Please take a look and let me know what you think

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
Posts: 273100
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:57 pm

I am really looking for help with the last couple sentences so any thoughts on that would be greatly appreciated.


Personal Statement
I unfurled my toes, touched my tongue to the roof of my mouth, and flipped my pockets inside-out while receiving a more-than-thorough pat down. Once the correctional officer was satisfied that each and every crevice of my body was void of prohibited items, I was escorted through four heavily-guarded doors en route to the prison yard. Subsequently, another officer met up with my group to guide us to the dilapidated schoolhouse across the enclosure. We were then given a brief orientation with one overarching theme: do not, under any circumstance, trust an inmate.
Finally, we were given authorization to enter the classroom. To be certain that we never averted our gaze from the inmates, my colleagues and I performed an awkward shuffle while making our way to the front of the room. Our apparent unease led to an awkward first meeting with our pupils. Without any training, I was expected to lead a debate class for 30 inmates. The topic, structure and content of the class was solely at our discretion. Stemming from my experience of eighteen first-days of class, the clear choice for our first activity was an ice-breaker. For some reason, the usual ice-breaking activities seemed inappropriate. Asking these hardened criminals to tell us their favorite color, or to come up with an alliteration to help me remember their name seemed juvenile. Instead, each man just stated their name and any fascinating fact about themselves. Secretly though, I was hoping that they would reveal the actions that put them in my class in the first place. While some of the men discussed their families and hometowns, others did hint at the reasons that they were in prison. Of the prisoners who described their illegal acts, each man finished his story with at least one way in which he was mistreated by the justice system.
Our class consisted of an array of criminals: drug dealers, child molesters, rapists and murderers. During our first meeting, I had to exercise tremendous self-control to keep my jaw from hitting the floor after hearing the stories. But, one man's story was simply too much for me to handle. A mountain-of-a-man named Darius explained how his crime spree began as a child. His first choice of illegal activity was animal cruelty. Before I realized that my lower jaw was lying comfortably on the ground, I knew that something was wrong from the laughter coming from the class. Prior to this moment I had never met a murderer, a rapist or any other type of violent criminal for that matter.
Following my first visit, my initial fear was amplified. Prior to these class periods actually taking place, I had no idea what to expect. I had seen it as a way to meet people that I may never have met elsewhere and to get some immersion into a side of the legal system many would rather close their eyes to. But, following my first day in the program, my feelings were best summed up in in one word; regret. What benefits for myself or society could possibly come from driving for two hours a week just to meet with these inmates?
Nevertheless, the next excursion to the correctional facility rolled around and before I knew it, again I was getting thoroughly frisked by the correctional officers of Gus Harrison Correctional Facility.
Per the purpose of my class, my fellow volunteers and I were tasked with choosing a topic of discussion. We were walking a delicate line between evoking a good dialogue and not inciting violence among inmates. So, in my naiveté, I chose a topic that I thought would lead to discussion, but not disagreement--gun control. I assumed that all of the men would agree that there should be no gun control and that we could engage in a jovial bashing of the dominate paradigm.
Our class was preceded by only a few weeks by the infamous murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Further more, this discussion had occurred ad nauseam in all of my political science and philosophy classes. By the time my group and I filed into the classroom for the second time, I could spout off a dozen facts supporting increased gun control and an equal amount against it. What ended up being most pervasive down the road, was the set of beliefs that I assumed all of these men held. After all, they were criminals.
The prisoners stunned me when nearly half of them took the stance that there ought to be more gun control. Many of these men came to the debate equipped with first-hand personal anecdotes in support of stricter gun control.
As the meetings carried on, I gradually came to understand that being incarcerated does not necessarily entail being a bad, or immoral person. I had fallen victim to a common error in judgment--the fundamental attribution error. I took the piece of knowledge that I had regarding these men, their imprisonment, and assigned an entire set of beliefs to them that I had built up from years of movie and TV dramas.
Unfortunately, I feel that this error commonly seeps into the cracks and crevices of our criminal justice system. Whether in the guise of a judge, a lawyer or a jury member, faulty assumptions easily lead to unfair trials and sentencing. For months I commuted to Gus-Harrison Correctional Facility. Each week, I gained a deeper insight into the history and lives of these prisoners. One thing has become clear to me: in America, we insist on employing a system of blind justice, yet justice we prejudice and preconceived beliefs cannot truly by blind. Becoming a lawyer would give me the chance to help those who need a blind justice system. While the privileged deserve fair treatment under the law, the real problem comes when the underprivileged are neglected. During the actual volunteer experience, I did not realize at the time how much my time with the prisoners was affecting me. Now, I feel that it is partially my responsibility to help those who might otherwise be treated unfairly or worse, wrongly incarcerated. It is human nature to create a profile of somebody from whatever information is available. But, because we know that errors like this occur, checks must be put in place to prevent them whenever possible. Whether I end up working for a non-profit organization, law firm, the government, or a corporation finding ways to minimize the probability of this error will be my most important goal.

l0g0s
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:56 pm

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby l0g0s » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote: I unfurled my toes, touched my tongue to the roof of my mouth, and flipped my pockets inside-out while receiving a more-than-thorough pat down.


This certainly got my attention, but I think it might be a little risqué for law school applications.

User avatar
Ramius
Posts: 2005
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:39 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby Ramius » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:40 pm

This needs quite a bit of work with phrasing, tense and punctuation. There are misplaced commas throughout, awkward sentences that result from it that completely disrupt the flow of the statement.

Before you go any further, read this out loud methodically and purposefully. Make sure every word, every pause, every sentence conveys purpose. I think you'll find a pretty sizable amount of revision in this practice alone.

You could have an interesting story to tell here, but right now I can't get past the writing errors.

Also, for greatest effect, focus more on how struck you were by an individual inmate instead of vaguely describing how the inmates shocked you with their views on gun control. If you want this to resonate, I would want to see you actually making a connection with one of the inmates, even if only on an intellectual level. You claim that you've grown to respect our incarcerated population, but you'd be much better served showing how you came to respect them and something specific that made you want to fight for them.

Also, just my opinion (as all of this is), but I'd shy away from some lofty goal like correcting all injustices in what should be a blind justice system. I'd be much more likely to believe you and your goals as being more than a pie in the sky if you instead focused on helping one individual. Think along the lines, "I want to do this for those unjustly interred. I want to help people like [insert guy you connected with]."

GL OP!

User avatar
lastsamurai
Posts: 978
Joined: Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:17 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby lastsamurai » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:37 am

This PS started off really well. I was captivated (and I don't think the first sentence is too risque for adcomms personally).

Toward the end, I started feeling uncomfortable with the viewpoints being portrayed.

"The prisoners stunned me when nearly half of them took the stance that there ought to be more gun control. Many of these men came to the debate equipped with first-hand personal anecdotes in support of stricter gun control.
As the meetings carried on, I gradually came to understand that being incarcerated does not necessarily entail being a bad, or immoral person."

Sounds like you're saying believing in gun control automatically makes someone "not a bad or immoral person." Risky logic if you ask me.

I'd work on the ending and the grammar issues mentioned above, but otherwise I think it could be very solid.

Good luck!

User avatar
mandyjay11
Posts: 1159
Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:36 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby mandyjay11 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:48 pm

While the privileged deserve fair treatment under the law, the real problem comes when the underprivileged are neglected.


This came off as weird. I am hoping that you meant it in a different way...

NYstate
Posts: 1566
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:44 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby NYstate » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:12 pm

Am I the only one who hates this statement. I think it puts OP in a bad light.
You never explain why you are taking this class. Or anything about the program.

Is your statement: I watched so much tv and movies that I assumed everyone in jail was a bad and immoral person. Then I volunteered. I was shocked to discover that prison inmates actually have opinions and don't think that everyone should have guns.

The more time I spent with them I realized that justice is influenced by prejudice. This is a logical error. When I'm a lawyer my duty will be to avoid this logical error.


I don't think you get the impact of this statement on a reader.
You don't have to tie it into why law, if that helps.
Also don't excuse your prejudice by human nature of creating profiles of people.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273100
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:41 pm

OP here. Thanks for all of the comments. I fully agree that I still have to tie it up to make a final point. Also, great suggestion with the reading it aloud. It really helped. As for the poster who suggested the no lofty goals, I felt that while I was writing but could not think of a way to say something similar that would not come off as too lofty and ridiculous. Any ideas?

To lastsamurai, i agree, that is faulty reasoning and not at all waht I was trying to say. I was just trying to use that as an example of how my initial assumptions were faulty. Any ideas on how to make that clearer?

MandyJay: I am trying to say that the privileged individuals are more likely than unprivleged to receive fair treatment from the legal system. Does that make more sense?

NYstate: appreciate the comment and advice

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:47 pm

Unfurling your toes sounds painful. How did you manage to do it?

User avatar
mandyjay11
Posts: 1159
Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:36 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby mandyjay11 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks for all of the comments. I fully agree that I still have to tie it up to make a final point. Also, great suggestion with the reading it aloud. It really helped. As for the poster who suggested the no lofty goals, I felt that while I was writing but could not think of a way to say something similar that would not come off as too lofty and ridiculous. Any ideas?

To lastsamurai, i agree, that is faulty reasoning and not at all waht I was trying to say. I was just trying to use that as an example of how my initial assumptions were faulty. Any ideas on how to make that clearer?

MandyJay: I am trying to say that the privileged individuals are more likely than unprivleged to receive fair treatment from the legal system. Does that make more sense?

NYstate: appreciate the comment and advice



yes... I think you should put it how you just explained to me

Anonymous User
Posts: 273100
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:48 pm

blsingindisguise wrote:Unfurling your toes sounds painful. How did you manage to do it?


ha Well, the guards really forced them up.

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
blsingindisguise wrote:Unfurling your toes sounds painful. How did you manage to do it?


ha Well, the guards really forced them up.


Well the word has a specific meaning: "make or become spread out from a rolled or folded state, esp. in order to be open to the wind." So I wouldn't use it here.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273100
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:55 pm

blsingindisguise wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
blsingindisguise wrote:Unfurling your toes sounds painful. How did you manage to do it?


ha Well, the guards really forced them up.


Well the word has a specific meaning: "make or become spread out from a rolled or folded state, esp. in order to be open to the wind." So I wouldn't use it here.


should I just say spread

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:05 pm

yeah

NYstate
Posts: 1566
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:44 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby NYstate » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:54 pm

I don't understand why you assumed that inmates would be against gun control. You look bad here, particularly as you compare it to your college class where both sides of the argument were debated ( presumably by people who had never been directly impacted by gun violence.)

I'm still not sure what you are trying to say about yourself here. I don't think this statement benefits you. Were you honestly surprised that the criminal justice system isn't fair? How do you think an admissions professional will react to this statement?

User avatar
jselson
Posts: 6337
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:51 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby jselson » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:54 pm

This is a difficult one because the actual experience sounds like it could be ripe for so many interesting stories, but the sad thing is, you're the least interesting character in the narrative. Idk, there's a general flippancy with your tone - I think you were trying for literariness - throughout, except for the abrupt shift in the last paragraph. It's a difficult balance, these "I morally improved" type essays, since, on the one hand, you want to show who you once were and how you once thought, but on the other, want to show who you are now. The way this is written, and I mean the style, seems to show that you haven't really deeply reflected on this story. Otherwise, the tone would be far more consistent. Think of it this way: I find it annoying and off-putting when I'm talking to someone with fairly strident, but sincere, opinions, and when someone gives them some particularly heartbreaking story, they suddenly change their opinion completely. It's like they've been shown the light, or converted. But as so often happens with, say, religious conversion, the change in opinion wasn't really thought out - the person just found an arresting image, or took what someone else said hook-line-and-sinker, and suddenly became that thing. And usually, they flit around to the completely opposite extreme. (I'm sure were all familiar with this kind of thing since it happens so often to college students, and I'm sure most of us, myself included, are guilty of this type of change.)

Well, that's what seems to have happened to you. You found something attractive and alluring, and adopted it wholesale, so much so that you now think the entire criminal justice system is a fraud and that everyone convicted faces injustice. Really, you're just projecting an attractive story and an idealized aesthetic onto the real world.

Now, none of that may be true, but that's how it comes off to me in this PS. And it comes off in such a way - it's so thoroughly like that sort of thing - that I think it's actually more likely than not true.

I probably got a bit more "personal" than you'd like with my criticism, but I think it's a poor editor who believes style and content have no necessary connection.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273100
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:09 am

NYstate wrote:I don't understand why you assumed that inmates would be against gun control. You look bad here, particularly as you compare it to your college class where both sides of the argument were debated ( presumably by people who had never been directly impacted by gun violence.)

I'm still not sure what you are trying to say about yourself here. I don't think this statement benefits you. Were you honestly surprised that the criminal justice system isn't fair? How do you think an admissions professional will react to this statement?



OP here

NYstate, I understand that you do not like the personal statement. your opinions are appreciated.

NYstate
Posts: 1566
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:44 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby NYstate » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:23 am

Anonymous User wrote:
NYstate wrote:I don't understand why you assumed that inmates would be against gun control. You look bad here, particularly as you compare it to your college class where both sides of the argument were debated ( presumably by people who had never been directly impacted by gun violence.)

I'm still not sure what you are trying to say about yourself here. I don't think this statement benefits you. Were you honestly surprised that the criminal justice system isn't fair? How do you think an admissions professional will react to this statement?



OP here

NYstate, I understand that you do not like the personal statement. your opinions are appreciated.


OP: I don't personally care one way or the other. Im trying to help you with admissions.My comments are based on how ad comms are going to react. You are not selling yourself well here; I'm just going by what I'm reading. Your statement is a chance to wow people. .. If you have great stats don't sweat it I guess. But you could make this much better if you wanted to put in the work.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273100
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:28 am

NYstate wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
NYstate wrote:I don't understand why you assumed that inmates would be against gun control. You look bad here, particularly as you compare it to your college class where both sides of the argument were debated ( presumably by people who had never been directly impacted by gun violence.)

I'm still not sure what you are trying to say about yourself here. I don't think this statement benefits you. Were you honestly surprised that the criminal justice system isn't fair? How do you think an admissions professional will react to this statement?



OP here

NYstate, I understand that you do not like the personal statement. your opinions are appreciated.


OP: I don't personally care one way or the other. Im trying to help you with admissions.My comments are based on how ad comms are going to react. You are not selling yourself well here; I'm just going by what I'm reading. Your statement is a chance to wow people. .. If you have great stats don't sweat it I guess. But you could make this much better if you wanted to put in the work.



OP

I am being honest, I actually do appreciate the comments. I am just wondering how I could actually make it better? Do you think I need to revamp the whole story or just tweak the style and tone?

User avatar
Ramius
Posts: 2005
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:39 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby Ramius » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:32 am

jselson wrote:This is a difficult one because the actual experience sounds like it could be ripe for so many interesting stories, but the sad thing is, you're the least interesting character in the narrative. Idk, there's a general flippancy with your tone - I think you were trying for literariness - throughout, except for the abrupt shift in the last paragraph. It's a difficult balance, these "I morally improved" type essays, since, on the one hand, you want to show who you once were and how you once thought, but on the other, want to show who you are now. The way this is written, and I mean the style, seems to show that you haven't really deeply reflected on this story. Otherwise, the tone would be far more consistent. Think of it this way: I find it annoying and off-putting when I'm talking to someone with fairly strident, but sincere, opinions, and when someone gives them some particularly heartbreaking story, they suddenly change their opinion completely. It's like they've been shown the light, or converted. But as so often happens with, say, religious conversion, the change in opinion wasn't really thought out - the person just found an arresting image, or took what someone else said hook-line-and-sinker, and suddenly became that thing. And usually, they flit around to the completely opposite extreme. (I'm sure were all familiar with this kind of thing since it happens so often to college students, and I'm sure most of us, myself included, are guilty of this type of change.)

Well, that's what seems to have happened to you. You found something attractive and alluring, and adopted it wholesale, so much so that you now think the entire criminal justice system is a fraud and that everyone convicted faces injustice. Really, you're just projecting an attractive story and an idealized aesthetic onto the real world.

Now, none of that may be true, but that's how it comes off to me in this PS. And it comes off in such a way - it's so thoroughly like that sort of thing - that I think it's actually more likely than not true.

I probably got a bit more "personal" than you'd like with my criticism, but I think it's a poor editor who believes style and content have no necessary connection.


This is a fantastic description of how the OP needs to revise their tone and approach to this statement. YLS picked you for a reason, didn't they? :)

User avatar
jselson
Posts: 6337
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:51 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby jselson » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:40 pm

matthewsean85 wrote:
jselson wrote:This is a difficult one because the actual experience sounds like it could be ripe for so many interesting stories, but the sad thing is, you're the least interesting character in the narrative. Idk, there's a general flippancy with your tone - I think you were trying for literariness - throughout, except for the abrupt shift in the last paragraph. It's a difficult balance, these "I morally improved" type essays, since, on the one hand, you want to show who you once were and how you once thought, but on the other, want to show who you are now. The way this is written, and I mean the style, seems to show that you haven't really deeply reflected on this story. Otherwise, the tone would be far more consistent. Think of it this way: I find it annoying and off-putting when I'm talking to someone with fairly strident, but sincere, opinions, and when someone gives them some particularly heartbreaking story, they suddenly change their opinion completely. It's like they've been shown the light, or converted. But as so often happens with, say, religious conversion, the change in opinion wasn't really thought out - the person just found an arresting image, or took what someone else said hook-line-and-sinker, and suddenly became that thing. And usually, they flit around to the completely opposite extreme. (I'm sure were all familiar with this kind of thing since it happens so often to college students, and I'm sure most of us, myself included, are guilty of this type of change.)

Well, that's what seems to have happened to you. You found something attractive and alluring, and adopted it wholesale, so much so that you now think the entire criminal justice system is a fraud and that everyone convicted faces injustice. Really, you're just projecting an attractive story and an idealized aesthetic onto the real world.

Now, none of that may be true, but that's how it comes off to me in this PS. And it comes off in such a way - it's so thoroughly like that sort of thing - that I think it's actually more likely than not true.

I probably got a bit more "personal" than you'd like with my criticism, but I think it's a poor editor who believes style and content have no necessary connection.


This is a fantastic description of how the OP needs to revise their tone and approach to this statement. YLS picked you for a reason, didn't they? :)


Cutting me to the bone, man. Yale has still not gotten back to me a final decision.

User avatar
Ramius
Posts: 2005
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:39 am

Re: Please take a look and let me know what you think

Postby Ramius » Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:29 pm

Whoa, absolutely my bad. Thought you were a Yalie.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.