof without the need to dig into the bank account and pay someone else. The most profound change in my life happened when my mom died December 1st, 2008. This was the first time anyone close to me had died and was the catalyst that led to the most drastic change in me as a person.

For over twenty years I had been promising myself and my family that, “one of these days I’ll be a lawyer.” Then, leukemia killed mom. I spent the next year reflecting on my past. I could continue to be content being a big fish in a small pond in the family business and in my circle of acquaintances, or I could finally jump into the ocean and compete with a much wider, and often more talented, field. I decided that merely being content was no longer enough. I decided that wallowing in, feeling guilty for, settling with, repressing, and rationalizing my regrets were no longer justifiable methods to deal with the mistakes in my life. We cannot undo mistakes, but we can refuse to continue living in a manner that simply accepts them as a part of life. We can buckle down and at least make the honest effort to change our circumstances, and in turn ourselves. That is what I’m doing now. I’ve spent the last three years proving to myself that I still have the academic ability I had in my youth. More importantly than that, however, is that I’ve also proven to myself that I have the wisdom, self-discipline, and willpower to finish what I start. I will not let myself down on this path and add another thing to regret to the earlier, far from complete list, and if you decide to permit me to attend __________________, I guarantee it will be one decision you never regret.

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martymoose
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby martymoose » Sun May 26, 2013 2:03 pm

Hopefully I can help a little bit. We have a lot in common.

I'm 47 and I'll be a 1L at Pepperdine this August. I got married when I was 18 (we are still married). I have three daughters. The oldest of them is married with a kid of her own, and the other two are still in elementary school. My dad died in 2001, and my mom died in the summer of 2007.

I have a had a lot of jobs in my life, but there was always the idea of being a lawyer. A year ago I resolved to go for it.

Now, as I read your statement, the thing I notice most is that you are very focused on your past and hardly at all on some things that I think are important: How - specifically - are you drawn to the law? It's not enough to say "I've thought a lot about being a lawyer." And what makes you think you'd be any good at it? Have you had personal experience (good or bad) in the legal system? That doesn't need to be criminal. Ever been involved in a lawsuit? An estate? A contract? Ever buy or sell property? Are you genuinely excited about the law? Or is it simply all you could think of? Give specific evidence that demonstrates this isn't just a random whim.

Also, it's perfectly fine - a good idea, even - to acknowledge the fact that you didn't do this at 25 like everyone else, but don't dwell on it. Your first paragraph begins, "We all have regrets. I know I have a ton of them. I have wallowed in them and felt guilty about their cause. I have done what I could to try to forget them..." but then you proceed to wallow in them. The entire statement is about regret. I would think that will depress the people in Admissions. Don't bore the readers, and don't try to get them to feel sorry for you. Help them to be excited for you. Give them a reason to think what a waste it would be for you to not be in their law school.

It's super easy during this process to wish you had done it twenty years ago, or to wonder if you're too old to do it now. But whether you do it or not, you're still going to get old. Don't do it, and ten years from now, you'll wish you had done it back when you were 46.

One other thing: If you are applying this fall, be working on those LORs now. I gave three professors over three months to write the letters. I sat down with each of them individually to talk about the insane decision to go to law school. I also gave each of them a file folder full of all the work I had ever done for them. I made sure to give them originals, so they could see their own comments (I save everything). There was plenty there, because I had all of these professors throughout graduate school. Then, with about a month remaining before I needed the letters, I started giving them gentle reminders. You want to make it as easy you can for them to generate an amazing LOR in plenty of time.

I believe it was my PS and my LORs that got me into law school. My overall UGPA was only 3.09, although I was able to explain away most of that as the result of my misspent youth. My GPA in my major in was over 3.6, and my grad school GPA was 3.88, which may have helped to prove that I'm no longer the slacker I once was. Hope that helps.

Bobnoxious
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Sun May 26, 2013 4:16 pm

Thanks for the input. The consistent, *apparent* wallowing and lack of focus on the future was what I thought might be a major problem. Time to rewrite...again. I really hate writing these things. Especially since I need one that's 500 words or less, one that's 1,000 words or less, and one that's 1,000-1,500 words. Those are just the ones I'm sure of. I feel better knowing I'm not the only mid to late 40-something that's doing this. I appreciate the time you took to read it and comment.

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martymoose
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby martymoose » Sun May 26, 2013 8:11 pm

Bobnoxious wrote:Time to rewrite...again.
I ended up writing several drafts and what I ended up with bears little resemblance to the first draft. Don't be afraid to attack it from different angles. Good luck.

Bobnoxious
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Sun May 26, 2013 8:55 pm

We all have regrets. I know I have a ton of them. I have wallowed in them and felt guilty about their cause. I have done what I could to try to forget them, be content with them, or change my perspective so that I could convince myself there is need for regret. I have had a preference for the latter, when possible and capable of doing so. I believe I married too soon. I believe I was an arrogant and closed minded know-it-all in my youth. I believe I had children too soon. I believe I was too permissive in raising my daughter and too restrictive in raising my son. I believe I haven’t spent enough time showing my wife and children just how much I love them and support them. I believe I have been too lazy when it comes to self-improvement.

Nonetheless, there is a wonderful rationalization that can make regrets seem like little more than water under the bridge. I have been able to foster in myself the belief that everyone, as a rule of thumb, does the best they can to be the person they want to be given who they are. Who we all are is a combination of our past experiences, inclinations and desires, ability to reason, and our ability to exercise willpower when our passions are in conflict with reason. One thing I’ve learned is that the biggest risk for the coping mechanisms I listed above is that they can make a person content and justify quitting difficult endeavors. I’ve learned that there are important virtues I hadn’t considered, and there is little virtue to be found on the path I had been taking.

However, I’m done thinking of myself as a quitter. It’s time I stopped fearing competition and the feeling of not being the intellectual top dog in my circle of acquaintances. It’s time I stopped making excuses. Regrets are powerful, but I’ve learned they can be overcome in ways that are better than those I used for nearly two decades. I’m using them to become better than I have been. Not better in little ways, but better in big ways that deeply affect other people. I’m going to help others who, because of their circumstances, can’t help themselves. I’ve found courage that I had been lacking. And since I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, though saw no real way to make it happen, I decided that volunteering as a CASA would be a good substitute.

So far, I’ve been successful. One example is a little four year old boy, Shawn. He was the first child I advocated for as a CASA. Shawn was in the middle of an ugly situation. There was a custody fight between the two sides of the family. My investigation made it clear that Shawn’s mother and maternal grandmother would do anything, including lie, to get custody. The maternal grandmother also had money and so was able to hire an attorney, unlike the other side of family who had one appointed. They’d backed each others’ stories up every time, and I’d later learn that the one doing the backing up knew they were helping the other lie to me.

At the hearing everyone was in the courtroom and the first witness was about to be called. I panicked. I had learned of a rule to sequester witnesses while on the mock trial team. There was no way those two women should be in the courtroom to hear each others' testimony. I quickly made my way to the front and got the attention of the guardian ad litem and asked her if she was going to invoke Rule 615. She asked me what it was! I told her; it jogged her memory; she made the motion, and I’m convinced that one little play is what helped Shawn the most. That, and the fact that the attorney hired by the maternal grandmother kept asking me open ended questions when I was on the stand. I will be doing some work as a guardian ad litem at the end of my academic journey. I haven’t found anything that made me feel as good as I did then.

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jas1503
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby jas1503 » Mon May 27, 2013 4:26 am

I think your first paragraph has to go. It's harsh to place it at the start of a good PS.

NYstate
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby NYstate » Mon May 27, 2013 5:23 am

Your personal statement sounds depressed and defeated rather than excited and enthusiastic. Get rid of any negative stuff about yourself and your life. Being an older student is defining to you but it isnt defiining to admissions. Your personal statement allows you to define yourself. You are trying to give a fantastic first impression of yourself here. You want to show why they should admit you.

I wouldn't talk about how you viewed yourself as a quitter. Talk about stuff you've had to overcome but look at the positive side. " I had a family at a young age and to support them so I ..." But I would start with the CASA experience and then talk about your life. Never frame yourself in a negative way or beat yourself up in a personal statement, even if it is the way you feel inside.

Everyone hates writing these. It is just one step in the application process. Don't overwhelm yourself with how difficult it is. Just keep plugging away.

I think you will have a strong personal statement at the end if this process. I would cut or edit the first three paragraphs. Start with CASA. You did what you had been trained to do. And you stood up for the child. Write more about this experience. You can just mention how you were always interested in law and finally had the chance to act on this interest by volunteering to help children. Then talk about your life.

Just my opinion. I think you are being way too hard on yourself.

Bobnoxious
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Mon May 27, 2013 1:55 pm

Thanks for the advice...onward to another rewrite.

Lemme see if I understand the concept better now.

This is meant to be a sales letter. Accentuate the positive, and because of the limited space it's justifiable to avoid any and all negatives. Fully informed consent is a foolish "no-no."

It is better, in this case, to over-promise and under-deliver than it is to under-promise and over deliver. Treat it as if I were a used car salesman, and I'm the used car I'm trying to the the schools to buy.

My job is to get in the door through any means necessary as far as the content of a personal statement is concerned.

Next rewrite coming soon. We'll see if I'm actually capable of taking the advice and running with it. I think I hate this part of the application process more than any other. <grumble grumble piss n moan>

Again,

Thanks (sincerely, not tongue in cheek)

WWAD
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby WWAD » Mon May 27, 2013 2:28 pm

To both you and "martymoose" I just wanted to wish you good luck. I just finished and I started at 47 as well. I think your letter can start out with a feeling of regret as long as you turn each negative into a lesson learned and reason why you are now motivated and forward looking. If you have any questions about school in your late 40's let me know.

NYstate
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby NYstate » Mon May 27, 2013 3:35 pm

Not so much a sales pitch but an explanation of who you are as a person. It is good to have the overcoming obstacles story but focus on the " overcoming" part and not the " obstacles." I hope that makes sense. I don't like things that present yourself in a negative way. Like regrets can be motivating- but don't wallow in them. ( not that you were ; just using an example.) I think being excited about who you are and what you've done is important, even if it means that you made mistakes and learned from them.

This is what Asa from Yale has to say about overcoming obstacle essays:
http://blogs.law.yale.edu/blogs/admissi ... art-i.aspx

There are a number of resources on personal
Statements. These Asa's posts are some of the best.

Bobnoxious
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:41 pm

Okay, it's been a long time since my original post and after about fifty-thousand rewrites (or so it seems to me), here's what I've got now. I'd love some comments and criticisms on this if you don't mind.

Thanks!


A lifelong goal of mine has been to practice law. Gee, I’ll bet you’ve never seen that in a personal statement. I could contribute to the untimely deaths of many trees by touting my virtues and taking you on an adventure by detailing my life experiences and the turning points that have changed the precocious, glib, youth of thirty years ago into the person I am today. Instead, I will be frugal with your computer’s memory and your time, and merely take a few moments to try to give you an idea of who I am as a person. Please note that this is not simply the result of subjective, personal introspection, but is the result of scientifically rigorous, statistically valid, empirical studies.

The fires of my dedication to this goal have waxed and waned over the years, but never have they burned as brightly as they do now. As I have aged, my reasons have matured as well. Originally there was the desire for an opportunity to employ my argumentative and contrarian nature in a productive way. That evolved into a desire for a respectable, white-collar career. But over many years of experiencing this country directly and witnessing the experience of others, those desires have been superseded. Now those wishes of a brash youngster and a hard-working family man have mellowed, as I’m sure they must for many people who approach middle age, into a need to help make the world a better place. I want to advocate for changes in the state’s public education curriculum, the juvenile court system and the public defender’s office. This internship is an ideal way for me to better understand the actual workings of government at the state level. Learning how government truly operates, the rules that govern the procedures, the various relationships between different governmental and non-governmental entities, and the personalities of the people involved would be beneficial to achieving those desires.

The transition from being merely argumentative to the mellower person that I am today began with my first real career in the rent-to-own industry. The target demographic is generally made up of those who have the least money and education, making it relatively easy to rent a $500 piece of electronics over a long period of time for a gain of over $1,000 with the knowledge that at some point late in the rental agreement it would be in the company’s best interest to repossess the item due to a late payment and start the rental process all over again. The end of that career path happened after telling a crying woman that I needed to come by and pick up her refrigerator since she had defaulted on the agreement. When I arrived the customer refused to open the door and put a .38 revolver into the hands of a child, who appeared to be no more than seven or eight years old, and told him to “point this at the rental man outside the window.” It was time for me to move on.

From there I went into insurance sales. What I didn’t realize is there are at least two types of insurance. There’s the normal, everyday insurance we see and hear about on the television and radio, and there’s the cash fee insurance we don’t hear about but which is peddled door-to-door through some of the poorest neighborhoods around, designed to target those with fixed incomes. I quit that job after three long, emotionally draining months after a couple in the poorest section of Memphis broke down in tears while I was collecting their premium and literally begged me to do something about the drug dealers and violence across the street, telling me they know I could get something done because I was white and the cops listen to white men. After this I went back to the family business for a short time before I did an eight year stint as an over-the-road truck driver. As a trucker I got to witness just how abused many of the drivers are by their dispatchers. Dispatchers have a lot of power. Drivers who actually try to follow the Department of Transportation safety rules and voice their concerns to dispatchers are often subject to retaliation by way of reduced mileage, extended layover periods, and other tools the dispatchers have at their disposal to show their displeasure toward a driver who they see as a “troublemaker.” I eventually returned to the family business. It was safe, didn’t have me feeling like a thief who preyed on the vulnerable, and it was comfortable. For years I didn’t have to think about what I’d experienced in those earlier jobs, and I didn’t want to.

I’ve had to do a lot of explaining to my children, who are now grown, about how the world works, why it works the way it does, and the more I heard the words I’d spoken in my youth coming from them, “But that’s wrong. It’s not fair. Why don’t people do something about it,” the more I realized that I HAD to at least try. So I decided to go back to school to become a lawyer and the summer before I began school I volunteered as a court appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children (CASA). I am on a journey of hope. I hope to learn. I hope to learn enough to help me make changes that will make the world we live in better for my children, their friends, those like them, and their children on down the line. I can’t help but think anymore that to not do something like this is a dereliction of duty, and it’s a duty I think we all have. I came to the table a little late in life, but I’m here now, I’ve anted up, and I intend to win a fair share of the hands. Now, deal the cards.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:00 pm

I like the stories you tell and how they fit together into a theme of changing things that suck about society (that can be a naive kind of thing to write about, but I think your age and experiences get you over this hurdle). I don't like the opening paragraph, which seems like extended throat-clearing and unnecessary self-deprecation. Plus, I'm presuming the "scientific studies" bit is a joke, but I don't think it works. I think you could skip the first paragraph entirely and open with something like "My interest in practicing law has waxed and waned etc."

Also, the reference to "this internship" in the second paragraph is unclear, as I couldn't find where you talked about what internship you were doing.

I like the closing paragraph, too.

Bobnoxious
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:02 pm

Damn, thanks for the catch on the internship....I edited a PS I wrote for an internship and didn't proof worth a damn. That's what I get for being in a friggin' hurry.

Bobnoxious
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:11 pm

A lifelong goal of mine has been to practice law. Gee, I’ll bet you’ve never seen that in a personal statement. I could contribute to the untimely deaths of many trees by touting my virtues and taking you on an adventure by detailing my life experiences and the turning points that have changed the precocious, glib, youth of thirty years ago into the person I am today. Instead, I will be frugal with your computer’s memory and your time, and merely take a few moments to try to give you an idea of who I am as a person. Please note that this is not simply the result of subjective, personal introspection, but is the result of scientifically rigorous, statistically valid, empirical studies. I think it’s obvious I still have some work to do in moderating my own flippancy. I’ll get around to that sooner or later.

The fires of my dedication to this goal have waxed and waned over the years, but never have they burned as brightly as they do now. As I have aged, my reasons have matured as well. Originally there was the desire for an opportunity to employ my argumentative and contrarian nature in a productive way. That evolved into a desire for a respectable, white-collar career. But over many years of experiencing this country directly and witnessing the experience of others, those desires have been superseded. Now those wishes of a brash youngster and a hard-working family man have mellowed, as I’m sure they must for many people who approach middle age, into a need to help make the world a better place. I want to advocate for changes in public education, the juvenile court system and the public defender’s office. In addition to the advocacy work I want to do, because of my work experiences I also want to work to see that the courts are more accessible to those who see them, rightly or wrongly, as inaccessible due to cost, complexity, or a misunderstanding of the law. My experience tends to support the idea that these beliefs are widely held by most small business owners and consumers. A good networking system focused in some tight niche markets will go a long way to helping many of them, which is what I intend to put in place after graduation.

The transition from being merely argumentative to the mellower person that I am today began with my first real career in the rent-to-own industry. The target demographic is generally made up of those who have the least money and education, making it relatively easy to rent a $500 piece of electronics over a long period of time for a gain of over $1,000 with the knowledge that at some point late in the rental agreement it would be in the company’s best interest to repossess the item due to a late payment and start the rental process all over again. The end of that career path happened after telling a crying woman that I needed to come by and pick up her refrigerator since she had defaulted on the agreement. When I arrived the customer refused to open the door and put a .38 revolver into the hands of a child, who appeared to be no more than seven or eight years old, and told him to “point this at the rental man outside the window.” It was time for me to move on.

From there I went into insurance sales. What I didn’t realize is there are at least two types of insurance. There’s the normal, everyday insurance we see and hear about on the television and radio, and there’s the cash fee insurance we don’t hear about but which is peddled door-to-door through some of the poorest neighborhoods around, designed to target those with fixed incomes. I quit that job after three long, emotionally draining months after a couple in the poorest section of Memphis broke down in tears while I was collecting their premium and literally begged me to do something about the drug dealers and violence across the street, telling me they know I could get something done because I was white and the cops listen to white men. After this I went back to the family business for a short time before I did an eight year stint as an over-the-road truck driver. As a trucker I got to witness just how abused many of the drivers are by their dispatchers. Dispatchers have a lot of power. Drivers who actually try to follow the Department of Transportation safety rules and voice their concerns to dispatchers are often subject to retaliation by way of reduced mileage, extended layover periods, and other tools the dispatchers have at their disposal to show their displeasure toward a driver who they see as a “troublemaker.” I eventually returned to the family business. It was safe, didn’t have me feeling like a thief who preyed on the vulnerable, and it was comfortable. For years I didn’t have to think about what I’d experienced in those earlier jobs, and I didn’t want to.

I’ve had to do a lot of explaining to my children, who are now grown, about how the world works, why it works the way it does, and the more I heard the words I’d spoken in my youth coming from them, “But that’s wrong. It’s not fair. Why don’t people do something about it,” the more I realized that I HAD to at least try. So I decided to go back to school to become a lawyer and the summer before I began school I volunteered as a court appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children (CASA). I am on a journey of hope. I hope to learn. I hope to learn enough to help me make changes that will make the world we live in better for my children, their friends, those like them, and their children on down the line. I can’t help but think anymore that to not do something like this is a dereliction of duty, and it’s a duty I think we all have. I came to the table a little late in life, but I’m here now, I’ve anted up, and I intend to win a fair share of the hands. Now, deal the cards.

Bobnoxious
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:34 pm

I like the first paragraph, though I know it's a risk. Hell, from my perspective it says almost as much about me as the rest of the statement does. Needless to say, I'm still debating it. I'm trying to figure out how much risk is acceptable, and whether or not what I'm doing in that first sentence really is harmful to me from an admissions standpoint. Thanks again for the response, though.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:57 pm

I think the addition helps the first paragraph, but I just don't think there's any point in telling a reader what you could be telling them, then saying you're not going to and you'll tell them something else instead - in particular, it seems inconsistent with saying you're going to be frugal with their computer memory/time (telling someone you're being frugal is much less frugal than just saying what you have to say). That's what I have an issue with, not the "I bet you've never seen that before." And the thing is, your essay does go on to identify some turning points that did change you into the person you are today, so the narrative you say you're not going to give them is kind of what you're giving them.

But in any case, good luck with your applications!

Bobnoxious
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:59 pm

Hmmm....Damned good point. I do need to completely revamp that section if I'm going to keep it. Thanks for pointing out that glaring hypocrisy. <grumble-grumble-piss-n-moan> I really friggin' hate personal statements.

Bobnoxious
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:33 pm

A lifelong goal of mine has been to practice law. I am sure that is the most unusual and inventive opening sentence you have ever seen in a personal statement (and I deduce this observation is just as unusual). If this attempt at humor failed, please forgive me. At least it was in better taste than the knock-knock joke told by defense counsel during the George Zimmerman trial. While I am sure many of the things I will share in this statement will appear trite and well-worn, I will attempt to make it as painless as possible by being plainspoken and straightforward.

The fires of my dedication to my lifelong goal have waxed and waned over the years, but never have they burned as brightly as they do now. As I have aged, my motives have matured as well. Originally there was the desire for an opportunity to employ my argumentative and contrarian nature in a productive way. That evolved into a desire for a respectable, white-collar career. But over many years of experiencing this country directly and witnessing the experiences of others, those desires have been superseded. Now those wishes of a brash youngster and a hard-working family man have matured, hardened and been tempered into a need to help make the world a better place. I want to advocate for changes in public education, the juvenile court system and the public defender’s office. In addition to the advocacy work I want to do, because of my work experiences I also want to help make the courts more accessible to those who see them, rightly or wrongly, as inaccessible due to cost, complexity, or a misunderstanding of the law. My experience tends to support the idea that these beliefs are widely held by most small business owners and low-income consumers, some of the people who need the courts most.

The transition from being merely argumentative to the mellower person that I am today began with my first real career in the rent-to-own industry. The target demographic is generally made up of those who have the least money and education. This makes it relatively easy to rent a $500 piece of electronics over a long period of time for a net gain of over $1,000 with the knowledge that at some point late in the rental agreement it would be in the company’s best interest to repossess the item due to a late payment and start the rental process all over again. The end of that career path occurred after telling a crying woman that I needed to come by and pick up her refrigerator since she had defaulted on the agreement. When I arrived the customer refused to open the door and put a .38 revolver into the hands of a child, who appeared to be no more than seven or eight years old, and told him to “point this at the rental man outside the window.” It was time for me to move on.

From there I went into insurance sales. What I did not realize at the time is there are at least two types of insurance. There is the normal, everyday insurance we see and hear about on the television and radio, and there is the cash-fee insurance we do not hear about but which is peddled door-to-door through some of the poorest neighborhoods, and is designed to target those with fixed incomes. I quit that job after three long, emotionally draining months when a couple in the poorest section of Memphis broke down in tears while I was collecting their premium and literally begged me to do something about the drug dealers and violence across the street. They told me they knew I could get something done because I was white and the cops listen to white men.

After this I went back to the family business for a short time, but then left to do an eight year stint as an over-the-road truck driver. As a trucker I was witness to just how abused many of the drivers are by their dispatchers. Dispatchers have a lot of power. Drivers who actually try to follow the Department of Transportation safety rules and voice their concerns to dispatchers are often subject to retaliation by way of reduced mileage, extended layover periods, and other tools the dispatchers have at their disposal to show their displeasure toward a driver they view as a “troublemaker.” I eventually returned to the family business. It was safe, did not have me feeling like a thief who preyed on the vulnerable, and it was comfortable. For years I did not have to think about what I had experienced in those earlier jobs, and I did not want to.

Over the years, I have had to do a lot of explaining to my children, who are now grown, about how the world works and why it works the way it does. The more I heard the words I had spoken in my youth coming from them, “But that’s wrong. It’s not fair. Why don’t people do something about it,” the more I realized I HAD to at least try. So I decided to go back to school to become a lawyer. The summer before I began school I decided to begin what some may view as my quixotic adventure into world improvement in earnest. I volunteered as a court appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children (CASA). The things I witnessed during those months simply cemented my desires and the conviction that I was taking the right path. I am on a journey of hope. I hope to learn enough of the right things to help me make changes that will make the world we live in better for everyone, but mostly for my children, their friends, those like them, and their children on down the line. I have come to the conclusion that to not do something like this is a dereliction of duty, and it is a duty I think we all have. I came to the table a little late in life, but I am here now, I have anted up, and I intend to win a fair share of the hands. Now, please deal the cards.
Last edited by Bobnoxious on Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

Bobnoxious
Posts: 157
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:47 pm

Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Sun Oct 20, 2013 11:46 pm

I HATE writing personal statements. :-P

Bobnoxious
Posts: 157
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:47 pm

PS Draft #279 (or so it seems)

Postby Bobnoxious » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:26 am

Or...

Greetings, dear reader! I understand you have probably already read with intense and honest interest a thousand or more personal statements during this admissions cycle. Because of my immense empathy and benevolent desire to make your job as enjoyable and interesting as possible, I will endeavor to keep you amused and at least moderately invested in this personal statement while touting my grandiose dreams and exhorting you with tales of my past. While I am sure many of the things I share in this statement may appear trite and well-worn, I shall attempt to make the reading as painless as possible by being exceedingly plainspoken and straightforward.

The fires of my dedication to my lifelong goal have done nothing but grow over the years and have never burned as brightly as they do now. As I have aged, my motives have matured as well. What were once the wishes of a brash youngster and then a young, hard-working family man have matured and been tempered into a burning need to help make the world a better place. I want to advocate for changes in public education, the juvenile court system and the public defender’s office. In addition to the advocacy work I want to do, because of my work experiences I also want to help make the courts more accessible to those who see them, rightly or wrongly, as inaccessible due to cost, complexity, or a misunderstanding of the law. My experience tends to support the idea that these beliefs are widely held by most small business owners and low-income consumers, some of the people who need the courts most.

The twenty-five plus year transition from being merely an argumentative teenager to the mellower person that I am today began with my first real career in the rent-to-own industry. The target demographic is generally made up of those who have the least money and education. This makes it relatively easy to rent a $500 piece of electronics over a long period of time for a net gain of over $1,000 with the knowledge that at some point late in the rental agreement it would be in the company’s best interest to repossess the item due to a late payment and start the rental process all over again. The end of that career path occurred after telling a crying woman that I needed to come by and pick up her refrigerator since she had defaulted on the agreement. When I arrived the customer refused to open the door and put a .38 revolver into the hands of a child, who appeared to be no more than seven or eight years old, and told him to “point this at the rental man outside the window.” It was time for me to move on.

From there I went into insurance sales. What I did not realize at the time is there are at least two types of insurance. There is the normal, everyday insurance we see and hear about on the television and radio, and there is the cash-fee insurance we do not hear about but which is peddled door-to-door through some of the poorest neighborhoods, and is designed to target those with fixed incomes. I quit that job after three long, emotionally draining months when a couple in the poorest section of Memphis broke down in tears while I was collecting their premium and literally begged me to do something about the drug dealers and violence across the street. They told me they knew I could get something done because I was white and the cops listen to white men.

After this I went into the family business for a short time doing commercial cleaning and disaster restoration work, but left shortly thereafter to do an eight year stint as an over-the-road truck driver. As a trucker I was witness to just how abused many of the drivers are by their dispatchers. Dispatchers have a lot of power. Drivers who actually try to follow the Department of Transportation safety rules and voice their concerns to dispatchers are often subject to retaliation by way of reduced mileage, extended layover periods, and other tools the dispatchers have at their disposal to show their displeasure toward a driver they view as a “troublemaker.” I eventually returned to the family business. It was safe, did not have me feeling like a thief who preyed on the vulnerable, and it was comfortable. For years I did not have to think about what I had experienced in those earlier jobs, and I did not want to. But even while working for the family business I saw how landlords take advantage of the ignorance of both their vendors and tenants, and I saw how insurance adjusters bend or break the rules and fail to fully indemnify the insured and merely seek to keep them content with how a property loss is handled.

Over the years, I have had to do a lot of explaining to my children, who are now grown, about how the world works and why it works the way it does. The more I heard the words I had spoken in my youth coming from them, “But that’s wrong. It’s not fair. Why don’t people do something about it,” the more I realized I HAD to at least try. So I decided to go back to school to become a lawyer. The summer before I began school I decided to begin what some may view as my quixotic adventure into world improvement in earnest. I volunteered as a court appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children (CASA). The things I witnessed during those months simply cemented my desires and the conviction that I was taking the right path. I am on a journey of hope. I hope to learn enough of the right things to help me make changes that will make the world we live in better for everyone, but mostly for my children, their friends, those like them, and their children on down the line. I have come to the conclusion that to not do something like this is a dereliction of duty, and it is a duty I think we all have. I came to the table a little late in life, but I am here now, I have anted up, and I intend to win a fair share of the hands. Now, please deal the cards. Surely this gamble will be far more interesting than my overhyped personal statement was.

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Ramius
Posts: 2005
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Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Ramius » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:54 am

Neither first paragraph is working for you. The first one rubbed me wrong when I waited for a rim shot and the second one didn't do much better by telling me what you hoped to do with your statement. If I'm an admissions officer, I'm thinking to myself while reading these, "I'm a professional deciding on your fate. I'm not here to be entertained. I'm here to be informed about you." Law schools don't need entertainers; they need people who are passionate about becoming lawyers. The rest of your statement does a better job of showing that passion, but it doesn't stop the first paragraph from discounting everything you said as cheap and trivial.

memaha
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:23 am

Re: PS Draft #279 (or so it seems)

Postby memaha » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:59 am

I would just cut the first paragraph. Although I understand the positive of trying to be humorous and slightly self-deprecating, I still think it is still an unnecessary opening to the rest of your PS. You are trying to create a greeting paragraph in your PS, as if you are writing a letter to someone, but a PS doesn't need that type of introduction. Telling the admissions officer/dean that you know how many statements they have read and are therefore going to guide them through yours as painlessly as possible is something that one would naturally assume any applicant is hoping for/intending when sending in a PS.

The second paragraph is a much better introduction, with a much better first sentence as the attention-grabber. As a reader, I saw the "never burned as brightly as they do now" and wanted to know the "why" behind that. You wanting to advocate for those who need the courts the most is what the admissions officers/deans care about. You tying that goal in with your past life experiences and your different jobs is what will separate your PS from someone else's, not the first paragraph.

"In addition to the advocacy work I want to do, because of my work experiences I also want to help make the courts more accessible to those who see them, rightly or wrongly, as inaccessible due to cost, complexity, or a misunderstanding of the law." - I found this sentence a little difficult to follow. I've made a few small word/structure changes as a possible suggestion: "In addition to the advocacy work I want to do, my work experiences have shaped my desire to help make the courts more accessible to those who, rightfully or wrongfully so, see them as inaccessible due to cost, complexity, or a misunderstanding of the law."

Also, in the same vein as my suggestion to cut out the first paragraph. The last sentence of your PS is unnecessary. Either leave it at the "fair share of the hands" or the "deal the cards" sentence. Those two sentences leave the reader remembering the important part of your PS- the why you want to go to law school and the stories behind that why. The current last sentence negates all of those thoughts/feelings away, brings the reader back to your first paragraph (if you choose to keep it), and takes away from your message. HTH.

Bobnoxious
Posts: 157
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:47 pm

Re: 46 yo blue collar nontrad - PS for comment (HELP!!!!)

Postby Bobnoxious » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:25 pm

Thank you! Removing first paragraph and not adding the last sentence. Rewording clumsy section as well, and calling it done. Greatly appreciated!




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