Noobie--Help with statement

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arexniba
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:35 pm

Noobie--Help with statement

Postby arexniba » Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:51 pm

Hello everyone. I am new to this site. I have been searching for someone to "clean up" my personal statement and came upon this website. After reading a few of the personal statement tips, I realized this is one of the many websites I used in the past to help guide me with my statement.
I graduated from college back in 2008, and have been working on this damm thing ever since. It wasn't until a year ago that I was able to focus on it more because I wasn't working. Now, I feel that it's time for me to put on my big boy pants and make my dream a reality.

This statement has gone through the hands of professors, family members, lawyers, and even 2 ivy league graduates (one who served on Harvard's board). All the different opinions have placed doubt in submitting a great statement.

Hopefully, you will be able to offer me some guidance. Thanks for looking. :)


I remember waking up terrified to the screams outside our small Brooklyn apartment, “Help, Help!” It was a hot summer night in 1991 and I walked towards the open window in our living room. As I stuck my head outside to see what was going on, a woman was held at gun point by a man yelling at her, “Give me your purse!” I was immediately pulled away by my parents imploring me to stay away from the window. I was only seven years old, and to my astonishment, I did not recall hearing any police sirens for the rest of the night. The apartment we lived in was owned by my great grandfather, and most of the tenants were family. Not too long after, my parents left me in the care of one of my older cousins, Mario, as they both worked full-time jobs in Manhattan. I remember walking with him and my other cousin, Edward, to the park. As we approached our destination I saw a crowd of people yelling. Mario told me, “Wait here by this store with Edward.” He let go of my hand and I began to cry as he ran towards the crowd. Moments later he came back with his clothes torn and his face bloody.
Motivated by their loving support, my parents had enough and moved our family out of Brooklyn in response to the worsening crime rate. Their objective was to seek a better life for me and they saw the beautiful schools and neighborhoods in California (where my other family lived). There was space for me to play, not fences that students were confined in. The neighborhoods were safe and not as dangerous as my hometown. Moreover, most of my cousins (in New York) were not good role models as they began to have children at a very young and live off welfare. Nevertheless, the transition from leaving New York to California was, to say the least, challenging.
We moved to a dramatically different environment—Millbrae, CA. As a young Hispanic male, the Latino population is approximately 11%, whereas, the majority is predominantly White and Asian that makes approximately 89% of the total. Additionally, Millbrae has a reputation for having some of the best schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was afraid and felt ostracized because my peers drove in fancy cars such as BMW’s and Mercedes. Their parents had the money to send them to private tutors and extracurricular programs to excel in school. However, my parents taught me accept the challenge by working and studying harder. With hard work and dedication I made the honor roll several times and was accepted to the Junior Statesman of America (JSA) program to study at Stanford University for the summer.
I cried with emotions when I read my acceptance letter from Stanford to study in their advanced placement program. I realized that I could reach my dreams with hard work and dedication. I was surrounded with peers from around the world, and for the first time in my life, I knew I wanted to continue my higher learning. After high school, I was the first in my family to attend college. My college education began at the Community College of San Mateo. I had no real direction as to how to transfer to a four-year university. Instead my counselor would inform me to take fewer classes every semester and get an Associate of Arts degree to have a better opportunity to land a job. I wanted more than just a job, so I began to research on my own and asked my professors and peers on how to transfer to a university. I managed to attain all the necessary credits and transferred to the only school I applied to, San Francisco State University.
I did not know what degree I wanted to pursue, however, I knew that I wanted a career in law. In high school I was one of the lead defense lawyers in the Mock Trial’s club. I enjoyed learning so much by working with real lawyers and studying real cases. Therefore, my counselor advised me to take courses in Political Science as it is the “stepping stone” to law school. Of all my academic extracurricular activities which included becoming the Vice President of the Pre-Law Society and a member of the Political Science Student Association, the most valuable experience was my yearlong judicial externship at the San Francisco Superior Court.
As an extern, I was assigned to shadow Judge Charles F. Haines in the “Settlements Court.” Hollywood consistently portrays public defenders as skilled practitioners who address a single criminal case and who invariably vindicate their clients by way of extraordinary opening and closing arguments. However, the “real life” public defenders that I encountered worked exceedingly long hours while managing dozens of cases and, more often than not, addressed their clients’ needs outside of the courtroom. I was inspired by the public defenders’ persistent dedication to reduce their client’s charges and sentences. They did not live glamorously nor have lucrative salaries, but they truly cared about defending their clients. Furthermore, Judge Haines informed me that he was the first openly gay judge in San Francisco to be appointed and faced countless acts of discrimination within the politics of the judicial system. I was fortunate to experience the trials and tribulations my judge and lawyers faced and it further motivated me to pursue law as a career.
Between juggling work part-time and going to school full-time, I acquired my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Nonetheless, finding a career within my degree was not simple. I worked countless temporary jobs and was given the opportunity to work at Genentech, Inc. as a full-time contractor. I worked diligently for two years; however, my time away from pursing law school only confirmed my interest in a law degree. My desire to attend law school has also been fueled by my share of misfortunes. For one, I have been pulled over by the police dozens of times as a direct result of racial profiling. In the beginning of 2004 I had been pulled over seventeen times. I remember asking an officer once why I was being pulled over so many times and he stated, “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it must be one.” His reasoning made me livid; I hired an attorney to help defend me. She was highly recommended by another attorney. She was a young, Latin woman that practiced criminal law and discovered on my DMV records that a police officer had reported my car as “stolen” in order to have probable cause to arbitrarily pull me over.
Furthermore, I recently sued the city of San Francisco successfully. On January 2011 I was the victim of a crime—I was ambushed by five intoxicated individuals in a public parking garage. The parking garage was poorly staffed with security guards and had one surveillance camera in all the parking levels. I endured a fractured nose, lacerations to my face, and the possibility of losing vision in my left eye. Although the cause of the incident was provoked by the individuals, I also felt it was the responsibility of the garage to have better security for their patrons. My objective was not only to seek monetary remedy, but hopes that my case would serve as a precedent in an unfortunate event that it could happen to someone else in the future. My attorney allowed me to be involved by researching relevant cases and come up with conclusive evidence to help my case. Fortunately, after two years, the city decided to offer me a settlement and increased their security by hiring more guards and installing more surveillance cameras.
Aldous Huxley once said, “Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” Through many of the misfortunate obstacles in my life I have found ways to turn them into challenges. I have worked hard and diligently to fuel my desire to become a better person and learn from my past events. I will bring to your law school my experiences, and with a law degree, the passion and motivation to help my community face social injustices when they see no other solution.

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oshberg28
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Re: Noobie--Help with statement

Postby oshberg28 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:46 pm

This statement appears way too long for the message you are trying to convey. You seem to randomly jump from one story to the next, much of it being a re-statement of your resume. I think you should refocus this PS on one or two of the many items that you mentioned to form a more coherent story. You definitely have some interesting anecdotes, which I think would be more powerful if you devoted more time to them in this PS. You also need to be careful with your accusation that you were pulled over "dozens of times" due to racial profiling; it causes the reader to doubt, whether rightly or wrongly.

arexniba
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Noobie--Help with statement

Postby arexniba » Thu Dec 26, 2013 4:31 pm

oshberg28 wrote:This statement appears way too long for the message you are trying to convey. You seem to randomly jump from one story to the next, much of it being a re-statement of your resume. I think you should refocus this PS on one or two of the many items that you mentioned to form a more coherent story. You definitely have some interesting anecdotes, which I think would be more powerful if you devoted more time to them in this PS. You also need to be careful with your accusation that you were pulled over "dozens of times" due to racial profiling; it causes the reader to doubt, whether rightly or wrongly.


Thank you for your insight. This has been one of the top issues I've had with this ps. Some of my professors say to give a positive link of how I was involved with the law. Then, halfway, to show the negative journey as well.
And like you, some have also said I have too many stories. Believe it or not, but my prior statements have become shorter and shorter. The last one I was most fulfilled with was the anectode of my cousin's death. Yet, most of my advisors told me it was best to significantly shorten it or best to take it out completely. Friends (also applying to law school) have said to put that story into a diversity statement.

This is definitely something I am considering.

Thank you again, and hope I can get some more opinions & advices. :)

arexniba
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Noobie--Help with statement

Postby arexniba » Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:51 pm

103 views so far and only 1 response :cry:

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MT Cicero
Posts: 574
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Re: Noobie--Help with statement

Postby MT Cicero » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:11 pm

I value thrift, and this is too long. Two pages (~900 words) is where I wanted mine to be, so I cut fluff continually to achieve that.

There are a few grammatical issues, passive sentences, etc. Also, the substance has plenty of "ado about nothing," for lack of a better term. Ask yourself "so what?" after statements to see if they warrant inclusion. Your peers drove fancy cars? So what? You had no real direction and had to find out all by yourself how to transfer to a University? So what? Random resume fodder littered throughout won't help either. I (and others) savaged my PS until it was lean and consisted only of things that were impactful. You certainly need to do the same.

You have enough meat to make a solid PS, so that's good! Time to thin it out.

I will give you a more thorough review when I have a bit more time. I'm about to go to a meeting.

arexniba
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Noobie--Help with statement

Postby arexniba » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:42 pm

craigsan18 wrote:I value thrift, and this is too long. Two pages (~900 words) is where I wanted mine to be, so I cut fluff continually to achieve that.

There are a few grammatical issues, passive sentences, etc. Also, the substance has plenty of "ado about nothing," for lack of a better term. Ask yourself "so what?" after statements to see if they warrant inclusion. Your peers drove fancy cars? So what? You had no real direction and had to find out all by yourself how to transfer to a University? So what? Random resume fodder littered throughout won't help either. I (and others) savaged my PS until it was lean and consisted only of things that were impactful. You certainly need to do the same.

You have enough meat to make a solid PS, so that's good! Time to thin it out.

I will give you a more thorough review when I have a bit more time. I'm about to go to a meeting.


Thank you! These are the type of critiques I am looking for. My goal was to make a PS that would be universally accepted. And it hasn't been.
Now, I have 2 consistent criqtiques--length.

Thanks Craig, I hope to hear from you soon.

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lastsamurai
Posts: 978
Joined: Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:17 am

Re: Noobie--Help with statement

Postby lastsamurai » Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:12 pm

It depends where you are applying, but right now, this statement needs a lot of work before sending it to any school. You started around half of your sentences with "I" and have way too many fluffy details that won't matter.

Focus on catching my attention not on just spitting out every story you can think of. For instance, your first paragraph has something about a woman with a gun held to her head and your cousin's involvement in a fight. I get that you're trying to show that you grew up in a rough neighborhood, but there are shorter and more effective ways to say that. "I began to develop a numbness to violence by the time I was a teenager." Starting with something like that will draw the reader in and get your point across.

My biggest piece of advice is to show rather than tell. I used one story for my PS that encompassed almost everything I wanted to get across to the adcomms, and I think that it was very effective.

Good luck to you!

arexniba
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Noobie--Help with statement

Postby arexniba » Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:34 pm

lastsamurai wrote:It depends where you are applying, but right now, this statement needs a lot of work before sending it to any school. You started around half of your sentences with "I" and have way too many fluffy details that won't matter.

Focus on catching my attention not on just spitting out every story you can think of. For instance, your first paragraph has something about a woman with a gun held to her head and your cousin's involvement in a fight. I get that you're trying to show that you grew up in a rough neighborhood, but there are shorter and more effective ways to say that. "I began to develop a numbness to violence by the time I was a teenager." Starting with something like that will draw the reader in and get your point across.

My biggest piece of advice is to show rather than tell. I used one story for my PS that encompassed almost everything I wanted to get across to the adcomms, and I think that it was very effective.

Good luck to you!


Thank you. I really appreciate your points. I am definitely going to cut out a few things I don't need or may be unecessary for those that will read my ps.

The new aim is to make my ps 2 pages long, double-spaced.

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MT Cicero
Posts: 574
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Re: Noobie--Help with statement

Postby MT Cicero » Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:35 pm

First of all, lastsamurai is spot on. I was going to say combine the first two paragraphs and then cut 80% of it. The succinct sentence he provided you can almost replace those two paragraphs completely.

It's hard to critique this PS without first telling you that the story needs to be much more focused. There are at least a half-dozen sentences that shouldn't exist. I don't want to point out mistakes in areas that shouldn't exist at all. I'm no PS superstar, but I'll jump right in anyway:

-The organization: as samurai pointed out, you're all over the place. You need to narrow it down. Here's an example: Brooklyn was tough. Family wanted more opportunity for you. You parlayed that opportunity into being the first in your family to attend college (doesn't matter which one). Work as extern for judge made it crystal clear that your calling was in public interest. Toss out the Stanford SJA reference, getting pulled over a lot, white/asian kids had nice cars and money, the entire last three paragraphs (starting with "Between juggling..."). This is one possibility, but maybe the best one for a PS. You have 2 pages, and it's just not enough for every anecdote you have that might've fueled your drive to attend law school.

-Grammar/syntax: Plenty to work on here! "I cried with emotions", "I worked countless temporary jobs". The words you use need to be better chosen. Don't just throw them around. Also, there are extra commas are here and there while others are missing. Again, I really don't want to go down this rabbit hole since I still think a re-write (or two) is warranted long before folks tear apart your writing style and grammar miscues.

I really think you need to re-write this with a narrower focus. Shoot for 900 words give or take. Then, come back for more feedback.

arexniba
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Noobie--Help with statement

Postby arexniba » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:00 pm

I've been working on a new statement. It's shorter and more concise. I decided to write/elaborate on my judicial externship while in college. And little hints of being the 1st in family to go to college. But more importantly, tying this to my interest in pursuing a law degree.

What do you guys think of choosing that subject as my new approach?

I will be typing this up soon. It's been edited on paper, but not transferred to Word yet. Nonetheless, the new version will be up soon!

MARO75943
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:30 pm

Re: Noobie--Help with statement

Postby MARO75943 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:06 pm

Great PS keep it up




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