Help Needed - PERSONAL STATEMENT - Any Advice???

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Help Needed - PERSONAL STATEMENT - Any Advice???

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:46 am

“Clunk, Clunk, Clunk”, I still hear the sound of my pink cowgirl boots as I galloped down the sidewalk to fetch the mail for my mother. I remember finding a blank envelope with a wad of cash along with a “Jesus loves you” card inside and seeing my motherʼs eyes swell with tears as she tried to answer her little girlʼs question as to why “Jesus” would leave money in the mailbox at our Harvey, Louisiana home. Looking for stability after divorce, my mother and I moved to Seminary, Mississippi, a place with a population smaller than many high schools. Sure, a mobile home in a cow pasture still shakes with the wind, but there she was less buffeted than she had been while with my father.

My Nana used to say that my mother and father’s relationship was like a bridge with too much water under it. The slightest wave would wash over it and storms would use the accumulation to threaten to wash it away. Again and again this drama played out throughout my childhood – gambits with child support checks, feints with visitation weekends. My mother was an English teacher, not an expert in trench warfare.

Too young to understand the anonymous donations in the mailbox or the court filings that came later, I was unable to help. In my grandmother’s kitchen and in her roles within the church, my mother eventually found stability she sought. My interest in law comes from these experiences and my personal knowledge that there are women who do not know the available legal avenues and daughters who do not understand how to cope.

Going into college, I knew two things: I enjoyed the passion of political debate and hated the thought of student loan debt limiting my options upon graduation. I had literally found my voice in high school shuttling in a hand me down Hyundai to wait tables and clean pools to save money for travel to national singing competitions in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. A professional singing career was never a seriously considered option, but I will admit it does not take much for me or my mother to share the time I placed third in a national competition performing center-stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

The closest I came to singing professionally were through the choir scholarships that covered my first two years at community college and part of my tuition at the University of Mississippi. As living expenses piled on top of tuition, I found another rhythm – the idle chatter of bar patrons and the hollow ring of the register –proved to be more profitable. Tending bar at the local blues club, I transitioned from days in the classroom discussing the role of women in genocides to nights practicing my Spanish with patrons. The tempo quickened the closer I came to graduating with my double major. Cover your shift? Yes, please. Homework or stay later? Tuesdays are slow, so why not both?

Upon graduation I moved to Illinois to assist on a successful Congressional campaign. In my free time I used my language skills to help Hispanic female parolees integrate back into society. The area was plagued by high recidivism rates for women, many of whom had no place to go except back to the destructive environments they knew before incarceration. I began writing grants to fund a female-only halfway house for a faith-based non-profit dedicated to helping women in crisis. Again I saw women in need of stability who were so consumed by their situation they only saw consequences and not the bigger picture that would help them find solutions.

To gain experience that would help me transition to a career in law, I returned to New Orleans to become the sole legal assistant in a three attorney firm. While diligently drafting motions and preparing for depositions I saw how the attorneys used knowledge of a precedent case or the mechanics of the law to advocate for clients. They taught me the meaning of professional responsibility as I began seeing in each case a person or a family.  Now that I am twenty five years old, with three years of professional experience, the financial freedom to commit to academic excellence, and a set of transferable legal knowledge and skills, I am ready to gain an intimate understanding of the law.

Courses like the Children and the Law summer course and the Family Law Clinic attract me to North Carolina Central University. Programs that allow me to work directly with clients are a perfect transition into actual practice. With the Center for Child and Family Health, I would be able to apply my personal experiences in mentoring women in crisis, and the understanding the mental and emotional strains that issues like divorce can bring on a family. This center gives the rare opportunity of collaborating with other law students from schools all over the state, learning from one another’s experiences, and freely exchanging ideas between other students interested in family law.

Attending law school in an area where my investment will extend beyond the classroom and into the surrounding community is very important to me. North Carolina Central University is located in the Raleigh-Durham area, the very heartbeat of the judicial system, providing employment opportunities that could allow me call North Carolina my future home. Through out my life, I have heard different rhythms; the ups and downs of being reared by a single parent in a low-income family, the long struggle of reaching financial stability, the confident tones of realizing my strengths and knowing how I can manifest them into a career as an attorney. Today I hear a new rhythm, and I hope you will allow me to follow it through the doors of North Carolina Central University School of Law.


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Re: Help Needed - PERSONAL STATEMENT - Any Advice???

Postby HRomanus » Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:36 am

At nearly a thousand words, it stretches on for longer than necessary. But both your prose and narrative are strong and it is an enjoyable read. You clearly articulate why you want to attend law school and NCCU Law in particular. My primary suggestion is to make it more concise; try to condense the multiple stories down around their clear, compelling themes. For example, the second paragraph really can be cut down to the last two sentences. If a sentence doesn't advance your thesis, even if it adds great atmosphere and is great prose, cut it.

Honestly, your statement is a long stronger than needed for a school of NCCU's caliber. You should think about applying to stronger schools if your LSAT and GPA are up to par.

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Re: Help Needed - PERSONAL STATEMENT - Any Advice???

Postby TLSanders » Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:13 pm

Your writing is strong and you do a great job of drawing the reader in right from the beginning. However, you're trying to cover too much ground. You can't tell all of your life stories--each one ends up too shallow and doesn't fully reflect the characteristics you want to illustrate.

Pick a focus and scale back on the other stories. Where you do reference them, be sure to make clear the common threads in terms of your ability, character, drive, etc. that run through these experiences and triumphs.

You have the makings of a very strong personal statement here; just tighten your focus (and your word count)


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Re: Help Needed - PERSONAL STATEMENT - Any Advice???

Postby mystical » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:24 pm

I applied at NCCU also. It seems you may want to cut down on the length. They have a two page limit on the personal statement. 12 point, Times New Roman, double spaced. Good luck!!


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Re: Help Needed - PERSONAL STATEMENT - Any Advice???

Postby mach9zero » Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:33 am

Very enjoyable read! :D I'd agree with other sentiments that it gets to be too long, and possibly cover too much of a timespan. Reduce the amount discussing your bar employment to one sentence. The last two paragraphs are unnecessary. Most guides will say never to mention the schools name, and don't worry about discussing specific location-based features, unless the essay topic calls for that. I'd actually leave it with, " am ready to gain an intimate understanding of the law."

A few grammar mistakes

"literally found..." remove literally, you didn't literally find your voice, you learned to sing competitively.

"I found another rhythm – the idle chatter of bar patrons and the hollow ring of the register –proved to be more profitable." --> another rhythm, the idle chatter of bar patrons and the hollow ring of the register, proving to be more profitable."

Also, please do not apply to North Carolina Central University or Cambell University just because they're in the Raleigh area. I love that region, and just moved back to Philly from Fayetteville and miss it. But, NCCU is a terrible school with terrible employment outcomes in a region that features two powerhouse law schools, Duke and UNC, and a market where outside lawyers want to move to. If your scores aren't up to UNC snuff, please retake and try next cycle. Do not waste your money at NCCU.

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