Advice, please? First Draft.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
Posts: 273091
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Advice, please? First Draft.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 01, 2013 4:51 pm

I've been putting off my PS for a while and finally completed a very rough first draft. I was hoping for some constructive criticism. Also, is 1.5 pages too short?


On paper, I am the epitome of average. I spent my formative years in the small, southeastern town of REMOVED, Kansas. Like most residents of my hometown I am white, heterosexual, and strictly middle class; the daughter of full-time teachers, part-time farmers. Like many of your average eighteen year olds, I was never quite certain what my future would hold. While I had always been motivated, it wasn’t until I graduated from high school and left the only home I’d ever known that I began to develop my goals and break the mold.

While studying at Kansas State University, I took a breadth of courses to hone my interests. Chemistry, Economics, and Philosophy—even Harry Potter’s Library—all piqued my interest and were intellectually challenging but I could never picture them as anything more than a hobby. It wasn’t until I took a Trial Advocacy course that I realized my true passion.

It was as an assignment for the aforementioned course that I participated in a mock trial. When I first learned of the assignment I was a bundle of nerves, but when the time came and my opposing counsel began to deliver his opening statement, I had an epiphany. I had been working for months. I was prepared for all the questions or objections that my opposition might use against me. I had spent the past few months learning the exceptions to the hearsay rule and knew my case like the back of my hand. There was nothing left to do except to let the trial run its course.

Over the course of the next few hours, I played my part. As I spouted off questions and objections, I realized that not only could I thoroughly enjoy being a lawyer, I also had the potential to excel at it. I loved being presented with an obstacle and using not only my knowledge, but also language to overcome it. While my team didn’t end up winning the trial, I ended up gaining a wealth of knowledge, confidence, and a dream. In my eyes, this was just as—if not more—valuable than a victory.

Introduction to Trial Advocacy is, without a doubt, the most influential class I have ever taken. While the law had always intrigued me, up until this point, the only thing I knew about the law as a profession came from legal dramas like Matlock and Law and Order. Through Trial Advocacy, as well as my other Communication Studies courses, I was able to gain practical insight into what being a lawyer really entailed and decide that any other career path would leave me unsatisfied. Attending law school is the next step on the path to my future and I believe that my time spent obtaining a degree from [INSERT SCHOOL HERE] will be just as transformative.

Stella77
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: Advice, please? First Draft.

Postby Stella77 » Sun Dec 01, 2013 5:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I've been putting off my PS for a while and finally completed a very rough first draft. I was hoping for some constructive criticism. Also, is 1.5 pages too short?


On paper, I am the epitome of average. I spent my formative years in the small, southeastern town of REMOVED, Kansas. Like most residents of my hometown I am white, heterosexual, and strictly middle class; the daughter of full-time teachers, part-time farmers. Like many of your average eighteen year olds, I was never quite certain what my future would hold. While I had always been motivated, it wasn’t until I graduated from high school and left the only home I’d ever known that I began to develop my goals and break the mold.

While studying at Kansas State University, I took a breadth of courses to hone my interests. Chemistry, Economics, and Philosophy—even Harry Potter’s Library—all piqued my interest and were intellectually challenging but I could never picture them as anything more than a hobby. It wasn’t until I took a Trial Advocacy course that I realized my true passion.

It was as an assignment for the aforementioned course that I participated in a mock trial. When I first learned of the assignment I was a bundle of nerves, but when the time came and my opposing counsel began to deliver his opening statement, I had an epiphany. I had been working for months. I was prepared for all the questions or objections that my opposition might use against me. I had spent the past few months learning the exceptions to the hearsay rule and knew my case like the back of my hand. There was nothing left to do except to let the trial run its course.

Over the course of the next few hours, I played my part. As I spouted off questions and objections, I realized that not only could I thoroughly enjoy being a lawyer, I also had the potential to excel at it. I loved being presented with an obstacle and using not only my knowledge, but also language to overcome it. While my team didn’t end up winning the trial, I ended up gaining a wealth of knowledge, confidence, and a dream. In my eyes, this was just as—if not more—valuable than a victory.

Introduction to Trial Advocacy is, without a doubt, the most influential class I have ever taken. While the law had always intrigued me, up until this point, the only thing I knew about the law as a profession came from legal dramas like Matlock and Law and Order. Through Trial Advocacy, as well as my other Communication Studies courses, I was able to gain practical insight into what being a lawyer really entailed and decide that any other career path would leave me unsatisfied. Attending law school is the next step on the path to my future and I believe that my time spent obtaining a degree from [INSERT SCHOOL HERE] will be just as transformative.


OK, I do not do this for a living or anything but I did receive help on my own personal statement through a really well known admissions consulting firm. The person I worked with told me that I didn't need to do really anything with my personal statement and that it was really good. So from that I will give you my advice on what I would do to your essay if it were my own. Rule #1 is to not write anything that may put someone off...imagine you are at a dinner table, what would you say or not say to an admissions officer?

With that being said, I would not put that you were the epitome of average per se or express how ordinary you THOUGHT you were by using traits like white or heterosexual. Try for something unique to your home town but ordinary for those living there. I think your story about the mock trial is great, but you really need to be a bit more specific about the experience. For example it's great that you learned a lot but you could say the same for a lot of other situations. You need more detail that will create a picture for whoever is readying your essay and they will not forget you.

Like everything it just needs a little bit more love, but great topic! Don't stress! Good luck!

Anonymous User
Posts: 273091
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice, please? First Draft.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 01, 2013 5:31 pm

This is great advice. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it!!!

User avatar
patfeeney
Posts: 437
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:47 pm

Re: Advice, please? First Draft.

Postby patfeeney » Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I've been putting off my PS for a while and finally completed a very rough first draft. I was hoping for some constructive criticism. Also, is 1.5 pages too short?


On paper, I am the epitome of average. I spent my formative years in the small, southeastern town of REMOVED, Kansas. Like most residents of my hometown I am white, heterosexual, and strictly middle class; the daughter of full-time teachers, part-time farmers. Like many of your average eighteen year olds, I was never quite certain what my future would hold. While I had always been motivated, it wasn’t until I graduated from high school and left the only home I’d ever known that I began to develop my goals and break the mold.

While studying at Kansas State University, I took a breadth of courses to hone my interests. Chemistry, Economics, and Philosophy—even Harry Potter’s Library—all piqued my interest and were intellectually challenging but I could never picture them as anything more than a hobby. It wasn’t until I took a Trial Advocacy course that I realized my true passion.

It was as an assignment for the aforementioned course that I participated in a mock trial. When I first learned of the assignment I was a bundle of nerves, but when the time came and my opposing counsel began to deliver his opening statement, I had an epiphany. I had been working for months. I was prepared for all the questions or objections that my opposition might use against me. I had spent the past few months learning the exceptions to the hearsay rule and knew my case like the back of my hand. There was nothing left to do except to let the trial run its course.

Over the course of the next few hours, I played my part. As I spouted off questions and objections, I realized that not only could I thoroughly enjoy being a lawyer, I also had the potential to excel at it. I loved being presented with an obstacle and using not only my knowledge, but also language to overcome it. While my team didn’t end up winning the trial, I ended up gaining a wealth of knowledge, confidence, and a dream. In my eyes, this was just as—if not more—valuable than a victory.

Introduction to Trial Advocacy is, without a doubt, the most influential class I have ever taken. While the law had always intrigued me, up until this point, the only thing I knew about the law as a profession came from legal dramas like Matlock and Law and Order. Through Trial Advocacy, as well as my other Communication Studies courses, I was able to gain practical insight into what being a lawyer really entailed and decide that any other career path would leave me unsatisfied. Attending law school is the next step on the path to my future and I believe that my time spent obtaining a degree from [INSERT SCHOOL HERE] will be just as transformative.


Here are some comments I can come up with. Take them with a grain of salt; I'm far from an expert.

1) Don't talk about how you're not unique. Rather, talk about how you're unique. You come from Kansas. What makes Kansas special? You say most people in your town are white, heterosexual, middle class individuals. How far does this extend? Is the town peculiarly heterogeneous? You need to reach into how you are unique, or how your background is unique.

2) You mention learning things in Trial Advocacy... what did you learn, and how did you learn it? If you're going to focus on this one class, you need to show how it uniquely affected you. It's problematic because it sounds very typical. You talk about how your image of legal dramas came from Matlock and how it changed, how you got "practical insight" about what being a lawyer really entails. Unfortunately, nearly every candidate has some variation of this narrative. Another problem is that you try to sound like this undergraduate class taught you how being a lawyer is really like. Even if you do, this risks sounding pretentious to the admissions committee. You need to focus, specifically, on how this class uniquely affected you, what specifically you learned, and how you learned it.

3) You mention this class created a dream to attend law school. Don't focus on this. The fact that you're applying to law school will tell the admissions committee that you're interested in attending law school, so focusing your essay on why you want to attend is redundant. Focus on why you would be a good candidate. Again, show what you've learned, show how it has affected you.

Your writing style is nice, and I think it fits this style of essay particularly. However, you should really brainstorm on what makes you unique. Honestly, it may even be something that you wouldn't think twice about. Sometimes the most interesting parts of are lives become so commonplace to us that we forget they're even there.

rad21
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:26 am

Re: Advice, please? First Draft.

Postby rad21 » Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:This is great advice. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it!!!


FWIW, I liked how you started your PS. It's one of the few I've read that didn't start off overly flowery or dramatic.

arklaw13
Posts: 1703
Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:36 pm

Re: Advice, please? First Draft.

Postby arklaw13 » Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:46 pm

Most of this is good, although I would remove the first part. You're not trying to convince them that you're an average person. They can read your resume and tell that. You're trying to convince them that you're more than what's on your resume.




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