PS Advice - Any comments for improvement appreciated

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
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PS Advice - Any comments for improvement appreciated

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:32 pm

Over the last several years, I have grown to become a determined, young adult. Throughout the maturation process I have had many life experiences which have impacted my life profoundly. These events have molded me into the man I am today, but one exceptional hurdle stands alone. I am grateful that this particular tragedy has transformed me and assisted me in setting my sights on a meaningful legal career.
Just as I graduated from high school, my mother was fatefully diagnosed with terminal, metastic breast cancer. When my parents informed me of the situation, my heart plummeted as if someone were crushing it into the pit of my stomach. I felt incredibly alone, lost, and defeated. My parents went on to tell me that the oncologist informed my mother, that at best, she would live another six months. My heart dropped once again, only this time I was shocked into disbelief. The news my parents had just relayed to me seemed to stop time altogether, yet I knew I would have to leave her side in just a few weeks to start my college career.
Throughout the emotionally and mentally trying times that followed, my mother instilled in me the value of life. She helped me understand that our fleeting time in life is the most precious commodity available. Because of this experience, I now fully comprehend my capacity to utilize my complete potential to improve not only myself, but those around me each and every day.
Soon after, I begrudgingly left my devastated family to begin my college career, and ultimately, my future. It was an incredibly painful time in my life to return from school each weekend, only for it to be increasingly more difficult to recognize my mother. My mother eventually passed away after a grueling three-month battle with the deadly disease, leaving me to complete my college studies and continue my life. She left me with a valuable lesson: any obstacle can be overcome with steadfast character and resolve. I continually reach back to this life altering experience as a motivational platform from which I diligently work to seize the most out of every opportunity. Despite the doubts of others and the emotional turmoil, I chose to hit this major hurdle and keep running. I was not going to deny myself the opportunity to succeed.
I decided to turn a tragedy into an advantageous learning experience. Because my father is so supportive, he was able to give me the support and the security I needed in order to do so. As a result, I entered into a long period of introspection in which I thoroughly assessed my interests, skills, values, and goals. The result: invaluable self-knowledge and maturity. What I may lack in full-time, real world experience, I compensate for with a deep personal understanding of myself. As I emerged from this period of reorganization and focus, I found that those very interests, skills, values, and goals coalesced into a passion. This passion is more than just a will to succeed, but rather to pursue a challenging legal education in preparation for a meaningful career. I have been blessed with integrity as well as a strong work-ethic as demonstrated through my self-motivation and persevering nature. I continually employ these gifts to foster my academic ability, leadership characteristics, and the potential of others. My unwavering commitment to my goals fuels my self-derived hunger to be challenged, grow from overcoming such challenges, and learn as a result of these challenges. Furthermore, I firmly believe in immersing myself in environments in which I can push my peers to surpass their expectations as well as to be pushed back in return. These attributes complement my enthusiasm for solving complex problems, improving the plight of others, and engaging in stimulating work. Consequently, I have chosen to pursue a legal education in which I can exploit my positive attributes to achieve meaningful results and maximize my life opportunities.
Nonetheless, a legal education is a significant endeavor to undertake. It is both mentally demanding and a major financial investment that requires serious deliberation. I acknowledge the current state of the economy, and the legal field is no exception. In order to reaffirm my confidence to pursue law school, I have made a sincere effort to test this very confidence at every opportunity. The courses and material I have undertaken during my undergraduate career have served to challenge and develop my analytical ability, writing, and critical thinking. In addition, I secured an internship at a law office to further test this determination. I have found that I enjoy the various aspects of practicing law of which I was exposed. In addition, the relationships that are fostered along the way can be very rewarding. I have assessed the possible drawbacks of pursuing a legal education and have found that the potential benefits, along with my passion and stamina far outweigh these considerations. The choice to study law at (LAW SCHOOL NAME HERE) is consonant with my personal values and professional goals. This is not an endeavor I approach lightly, but rather a calculated and heartfelt undertaking.
As my final year of my undergraduate study begins, I work harder than ever to place myself in a position to live a meaningful life. That is, a life in which I can honestly say that I fully utilized the most of my talents and my time to improve society. For me, this process has already begun, but the next step is achieving a legal education. My talents and interests have created in me an affinity for the legal profession. I know that I have the potential and the unwavering determination to achieve this goal and exceed all expectations. In doing so, I will be able to live my life to the fullest and enable others to do the same. Given the opportunity, I hope to share my willingness to tackle hardships and simply keep on running.

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Ramius
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Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:39 am

Re: PS Advice - Any comments for improvement appreciated

Postby Ramius » Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:20 pm

This is an emotionally touchy subject, so please understand that my critique has nothing to do with your life story, but more in the way you told it. Basically, you just told me nothing of substance. You told, you told, and you told some more without ever SHOWING me anything. One of the bigger mistakes most people make when writing these things is to try and tell the admissions committee about qualities they think they possess and how they can apply them to be successful in their legal career. The problem with that is pretty obvious: I don't know you, so why on earth should I believe you? If you want me to see some positive quality in you as an applicant and you want me to see you in some particular light, you need to show me those qualities. That can be through an anecdote, a description of an activity you're actively involved in, a project you worked vigorously on, or pretty much any other vessel so long as it is centered on showing me something. Don't tell me you're smart; show me how you won a national competition of brainiacs. Don't tell me you're driven; show me how tirelessly you worked on something to see that it was done and done perfectly. Don't tell me you're a great leader; show me how you led a group of people through a difficult task or period of time. Get the idea?

I'm sorry to be this harsh, but you should probably scrap this entire draft and start from scratch. You can absolutely use the experience of losing your mother as a strong topic for your PS, but you have to tell a story that draws me in, makes me care and teaches me something important about you. Losing your mother to breast cancer is pretty awful and you don't need to tell me that. What you need to show me is how that experience informs me about who you are now and who you want to become.

GL revising and I hope you find the voice you really need!

Anonymous User
Posts: 273369
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: PS Advice - Any comments for improvement appreciated

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:12 pm

I understand the points you made and I appreciate your insight. I am having trouble seeing direction and bridging the gap between "telling" and "showing."

Can you articulate your critique in such a way that helps provide a concrete starting point rather than starting from scratch?

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

Re: PS Advice - Any comments for improvement appreciated

Postby Ramius » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:54 pm

It'd be extremely difficult to tell you where to start in telling your story, because I'm in no way a part of your story. I'll do my best to tell you where you should be starting when you think about what you should write, which I've told to countless people on this forum recently. With the PS, you're for sale. You're writing the text that shows up right underneath the sale price (LSAT and GPA) convincing me, the buyer, that you're totally worth the investment. What would you want those words to say about you? Why are you worth buying? What do you bring to the table that I most definitely want? Until you figure that point out, you will never have a clear message. Once you decide on the message you want to convey, figure out what story or anecdote involving you shows me that message clearly. See my earlier comment about how you go about doing that. Now that you've picked an anecdote you want to focus on, tell me that story in a succinct, insightful and interesting way. If you find yourself saying things about yourself instead of just letting the story say it about you, then you're heading down the same faulty road as this version. Try to write your statement without making a single claim about yourself.

If you want to use your mother's illness as the subject matter for your PS, you first need to get introspective and figure out how her disease changed you for the positive and how those qualities were actually manifested in real, tangible ways that you can show me in this statement. Forgive the slightly perverse analogy, but when you say "My mother getting sick made me determined, mature and goal-oriented (or any other positive attribute you want to show)" is equivalent to me saying "Getting stuck in traffic has made me patient, understanding and in-tune with the human condition." It could be true and it could be ludicrous, but until you find a constructive, tangible way to show me how the two are related, I just can't assume what you're saying is true, or even if I believe it to be true, I'm still left with this feeling that you're just trying to use an emotional topic to manipulate me and make me feel bad for you. You should never want the ADCOM to feel bad for you. You should want the ADCOM to be impressed by you and engaged by the story you bring to their classroom.

Look, I wish I could help you get this off the ground concretely, but I can't tell your story, so I can't really start telling it either. But trust me that you do need to scrap this as it is written if you want a strong PS. Again, GL!




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