1st Draft...Critiques Welcome.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:41 pm

1st Draft...Critiques Welcome.

Postby claimedat40 » Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:38 pm

Any advice would be appreciated. I did not know where to start so I just started and ran with it. Thanks in advance!!!

An Unlikely Story

This latest predicament, although bleak, was another opportunity to come out better than any outside observer would normally expect. It was similar to the period of my life before I left Key West to move to Georgia in 1990. I was 18 years old, missing as much school as I knew how to and classified in the 10th grade. The expectation and outlook wasn’t too good for me. At that time, my father, a twice convicted felon, was still incarcerated. My mother was raising me and my brother in her mother’s house. Along with a clinically diagnosed schizophrenic uncle, a verbally abusive alcoholic grandfather, my brother and I managed to keep our sanity as the six of us lived together in the 1200 square foot blue house on County Road on Stock Island. Life was not easy and by all accounts I was a statistic just waiting to be tallied. But when I arrived in Georgia I determined I wanted to learn a skill and graduate high school. I did both. I learned printing and at the age of 20 graduated from Evans High School in Columbia County, Georgia. My perception of life and opportunity was changed from accepting a set of conditions as definitive and final into creating the conditions that set the final definition. That simple high school education and vocational skill carried me for many years and into many careers. It also served as the basis for my thirst for learning to learn. A characteristic which I think will make me an excellent candidate for your law school.

Although I had vowed to live a life as opposite to my father as possible, there I was, a Police Officer in handcuffs, being read my Miranda rights shortly after being summoned back to headquarters from a routine service call for a stray dog in the mighty city of Palmetto Georgia on May 20, 2011. My mind raced to keep pace with the thoughts of what led up to this desperate predicament. When the charges were read, I prayed and asked God for guidance and protection. Not only was I innocent, but this made the third time I faced the same allegations. And while most would buckle and shudder at the thought of such a situation, in my heart I knew this was another instance of an opportunity for me to re-evaluate my life and my goals just like when I left Key West.

After being released on bond, I dove into every book I could find on criminal law and criminal procedure. One might think as a cop I would have already possessed a deep understanding of those topics. However, like most law enforcement officers, I knew just enough to start the processes of the legal system: i.e. make a legal arrest and to gather evidence. By December 2011, I learned that my legal situation was a common occurrence: black, arrested, indicted and not able to afford legal representation. After my first attorney quit for my failure to pay the remaining $6000 of a $10000 retainer in 3 months, I was in a quandary. I had no attorney. However, by February 2012, I had obtained new counsel and although he was 26 and fresh out of law school, he had a rare characteristic that I found to be admirable and not shown to me up until that time: He cared about me and spoke to me like a person.
One afternoon while visiting him, I showed him a law concerning my legal situation and he asked me how I found it. I told him I looked up similar cases to mine in Georgia and I found this statute. He looked up oddly and said if you really enjoy this stuff that much, and like to help other people and can do what I just did, I should to consider a career in the law. I sort of laughed because the legal situation I was in would not let my mind seriously consider such a notion at that moment. On top of that I did not have a college education and couldn't even afford to pay my new attorney any more than a few hundred dollars a month at the time for his services. But I went home and I thought about it. I really liked being able to help people. It’s why I became a police officer. I really like learning about the law and I started thinking, the profession of law provides all of the challenge and rewards I really desire.

Although the reality of my legal situation was immense, I eventually did what I always did when I really wanted to learn how to do something. I researched how to do it: How to become a lawyer. I applied the same procedure that I learned on the way to becoming an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. I simply learned the requirements and I started a checklist. By April of 2012, I was taking College Level Examination Program tests towards earning my college degree. 95% of my college education was self-directed learning through testing. What I loved about the self-directed path was that you set your own method of learning the material. I would grab a textbook at a thrift store, review the test overview and relentlessly study the subject matter. There was information everywhere on the topics and the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I used the Khan Academy, Sparknotes and any source I could find to gather information.

My legal case had not progressed at all from the initial stage where it begun in 2011, but I focused on my goals. I kept working my checklist and by May of 2013, I had completed 117 semester hours of college credit and the end of my Bachelors degree in Social Sciences was within striking distance. I finished every requirement for my undergraduate degree in July 2013 and the only thing left on my checklist was the biggest challenge of all: to wrap up my legal matter in Clayton County Georgia. On August 5 2013, I was the state’s key witness in the corruption trial involving the sitting county sheriff. The pressure was immense but I testified truthfully concerning everything I knew. On August 26, I was informed by my attorney the District Attorney had dropped all of my charges. This was a complete surprise because there was absolutely no agreement in place prior to my testimony. Two weeks later on September 13, my degree was conferred with honors and on September 28, 2013 when I stepped across that stage, I became the first person in my family to graduate college.

For the past year and a half, all I have thought about was learning about the law and becoming a lawyer. Not for the money, not for any fame, but to help other people who are in situations like I was. If you allow me the opportunity to attend your law school, I will bring a rare perspective and authentic experience to your school to share with other students. In addition, my experiences as a former police officer, high school teacher, community newspaper publisher, and a public information officer for one of Georgia’s largest Sheriff’s Office give me a unique breadth of practical life experience to add interesting real life context to any class. By allowing me admission to your school, you will be enabling me to continue a life of service towards others and completing the final chapter of one inspiring true life unlikely story.
Last edited by claimedat40 on Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:42 pm, edited 5 times in total.

A Parliment of Owls
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Re: 1st Draft...Critiques Welcome.

Postby A Parliment of Owls » Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:39 pm


I thought this was a very interesting and unique story. May I ask what your numbers are and what schools you are planning to apply to?

Also I would change:
I learned printing and I graduated at 20 years old in 1993 from Evans High School in Columbia County, Georgia.

I learned printing and at the age of 20 graduated from Evans High School in Columbia County, Georgia.

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Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:41 pm

Re: 1st Draft...Critiques Welcome.

Postby claimedat40 » Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:09 pm


Thanks for the correction and for reading my PS. I have not taken the LSAT. I have been preparing with BluePrint and Powerscore. I am scheduled for December. I originally planned to take the Oct but the highest I ever scored was 148 and I felt it was not my best. That score was attained in a timed condition and by only attempting one game in the LG section. So I've bought the Blueprint games book, and want to increase in that section. My goal was a 160. It seems I difficult to get past 14-15 correct in the LR sections. i have narrowed down what the types are I am missing, but the time is what kills me, lol.

My college transcript shows a 4.0 GPA with an honor. I took a capstone course with the college and the rest are transferred in combination of CLEP, DSST, and other test-based pass/fail scores. So I do not no if and what LSAC will show for my GPA.

I plan on applying to:

Georgia State University
Emory University
Florida International University
Seaton Hall
Howard University
John Marshall (Atlanta)

My big goal now is to get that LSAT score in the right range.

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Re: 1st Draft...Critiques Welcome.

Postby Ramius » Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:34 am

You sound like you have a pretty remarkable story and I think your background/story could really help you in admissions, but you will need to work pretty hard to clear up some glaring issues in this statement. First off, your grammar needs a lot of work. You use a lot of passive voice like "I had obtained" vice "I obtained" throughout, which should only be used in rare cases. My best recommendation to you would be to find someone really strong in English (not my particular strong suit either) to edit it for you and help you bring out a strong active voice and a clear, grammatically correct version.

Another thing you need to work on is the flow of the story, because you get somewhat jumbled by jumping back and forth between multiple stories. You start with an anecdote about who you were as a kid, then go into your legal troubles, then talk about your academic pursuits and then meander back to your legal troubles. It might not be incorrect and it may even be chronological, but I feel like a more straightforward approach to telling this story would clarify what you're trying to tell me.

You should also get rid of the title. No PS should ever have a title to my knowledge.

The biggest issue I have with this version is probably the vagueness you use in describing everything you experienced. For instance, you talk about your legal troubles at great length and yet you fail to ever mention what those legal troubles were. I sit here as the reader wondering what you could've done and casts a negative light on you because I'm left to assume the worst. You should come right out and tell people how you got there and then come back and share how the story resolved at the end with you being exonerated. Your discussion about how you vigorously attacked academics when you decided you wanted to pursue a degree, and yet I felt left in the dark about the specifics of how you vigorously attacked it. That doesn't mean you failed to discuss how you studied and took all those CLEP tests, but more how you were driven to do it. I want to see the fire that was lit in you, not just an off-hand discussion of literally how you did it.

Like I said, you have an awesome story and I really think it could help you, but you need to make the writing strong enough to back up the fact that it's such an interesting story.

One quick note about your admissions that I think you should know. From reading this, I gather that you're URM, correct? If you are, and you manage to hit a 160 on the LSAT with what sounds like will be a high GPA, you need to shoot much higher than the schools you're currently considering. With a 160/3.5+/URM, you should be applying across the T14 and should expect some very favorable outcomes. If you can find a way to hit 165+ on the LSAT, you could very possibly be looking at admission to places like Harvard. It will depend on your LSAT and GPA, but with this story written in a stronger, clearer voice, I would be willing to bet you'd be a completely intriguing candidate. Just something to think about.

Regardless, good luck with the revisions and the admissions cycle.

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Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:41 pm

Re: 1st Draft...Critiques Welcome.

Postby claimedat40 » Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:07 pm


Thanks for the pointers and advice. I will be revising it this evening. I wrestled with putting details of my case into the ps, but I see your point. I also worried about trying to fit it in without being too long. I will absolutely have an English teacher take a look at it before I send it out anywhere.

Yes I am a URM. African American male. 41 years old. I was rather intimidated by all of this and an attorney told me that I would have little chance of being accepted to any of the better schools because of my age. So, against my better judgement, I started looking at schools where I thought would accept me. According to your knowledge, how heavy does age play into their decisions and scholarship money? With what you said I will be adjusting where I am applying to some of the better schools.

The biggest hump now is to get that LSAT score up by December. I am focusing in the LR section but I seem to time out at around 18 questions and even then I am averaging between 13-15 correct with guessing from 20-25/26. A little frustrated because I thought I was smarter than what my score is telling me. My goal was to feel solid on 18-20 questions for each LR section, 20 in the RC, and 18 in the LG. That is my goal. I have PT 1-65 and all of the cambridgelsat LR and RC questions. I am using the Blueprint book for LG questions.

But again thanks for the advice. I will put it into action!!!!

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