Personal Statement help!! Open me !!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
jazzellc
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:40 pm

Personal Statement help!! Open me !!

Postby jazzellc » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:10 am

Hello!! I have been working on my personal statement for a couple of weeks now, and need some feedback. I talked about a very PERSONAL experience that ultimately made me want to pursue a career in law. I'm open to any CONSTRUCTIVE suggestions, edits, tweaks, etc ! This is a ROUGH draft!!!

When I reflect upon the obstacles I have faced thus far in life, I console myself by recalling Matshona Dhliwayo's mantra that "beautiful souls are shaped by ugly experiences." Growing up I was raised by my grandmother who was fighting with breast cancer for the second time. The family dynamic was small, but we were all very close relying on each other for one thing or another.My grandmother did the best she could to keep the household afloat and protect my cousin and I from the environmental dangers surrounding our housing project. However, despite her efforts a situation would soon arise that she could not shelter us from.

When I was in sixth grade, my older cousin Tiffany was taken from high school and forced into sex trafficking by a classmate. This tragedy was hard on everyone in my family especially me, because of our close relationship. We made several attempts to locate her, but all proved to be unsuccessful. The local police assigned to her case made assumptions based on Tiffany's race and socioeconomic background that they felt absolved themselves from putting adequate effort into searching for her. During this time, my grandmother, and I had to forfeit basic necessities to afford a private investigator to take over her case. Because of this we often were homeless, moving from place to place. Nevertheless, we put our best efforts forward and worked with the private investigator to ensure that her case was never to be forgotten. As days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months my anticipation for her arrival began to grow; and everyday that she did not return made my heart ached even more. Despite how I felt inside, I continued to be strong for Tiffany and help in any way that I could.

Three years would go by before my cousin would return home safely, and the road to justice would finally begin. My cousin’s trial was one of the most hardest things for me to watch, but something that ultimately sparked my interest in law. I remember sitting in the courtroom excited to watch it all unfold, but somewhat relieved because we were one step closer to closing this chapter of our lives, and beginning a healing process.

This traumatic experience has fueled my desire to go to law school because cases such as Tiffany’s happen everyday. This obstacle, among many others, have gave me a longstanding resilience and motivation that makes me uniquely capable of helping others like her. I want to advocate on behalf of victims who have suffered similar situations such as Human Trafficking-- providing them with a voice to fight against those who exploit them. Being apart of a field that is able to positively change the lives of others is of a high importance to me. I seek to do the work to protect the rights of all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic background or level of education. I truly believe that this ugly experience has shaped me into a compassionate person who is willing to put the needs of other in front of her own.

cavalier1138
Posts: 4449
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: Personal Statement help!! Open me !!

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:58 am

It's a compelling story, and the last paragraph goes a long way toward explaining your interest in the law. Although I'd be a little more precise in your wording, because right now, I'm not sure if you want to be a prosecutor or work for an NGO that does victim advocacy (or, as one line seemed to indicate, a public defender of some kind).

My main advice would be to fix the second paragraph and get rid of all the stuff railing against the police. You may be perfectly justified in thinking that they made assumptions. You may be 100% right. Without knowing you and your situation, it does not come off well. You can speak to wanting to advocate for victims of sex trafficking (or even for advocating for victims of police brutality) without flat-out saying that the police are incompetent/racist.

The first paragraph is also a little scattered, and I don't know where the quote comes in. It seems like you've been told that it's a good idea to start your essay with an inspirational quote to hook the reader. Whoever told you that was wrong. You don't need to use it, and it doesn't help anchor your story with the present construction. The rest of the description of your family just seems a little haphazard; you seem to be throwing in a series of facts without drawing the reader a complete picture. You can either spend more time explaining your tight-knit family situation or just start right in on the main story you want to tell. If you do the latter, you'll be able to take more time to describe what it was about the lawyers in your cousin's case that inspired you, which I can't find in the current draft.

Also, this needs a thorough combing over for basic grammar and structure. There are a lot of errors that should not be appearing in any version of a piece of writing you intend to be read by others, regardless of what draft it is.

jazzellc
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:40 pm

Re: Personal Statement help!! Open me !!

Postby jazzellc » Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:03 am

cavalier1138 wrote:It's a compelling story, and the last paragraph goes a long way toward explaining your interest in the law. Although I'd be a little more precise in your wording, because right now, I'm not sure if you want to be a prosecutor or work for an NGO that does victim advocacy (or, as one line seemed to indicate, a public defender of some kind).

My main advice would be to fix the second paragraph and get rid of all the stuff railing against the police. You may be perfectly justified in thinking that they made assumptions. You may be 100% right. Without knowing you and your situation, it does not come off well. You can speak to wanting to advocate for victims of sex trafficking (or even for advocating for victims of police brutality) without flat-out saying that the police are incompetent/racist.

The first paragraph is also a little scattered, and I don't know where the quote comes in. It seems like you've been told that it's a good idea to start your essay with an inspirational quote to hook the reader. Whoever told you that was wrong. You don't need to use it, and it doesn't help anchor your story with the present construction. The rest of the description of your family just seems a little haphazard; you seem to be throwing in a series of facts without drawing the reader a complete picture. You can either spend more time explaining your tight-knit family situation or just start right in on the main story you want to tell. If you do the latter, you'll be able to take more time to describe what it was about the lawyers in your cousin's case that inspired you, which I can't find in the current draft.

Also, this needs a thorough combing over for basic grammar and structure. There are a lot of errors that should not be appearing in any version of a piece of writing you intend to be read by others, regardless of what draft it is.



Thank you so much for your feedback !!!!

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Hennessy
Posts: 1807
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2016 2:54 pm

Re: Personal Statement help!! Open me !!

Postby Hennessy » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:43 pm

jazzellc wrote:Hello!! I have been working on my personal statement for a couple of weeks now, and need some feedback. I talked about a very PERSONAL experience that ultimately made me want to pursue a career in law. I'm open to any CONSTRUCTIVE suggestions, edits, tweaks, etc ! This is a ROUGH draft!!!

[+] Spoiler
When I reflect upon the obstacles I have faced thus far in life, I console myself by recalling Matshona Dhliwayo's mantra that "beautiful souls are shaped by ugly experiences." Growing up I was raised by my grandmother who was fighting with breast cancer for the second time. Needs more context - during what part of your childhood was she fighting breast cancer for the 2nd time? It comes out sounding strange.

The family dynamic was small, but we were all very close relying on each other for one thing or another. My grandmother did the best she could to keep the household afloat and protect my cousin and I from the environmental dangers surrounding our housing project. However, despite her efforts, (<-- Needs comma) a situation would soon arise that she could not shelter us from.

When I was in sixth grade, my older cousin Tiffany was taken from high school and forced into sex trafficking by a classmate. This tragedy was hard on everyone in my family,(Needs comma) especially me, because of our close relationship. Might want to reword this sentence - "but it was particularly hard on me...", something to that effect.

We made several attempts to locate her, but all proved to be unsuccessful. The local police assigned to her case made assumptions based on Tiffany's race and socioeconomic background that they felt absolved themselves from putting adequate effort into searching for her. During this time, my grandmother,(No comma) and I had to forfeit basic necessities to afford a private investigator to take over her case. Because of this ("As a result" or "consequently" would sound cleaner.) we often were homeless, moving from place to place. Nevertheless, we put forth our best efforts forward and worked with the private investigator to ensure that her case was never to be forgotten "would not be forgotten"?. As days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months,(Needs comma) my anticipation for her arrival began to grow; and every day (this is two words) that she did not return made my heart ached even more. Despite how I felt inside, I continued to be strong for Tiffany and help (needs context - help who? grandmother?) in any way that I could.

Three years would go by before my cousin would return home safely, and the road to justice would finally begin. My cousin’s trial was one of the most hardest things (might want a more descriptive word here) for me to watch, but something that ultimately sparked my interest in law. I remember sitting in the courtroom excited to watch it all ("it all" needs context - the trial? the future?) unfold, but somewhat relieved because we were one step closer to closing this chapter of our lives, and beginning a healing process.

This traumatic experience has fueled my desire to go to law school because cases such as Tiffany’s happen everyday. This obstacle, among many others, have gave me a longstanding resilience and motivation that makes me uniquely capable of helping others like her. I want to advocate on behalf of victims who have suffered similar situations such as Human Trafficking,(Needs comma, not hyphen) providing them with a voice to fight against those who exploit them. Being a part (two separate words) of a field that is able to positively change the lives of others is of a high importance to me. I seek to do the work to protect the rights of all individuals (this is very wordy - cut out some of the action verbs. "I seek to do the work to protect" --> "I seek to protect"), regardless of their socioeconomic background or level of education. I truly believe that this ugly experience has shaped me into a compassionate person who is willing to put the needs of other in front of her own.



Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am sorry that you had to suffer this tragedy - I can only imagine how awful it must have been. This is a very compelling statement, and it's obvious to me (and will be to admissions committee teams) that this work is important to you, and that you are baring your soul with your statement.

It does need a couple of things:

As said above, a very important rule for personal statements: don't begin your statement with a quote from someone famous if:

    1. You do not tie this quote back in to the story later.
    2. The quote is from someone inaccessible, e.g. Matshona Dhliwayo is a writer and philosopher, but most people wouldn't know this.

You include the quote presumably from one of Dhliwayo's writings, but you don't contextualize it. The reader is left wondering "Who is that person?", "Why is that their mantra?", "What does that have to do with the writer's narrative?" etc. I would just remove the quote entirely.

In some areas, it's a little too wordy. Admissions folks want to see that you can clearly make a statement or state your objective. I pointed out a couple areas where you use 5 words when you only need 1 or 2, or 1 extra word where none were needed.

It also may needs some more descriptive elements of your experience. For ex., when you had to forfeit basic necessities, what were those necessities? How did your grandmother's cancer affect your childhood (you bring this up in your introductory paragraph, but you don't expound on it.)

Also, just some punctuation and grammar here and there.




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