Personal Statement first draft, difficult subject. Help?

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Personal Statement first draft, difficult subject. Help?

Postby zach7691 » Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:10 pm

HI guys, this is my first attempt at trying to get into law school, and as such, the first time I've ever had to write about something personal to me this extensively. It should be obvious what my subject is, and I believe it truly does serve as a point in my life that shows what I'm capable of and provides a framework of who I am - but I'm not sure if I'm attacking it in the best possible way. If it means anything, one of my biggest application obstacles right now is my 2.71 GPA, which I'm addressing in an addendum. As you can see, my choice school as of right now is Mizzou, but I'm sure I could tailor those school-specific parts to another. If anyone could give me some pointers, I'd appreciate it.


“Maybe college isn’t for you.”
It’s not often that a five-word sentence can have that much of an impact on a person. For some, it can be a confirmation of all the doubts you might have in yourself. But as I’ve found out, it can also act as a catalyst to help you defeat that mentality altogether, and overcome even the most difficult obstacles.
When you grow up poor, destructive thinking dominates your own expectations without you even realizing it. You subconsciously temper expectations of yourself. One way to live with it is to just accept it, and my family is no exception. My father, Arthur, has taken one such path. A religious, blue-collar working man, who views college as wholly unnecessary like the rest of my family, my dad is the kind of guy who measures his worth by the amount of callouses on his hands, not by the degrees on a wall. It’s certainly a noble lifestyle, and it’s one I’m tremendously proud of him for living. But sometimes one of the silver linings to being poor is a well-developed sense of empathy, and I had decided that a life lived helping others would be preferable to just looking out for myself. In my family, however, the decision between academia and a life of working with your hands is not really a decision at all. I managed to juggle these conflicting ideas throughout most of my life with relative success, but one night in 2013, things came to a head.
Thucydides said that “an avowal of poverty is no disgrace to any man, but to make no effort to escape it is indeed disgraceful.” My escape attempt involved a regional college five hours from my family. I had considered it a point of pride that I didn’t rely on my parents the way many other students did, but that’s not to say I even had the option. Being poor means financially supporting yourself as soon as you legally can, especially through college. No problem: you learn to compartmentalize the stress, tell yourself it’s good for your character, and carry on. But after one particularly difficult semester, the struggle between staying afloat financially and succeeding in school became overwhelming. Sometimes, you just want to hear that you’re not making a mistake by trying to break the mold. So, on that May night, I did something I rarely ever did: I called Dad for advice. Our conversation went as I assumed it would - but then he suggested it: maybe college wasn’t for me.
I guess I had always knew that he felt that way - so why did it hurt so much when he said it aloud? I think I had always hoped my family’s faith in me to succeed was implicit, and I now knew that it wasn’t. I felt they had only paid lip service the idea that I could succeed in ways that we had never known; that they instead believed the outcome of your life might be determined by nothing more than circumstance. You often hear poverty described as an insurmountable wall, and for the first time in my life, I felt that maybe I had come to that wall.
But wait a minute: I had always felt that I was effectively on my own, and I now knew I was. Despite this, I was, at most, two years away from a degree. So why couldn’t I keep going? Writer Sydney Smith once said “poverty is no disgrace to a man, but it is confoundedly inconvenient.” That day, I decided that my family’s legacy would be nothing more than an inconvenience to me. I resolved myself to begin a new legacy, one that I was in control of.
Soon after the call, I made an appointment to meet with an adviser in the journalism department of my school – a major that I had previously studied but later abandoned after learning the realities of the industry. Within a few days, in close conjunction with an adviser who later became a personal mentor, I created a path to graduate in the next two years. I wasted no time - I finished my undergrad career strong and parlayed that success into challenging, rewarding work as a digital content producer for a mid-market TV news station.
I was originally drawn to journalism to fulfill my goals, but I have realized that to change other’s lives for the better, law provides a much greater opportunity. It has often been said that the rule of law is the great equalizer, and I firmly believe this. Seldom is someone so well-equipped to change the lives of people in a positive way than someone who knows and helps shape the law. Since there are few institutions that provides that change as effectively as the University of Missouri School of Law, it is naturally my school of choice.
For many people in my situation, getting a college degree, and all that it has the potential to bring, is just not within the realm of possibility. Sometimes I worry that my circumstances may speak to my character more than I could. But then I look around at where I am, and how far I’ve come, and I’m ashamed that it took me so long to realize just how much control I have over my success. I realize that I’m part of a generation where a fruitful future isn’t guaranteed, even to all who work for it. But I’ve overcome an adversity that many people are fortunate enough to not face, and I’m a stronger, wiser person because of it. I know, despite believing the opposite for most of my life, that my potential is more than the sum total of any numbers or degrees. I know now what I am capable of, and I look forward to proving it in the field of law.

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