Personal Statement help - not a great writer, critique please?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
tjad465

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Personal Statement help - not a great writer, critique please?

Postby tjad465 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:33 pm

Well here it is, I could really use some help. I can also send a Google Doc link if you want to give me some pointers on Suggestion Edit :)


Jane Doe
LSAC
Personal Statement
“AmeriCorps? What’s that? And you’re only making how much money?” I wish I knew how many times I have had this exact conversation since graduating from college in 2015. Explaining AmeriCorps is second nature to me at this point. After four years of studying history at the University of Kentucky most of my family and friends assumed I would go on to further schooling. I was often asked if graduate school or law school was in my future. However I surprised everyone by deciding to take a gap year to become an AmeriCorps volunteer. I felt that the important decision of choosing my life path could not be made lightly and AmeriCorps would allow me to do some good while I considered my career path. My undergraduate involvement in multiple community service organizations only further bolstered my decision. One gap year in the program quickly turned to three as I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in both West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. The lessons I learned about myself during that time, as well as my choice of undergraduate study, are what have brought me to my current decision to apply for law school.

AmeriCorps, a national service program created during President Johnson’s War on Poverty, acts as sort of a domestic PeaceCorps, tasking young people to move to some of the United States’ most vulnerable communities and work to alleviate poverty. The life of an AmeriCorps volunteer is far from glamorous. Every day volunteers clean up riverbeds, tutor students in inner city schools, build houses, and even assist with natural disaster relief, all while living in essential poverty. Volunteers make a very modest living stipend and most, like myself, require the assistance of government aid just to get by. They live and work in these conditions in order to better understand the condition of the poor in the United States, while also making a positive impact in local communities. During my term as an AmeriCorps volunteer I worked in the public history field, first for a small museum before moving to a nonprofit as an archives specialist. I spent my days telling the story of the Appalachian region, sharing the strong cultural identity and rich history with both visitors and community members. Although my job was to help shed light on these positive attributes, it was impossible to ignore the hardships that I saw many of the members of my community face. Coming from a working class family in eastern Kentucky, I was already privy to some of the disadvantages the working class and poor in this country face every day - lack of economic opportunity, a low quality of education, severe environmental degradation - but I was never able to see how I could work to help alleviate those problems. AmeriCorps helped to shift my mindset and show that I could in fact make small changes in a community that would have lasting impact. This shift is what has led to my current interest in the study of law. My neighbors, family, and friends deserve to have people working for them who can help them navigate the legal waters and make their communities thrive.

I hoped my time in AmeriCorps would clarify the life path I wanted to take and it did just that. Although I loved working in the public history field, I learned that it was just a means to do what I was truly passionate about; working to make vulnerable communities a better place to live. I want to go into the study of law in order to help people; not just individually, but also through future political changes that could positively impact my community as a whole. In addition to my commitment to public service, my undergraduate degree in history instilled me with the skills necessary for a successful law student. A love of research, a mastery of both the stylistic and mechanical aspects of writing, and most importantly analytical reasoning that allows me to synthesize large volumes of text. As a student of history I was often tasked with understanding a wide scope of information and having to distill that into a more understandable summary or how it may have affected a proceeding series of events. I learned about the importance of contextual analysis and how no situation can be looked at from one single angle.

Those skills, along with my passion for civic service, will be a great asset during my time as a student of law. The AmeriCorps motto is “Getting Things Done,” a phrase I’ve lived and worked by for the last three years. My time with AmeriCorps may be coming to an end, but I am ready to use this mindset and ‘get things done’ with just as much passion and perseverance as I enter this new exciting chapter of my life.

sev

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Re: Personal Statement help - not a great writer, critique please?

Postby sev » Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:59 pm

Whenever I'm reviewing a PS I always list the facts that I know about the person from the personal statement. It can be enlightening to see how little information is conveyed in so many words.

1. You did AmeriCorps
2. You worked in public history in Appalacia while doing AmeriCorps
3. But you also cleaned up riverbeds?
4. You're from a working class family.
5. You were a history major.
6. You're interested in working as a public servant.

Probably four of those things I would've learned from your resume, and they don't have much compelling or unique detail. I don't have a sense of the sort of responsibilities that you had in AmeriCorps--what did you do that no one else did? What sorts of things (besides just reading a lot) did your history major do for you? Did you start an organization, publish papers? No offense, but history isn't the hardest degree to get--it's probably not going to be a selling point and comes across more as you explaining what you think law school will be like.

lutherblissett

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Re: Personal Statement help - not a great writer, critique please?

Postby lutherblissett » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:03 pm

1. You assume that an admissions committee doesn't know what AmeriCorps is. They know. That entire section of your paper is irrelevant to you and should be excised.

2. One thing that is not explored is that you come from a working-class family, and I am assuming that your family wants to see you succeed and go on to better things. That's why you wrote that intro, right? You can discuss the tension between doing "low income" work for your community versus getting out of the community to do law, which is traditionally a very insular and white-collar profession.

3. As sev said, there really isn't anything special to give us too much insight into who you are as a person. What motivated you to join AmeriCorps? What do you stay up late at night thinking about? I don't get any sense of that here.

Teacher

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Re: Personal Statement help - not a great writer, critique please?

Postby Teacher » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:36 pm

sev wrote:Whenever I'm reviewing a PS I always list the facts that I know about the person from the personal statement. It can be enlightening to see how little information is conveyed in so many words.

1. You did AmeriCorps
2. You worked in public history in Appalacia while doing AmeriCorps
3. But you also cleaned up riverbeds?
4. You're from a working class family.
5. You were a history major.
6. You're interested in working as a public servant.

Probably four of those things I would've learned from your resume, and they don't have much compelling or unique detail. I don't have a sense of the sort of responsibilities that you had in AmeriCorps--what did you do that no one else did? What sorts of things (besides just reading a lot) did your history major do for you? Did you start an organization, publish papers? No offense, but history isn't the hardest degree to get--it's probably not going to be a selling point and comes across more as you explaining what you think law school will be like.


This is a great way to read/ edit personal statements!

DrGlennRichie

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Re: Personal Statement help - not a great writer, critique please?

Postby DrGlennRichie » Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:57 pm

Yep, what other posters said. Re-write completely

gotmilk332

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Re: Personal Statement help - not a great writer, critique please?

Postby gotmilk332 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:03 pm

You've got good material here. What you should do is follow the advice above (i.e., saving space for the important stuff by cutting out all the AmeriCorps background information) and spend time telling a very specific story about how you might have helped someone thru americorps or whatever. it can be the tiniest thing, like one time you helped change a faucet for an elderly Kentuckian and then their quality of life improved or something.

you have a ton of potential here! feel free to DM me once you reorganize



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