Draft 1- Thoughts?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
puckblocker
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:42 pm

Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby puckblocker » Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:57 pm

As a political science major and British literature minor, I don’t care much for numbers; I prefer powerful words and actions. Numbers represent our tangible qualities. They serve as comparative tools, distinguishing one from another in our extremely competitive culture. We use numbers to determine which sports team has won a game, how wealthy individuals, corporations or nations are, and of course, how capable a student may be to succeed in law school. However, numbers cannot determine the intangible qualities each individual has. They cannot distinguish whether a sports team won the game based on skill or work ethic, whether money is inherited or earned, or why or how a student will or will not succeed in law school. Our potential can be hypothetically derived through numbers, but reaching our potential is based on motivation, desire and choices, not on how many answers we are able to correctly bubble in over the course of a four hour test. Work ethic, selflessness and determination cannot be explained on a scale of zero to four or 120 to 180. Although the numbers suggest I am capable of succeeding in law school, they do not define me. They are not who I am. I am the intangibles left unexplained by the numbers.
A strong work ethic and sense of selflessness have been engrained in me by my father, a Flint, Michigan man who has worked in a General Motors plant since he was nineteen years old. After receiving a pay cut of nearly thirty percent, my father gritted his teeth and took a second job in food service to support the family. He never complained, never sulked, and never admitted defeat in his tough economic surroundings, silently teaching me that hard work, selflessness, and relentless determination are more important traits to have than gaudy numbers in my bank account or on the LSAT.
Throughout the three years I have attended the University of Michigan-Flint, I have taken my father’s lessons to heart. I have worked as hard as possible, in the classroom, workplace and extra-curricular activities. I will be graduating college after only three years with high honors because I have strived to take as many credits as possible while maintaining a certain level of excellence. While my academic record speaks for itself, it does not detail what I have worked through in order to achieve the grades I have.
Although I am only twenty years old, I have a great deal of work experience, having held at least two, and often three, jobs at a time during the entire three years of my undergraduate work; I have worked maintenance in an ice rink, security at the university, set-up for and managed events and conferences on campus, facilitated a freshman seminar focusing on diversity and dialogue between opposing groups, and interned for a legal services clinic. Additionally, I have played hockey each year, first in a junior hockey league and secondly with the university club team. In each scenario, I was expected to practice two or three nights a week and play two or three games a weekend, often traveling out of state for weekend trips. In essence, hockey has been yet another job for me throughout college, albeit a recreational and enjoyable one. Also, for the past two years, I have served as the president of the College Republicans, working diligently with the College Democrats to create a more cooperative, peaceful and understanding political environment on campus by holding public dialogues rather than debates. I have not simply sat in my dorm room and studied for three years; in fact, that may be the only thing I have not done enough of.
At times, the desire to push myself has placed me in situations where I have been unable to succeed in every task I have undertaken. Specifically, in the fall semester of 2012, I attempted what was, for me, impossible. For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to take twenty credits while working three jobs, playing club hockey, and become the president-elect of the College Republicans. When it came to the end of the semester, I simply had too much work and too little time. I was unable to complete the final project for one of my classes, and I received a grade of “Not Complete,” which appears as an “F” in my transcript summary. While failure is never optimal, I learned an important lesson: I am not invincible, I have limits, and sleep is less overrated than I realized. Despite the disappointment I had in myself, I am glad, in retrospect, that I now know where my boundaries lie, because now I can avoid going beyond those boundaries again.
Numbers fade, but our internal makeup remains. Ten years from now, no one will care what my LSAT score or undergraduate grade point average were. My bosses will care if I am competent and hard-working, my clients will care if I am capable and willing to help them, and my family will care if I am able to support them, but the all-important law school admissions numbers will be useless. I hope that as my numbers decrease in value, my character will remain strong, and that throughout law school and my career, I will be able to serve my community with an impassioned work ethic, relentless determination, and the desire to put others before myself, just as my father taught me.

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jselson
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Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby jselson » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:48 am

You do know that political science is predominantly a quantitative field now, right?

In any case, this is bad (just being honest). You're making a lot of classic mistakes:

1) Using the PS as an LSAT/gpa addendum
2) Restating your resume/transcript
3) Having too many topics
4) All telling, no showing
5) Making broad, sweeping, and inaccurate generalizations, and performing trite abstract philosophizing.

There's also some unintentionally funny parts. Like when you try to use your FATHER'S life to excuse your LSAT (at the same time as knocking rich people?!!?), and the tone is way off ("gaudy numbers," really?).

The whole "I've been doing so much cool stuff that I didn't have time to study!" part isn't going to go over well with adcomms who think that law school is difficult and requires a lot of studying, and it REALLY doesn't help that you seem to have an axe to grind with lots of random folks (ie., people who are different than you), like (imaginary) folks who "simply sat in their dorm rooms and studied." Tone it down.

My recommendation: Toss basically all of this and focus on just one thing - I think maybe talking about planning a particularly successful but complicated event as pres of the College Republicans, that required coordination with the Dem students, would be the most interesting, or when you interned for the legal services clinic.

puckblocker
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:42 pm

Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby puckblocker » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:52 am

Thanks for the feedback. Just for the record, I'm a 3.74/171 student. I wasn't trying to make excuses, just show that I'm more than just my numbers, which are strong.

I'll work to focus the main point. Do you think it's a good idea to address the "N" grade?

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jselson
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Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby jselson » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:02 am

puckblocker wrote:Thanks for the feedback. Just for the record, I'm a 3.74/171 student. I wasn't trying to make excuses, just show that I'm more than just my numbers, which are strong.

I'll work to focus the main point. Do you think it's a good idea to address the "N" grade?


Dude, your PS gives the impressions that you got like a 2.5 as a gpa. Your gpa is good - you're almost definitely in at NYU, possibly with money. Unless you send this PS.

Don't address the grade, it doesn't matter with that gpa, and your story about it isn't flattering.

With your numbers, play it safe in your PS. Talk about an event in your life that shows leadership, organization, and determination, while also expressing your personality. PS's are more likely to hurt than help. Right now, this PS will hurt your chance at schools that you have a real shot at. Always keep in your head as you write and edit: 1) What do I want the adcomms to learn about me?, 2) Does my PS actually communicate those things?, and 3) Are there things in my PS that give a poor impression of me?

puckblocker
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:42 pm

Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby puckblocker » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:56 pm

How do I go about talking about a singular event rather than my undergraduate work as a whole?

blsingindisguise
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Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:03 pm

You need a completely different approach. Don't discuss your grades or LSAT, and don't just list a bunch of stuff clubs you were a member of -- you have a resume for that. Scrap and start over.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:06 pm

I would recommend flipping through a book of sample personal essays for Law School to get a feel for how to focus more on a specific experience or set of experiences. I mean there's no rule that says you have to write about one event, but it's generally better to have a theme and to tell a story rather than just explain a bunch of different stuff. Don't "tell" the adcoms that you're about more than just grades and LSAT, show them. Maybe you could write about hockey, or maybe about your campus political experiences, or maybe something outside of college entirely.

puckblocker
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:42 pm

Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby puckblocker » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:17 pm

blsingindisguise wrote:I would recommend flipping through a book of sample personal essays for Law School to get a feel for how to focus more on a specific experience or set of experiences. I mean there's no rule that says you have to write about one event, but it's generally better to have a theme and to tell a story rather than just explain a bunch of different stuff. Don't "tell" the adcoms that you're about more than just grades and LSAT, show them. Maybe you could write about hockey, or maybe about your campus political experiences, or maybe something outside of college entirely.



I've thought about using hockey, but is it too cliche and irrelevant?

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
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Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:18 pm

puckblocker wrote:
blsingindisguise wrote:I would recommend flipping through a book of sample personal essays for Law School to get a feel for how to focus more on a specific experience or set of experiences. I mean there's no rule that says you have to write about one event, but it's generally better to have a theme and to tell a story rather than just explain a bunch of different stuff. Don't "tell" the adcoms that you're about more than just grades and LSAT, show them. Maybe you could write about hockey, or maybe about your campus political experiences, or maybe something outside of college entirely.



I've thought about using hockey, but is it too cliche and irrelevant?


That depends on what your experience was in hockey. I agree it's a bit of a longshot, but there might be a way to do it.

puckblocker
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:42 pm

Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby puckblocker » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:30 pm

What if I discussed the Freshman Seminar class I took and now facilitate? I could focus on the lack of diversity in my upbringing, how the class changed my perspectives and how I've incorporated it in my life, most notably in my leadership with the College Republicans?

cobble495
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:00 am

Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby cobble495 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:42 pm

puckblocker wrote:What if I discussed the Freshman Seminar class I took and now facilitate? I could focus on the lack of diversity in my upbringing, how the class changed my perspectives and how I've incorporated it in my life, most notably in my leadership with the College Republicans?


I think this could work but you'd have to be careful to make sure you're talking more about you than the students in your seminar.

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ArtistOfManliness
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Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby ArtistOfManliness » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:47 pm

cobble495 wrote:
puckblocker wrote:What if I discussed the Freshman Seminar class I took and now facilitate? I could focus on the lack of diversity in my upbringing, how the class changed my perspectives and how I've incorporated it in my life, most notably in my leadership with the College Republicans?


I think this could work but you'd have to be careful to make sure you're talking more about you than the students in your seminar.


I feel like you should look at some PS example and then re-evaluate your topic possibilities

puckblocker
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Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:42 pm

Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby puckblocker » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:50 pm

I'm going to post a new attempted PS here in a minute. It focuses on the freshman seminar and CRs, along with my change in attitudes from high school to now.

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mvonh001
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Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby mvonh001 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:56 pm

I just posted on your other topic... it was you, im assuming. While I like the idea of you talking about an event that changed your life, I think that the discussion about how a seminar class opened your eyes about race relations in the USA is a little bit -how should i put this- stupid? Not that it didnt impact your life a great deal, but writing about it makes you seem very simple, especially when you just write about it and not show us how it effected your life. For example, say you took this class, met a classmate who was black/ or another minority, and became best friends with him, then through some web of circumstances had to stand up for him against someone of your own race... something like that would be more emotionally jarring than what you wrote.

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the_pakalypse
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Re: Draft 1- Thoughts?

Postby the_pakalypse » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:15 pm

Don't diss numbers... this reveals your lack of understanding of them (e.g. popular misconceptions) rather than their real capability.




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