1st Draft of PS- be brutal!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
pacman241
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:41 am

1st Draft of PS- be brutal!

Postby pacman241 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:02 am

Hey everyone, this is a first draft that I pounded out relatively quickly, so I wanted to get people's thoughts on whether this is on the right track or no. There are problems at a sentence level that pop up in a lot of places, but in a general sense, this is the direction I want to go in. Here it is:

At times, deciding whether to apply to law school has felt like a process for which there was one inexorable conclusion. After all, any reasonable person would jump at such an opportunity, whether to further his or her own interests or fulfill altruistic goals. The opportunity for personal reflection that this statement is meant to provide, though, led me to understand that such reasons ring hollow for myself. Instead, the appeal of law school lies in the sense of intellectual community to which I attribute the drastic change in my way of life.

To put it charitably, I was an unimpressive student in high school. I considered my studies as a means to an end, and thus took little interest in them. Unsurprisingly, my grades suffered, and my acceptance to the University of **** was due in large part to its generous admissions standards.

My transition to undergraduate studies was predictable: I floundered. In the midst of this, though, I began to understand that education offers much more than a skill set to be applied elsewhere. This notion was crystallized in my second-year poetry course: in tracing the poetic tradition and its various critical approaches, it became clear to me that what I learned introduced me not only to the technical aspects of literature (which is itself useful to the study of law), but more importantly to the idea that, as a student, I was a part of an evolving body of work in which I could be an active participant.

I came to appreciate that academia offers a sense of community that I had not previously encountered, as well as the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to others. Having made this realization, I dedicated myself to my studies, and a sharp improvement in my marks followed. Just as importantly, I began to contribute to the community of English students at the University of ****, engaging in my first non-athletic extra-curricular activities ever. In brief, my studies became fulfilling.

What has been evident to me in my academic and professional experience of the law is that a legal education will offer the same fulfillment. My academic exposure to law’s basic principles, albeit limited, convinced me that much as the study of English literature is an organism with which I could interact and ultimately contribute to, so to is the body of the law.

Similarly, my experience working at a law firm over the past three summers has convinced me that such contributions extend beyond the sphere of academia and affect an exponentially larger audience. In conducting research and helping to draft legal texts for publication, I have seen first hand how the theory of law raises the exciting possibility of intersections between the academic and public spheres, with the academic and private domains each helping to shape the other.

With that in mind, I believe that I am best suited to pursue a legal education at the University of ****. Its academic output and rigour are rivaled by few other schools in the world, which makes it the best fit for my interest in pursuing advanced academia, and its relationship to the legal nexus of the country provides me with the best opportunity to make a meaningful academic contribution in conversation with the broader legal community. Further, the interdisciplinary programs that the faculty offers are of particular interest; given the opportunity, I would like to enroll in the JD/MA in English in order to combine the two fields of academia about which I am passionate.

Looking back on the choices I made, it’s clear that the time I spent ignoring the intellectual opportunities of education was time squandered. The University of **** provided me the opportunity to fix these mistakes and, perhaps more importantly, develop a coherent sense of self. Despite this, I believe I’m yet to be entirely fulfilled; it is only fitting, then, that I continue my studies here at the University to fulfill my potential.

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rinkrat19
Posts: 13916
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: 1st Draft of PS- be brutal!

Postby rinkrat19 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:48 am

This contains three of my big no-nos:

1. It dwells too much on the negative. If you're going to really lay it out there that you were a crappy student, you'd better come back with super compelling evidence that you aren't any more, and leave the reader with a positive overall impression. This is...meh.

2. It tells instead of showing.
...I was a part of an evolving body of work in which I could be an active participant. How?
...academia offers a sense of community that I had not previously encountered... How? (Also, why did this discovery prompt you to fix your grades? The one does not necessarily follow from the other.)
In conducting research and helping to draft legal texts for publication, I have seen first hand how the theory of law... That's nice, but you need more specifics. A story about one particular project would be more compelling than this vague statement.

3. It's largely a resume dump. So you got bad grades for a while, then got good grades, then did some extracurriculars and worked at a firm. These things are all discoverable elsewhere in your application. Give me more detail.

Besides that big three:
The intro paragraph says nothing. Literally, I've read it three times and don't know what you're trying to tell me. The intro paragraph should do a couple of things: draw the reader in and and give the reader some idea of what your theme is going to be.

Also not a big fan of the paragraph about the specific law school. It is the longest paragraph of your entire PS and you're just regurgitating stuff from the school's website. That's a waste of space that could be used to tell the adcomms something they DON'T already know.

Overall, I don't learn anything about you as a person.

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

Re: 1st Draft of PS- be brutal!

Postby Ramius » Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:53 am

Rinkrat is spot on with this critique. You need to spend more time in the planning phase of this statement before you put words on the page again. This means you need to think much more in-depth about the message you're trying to send and finding a tangible way to show me that message.

Additionally, this shows you're an English major in a very negative way. You are way too overly verbose. Cut down the language, make it simpler to read and make it flow naturally like you're simply telling me a story. Would you talk like this if you were giving this statement as a speech? I sure hope not. The point of the statement is not so you can impress the ADCOM with your vocabulary or ability to use complicated sentence and paragraph structure. The point is to convey a clear, simple and positive message about you as an applicant that will make you an attractive law school candidate. If I'm not walking away from this statement with a concise image of who you are beyond the numbers, you've let me down. In the case of this statement, I'm doing just that.

Good luck revising and I hope you find the voice you're looking for!

Rollontheground
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Jun 25, 2013 2:20 am

Re: 1st Draft of PS- be brutal!

Postby Rollontheground » Thu Oct 03, 2013 5:19 pm

^^^ Is that so? I love the form of this, but not necessarily the content. I can't imagine the writing style being detrimental to his admission prospects provided the content was different.

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rinkrat19
Posts: 13916
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: 1st Draft of PS- be brutal!

Postby rinkrat19 » Fri Oct 04, 2013 3:05 pm

I didn't think the writing style was bad. It could be better and was maybe a tad stiff, but it wasn't nearly as pretentious as some I've read. Changing up the topic is more important.

pacman241
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:41 am

Re: 1st Draft of PS- be brutal!

Postby pacman241 » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:01 pm

Hi everyone. I'd like to thank you for all your help. In writing my new draft, I've tried to be mindful of all the advice you've given me. Here it is below. If posting a second draft in the original thread is against forum etiquette, please let me know.

My interest in the law began in the dusty basement of an office building, performing the enviable task of preparing 30 years of old files for shredding. By the following summer, having completed this along with photocopying, collating, binding and deliveries, I graduated to legal research and memo writing in support of a legal text on the collaborative dispute resolution. I’d made it from the basement to ******'s Great Library. Through this process, I became acutely aware of the evolving nature of the legal field, in both academia and in business.

The world is in a period of radical change, and the legal field is no different. As outlined in The Lawyer Bubble, by S. Harper, the community is now faced at both the academic and professional level with the reality that its actions are shortsighted and unsustainable. In short, it must adapt or die. It may seem strange that I am eager to join the field in a time of such upheaval, but crisis offers opportunity. The opportunity is to join a new wave of lawyers and academics remaking the study and practice of law, the effects of which will reach far beyond the legal profession.

Having said all this, my interest in making any contribution beyond my own interests only began to develop during my undergraduate studies. I was an unimpressive student in high school, and my transition to university was predictable: I struggled. In the midst of my own personal crisis, though, I began to understand that education too offers opportunity. In my second-year poetry course, it became clear to me in tracing the poetic tradition and its various critical approaches that I was being introduced not only to the technical aspects of literature (which is itself useful to the study of law), but more importantly to the idea that, as a student, I was a part of an evolving body of work. In the various journals and conferences to which I have access, I could be one of those who help shape these critical approaches and maybe even the pedagogy of English literature.

Admittedly, having that kind of impact as an undergraduate is close to impossible, but I’ve made progress towards fulfilling these goals: I am article currently writing an article for publication; and I was selected as one of nine students to participate in ******** college's first undergraduate colloquium, led by Principal ******** (NOTE: My university has a college system like Oxford), the object of which is to produce a major research project for an interdisciplinary audience of my peers.

***

Just as importantly, my professional experience with the law has convinced me that this paradigm shift is already underway. In conducting research and helping to draft legal texts for publication over the past two summers, I’ve seen first hand how there is a desire across the entire legal field to move away from traditional methods of dispute resolution. Recourse to adversarial methods is widely viewed as cost- and time-ineffective, meaning that new methods must be developed to fix the problem. I have therefore developed a keen interest in alternative forms of dispute resolution and the possibilities for widespread change that it promises. This, in particular, is part of the *******'s appeal to me; the faculty’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Society can provide me with a more intimate understanding of this area and its nuances. If the process of dispute resolution is made more effective, then access to justice will become available to many of those who are currently priced out.

With that in mind, I believe that I am best suited to pursue a legal education at the *****. Its relationship to the country’s legal nexus provides me with the best opportunity to make a meaningful professional and academic contribution to the law’s changing landscape, and its scholarly ethos matches my desire to examine the broader questions of the study of the law. Further, the evolving interdisciplinary work that the faculty offers provide me with the opportunity to affect academia and pedagogy as I outlined above. Given the opportunity, I would like to enroll in the JD/MA in English in order to combine the two fields about which I am passionate. It is my understanding that the program is still in its (relatively) early stages, so as one of its students, I would like to help improve it and shape its direction if possible.

Looking back on my personal growth, it’s clear that the time I spent ignoring the opportunities of education was time wasted. My time at the ***** has helped me fix these mistakes and, perhaps more importantly, realize that I exist as part of a community that can have a profound impact on the lives of others. Despite this, I believe I’m yet to be entirely fulfilled; a legal education at the ***** would help to bridge the divide between academia and the professional world, whether I stay within the academy or not. The University contributed to my growth, so it is only fitting that I continue my studies here to give back to the institution and the community at large.




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