Personal Statement, final draft -- please review! I want to send out ASAP

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Sdandrew1990

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Personal Statement, final draft -- please review! I want to send out ASAP

Postby Sdandrew1990 » Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:28 am

When you look at my application you will see what appears to be two different people. The first is a straight A student who scored a 173 on the LSAT. He is a good guy and his teachers speak highly of him. The second is a kid that barely eked by with a 2.0 GPA and answered “yes” to two of the character fitness questions. Five years and a lot of life separate these two people. My failures forced me to grow. Without them, the bad student could never have become the good student. Although both are applying to your school, by the time you finish reading this I hope to have convinced you that only the first student matters.
I was put into a foster home at birth. My twin brother Taylor and I were born in jail because both of our birth parents were drug addicts. Growing up, home was unstable. The police broke up fights at our house nearly every week. I was an all-AP student, scored perfect on the ACT, and I had dreams of going to Northwestern as an undergrad. My social group consisted of children that grew up with similar backgrounds. When they started smoking weed, drinking, and taking drugs, so did I. In no way do I blame my peers; none of them ever pressured me to do anything I had not already chosen to do. Instead of applying to Northwestern, I applied last minute to CU Boulder, where I immediately did poorly and was later arrested. Eventually, I was living in homeless shelters and underneath bridges.
In December of 2012, I entered rehab. A miracle happened there that cannot be summarized in this brief paper. Rehab taught me that strong character and service to others leads to healthy self-esteem and sobriety. Since leaving rehab, the desire to use has left me completely, though there have been tests. When I left rehab I was homeless. I had nothing. I took odd jobs around town while studying to be a mortgage broker. After months of literally struggling to feed myself every day, I went to a job interview in a suit from the Goodwill and convinced a company to sponsor my licensing. Two months later, I was a mortgage broker.
Poverty drove the decision to become a mortgage broker. Solid financial footing allowed me to create a plan to finish my undergraduate degree and enter law school. I did well on the LSAT because I love logic and precision in language. It eats me up when someone calls a thing “the best” when they really mean “one of the top 10%.” I was a debate champion in high school, and I majored in philosophy in order to refine my ability to create and analyze arguments. If you ask any person in my life, they will tell you that I was born to be a lawyer. So, after starting a side-business to lay the groundwork for a return to school, I re-enrolled at CU Boulder, which is located an hour from my home and business. For two years I have done absolutely anything I needed to do to succeed: driving two hours, five days a week to and from school, studying through the day, boxing in the evening, and meeting with clients until midnight or later. All the while, I’ve sponsored others in recovery. Just last semester I started an online business to provide myself the freedom to move to Chicago and attend Northwestern. My application to your school is the culmination of a plan I put into effect three years ago.
I know my application has glaring errors and that my history might give cause for concern, but I have spent the last several years proving that I am not that person anymore. Many people suggested avoiding any discussion about my past in the personal statement. “Save that for the addendum,” they told me. “Write about your strengths.”
But these are my strengths. The struggles I have overcome demonstrate my greatest qualities. I came back from the brink of losing everything and I not only remained clean, but relentlessly pursued all my goals and succeeded. There is nothing in the world I am more committed to than going to Northwestern. Even if you reject me, which I accept you might do, I will simply spend a few thousand more dollars to enroll in more courses and improve my GPA. I know I want to be a lawyer, and I know I want to do that at Northwestern. What’s more – I know I am capable of it. I ask that you see me as the straight A student with a 173 LSAT that overcame major life difficulties in order to apply to your school. After all, that’s the truth.

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UVA2B

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Re: Personal Statement, final draft -- please review! I want to send out ASAP

Postby UVA2B » Thu Dec 01, 2016 1:07 am

First point has nothing to do with your statement, but I just wanted to clarify that you haven't graduated yet, right? Makes the backup plan of raising your GPA particularly important, but I'm working under the assumption that you know the rule about once a degree has been earned. If not, just understand your GPA is set in stone once you get your first bachelors.

Onto the meat of your statement, it's a fantastic tale of strength, resolve, and redemption. You engage the reader with a tale most of us can't even begin to comprehend, and for that you deserve endless commendation.

My only issue with your statement is framing your tale of strength and redemption within your GPA and LSAT. Others may disagree with me, and I understand your approach with it, but I would personally reframe the story without the GPA and LSAT. I don't think it is as impactful as you maybe intend it to be. Perhaps you're just trying to fold your addendum into the statement, and that's surely relevant, but couldn't you leave those specifics out and instead frame it with the coherent tale of your upbringing, combined with your personal fall from grace, and subsequent resurrection? It feels every bit as impactful (and to me as an unbiased third party even more impactful) if I'm made to draw the inference of strength and resurrection and your subsequent personal successes and its connection to who you are now. Reading what you've endured alone makes me realize who you are today, and then when I look at your GPA and LSAT, I fully get it. You don't have to tell me this is who you are now. You've shown me this is who you are now, and frankly what your GPA and LSAT are within that frame is actually pretty irrelevant to me personally. You're trying to sell a narrative that you've been through the fire of adversity and come out stronger on the other side, which when done properly has profound impact on the reader. But by including your GPA and LSAT as the starting point, you're throwing it in my face to think about those things when thinking about your personal tale of triumph. I'd rather look at your tale and think, "wow, as long as his numbers are good enough to me, I want this person in my class." Then I'll look to your GPA and LSAT (assuming I didn't look beforehand) with the hope that I can take someone with your numbers.

I don't think framing your statement within your GPA and LSAT is a horrible device, especially if trying to avoid an additional addendum (which I don't think is allowed, but I could be mistaken on that), but I guess I would prefer letting those objective factors stand as they are while this statement has the opportunity to say "don't even look at the numbers, look at the person behind the numbers. Only then can you understand the person of strength and resolve behind those numbers you're looking critically at." By not framing your success within your GPA/LSAT, I am left to understand how your success is not defined by those numbers. Those numbers only help to better understand who you are as a candidate, but they aren't dispositive of who you are.

I would ultimately defer to you on whether you think this is the best tactic, but I just thought I'd present the other side to what you've attempted to do.

Either way, congrats on everything you've accomplished because your story is truly a commendable and harrowing tale!

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Specter1389

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Re: Personal Statement, final draft -- please review! I want to send out ASAP

Postby Specter1389 » Thu Dec 01, 2016 7:39 am

I agree with the poster above and think your personal statement would be a lot better by leaving out your LSAT and GPA. In my opinion, your personal statement should focus on who you are as a person, not your numbers. Your LSAT and GPA aren't the important piece here, it's your ability to overcome extreme adversity and make something of yourself. This is what you want them focusing on.

Monday

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Re: Personal Statement, final draft -- please review! I want to send out ASAP

Postby Monday » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:25 am

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Last edited by Monday on Wed May 10, 2017 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Mr. Archer

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Re: Personal Statement, final draft -- please review! I want to send out ASAP

Postby Mr. Archer » Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:58 am

Sdandrew1990 wrote:When you look at my application you will see what appears to be two different people.


I PM'ed you about your statement.

nahmjun

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Re: Personal Statement, final draft -- please review! I want to send out ASAP

Postby nahmjun » Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:28 am

Submit this as it is.

I don't agree with the previous comments regarding your LSAT/GPA.

Candor is what gives life to this essay, and your discussion of LSAT and GPA are fine--I think they add to the candor of your essay.

I'm quite certain that you will get into whichever school you apply to.

Much respect to both your writing as well as the life portrayed by it.

Sdandrew1990

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Re: Personal Statement, final draft -- please review! I want to send out ASAP

Postby Sdandrew1990 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:27 pm

I want to say thank you to everyone that looked over this. All comments are well received and I will update this form when I get all my rejections back. :)

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SunDevil14

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Re: Personal Statement, final draft -- please review! I want to send out ASAP

Postby SunDevil14 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:29 pm

Specter1389 wrote:I agree with the poster above and think your personal statement would be a lot better by leaving out your LSAT and GPA. In my opinion, your personal statement should focus on who you are as a person, not your numbers. Your LSAT and GPA aren't the important piece here, it's your ability to overcome extreme adversity and make something of yourself. This is what you want them focusing on.


I tend to agree with those declaring that you leave out the LSAT and GPA. In my (UN-expert) opinion you personal statement was a great example of a candidate that was more than numbers could possibly show. Therefore, I do not like that you mention them in the beginning, furthermore I think the essay does well without them.



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