First PS Try, I would love feedback

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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SonlenNightfall
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First PS Try, I would love feedback

Postby SonlenNightfall » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:26 pm

Here it is:

I remember the shipwreck, the overgrown island, and the fear that gripped me when I first learned that the island was teeming with cannibals. But my clearest memory was the moment when I escaped; when my tiny six year old hand turned the final page in that dusty copy of Robinson Crusoe and triumphantly slammed the book shut. For four days I had fought through a maelstrom of words and ideas that my six years of life had left me woefully unequipped to handle, and yet I had survived. Those four days on an island changed me, and my educational life would never be the same.

From the very beginning, my education was unorthodox. My mother – a mentally strong but physically frail, soft-spoken English teacher with a passion for social activism -and my father – a boisterous, athletic Math teacher and Renaissance man – chose to home-school me. They opted not to fill my early life with worksheets and required reading, but instead taught me to seek out knowledge in everyday life and take pride in my own education. Ever week, when I helped ladle out soup at the homeless shelter my mother ran, I learned about poverty. When I first joined the march down MLK Drive in San Antonio with thousands of other people, I learned about civil rights. Spending two weeks living in a commune and bathing in a river taught me about sustainable living and energy conservation. The world was my classroom, and I was always looking for new chances to learn from it.

When I first saw Robinson Crusoe on the bookshelf in the family living room, the prospect of reading my first “grown-up book” was too enticing to pass up. It was intimidating to dive into a book that was evidently not meant for someone my age, but my father had taught me to be okay with being a beginner. After all, everyone is bad when they first start out learning a new skill. When I finished the book four days later, that lesson was affirmed; when you set your mind to learning something, all it takes is effort to turn inability into ability.

That lesson has guided my life at every turn. When I first decided I wanted to play golf, I sat on the driving range for four hours until my fingers were blistered and the ball finally arched into the air when I swung at it. When I entered organized schooling at the age of 14, I quickly learned social interactions by spending the first day introducing myself to everyone I could find. When I decided I wanted to learn how to breakdance, I spent the rest of the day wriggling on the floor and attempting to balance on my hands. Not all of these efforts were met with shining success, but I did find myself one day better at those activities than someone who decided not to try.

It’s been sixteen years since I was that little boy who picked up Robinson Crusoe and began his quest to learn how to read like a grown-up. I’m now a two-handicap golfer, a competent dancer, and a confident socializer. I know how to make sushi, build a website, and record my own music. I’ve started school organizations, published editorials in my college newspaper, and helped choreograph and perform a dance for charity in front of 600 of my fellow students. I’ve tried to live with the same sense of boldness and adventure that my six year old self did when he chose to overcome that 300 page book.

So when I decided that I may have an interest in law, I dove right into the challenge. I began studying the LSAT, taking classes that related to law, joining my college’s mock trial team, and interning with a lawyer to see if law was right for me. What I discovered was a profession that merged introverted thought with extroverted advocacy. That combined my father’s analytical skills with my mother’s writing. That demanded social responsibility and the ability to think critically and independently. That needed people who could learn and grow and change along with it. What I found was a profession that sounded exactly like the person I had become. With areas of law as varied as my own interests, I remain confident that I can find my niche.

I know that law school will be difficult. There will be moments when I may feel trapped by a maelstrom of words and ideas that I feel ill-equipped to handle. There will be moments when I feel like I cannot make it through. But it has been sixteen years since the first time I felt that way about a challenge, and I have been developing my ability to meet new challenges and struggles ever since then. At the age of six I made it past a shipwreck, an overgrown forest, cannibals, and 300 dusty pages. After that, how could law school stand a chance against me?
Last edited by SonlenNightfall on Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:01 am, edited 4 times in total.

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heythatslife
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Re: First PS Try, I would love feedback

Postby heythatslife » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:39 pm

1) It's Robinson CRUSOE. If you're going to make this a central trope in your essay, you might as well spell it right.

2) I don't think the Robinson Crusoe theme works well at all. Seriously, don't expect adcomms to be convinced that reading that book is as difficult as law school.

Maybe you'd be better off writing about commune life or MLK drive? It sounds like these experiences could have more directly affected your decision to go to law school.

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SonlenNightfall
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Re: First PS Try, I would love feedback

Postby SonlenNightfall » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:44 pm

heythatslife wrote:1) It's Robinson CRUSOE. If you're going to make this a central trope in your essay, you might as well spell it right.

2) I don't think the Robinson Crusoe theme works well at all. Seriously, don't expect adcomms to be convinced that reading that book is as difficult as law school.

Maybe you'd be better off writing about commune life or MLK drive? It sounds like these experiences could have more directly affected your decision to go to law school.


Thank you for your feedback.

Point 1 is very well taken. Although perhaps I should leave the misspelling to increase the authenticity of my admission that I read the book 16 years ago. Kidding of course.

Point 2, also well taken although your reasoning I have some trouble with. The comparison is that the challenge for a 6 year old reading the 300 page book Robinson CRUSOE is comparable to that same grown 22 year old with skills developed out of that experience being able to make it through law school. It is not a comparison between a 22 year old reading the book and a 22 year old going to law school. That would be a very bad comparison.

This is meant as a personal growth story that got me to this point, not as much a "why I want to go to law school" essay. But honestly thank you for the feedback.

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lastsamurai
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Re: First PS Try, I would love feedback

Postby lastsamurai » Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:09 am

First of all - your writing style (in my opinion) is excellent. I found it easy to read, and you kept my attention the whole way through the statement. I will say that it started off sounding a bit boastful about something that is very far removed from you today (who cares that you read a book when you were 6?). However, I got the point as I continued reading, and I was almost sold until I got to the last 2 paragraphs. I would suggest some editing for tone. For instance, I'm sure that you didn't mean for the last sentence to come across as arrogant, but that's how I read it. Tongue-in-cheek or cutesy language is very difficult to incorporate in this kind of essay.

Overall, you're a very strong writer, and tone is something that can be easily edited. Good luck!

Mr. Jones
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Re: First PS Try, I would love feedback

Postby Mr. Jones » Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:13 am

It would have been better if you were a six year old doing abstract algebra or a six year old who read all the volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica. It's a pretty cute story, but IMHO I think you should write more about some really awesome accomplishment, even if it has to be slightly embellished. Talk about choreographing the dance to do in front of 600 people, now that is cool (and very impressive), and as you say it combines introverted thinking with extroverted advocacy.


On another note I think the coolest admissions essay I have ever read was about this guy who claimed he was a pathological liar and would tell people of his adventures. Really cool adventures I must say, like riding bikes across the Karakorum highway and serving in a mercenary group in Northern India. Of course, it was all fiction and I don't know how things turned out for him.

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SonlenNightfall
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Re: First PS Try, I would love feedback

Postby SonlenNightfall » Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:14 am

lastsamurai wrote:First of all - your writing style (in my opinion) is excellent. I found it easy to read, and you kept my attention the whole way through the statement. I will say that it started off sounding a bit boastful about something that is very far removed from you today (who cares that you read a book when you were 6?). However, I got the point as I continued reading, and I was almost sold until I got to the last 2 paragraphs. I would suggest some editing for tone. For instance, I'm sure that you didn't mean for the last sentence to come across as arrogant, but that's how I read it. Tongue-in-cheek or cutesy language is very difficult to incorporate in this kind of essay.

Overall, you're a very strong writer, and tone is something that can be easily edited. Good luck!


Thanks for the input! Yes, I agree with you about the part where I start to talk about myself. I have not mastered the art of the humble-brag, but I keep reading that the personal statement is not a time to understate yourself... I guess that's a delicate balance that I haven't gotten yet. Definitely didn't mean for the last sentence to come across as arrogant. :(

Very insightful and helpful. Thank you.

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SonlenNightfall
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Re: First PS Try, I would love feedback

Postby SonlenNightfall » Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:21 am

Mr. Jones wrote:It would have been better if you were a six year old doing abstract algebra or a six year old who read all the volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica. It's a pretty cute story, but IMHO I think you should write more about some really awesome accomplishment, even if it has to be slightly embellished. Talk about choreographing the dance to do in front of 600 people, now that is cool (and very impressive), and as you say it combines introverted thinking with extroverted advocacy.


On another note I think the coolest admissions essay I have ever read was about this guy who claimed he was a pathological liar and would tell people of his adventures. Really cool adventures I must say, like riding bikes across the Karakorum highway and serving in a mercenary group in Northern India. Of course, it was all fiction and I don't know how things turned out for him.


Well, I'm actually trying to gloss over the 600 person dance because it was a drag show for charity and I was a contestant. Sure, we raised $50000 dollars for charity and I gained valuable insight into gender norms and such... but it definitely does not sound like something that would do well as a central theme to a law school application.

Also that is hilarious because I think I've read that exact admissions essay. It was truly wonderful, but I think I remember reading a comment about it that the guy had sick numbers and thus could afford the gamble of a unique essay. I'm a 3.5/173 splitter so for what I'm applying to I really need to wow some schools, but for most I just need to not do something stupid that makes them hate me.

Thank you so much for your feedback though. Maybe I'll invent time travel really quick and teach my 6 year old self something much cooler than just reading.

bms347
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Re: First PS Try, I would love feedback

Postby bms347 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:05 pm

I thought your intro was very well written and captures your attention. My only issue is that you name so many different hobbies/activities/challenges that is somewhat makes it seem like law school is another hobby on your list.

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Ramius
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Re: First PS Try, I would love feedback

Postby Ramius » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:35 am

This was well-done overall, and I have only one critique. THE LAST SENTENCE MUST GO. That didn't just have a whiff of arrogance, it completely perverted my entire critique of your statement. It was the most bitter taste left in my mouth when the rest of the statement flowed fairly well. Not exactly what you'd want your reader to walk away feeling.

I can't decide how you can better write the concluding paragraph, but it absolutely needs the rewrite. You don't want to undersell yourself, but you don't want to be confrontational either. You can show some humility mixed with confidence while still using the theme of the paragraph. Maybe, "At the age of six I made it past a shipwreck, an overgrown forest, cannibals, and 300 dusty pages. At the age of 22, I hope to be ready to tackle law school."

Just a thought and you don't have to use my suggestion at all, but you absolutely have to rewrite the last paragraph.




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