PS Second Draft

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
mmart207
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:40 pm

PS Second Draft

Postby mmart207 » Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:55 pm

Hey guys, URM here applying this cycle. Here is a second draft of my personal statement. Any comments/feedback/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Growing up as a man of color in one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city of Chicago taught me a lot about self-discipline. As a kid, my parents would always remind me the importance of my education, and I took their message to heart. I made it my mission to stay out of trouble and to work hard to triumph over the many obstacles that people with my background so often have to endure. Although I have never been tempted by a life in the streets, growing up around it has taken its toll. I have lost many friendships due to the starkly different life paths taken, and I often find myself feeling alone on the troublesome path towards overcoming the odds set against me by social structures of race and class. I was determined to defy the statistics that plagued my people, not only for myself, but to be able to show others that they too can achieve wondrously, and that a life in the streets is not set in stone for us.

The first three years of college tested my mental discipline, but nothing tested me as much as what happened on the night of Sunday April 9th, 2017. I was on my way home from a long day of work. I had class the next day, and I was looking forward to getting into bed and relaxing for a bit until then. While I was driving and looking for parking in my neighborhood, I noticed a man approaching my car from behind. I felt a bit uneasy, but paid little mind to my discomfort and continued to search for parking. As I drove away, I heard a gunshot ring behind me and instantly felt the impact in my back. I lost my sense of hearing. My main focus was on getting out of where I was as quickly as I possibly could. I sped off and drove to a local gas station, not believing what had just happened to me. I got out of my car and took off my shirt. Blood was flowing out of my back, and the reality of the injury drove me into a panic. I called my mother on the phone and told her I had just been shot, and the screams I heard on the other end continue to play in my head and keep me up some nights.

Over the next few days, my emotions were all over the place. My car had been shot five times. The bullet I took in the back was about an inch away from puncturing my lungs. I was feeling extremely blessed to be alive and healing. However, my mental state was far from healed. I spent countless nights replaying the incident in my head, wondering what I could had possibly done to avoid the situation. I pondered on how I had spent my whole life focusing on school, work, and my family in an effort to stay on the right path, and not even my best efforts were successful. I had become yet another statistic: a man of color shot in the streets.

I was filled with rage, confusion, and nagging pain. Given that the incident happened during the semester, I did not have time to fully process and heal physically and mentally before going back to school. I missed about two days worth of lectures because of the physical pain I was in, and went right back to my daily school routine. The adjustment I had to make has been the hardest part of my college career thus far. Being a student who commutes from home and school, along with the fact that a few of my classes ended late at night, the fear and constant reminder of what could possibly happen to me on my way back home left me dreading finishing the school year. Nonetheless, I continued to work tenaciously to finish strong. Claiming this past semester was the most difficult I have faced would be a severe understatement. However, I made it my priority to not give up, and the academically successful end to the semester provided me with reassurance and motivation at a much needed time.

Over the last couple of months, the initial pain, rage, and confusion that engulfed me slowly blossomed into gratitude and motivation. Although I became another statistic that night, I realized that this did not define who I was and what I am capable of as an individual. Despite the grave circumstances, I was able to persevere and continue to strive towards accomplishing my goals. I believe I survived that night so that I can continue to work hard in an effort to show the world what a man of color from a gang-ridden neighborhood in Chicago can accomplish. Although I am not the same person I was before that night, I am and always will be the person who will work relentlessly to succeed.
Last edited by mmart207 on Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

acr
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Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:14 pm

Re: PS Second Draft

Postby acr » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:09 pm

I think this is a good personal statement. However, it doesn't really explain why your background motivates you to succeed in law. Instead, you write about "success" in the abstract, which means that this could function as a personal statement for any type of graduate school. "Success" can take on any number of meanings, and I think an admissions officer would want to know why you desire to specifically be successful in law. I would rewrite this statement to include a deeper explanation of why you're motivated to enter the legal field.

I also wonder if this statement would be more effective by going straight into the narrative. I'm sure that many applicants begin personal statements with generic descriptions of their backgrounds, motivations, career goals, etc. You have a real opportunity here to grab the attention of the reader by beginning with something that very few applicants can claim - that you were shot. I was pretty shocked when I read that. And I rarely get shocked by things I read. Personally, I would begin with the narrative and use the narrative as a vehicle to explain your motivations. In other words, maybe you should show your motivations through the story itself rather than simply telling the reader.

Lastly, there were a few places where I noticed grammatical mistakes and frankly odd wording and sentence construction. I recommend reading through the statement as closely as you can to fix the awkward wording and grammatical mistakes.

Like I said, I think this is a good statement, and I think it's almost ready. I would just make sure to include some sort of connection to the legal field (maybe growing up around people who flouted the law? I don't know), getting as much out of your unique narrative as possible, and polishing the writing.

mmart207
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:40 pm

Re: PS Second Draft

Postby mmart207 » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:19 pm

acr wrote:I think this is a good personal statement. However, it doesn't really explain why your background motivates you to succeed in law. Instead, you write about "success" in the abstract, which means that this could function as a personal statement for any type of graduate school. "Success" can take on any number of meanings, and I think an admissions officer would want to know why you desire to specifically be successful in law. I would rewrite this statement to include a deeper explanation of why you're motivated to enter the legal field.

I also wonder if this statement would be more effective by going straight into the narrative. II'm sure that many applicants begin personal statements with generic descriptions of their backgrounds, motivations, career goals, etc. You have a real opportunity here to grab the attention of the reader by beginning with something that very few applicants can claim - that you were shot. Personally, I would begin with the narrative and use the narrative as a vehicle to explain your motivations. In other words, maybe you should show your motivations through the story itself rather than simply telling the reader.

Lastly, there were a few places where I noticed grammatical mistakes and frankly odd wording and sentence construction. I recommend reading through the statement as closely as you can to fix the awkward wording and grammatical mistakes.

Like I said, I think this is a good statement, and I think it's almost ready. I would just make sure to include some sort of connection to the legal field (maybe growing up around people who flouted the law? I don't know), getting as much out of your unique narrative as possible, and polishing the writing.


Thank you for the suggestions! I will definitely continue to read through it to see if I can make any adjustments when it comes to sentence structure. As for adding my motivations for pursuing law, I have read from several schools that they do not necessarily look for that explanation in a personal statement. I have read that a personal statement can just be about a personal experience that has shaped who you are as a person, and I feel as though that is what I wrote about. I feel that my motivations for wanting to go to law school would be a bit irrelevant to the personal statement as a whole. Given that I am a URM, a personal statement should be something that really distinguishes me from other applicants, and I feel as though I was able to articulate that in the statement. I will most likely be writing a diversity statement as well, and I believe it is there where I will discuss my motivations for pursuing law.

mmart207
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:40 pm

Re: PS Second Draft

Postby mmart207 » Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:29 pm

Made a few edits and added them to the original post.

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MrAdultman
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:18 pm

Re: PS Second Draft

Postby MrAdultman » Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:06 pm

First, I think this is a really promising topic. I disagree about it needing to explain your desire to go to law school - that's certainly a valid approach to a PS, but you don't need to do that. Read the Spivey posts if you want confirmation.

I think the first paragraph might be too general. Give some more details about some/all of the following: what growing up in this environment was like, how you resisted the bad influences around you, what your friends did, and how you were different. I'm guessing most AdComs' only exposure to high-crime urban areas (like mine) is watching The Wire. Make the reader really feel what it was like, even in just a few sentences.

Paragraph two definitely needs to be more vivid (I'd also change the topic sentence - it reminds me of the start of The Kite Runner, ugh). You got shot! Holy shit! That's one of the most intense experiences a person could live through! The reader's mouth should be hanging open by the end of this paragraph. Work on the narrative: more vivid language, build a little more suspense, really convey what it was like to live that moment.

I'm worried it might lose focus after the third paragraph.What exactly is the take away here? I like the "I don't want to become a statistic" line. I think you should stress that a little more, and give a clearer direction to the last few paragraphs. Remember, this isn't your DS or an academic addendum, so don't stray off in those directions (though of course your diversity should come out in this essay). I generally like the last paragraph and think it's definitely where you should end, except maybe replace the cliche "I persevered and strived towards my goals" stuff.

Also, a general comment, but this essay could be *much* more concise. Try cutting this down 15%.

Overall I like it - good luck with your edits!

mmart207
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:40 pm

Re: PS Second Draft

Postby mmart207 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:55 pm

MrAdultman wrote:First, I think this is a really promising topic. I disagree about it needing to explain your desire to go to law school - that's certainly a valid approach to a PS, but you don't need to do that. Read the Spivey posts if you want confirmation.

I think the first paragraph might be too general. Give some more details about some/all of the following: what growing up in this environment was like, how you resisted the bad influences around you, what your friends did, and how you were different. I'm guessing most AdComs' only exposure to high-crime urban areas (like mine) is watching The Wire. Make the reader really feel what it was like, even in just a few sentences.

Paragraph two definitely needs to be more vivid (I'd also change the topic sentence - it reminds me of the start of The Kite Runner, ugh). You got shot! Holy shit! That's one of the most intense experiences a person could live through! The reader's mouth should be hanging open by the end of this paragraph. Work on the narrative: more vivid language, build a little more suspense, really convey what it was like to live that moment.

I'm worried it might lose focus after the third paragraph.What exactly is the take away here? I like the "I don't want to become a statistic" line. I think you should stress that a little more, and give a clearer direction to the last few paragraphs. Remember, this isn't your DS or an academic addendum, so don't stray off in those directions (though of course your diversity should come out in this essay). I generally like the last paragraph and think it's definitely where you should end, except maybe replace the cliche "I persevered and strived towards my goals" stuff.

Also, a general comment, but this essay could be *much* more concise. Try cutting this down 15%.

Overall I like it - good luck with your edits!


Thank you for the suggestions! I'll try to be a bit more descriptive in the second paragraph for sure. As for the focus after the third paragraph, my intentions were to describe what the process of transitioning back to class was like for me. It was very difficult, and I feel that AdComs would benefit from knowing that. I think it shows grit and determination, both of which are qualities that prospective law students should have in my opinion. I don't think the last two paragraphs have any similarity to a DS or an academic addendum (there was nothing to explain discrepancy wise, I finished the semester with a 3.8 ).




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