First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
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First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:05 pm

Obviously this is my first daft. I'd appreciate any critiques.

My father and I took a walk one hot and cloudy Texas summer evening, as we did nearly every evening before this one. He told me the story of the King Edward of Scotland and the spider that led to his success in the war against England in 1314. As King Edward nearly fell victim to his despair, he was inspired by the little spider who failed to spin his web until his seventh attempt. King Edward placed all of his desires into this tiny organism, and left his fate to it, and when it succeeded, King Edward fought for the next eight years, never again wavering. How could my father know that this phrase would later save my life?
This particular story resonated deeply within me, a skinny and anxious African American, who was filled with an undying ambition for greatness. In all walks of my life, I have been told that I was just simply not good enough. I was always seen as inferior for one reason or another, and those that attempted to discourage me never realized that they were just pushing me to prove them wrong. As their words penetrated my heart with the force of a nuclear bomb, my body developed a crippling generalized anxiety disorder that would spend seven years ravaging my mind before being diagnosed. Although my disorder is seemingly invisible to those who don’t see beyond the barrier of my mind, the scars are forever permanent. Before, during, and after every meal for seven years I was filled with a bout of nausea that would leave me penetrated in fear of vomiting. I became obsessed with my health, praying constantly to never fall ill.
My body and soul grew weak as I wished for some cure. I had already been to a gastroenterologist and they found nothing wrong. My family had long since abandoned my belief that something was amiss in my body and began to believe that I would simply grow out of it. I remember lying in bed writhing with fear and nausea and just wishing that one day I would be able to wake up and never feel this way again.
The disorder grew and became more tyrannical until one fateful New Years’ Day when it reached its peak and I began dry heaving every morning thereafter. As I leaned over the toilet with its smell of bleach, I remembered the story of King Edward. “One day”, I said to myself, “I will succeed”. I believed that no matter the strength of my enemy, the anxiety, I could overcome it with enough persistence. Every time after this, when I was plagued with a bout of nausea, I examined myself mentally to ensure that there was no authentic cause of the symptom, and then whispered to myself, “You’re not ill, not today”.
As time passed, I began to notice that the anxiety was finally subsiding.

ClubberLang
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Re: First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

Postby ClubberLang » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:43 pm

This is not going in the right direction. In your effort to show you've overcome anxiety you've defined yourself by it. You'll probably lose most readers at the King Edward story.

Definitely lose King Edward and seriously reconsider writing about your condition. Also, tone down the flowery language:

"As their words penetrated my heart with the force of a nuclear bomb, my body developed a crippling generalized anxiety disorder that would spend seven years ravaging my mind before being diagnosed"

Really?

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Balthy
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Re: First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

Postby Balthy » Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:09 pm

I agree with Clubber, reconsider writing about this condition. I know it's a real problem and defeating it can be a genuine example of overcoming adversity, but my guess is you shouldn't give adcomms a single reason to think you may not be able to handle law school-- after all, it may be tougher than anything you've experienced before. If you really want to write on this topic, it should still be upbeat and the scale should be tipped towards your success and triumph over anxiety than the anxiety itself; you really want to keep the possibility of you not being able to handle law school far from their minds. As it is, you're using nuclear bombs to describe the anxiety and a meager "subsided" to signal overcoming it. No bueno.

oblig.lawl.ref
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Re: First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

Postby oblig.lawl.ref » Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:45 pm

Hey. So I don't feel like you're going totally in the wrong "direction" based on what I feel like that word means. But I would agree that the King Henry of whatever part makes me think of the word "pretentious" immediately. No offense, most personal statements fall prey to this. Mine did until like a 50th rework/write. Also I would leave out the "generalized anxiety disorder" part. I would not be surprised if that one shows up in a lot of personal statements. I was also diagnosed with it in High School but outgrew it/don't really buy into it. Others may have the same feelings. Again no offense--I took a similar approach for a while.

I'd recommend really thinking in the most honest terms why you want to go to law school. I want to make money often stands out. But think deeper. With everyone talking about how law school doesn't net you a lot of money these days you probably have a deeper reason. Try to explain that reason in the least pretentious way possible. I think that is the theme most personal statements should aim for.

But that being said I think your style is pretty good and the theme your statement is making, or the emotions it is attempting to invoke, is pretty right on.

ETA: If you're attempting to explain away any LSAT/GPA/Resume, etc blemishes with the GAD part I'd recommend splitting that into a separate and extremely brief addendum.

vzapana
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Re: First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

Postby vzapana » Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:32 am

I'm struggling to see how your story will tie into your desire to go to law school, or into your interest in the law. If the story seems irrelevant, no matter how emotional or well-written it is, it's not going to be a good PS.

There are also a bunch of grammatical and syntactical errors throughout the piece, so be sure to give this to a sharp copy editor. (Ex. In the first sentence, "we did" should be "we had done.")

nugnoy
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Re: First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

Postby nugnoy » Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:20 pm

vzapana wrote:I'm struggling to see how your story will tie into your desire to go to law school, or into your interest in the law. If the story seems irrelevant, no matter how emotional or well-written it is, it's not going to be a good PS.


I'd argue this is not necessarily true. I think Ivey was right when she stated that there are two types of essays: the personal and the professional. The professional essay must talk about law like you said. But the personal essay, if the school asks for it, doesn't have to address law school well. I've looked at a small sample of selected essays by UofChicago to highlight what essays "worked," and 5 of 6 only superficially address law school (they could've changed every law to medical and would've been a fine medical school application)

I agree with most other posters. The writing is bombastic and has little substance. Paragraphs 2 and 3 is basically saying I had anxiety problems and not much more.

1. You say you're African American, but don't specifically make this relevant. So far, if I replaced African American with Asian, nothing would change. Contrast this with for example if you stated your great-grandparents were slaves. If you replaced AA with Asian, now the essay wouldn't be as coherent any more - it would have to be taken in a different way.

2. Most of 3rd and 4th paragraphs makes me cringe... The way you write makes me think you're a naive kid who has no concrete thing to say to me. Even your anxiety, a main point of your essay, isn't even concretely documented or named.

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Balthy
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Re: First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

Postby Balthy » Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:37 pm

nugnoy wrote:
vzapana wrote:I'm struggling to see how your story will tie into your desire to go to law school, or into your interest in the law. If the story seems irrelevant, no matter how emotional or well-written it is, it's not going to be a good PS.


I'd argue this is not necessarily true. I think Ivey was right when she stated that there are two types of essays: the personal and the professional. The professional essay must talk about law like you said. But the personal essay, if the school asks for it, doesn't have to address law school well. I've looked at a small sample of selected essays by UofChicago to highlight what essays "worked," and 5 of 6 only superficially address law school (they could've changed every law to medical and would've been a fine medical school application)




I remember reading that too. She called it personal statement vs. statement of purpose, the latter being the more professional one.

Btw, is this (http://www.law.uchicago.edu/alumni/maga ... irownwords) the link to the essays you mentioned? If not, mind linking me? I'm trying to getting my hands on as many successful essays as possible.

nugnoy
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Re: First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

Postby nugnoy » Thu Jul 04, 2013 6:57 pm

superdingle2000 wrote:Btw, is this (http://www.law.uchicago.edu/alumni/maga ... irownwords) the link to the essays you mentioned? If not, mind linking me? I'm trying to getting my hands on as many successful essays as possible.


Yeah that's the one. I made a thread in here asking for a discussion on it. I wrote what I think of the essays and "Why law," so you can read my thoughts in that thread (viewtopic.php?f=18&t=211852).

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Balthy
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Re: First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

Postby Balthy » Thu Jul 04, 2013 7:20 pm

nugnoy wrote:
superdingle2000 wrote:Btw, is this (http://www.law.uchicago.edu/alumni/maga ... irownwords) the link to the essays you mentioned? If not, mind linking me? I'm trying to getting my hands on as many successful essays as possible.


Yeah that's the one. I made a thread in here asking for a discussion on it. I wrote what I think of the essays and "Why law," so you can read my thoughts in that thread (viewtopic.php?f=18&t=211852).



Sweet, thanks!

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RobertGolddust
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Re: First few paragraphs...Am I going in the right direction?

Postby RobertGolddust » Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:27 pm

I think its a great start.

Two things:

1) I would focus more on how you overcame racial adversity rather than anxiety.
2) Your style is a little hyperbolic for my taste. There's no need to exaggerate to the extent you do in this essay. Might just be my taste though, so please take this suggestion with a grain of salt.

The intro paragraph is great though, and I think you develop yourself well but you could develop yourself better.




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