Personal Statement HELP

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
rosepetals66
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Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 1:04 pm

Personal Statement HELP

Postby rosepetals66 » Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:33 pm

Deleted

Lol guess it doesn't matter since it's quoted below. But either way I don't feel like I'll get many more responses.
Last edited by rosepetals66 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Tigress
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Re: Personal Statement HELP

Postby Tigress » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:42 am

rosepetals66 wrote:Below is my personal statement rough draft. Please critique. I am worried exposing this much detail of my life might be a little risky, so comment on that as well. Also, the story is true and I removed names for obvious reasons. I am willing to scrap the whole thing and start over if it is not well received with the forums.

************************************************************************************************************************************

“Your mother’s attorney has requested that you undergo a psychiatric analysis”.

Those words, spoken by my Guardian ad Litem, struck my twelve-year old mind like a lightning bolt. They left me feeling numb and symbolized the culmination of a messy custody battle between my parents. I could not believe how far their relationship had plummeted since the initial court papers were filed. While my father had always informally requested more visitation hours from my mother, his official filing of legal action through the city set off an explosion of distrust and anger. Their attorneys seemed to only make the situation worse and escalate tension. My mother’s advocate attempted to argue that my father had “brain-washed” me into agreeing with his request for more time. Hence, I was required to visit a psychiatrist twice a week in order to determine the truth of this accusation to the court. The entire situation created an immense amount of negative energy throughout our family. My mother and her relatives would not speak a word to my father or his relatives at public events, such as my football and basketball games. It was an incredibly uncomfortable environment. Even worse was the embarrassing fact that everyone at my grade school knew something was up with my family due to my afternoon absences twice a week when I would have to go see the psychiatrist.

Why had this gone so far? Wasn’t the law supposed to solve difficulties between families instead of making them worse? I completely blamed the attorneys for the increased amount of stress I experienced during this part of my childhood. Neither of my parents would ever want to cause me discomfort, however both of their lawyers seemed so intent on doing whatever it took to win the case, regardless of the effects it would have on my life. In my younger years I could not see the reasoning behind their tactics and viewed practitioners of the law as some sort of wolfish monsters whom loved to fight unmercifully over their clients.
After the entire ordeal was over, life finally did begin to move on. My father had won a new visitation agreement that split the time fairly and equally. The relationship between my parents never fully repaired itself, but I was glad that they slowly were able to acknowledge each other enough to help advise me on important decisions such as selecting a high school and touring colleges. Due to my strong developing abilities in writing and speaking, both of my parents ironically suggested that perhaps a career in law would be ideal for me. I was extremely against their proposition because of the negative image I had conceived during my childhood about the attorneys involved in our family’s court case. I wanted a job that would allow me to use my intellectual gifts in a way that could help people, not cause them stress and ruin their personal relationships. Nevertheless, over the summer of 2008, I completely changed my mind.

The intervening factor in my eventual renewed interest in law came unexpectedly in the form of another family custody battle. This time, however, it was between my father and his sister. Our family had long suspected my aunt ***** of drug and alcohol abuse. Two years earlier, she had lost the parental rights to her firstborn child after the state of ********* granted the child’s father full custody due to evidence of her using cocaine. After this shocking revelation, my father began to increasingly worry about the welfare of *****’s second and younger daughter, NAME. NAME’s biological father was different from the older child’s and had disappeared before her birth. Hence, no one else was left to take her out of *****’s partying lifestyle and unstable environment. My father quickly contacted an attorney, SP, and initiated the process of gaining custody of NAME. The odds were heavily stacked against our case because my father was only NAME’s uncle and therefore not traditionally entitled to normal parental rights. Yet through the miraculous efforts of our lawyer, my father was able to win the case. Mrs. SP’s tactics were brilliant. She was strategic, cunning, assertive, and also patient, meticulous, and reserved. She capitalized on points of opportunity throughout the case and mitigated potential damage when things looked bleak. In the end, our case was the first time in ********** history that an uncle had won custody of a child from his sister. It brought great joy to our family that my cousin NAME would be allowed to grow up in a healthy home—all because of the incredible actions of a talented attorney. This single-handedly changed my view on the nature of lawyers. I now realized that a career in law would actually allow me to do good things for people who truly needed it, like NAME.

Perhaps my initial court experience was stressful, but I was able to see that overall many cases end up helping lives in ways that cannot be accomplished through other means or professions. I had finally found the right career choice to match my own personal talents and goals. The entire process of these two cases gave me inspiration to take on the adventure of becoming a lawyer and confirmed my desire to attend law school.


I like it. It is interesting. However, the use of "whom" is wrong. Best.

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domino
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Re: Personal Statement HELP

Postby domino » Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:21 am

I think writing in-depth about traumatic childhood events is usually not a good idea, since it can make the reader uncomfortable given how personal the topic is. (I also think that it was good to start drafting with experiences that provoked an emotional response from you, though.)

- I would change this essay to start with a short, engaging summary of the main conflict. I understand that this passage shows the main conflict:

"Wasn’t the law supposed to solve difficulties between families instead of making them worse? I completely blamed the attorneys for the increased amount of stress I experienced during this part of my childhood. Neither of my parents would ever want to cause me discomfort, however both of their lawyers seemed so intent on doing whatever it took to win the case, regardless of the effects it would have on my life."

So, I'm getting that the conflict is that family law is supposed to help families, but lawyers sometimes hurt families as they are pursuing their cases. Maybe something like the law is meant to help, but there are elements built into the system that make pursuing solutions through the legal system more distressing and worsen the damage to the family.

A short mention of your own experience with your parents' divorce might be okay, but I wouldn't go further than that.

- Middle: I would describe why you care about this issue and situate it concretely in your life. Also, what do you find compelling about it? Do you have related interests? Have you done anything relevant to this issue? Have you come across any relevant books, arguments, etc. that you'd like to describe?

- End: resolution of conflict and optional segue into "why law." I believe this is your resolution of your initial conflict?

"Perhaps my initial court experience was stressful, but I was able to see that overall many cases end up helping lives in ways that cannot be accomplished through other means or professions."

So perhaps describe your second case and then go into your resolution?

nugnoy
Posts: 115
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:19 pm

Re: Personal Statement HELP

Postby nugnoy » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:19 am

After reading Domino's, I think I have a really good suggestion to how you should take your statement

Overall, I think there's a bit too much in your details at times - there are various points already at 1st paragraph when my mind tries to wander off. I think the best example of this is the 3rd paragraph. There are lots of details, names, and relationships. I'd like to see the details simplified. Who is what's father and is the uncle and whatnot can overwhelm a casual reader. I wandered off from your essay, and had to force myself to process it.

I think you have really good content - one that's naturally relevant to "why law school." At a young age, you had a really bad impression, because law and lawyers can harm people. But then later on you had a different experience, and learned that law and lawyers can do a lot of good. Now you want to be a lawyer - and you're determined to become a positive one.

My best advice, I think, is for you to take the facts and details and make them as simple and natural as possible. Take your outline (such as the big points I suggested above), and stress those points - they'd be really good.

I think your topic is relevant, and could even be made into an excellent with some polishing.

rosepetals66
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Re: Personal Statement HELP

Postby rosepetals66 » Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:08 am

Hey guys thank you very much for the responses. I think it makes a lot of sense to shorten and summarize some of the passages, especially the ones that go in depth with names of 3-4 different people etc. However, I don't think I want to scrap the flow to the passage quite yet. I don't think the essay makes the reader uncomfortable (or at least that isnt my intention). I didn't make it sound like I had a traumatic childhood, but instead wanted to show that my childhood was influenced to have a negative view of the law/lawyers/courts. The situation with my parents was awkward and emotionally draining, but I never was going hungry or getting abused or something. I hope that this essay does not give off that impression, as I seemed to infer from Domino's comment. If other people think it is giving off an uncomfortable impression, I am willing to scrap it and start over but for now I think I was to try to polish what I already have.

As far as polishing, what should I do to shorten it? Would anyone mind copy/pasting sections that you feel could be shortened down and maybe give an example?

Also, should I be expanding on certain parts? I recently changed a few parts and added to my conclusion and shortened a sentence here and there.

nugnoy
Posts: 115
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:19 pm

Re: Personal Statement HELP

Postby nugnoy » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:30 am

1. think about your rhetorical question at paragraph 2. I don't think it's bad, but it seems to me a lot of readers automatically dislike rhetorical questions. As in, even before they consider if a rhetorical question is appropriate or not, they will immediately think "oh, a rhetorical question - I learned people shouldn't use rhetorical questions. This is bad." If I wasn't seriously committed to this specific format, I would reshape it to a less noticeable form (a descriptive statement rather than a rhetorical question).

2. "completely blamed" and "completely changed my mind" - the repetition of completely in the same paragraph stuck out at me. I'd change one of them.

3. "She was strategic, cunning, assertive, and also patient, meticulous, and reserved. She capitalized on points of opportunity throughout the case and mitigated potential damage when things looked bleak." I think you should use more concrete descriptions. All of these are really just positive words that don't actually say anything concrete about her. If I tell you I'm a strategic, cunning, and assertive person, I'm authoritatively telling you these evaluative claims are facts. But it's a lot more reasonable for me to instead tell you concrete details and then imply or conclude these evaluative claims, because this way the reader can reasonably agree or disagree with me - either way, he receives independent authority to make his own evaluative judgment.

4. Your last paragraph ties in law school, but it's really kinda abrupt. When I meant to tie in your goal of law school, I didn't mean that you should add in a bunch of new details irrelevant to the core of your story. What I meant was that you should really develop your realization and contrast in the 3rd paragraph about the effect lawyers can have, and then relate briefly to your applying to law schools. You really don't have to write a whole paragraph on this, just a sentence or two is fine. I've been reading the Ivey guide that talks about this pretty well. And if you read my post on UofChicago, and the selected essays, you'll see what I mean.

5. The names are kind of meh. When you add one name used multiple times, I feel it personalizes a character and simplifies referring to that character. But when you have multiple names used once or twice, I feel it adds unnecessary details - details that may overwhelm the reader. I'm actively paying attention to understand your story, and this is my second time reading it - so the relationships make sense. But what about a person who will read your statement once without giving it the same attention that I am giving it? Oxxx, Mxxx, Sxxx, all being girls' names established really briefly, may just mix together and confuse the reader.

Overall, I think this version is very similar to the original - I don't really feel like it went through a significant change

rosepetals66
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: Personal Statement HELP

Postby rosepetals66 » Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:26 pm

Thank you for the tips. I will work on it more over the next week or so and post an updated version for critique.

nugnoy
Posts: 115
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:19 pm

Re: Personal Statement HELP

Postby nugnoy » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:03 pm

I forgot to post it publicly - if I'm wrong, I'd like someone to point it out and guide the OP in a better direction. It doesn't make much sense since OP didn't post the revision here...I think you should, because that way other people could chime in too. I didn't think there was so much personal info that it couldn't be made public.

Afterthought/additional comments

I don't think your essay sucks in any way.
OK, I'm glad to see that you've thought about it and made your own decision on the name and the rhetorical question.
I'm sure a much better writer could tell you how to improve your conclusion. But I think it's pretty good in big-picture terms. I definitely think it's a lot better than before (it's not as disconnected from your main topic).
For the child-perspective effect you want, I think it's a good idea, but I personally didn't feel it from my blind reading (without reading your comments). Maybe you can make it more apparent.
Take my advice with a grain of salt, I'm just a fellow applicant. I am pretty decent in analysis (just got 176 which I feel is satisfactory but not my full potential), but I didn't major in a writing-related subject. I hope you consider my big picture advices, and work out your additional drafts with a person who has those qualifications.



The top are the parts I highlighted while I read, and the bottom are my comments.

1. After losing the parental rights to her first child due to evidence of cocaine use, my father
2. Towards the middle of the ordeal, my family worried that we might lose because the court ordered a probationary period of drug tests to determine if my aunt had actually quit using cocaine and alcohol. Mrs. Perry advised my father to remain calm and not contest the drug testing agreement. Instead, she correctly predicted that my aunt would be unable to pass multiple drug tests in a row if she truly had a long-term addiction problem.
3. The joy of seeing a strong attorney profoundly influence Olivia’s life for the better inspires me to take on the adventure of becoming a lawyer, thus confirming my desire to attend law school.
4. Since the summer of 2012 to the present, I have also been working as a clerk for Judge Michael Phegley of the Mount Pleasant Municipal Court (WI).

1. The dependent clause’s description is supposed to match the independent clause’s subject. For example, “after getting out of the car, I walked home.” After getting out of the car should be relevant to “I.” The dependent clause explicitly describes your aunt, but your independent clause’s subject is your father – this is a mismatch. One example how I’d change it would be making the “after” of the dependent clause more explicitly temporal: “After my aunt lost the parental rights to her first child due to evidence of cocaine use, my father…”
a. This is just a example to illustrate the grammar difference, not a suggestion for better writing
2. I PERSONALLY think that you use many words with strong connotation, but you didn’t support them strongly. You describe your case and Perry as “miraculous,” “meticulous,” and “brilliant,” but I just don’t see any support justifying them. I do agree you justified “patient and composed” (well) and “cunning aggressiveness” (weakly).
3. I think you can make your statement much stronger by highlighting how it is the first case of its kind to succeed – that’s something that catches my attention! Can you describe why this case was different? Why did this succeed when others have failed in the past? If this was because of your attorney’s approach, then this would STRONGLY support the adjectives (noted above) and emphasize the importance of the attorney. This would support why the profession of the lawyer is a special profession for you and why going to law school stands out from other professions. If you can effectively tie this in, you will make a stronger impression/statement. I personally would do this even if I have to cut describing how patient she was.
4. IF I had the space, I would’ve thought about contrasting Olivia’s situation under your aunt (how bad it was for her until the custody change and how bad it could’ve been) with her situation now with your family (how stable and healthy it is, how well she is thriving). This would add a human element for you – you’ve concretely seen the good that has happen which has made you sincerely appreciate Perry’s work and made you want to cause this kind of good for others as well.
5. “thus confirming my desire to attend law school.” Confirming worked in the original because its structure was: you were inspired by Perry, and working as a clerk confirmed this feeling. But it doesn’t work anymore because you’ve taken the working as a clerk part out. Now, you’re saying A inspired you to do B and at the same time confirmed it, which doesn’t make sense to me. A similar logic would be: seeing people starve made me want to join the agricultural industry. Seeing people starve confirmed my desired to join the agricultural industry. I hope that makes sense to you. It’s good that you took it out in my opinion: 1 you don’t have the space to effectively use this piece of evidence 2 your resume says this anyways, so if you can’t do 1, writing this is redundant.




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