What was your personal statement topic?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Jjbb938483
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What was your personal statement topic?

Postby Jjbb938483 » Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:47 pm

I'm having a hard time figuring out a topic that is unique. What were some of the things you wrote about? Most of the advice I've gotten thus far is about what [i]not[i] to do (e.g. Saying you'd be a great lawyer because X or stupid stuff like pretending its a legal brief :roll: )

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cbbinnyc
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Re: What was your personal statement topic?

Postby cbbinnyc » Tue Aug 22, 2017 2:17 pm

Jjbb938483 wrote:I'm having a hard time figuring out a topic that is unique. What were some of the things you wrote about? Most of the advice I've gotten thus far is about what [i]not[i] to do (e.g. Saying you'd be a great lawyer because X or stupid stuff like pretending its a legal brief :roll: )


The old cliche is true: it's not the topic, it's how you tell it. Obviously there are topics that are better than others, as a general rule, but there's a reason that people get into top schools writing about organizing their sock drawer, or whatever, and people who write crappy essays about what are potentially incredible and unique stories.

Don't worry too much about picking a "unique" topic. Brainstorm and find something that happened to you that you feel strongly about. The trope of facing a challenge and working through it is a good one because you can show a lot with a succinct story (personal growth, perseverance, dealing with obstacles, assessing your successes and weaknesses to improve upon, etc). I wrote about producing an off-off-Bway show in New York, a project that I found very challenging and rewarding (which, I suppose is a fairly unique topic at least for law school), but I also considered writing about a teaching job where I felt very out of my comfort zone or a class I took in grad school that I found very difficult.

That said, don't stress too much about picking the topic: the most important thing about the PS is that it be well-written, organized, and free of errors.

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Pozzo
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Re: What was your personal statement topic?

Postby Pozzo » Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:24 pm

I'll echo what cbb said and add that it's called a "personal" statement for a reason. It should tell the admissions committee something about you that they can't gain from reading your resume. It could be a moment in your life that's particularly meaningful, a major accomplishment, a challenge you overcame. Really you can take anything from a profoundly difficult time to some mundane but interesting detail in your life, and if you can work yourself into it to give them insight into your personality, work ethic, values, etc., then it's a winner.

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tuna_wasabi
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Re: What was your personal statement topic?

Postby tuna_wasabi » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:26 pm

I haven't finished mine yet - ahem, procrastination - but my draft right now is about being an ethnic minority in my country.

Why I chose this topic: I'm an international from an "under-represented" country. It's is something that I feel strongly about, something that is not reflected elsewhere in my application. My only problem right now is to not write something too emotionally charged :?

Good luck, OP!
Last edited by tuna_wasabi on Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

olemiss18
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Re: What was your personal statement topic?

Postby olemiss18 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:50 pm

My topic is on my experience growing up with Tourette Syndrome. If you have some disability or obstacle that you've had to overcome, I'd highly recommend that as a topic idea. My only advice with that is to avoid making it sound too much like a story with an obvious ending ("and through perseverance and determination I was able to..." blah blah blah). I'm trying to be much more real with the admissions committees, letting them try to get a sense of the struggle and that it isn't as easy as saying I've overcome it.

Whatever you end up choosing, make it sound as real as you know it to be, not as fake as what you think they'd want to hear.

B90
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Re: What was your personal statement topic?

Postby B90 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:27 am

Virtually everyone that writes a PS struggles with this.
I think your statement that your difficulty is finding something unique is the problem. The topic doesn't need to be unique.
As you have heard, there are things to avoid, but what matters is not the TOPIC, but what you show about who YOU are.

Way too much emphasis is put on finding a unique story that is going to "wow" the adcoms. Often, a PS that strives to show the applicant as unique or special because of some unusual event comes across as just a cool story.
You want to show that there is something about you (an experience that changed you, a challenge you faced, or a hobby that inspires you) that will add to the school and enrich the experience of the other students. Each application cycle, a school tries to put together a class that is diverse (or at least that is what they claim), as well as academically competent. You don't get to see the other apps and don't know what "softs" others have. A lot of applicants focus on the fact that they have some unique skill or experience and think that is either necessary or sufficient. It is impressive to become a concert pianist, for example. You may be a school's only applicant that performed at the White House. However, a PS that talks about someone's first job working at the family restaurant can have more impact if it reveals more about the applicant.

Don't worry about finding the perfect topic. It's normal to obsess over your PS because it is one of the few things you have control over. The reason people keep telling you what NOT to write about is you want to avoid mistakes that might sink your app. You want a PS that gives insight into who you are as a person, is gramatically and structurally well-written, typo-free, and meets the school's requirements for length, font size, etc.

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Delano
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Re: What was your personal statement topic?

Postby Delano » Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:17 pm

B90 wrote:Virtually everyone that writes a PS struggles with this.
I think your statement that your difficulty is finding something unique is the problem. The topic doesn't need to be unique.
As you have heard, there are things to avoid, but what matters is not the TOPIC, but what you show about who YOU are.

Way too much emphasis is put on finding a unique story that is going to "wow" the adcoms. Often, a PS that strives to show the applicant as unique or special because of some unusual event comes across as just a cool story.
You want to show that there is something about you (an experience that changed you, a challenge you faced, or a hobby that inspires you) that will add to the school and enrich the experience of the other students. Each application cycle, a school tries to put together a class that is diverse (or at least that is what they claim), as well as academically competent. You don't get to see the other apps and don't know what "softs" others have. A lot of applicants focus on the fact that they have some unique skill or experience and think that is either necessary or sufficient. It is impressive to become a concert pianist, for example. You may be a school's only applicant that performed at the White House. However, a PS that talks about someone's first job working at the family restaurant can have more impact if it reveals more about the applicant.

Don't worry about finding the perfect topic. It's normal to obsess over your PS because it is one of the few things you have control over. The reason people keep telling you what NOT to write about is you want to avoid mistakes that might sink your app. You want a PS that gives insight into who you are as a person, is gramatically and structurally well-written, typo-free, and meets the school's requirements for length, font size, etc.

+1 to all of this

Dean Z has some good posts on the topic - http://www.law.umich.edu/connection/a2z ... aspx?ID=75 and http://www.law.umich.edu/connection/a2z ... aspx?ID=20 (see especially "What can applicants do to set themselves apart from their peers?")

You might want to try doing some free-writing on your life / why you want to go to law school / how you got to this point, and see if anything sticks.




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