Low-risk PS draft - please help.

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Anonymous User
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Low-risk PS draft - please help.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:23 pm

The PS is the only piece of my apps holding me back at this point and I'm looking to have a final draft soon. A little background info: my numbers re >75th everywhere I'm applying so I'm really just looking for a personal statement that doesn't hurt my app any (I would rather it not stand out at all than be unique and possible put anyone off). Below is my current draft. Please take a look at it and tell me what you think. Specifically, my concerns are...

  • Does it cover what it needs to? I had some trouble trying to tell a genuine personal story while also orienting the PS around law school.
  • Is the last paragraph about my future plans too hokey/does it feel shoehorned in?
  • Does the flow of the metaphor work?
  • Obviously, any problems in spelling, grammar, diction, etc.


American Airlines flight XXXX had just touched down at Personal Statement International Airport. Two gruff-looking men peered past my window seat trying to spot their luggage as the ground crew offloaded the storage compartment and the first-class passengers slowly began to deplane. "Look at that" one man said to the other as he pointed at two blue plastic bins covered in layers of TSA security tape. "Someone's got a funny taste in suitcases" he continued as the other man chuckled in agreement. All I could do was respond with a shy smile and a nod of my head, knowing that those two funny suitcases held all my earthly possessions. My checked luggage may have seemed like overkill but at the time it was my only feasible option. I was heading off to college and leaving behind an empty house that my parents had already put on the market. Of course, that part was nothing new; I had already lived in 15 or so different houses by the time I graduated high school. When you move around this often, you are forced to be much more critical of how valuable your possessions really are. You find that if something has been sitting untouched in your closet for the past year, it's probably not worth packing, moving, and unpacking just to sit in your new closet for another year.

But even if packing up and moving was old hat, this time was different because my parents weren't moving from on house into another, but into an R.V. that would become their home for the next couple of years as they crisscrossed the country. My parents may have been happy with their 150 square foot home, but it meant that I needed to get everything I owned out of our house and either get rid of it or bring it to college. A few trips to Goodwill later and my blue bins were on their way to Personal Statement University. Be it college, law school, or a new job, I am confident that I will arrive with very little baggage.

But being able to pack all of my things into a box hardly qualifies me as a strong law student or defines who I am as a human being. No, what I'm really concerned about is another definition of baggage. When we say that a person "has baggage," we generally aren't referring to duffel bags or rolling suitcases but to the emotional and intellectual impediments that prevent personal growth and clear thinking. And although it cannot be donated to Goodwill, this is the sort of baggage that I pride myself in being able to let go. This attitude has served me well in my personal life as it has allowed me to easily adapt to new people and new challenges without feeling like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Yet I cannot help but think that this baggage becomes an even greater problem in the legal field. We have all heard the stories about law students sabotaging their peers to gain a leg up on the grading curve or associates completely abandoning their personal lives to move up in the firm. Even though these stories may be exaggerations or unique cases, I have no doubt that there is some truth to them. Even just going through the law school application process, I have seen how fiercely competitive my future classmates and coworkers are going to be - how else can you explain the websites, spreadsheets, and forums dedicated to determining one's chance of admission down to the percentage point. And to be honest, I am probably just as competitive as the rest of them. This competitive environment is precisely the reason that I believe letting go of baggage will be so important to my success in law school. The analytical and detail-oriented nature of legal work requires law students and attorneys to constantly give their full attention to the task at hand. Nowhere is there room to get held up personal issues or past mistakes. Beyond grades, beyond test scores, it is this positive baggage-free attitude which I hope will guide me to success in law school.

At this point, I do not know exactly where I want to go with my legal education. I certainly want to be a practicing attorney, but there are so many different routes I can take to get there and so much more I have to learn before I can choose the one that fits me best. One thing I do know is that no matter where I end up, the only baggage I'll be carrying is two blue plastic bins.

Anonymous User
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Re: Low-risk PS draft - please help.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:24 pm

Also, if anyone wants to swap with me, let me know.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Low-risk PS draft - please help.

Postby rinkrat19 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:59 pm

I liked the beginning anecdote from a storytelling perspective but I don't think your overall topic is particularly good for an admissions essay. I don't learn much about you, except you think you're "above" the competitiveness of future fellow students that you've never even met, which sounds arrogant. You tell us you're better than everyone else at letting go of emotional baggage, but don't support that with any evidence to that effect. (The old 'telling not showing' mistake.) We're just expected to take your word for it? You also spend too much time talking about how law students suck and law school is an unpleasant experience. Which is largely true, but adcomms don't want to hear that. Combined with the fact that you have no idea what kind of law you want to do, it sounds like you aren't really sure you want to be going to law school, but your parents kicked you out to go on a roadtrip so you had to go somewhere and the dice rolled "law school."

Andrewabrams
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Re: Low-risk PS draft - please help.

Postby Andrewabrams » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:53 pm

I agree with rinkrat19, additionally this by no means would convince me that i should allow you into my law school. I do not think that anyone would read this and think i want this person to come to my law school! I think they'll be a great fit!

Also if youre looking for a swap there you can go to SPAM, its a free peer review website. Good Luck

Anonymous User
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Re: Low-risk PS draft - please help.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:54 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:I liked the beginning anecdote from a storytelling perspective but I don't think your overall topic is particularly good for an admissions essay. I don't learn much about you, except you think you're "above" the competitiveness of future fellow students that you've never even met, which sounds arrogant. You tell us you're better than everyone else at letting go of emotional baggage, but don't support that with any evidence to that effect. (The old 'telling not showing' mistake.) We're just expected to take your word for it? You also spend too much time talking about how law students suck and law school is an unpleasant experience. Which is largely true, but adcomms don't want to hear that. Combined with the fact that you have no idea what kind of law you want to do, it sounds like you aren't really sure you want to be going to law school, but your parents kicked you out to go on a roadtrip so you had to go somewhere and the dice rolled "law school."


I definitely see where you're coming from on your criticisms so let me run a few things by you if that's okay. I obviously didn't mean to come off as arrogant but I guess I just struggled with talking myself up without sounding like a dick. What I was really trying to get at was that the legal environment is supposed to be really competitive (which is totally fine) and that I believe I have an attitude that would help in such an environment. In terms of evidence, they're going to have to take me at my word to a point but would the best way to provide evidence in a PS be to use stories/examples? You're 100% right that I make it sound like law school is unpleasant so I'll change that. I know that there are some fields of law that I want to take a closer look at, but I really don't know what I want to go into because I have never so much as taken a class on any type of law. I think this is a reasonable view, but would I be better off just not bringing it up at all in my PS?

Anonymous User
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Re: Low-risk PS draft - please help.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:55 pm

Andrewabrams wrote:I agree with rinkrat19, additionally this by no means would convince me that i should allow you into my law school. I do not think that anyone would read this and think i want this person to come to my law school! I think they'll be a great fit!

Also if youre looking for a swap there you can go to [Hi, I'm trying to spam you!], its a free peer review website. Good Luck

Thanks for the link!

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lastsamurai
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Re: Low-risk PS draft - please help.

Postby lastsamurai » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:10 pm

The opening paragraph can stay, but the rest needs to be overhauled massively. Completely agree with rinkrat

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rinkrat19
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Re: Low-risk PS draft - please help.

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
rinkrat19 wrote:I liked the beginning anecdote from a storytelling perspective but I don't think your overall topic is particularly good for an admissions essay. I don't learn much about you, except you think you're "above" the competitiveness of future fellow students that you've never even met, which sounds arrogant. You tell us you're better than everyone else at letting go of emotional baggage, but don't support that with any evidence to that effect. (The old 'telling not showing' mistake.) We're just expected to take your word for it? You also spend too much time talking about how law students suck and law school is an unpleasant experience. Which is largely true, but adcomms don't want to hear that. Combined with the fact that you have no idea what kind of law you want to do, it sounds like you aren't really sure you want to be going to law school, but your parents kicked you out to go on a roadtrip so you had to go somewhere and the dice rolled "law school."


I definitely see where you're coming from on your criticisms so let me run a few things by you if that's okay. I obviously didn't mean to come off as arrogant but I guess I just struggled with talking myself up without sounding like a dick. What I was really trying to get at was that the legal environment is supposed to be really competitive (which is totally fine) and that I believe I have an attitude that would help in such an environment. In terms of evidence, they're going to have to take me at my word to a point but would the best way to provide evidence in a PS be to use stories/examples? You're 100% right that I make it sound like law school is unpleasant so I'll change that. I know that there are some fields of law that I want to take a closer look at, but I really don't know what I want to go into because I have never so much as taken a class on any type of law. I think this is a reasonable view, but would I be better off just not bringing it up at all in my PS?

My biggest issue is that I don't understand how being able to let go of "baggage" (which you don't really explain or illustrate) will help in a hypercompetitive academic or work environment. Believe me, plenty of successful law students and lawyers have plenty of emotional issues. Also, you haven't been to law school or been a lawyer, so you really have no idea whether or how it will help either. If you want to convince me that this quality that you think you have makes you well-suited for law school, tell a story about this quality and how it served you well in some other situation, which I can then interpolate to law school.

I am not someone who argues that every PS must explicitly address "why I want to go to law school," but in this case I think your current draft leaves the reader actively wondering just that. You make law school and the legal profession sound miserable and then talk about how you no longer have a home.

As for not having a pre-planned legal goal: that's fine. I think most people go in feeling like that, and adcomms understand that. But it does help to have something in your prior life to anchor this new law thing to. Some people use prior experience with the legal system, some people have an interest in a field that relates to law, some people were inspired by lawyers in their lives, some people just want a different kind of intellectual stimulation. This is another area where I don't think you need to explicitly address it, but leaving the reader actively wondering "does this person even have any interest in the law?" could be harmful.




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