Taking a huge risk with PS

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

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Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby Nycsplitter » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:20 pm

I wrote my personal statement on overcoming opiate addiction. I am very nervous about submitting this statement, as it touches on C&F and drug abuse and don't want to overwhelm admissions officers. I dont feel comfortable posting it, but would GREATLY appreciate anyone's input if they could look it over for me?

I don't want a line-by-line edit, I just want some thoughts on whether this statement will be a help or a hurt. I am also a splitter, 2.5/164, so i need all the help i can get!

Thanks so much, TLS!

Nycsplitter

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby Nycsplitter » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:51 pm

I would be glad to swap and look at your PS, as well!

VictoriaLS_19

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby VictoriaLS_19 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:54 pm

Also willing to swap if you want to PM me.

Npret

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby Npret » Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:34 pm

I strongly suggest you not do this. While it might seem smart or important to you to have this as a personal statement, I think you are making a huge mistake.
If you have exceptionally high numbers, thenaybe you will be fine.
Here’s the reason - don’t give anyone in the admissions process a reason to not admit you or to question your ability to practice law.
Lawyers have high rates of substance abuse. Being a “former” addict is not in your favor in terms of law school
admissions.
Use better judgment and write a more appropriate statement that will help admissions committees want to admit you rather than raising questions about you.

Npret

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby Npret » Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:36 pm

Sorry for the typos above. I can’t go back and edit for some reason.

nrthwst4now

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby nrthwst4now » Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:26 pm

I used a PS that covered almost the exact same topic and it was very helpful and may have got me over the edge on a few schools. I also used a similar statement to transfer to a T10 school after 1L. I think it really depends on the context. For me, I had been clean for a number of years, gained work experience and had other powerful aspects in my personal life I wanted to share to provide context for CF issues that were sure to come up and had to be included in my applications.

Assuming you have demonstrated that the issue is indeed behind you, and has been for years, I think it could be worth bringing it up. The above user is proof that some people will view the overcoming of hardships with skepticism, but I don't that perspective is the most common one.

Considering you are splitter and will have to disclose C&F issues, I would strongly consider writing a statement that gives context for those issue (undergrad GPA and CF).

On another note, I also disclosed this information for a federal judicial externship and to the firm I am going to after law school, mainly because the CF issues would come up on a backgound check - the judge and parnters were very receptive...

Npret

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby Npret » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:20 pm

nrthwst4now wrote:I used a PS that covered almost the exact same topic and it was very helpful and may have got me over the edge on a few schools. I also used a similar statement to transfer to a T10 school after 1L. I think it really depends on the context. For me, I had been clean for a number of years, gained work experience and had other powerful aspects in my personal life I wanted to share to provide context for CF issues that were sure to come up and had to be included in my applications.

Assuming you have demonstrated that the issue is indeed behind you, and has been for years, I think it could be worth bringing it up. The above user is proof that some people will view the overcoming of hardships with skepticism, but I don't that perspective is the most common one.

Considering you are splitter and will have to disclose C&F issues, I would strongly consider writing a statement that gives context for those issue (undergrad GPA and CF).

On another note, I also disclosed this information for a federal judicial externship and to the firm I am going to after law school, mainly because the CF issues would come up on a backgound check - the judge and parnters were very receptive...

I don’t view overcoming hardships with skepticism. I feel this doesn’t make OP an appealing applicant while there are probably other things in OPs life that will actively benefit OP in admissions.
Right now his story is a low GPA, decent LSAT former drug addict. I agree if there is more to this story, OP should be telling it, because that’s all I’ve seen from OPs posts.

Nycsplitter

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby Nycsplitter » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:51 pm

nrthwst4now wrote:I used a PS that covered almost the exact same topic and it was very helpful and may have got me over the edge on a few schools. I also used a similar statement to transfer to a T10 school after 1L. I think it really depends on the context. For me, I had been clean for a number of years, gained work experience and had other powerful aspects in my personal life I wanted to share to provide context for CF issues that were sure to come up and had to be included in my applications.

Assuming you have demonstrated that the issue is indeed behind you, and has been for years, I think it could be worth bringing it up. The above user is proof that some people will view the overcoming of hardships with skepticism, but I don't that perspective is the most common one.

Considering you are splitter and will have to disclose C&F issues, I would strongly consider writing a statement that gives context for those issue (undergrad GPA and CF).

On another note, I also disclosed this information for a federal judicial externship and to the firm I am going to after law school, mainly because the CF issues would come up on a backgound check - the judge and parnters were very receptive...



Thanks so much! You are correct in assuming that I have C&F and GPA issues to address anyway, so I feel like this topic will be a helpful addition to the story that they will see anyway.

It's great to hear that schools and even employers can see past this kind of stuff. I have been clean for almost 3 years now, so I hope that this amount of time speaks to my commitment.

nrthwst4now

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby nrthwst4now » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:10 pm

Npret wrote:
nrthwst4now wrote:I used a PS that covered almost the exact same topic and it was very helpful and may have got me over the edge on a few schools. I also used a similar statement to transfer to a T10 school after 1L. I think it really depends on the context. For me, I had been clean for a number of years, gained work experience and had other powerful aspects in my personal life I wanted to share to provide context for CF issues that were sure to come up and had to be included in my applications.

Assuming you have demonstrated that the issue is indeed behind you, and has been for years, I think it could be worth bringing it up. The above user is proof that some people will view the overcoming of hardships with skepticism, but I don't that perspective is the most common one.

Considering you are splitter and will have to disclose C&F issues, I would strongly consider writing a statement that gives context for those issue (undergrad GPA and CF).

On another note, I also disclosed this information for a federal judicial externship and to the firm I am going to after law school, mainly because the CF issues would come up on a backgound check - the judge and parnters were very receptive...

I don’t view overcoming hardships with skepticism. I feel this doesn’t make OP an appealing applicant while there are probably other things in OPs life that will actively benefit OP in admissions.
Right now his story is a low GPA, decent LSAT former drug addict. I agree if there is more to this story, OP should be telling it, because that’s all I’ve seen from OPs posts.


The phrasing highlights your view of the situation. It is not necessarily wrong, it is just that most people I have interacted view it with more nuance. Basically, you can view this story as "formed drug addict" blah blah OR you can view it as someone who overcame a hardship and presumably achieved some cool stuff in the past 3 years that could pop on a personal statement. Also, if you can explain away a low GPA due to struggling with a medical issue, which addiction is, then they may be more forgiving. Further, if there are arrests or convictions, then they become less of a character issue if they are all related to susbstance abuse. Sorry, but you have pretty glib views of what addiction is and what recovery represents to most.

Npret

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby Npret » Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:14 pm

nrthwst4now wrote:
Npret wrote:
nrthwst4now wrote:I used a PS that covered almost the exact same topic and it was very helpful and may have got me over the edge on a few schools. I also used a similar statement to transfer to a T10 school after 1L. I think it really depends on the context. For me, I had been clean for a number of years, gained work experience and had other powerful aspects in my personal life I wanted to share to provide context for CF issues that were sure to come up and had to be included in my applications.

Assuming you have demonstrated that the issue is indeed behind you, and has been for years, I think it could be worth bringing it up. The above user is proof that some people will view the overcoming of hardships with skepticism, but I don't that perspective is the most common one.

Considering you are splitter and will have to disclose C&F issues, I would strongly consider writing a statement that gives context for those issue (undergrad GPA and CF).

On another note, I also disclosed this information for a federal judicial externship and to the firm I am going to after law school, mainly because the CF issues would come up on a backgound check - the judge and parnters were very receptive...

I don’t view overcoming hardships with skepticism. I feel this doesn’t make OP an appealing applicant while there are probably other things in OPs life that will actively benefit OP in admissions.
Right now his story is a low GPA, decent LSAT former drug addict. I agree if there is more to this story, OP should be telling it, because that’s all I’ve seen from OPs posts.


The phrasing highlights your view of the situation. It is not necessarily wrong, it is just that most people I have interacted view it with more nuance. Basically, you can view this story as "formed drug addict" blah blah OR you can view it as someone who overcame a hardship and presumably achieved some cool stuff in the past 3 years that could pop on a personal statement. Also, if you can explain away a low GPA due to struggling with a medical issue, which addiction is, then they may be more forgiving. Further, if there are arrests or convictions, then they become less of a character issue if they are all related to susbstance abuse. Sorry, but you have pretty glib views of what addiction is and what recovery represents to most.

When I posted that, OP hadn’t shared they had been “clean” for 3 years just their GPA, LSAT and recovery status. My comment was this is a bad topic and they should focus on other positive aspects of their life.

Maybe it seemed to help you because you managed to overcome your “health issue” and have a productive few years you could add to your story. If OP has that, good for them and they can frame their addiction as something they’ve overcome with evidence of rebuilding their life.

My own view is that it’s a very risky topic for a PS and I don’t support using it. The fact it will have to be disclosed anyway doesn’t mean it’s a good topic for a PS.

Maybe I do have a glib view of addicts, but my view of admission committees is even harsher. I wouldn’t trust them with a potentially damaging PS.

Nycsplitter

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby Nycsplitter » Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:49 am

Npret wrote:
nrthwst4now wrote:
Npret wrote:
nrthwst4now wrote:I used a PS that covered almost the exact same topic and it was very helpful and may have got me over the edge on a few schools. I also used a similar statement to transfer to a T10 school after 1L. I think it really depends on the context. For me, I had been clean for a number of years, gained work experience and had other powerful aspects in my personal life I wanted to share to provide context for CF issues that were sure to come up and had to be included in my applications.

Assuming you have demonstrated that the issue is indeed behind you, and has been for years, I think it could be worth bringing it up. The above user is proof that some people will view the overcoming of hardships with skepticism, but I don't that perspective is the most common one.

Considering you are splitter and will have to disclose C&F issues, I would strongly consider writing a statement that gives context for those issue (undergrad GPA and CF).

On another note, I also disclosed this information for a federal judicial externship and to the firm I am going to after law school, mainly because the CF issues would come up on a backgound check - the judge and parnters were very receptive...

I don’t view overcoming hardships with skepticism. I feel this doesn’t make OP an appealing applicant while there are probably other things in OPs life that will actively benefit OP in admissions.
Right now his story is a low GPA, decent LSAT former drug addict. I agree if there is more to this story, OP should be telling it, because that’s all I’ve seen from OPs posts.


The phrasing highlights your view of the situation. It is not necessarily wrong, it is just that most people I have interacted view it with more nuance. Basically, you can view this story as "formed drug addict" blah blah OR you can view it as someone who overcame a hardship and presumably achieved some cool stuff in the past 3 years that could pop on a personal statement. Also, if you can explain away a low GPA due to struggling with a medical issue, which addiction is, then they may be more forgiving. Further, if there are arrests or convictions, then they become less of a character issue if they are all related to susbstance abuse. Sorry, but you have pretty glib views of what addiction is and what recovery represents to most.

When I posted that, OP hadn’t shared they had been “clean” for 3 years just their GPA, LSAT and recovery status. My comment was this is a bad topic and they should focus on other positive aspects of their life.

Maybe it seemed to help you because you managed to overcome your “health issue” and have a productive few years you could add to your story. If OP has that, good for them and they can frame their addiction as something they’ve overcome with evidence of rebuilding their life.

My own view is that it’s a very risky topic for a PS and I don’t support using it. The fact it will have to be disclosed anyway doesn’t mean it’s a good topic for a PS.

Maybe I do have a glib view of addicts, but my view of admission committees is even harsher. I wouldn’t trust them with a potentially damaging PS.


I really do appreciate your thoughts. The reason I wanted some discussion on this topic was to gauge how people in this sphere of life view addiction, and your thoughts have been illuminating and helpful, for sure.

I may downplay some of the gruesome details at the start of my statement and beef up the end, which discusses how my treatment as an addict formed my view of our criminal justice system and why me experiences and triumphs have led me to law school.

I will update after the cycle with how this approach worked out for me.

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UBETutoring

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby UBETutoring » Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:36 pm

I would suggest you don't do this. You don't really want to present any negative information that you don't have to, and the PS is a time to show some personality and your personality isn't defined by your weaknesses. If you need to disclose the addiction because of a record, you can present it in an uplifting light in your addendum. If you don't need to, it's a bad move because the C&F committee is going to pull your LS application and you'll need to explain this again. It can actually be onerous if you disclose it and do not have a record, because they will probably ask for some documentation that's not going to exist and that will turn into an annoying back and forth.

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby QContinuum » Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:12 pm

UBETutoring wrote:I would suggest you don't do this. You don't really want to present any negative information that you don't have to, and the PS is a time to show some personality and your personality isn't defined by your weaknesses. If you need to disclose the addiction because of a record, you can present it in an uplifting light in your addendum. If you don't need to, it's a bad move because the C&F committee is going to pull your LS application and you'll need to explain this again. It can actually be onerous if you disclose it and do not have a record, because they will probably ask for some documentation that's not going to exist and that will turn into an annoying back and forth.


Seconding this. I dug up one of my past law school applications. As relevant here, the application only asked for disclosure of any criminal records (including citations/arrests/charges/indictments/juvenile delinquency) and any pending charges. It did not ask for disclosure of any crimes that were never detected by law enforcement. If OP doesn't have a record, and the schools OP applies to likewise ask only for disclosure of detected crimes, I think it'd be a very bad idea for OP to write their PS on this. OP would be needlessly disadvantaging themselves by creating an apparent C&F issue for law school adcoms to consider.

Npret

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby Npret » Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:53 pm

QContinuum wrote:
UBETutoring wrote:I would suggest you don't do this. You don't really want to present any negative information that you don't have to, and the PS is a time to show some personality and your personality isn't defined by your weaknesses. If you need to disclose the addiction because of a record, you can present it in an uplifting light in your addendum. If you don't need to, it's a bad move because the C&F committee is going to pull your LS application and you'll need to explain this again. It can actually be onerous if you disclose it and do not have a record, because they will probably ask for some documentation that's not going to exist and that will turn into an annoying back and forth.


Seconding this. I dug up one of my past law school applications. As relevant here, the application only asked for disclosure of any criminal records (including citations/arrests/charges/indictments/juvenile delinquency) and any pending charges. It did not ask for disclosure of any crimes that were never detected by law enforcement. If OP doesn't have a record, and the schools OP applies to likewise ask only for disclosure of detected crimes, I think it'd be a very bad idea for OP to write their PS on this. OP would be needlessly disadvantaging themselves by creating an apparent C&F issue for law school adcoms to consider.

Even if there are criminal issues, it’s much better as an addendum. I think OP should write a second PS without focusing on addiction and instead focusing on the positive reasons the ad com will want OP. Then deal with the addiction stuff in an addendum.

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UBETutoring

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Re: Taking a huge risk with PS

Postby UBETutoring » Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:01 pm

QContinuum wrote:
UBETutoring wrote:I would suggest you don't do this. You don't really want to present any negative information that you don't have to, and the PS is a time to show some personality and your personality isn't defined by your weaknesses. If you need to disclose the addiction because of a record, you can present it in an uplifting light in your addendum. If you don't need to, it's a bad move because the C&F committee is going to pull your LS application and you'll need to explain this again. It can actually be onerous if you disclose it and do not have a record, because they will probably ask for some documentation that's not going to exist and that will turn into an annoying back and forth.


Seconding this. I dug up one of my past law school applications. As relevant here, the application only asked for disclosure of any criminal records (including citations/arrests/charges/indictments/juvenile delinquency) and any pending charges. It did not ask for disclosure of any crimes that were never detected by law enforcement. If OP doesn't have a record, and the schools OP applies to likewise ask only for disclosure of detected crimes, I think it'd be a very bad idea for OP to write their PS on this. OP would be needlessly disadvantaging themselves by creating an apparent C&F issue for law school adcoms to consider.

I agree it can present a significant admissions hurdle, but not necessarily for C&F reasons. It's exceedingly unlikely any C&F committee will throw the book at a recovered addict with no record who has been sober for 5+ years (C&F reviewers aren't unreasonable robots), but if they have any history of mental illness (which is more common in addicts), the reviewer would have serious questions about their judgment. And if OP does have a record, they need to disclose this anyway so their application will read as "overcame issue with drugs" immediately followed by an "addendum about issue with drugs". The only non-numerical basis of your application will be drugs. That's not necessarily something you want to be the takeaway point about your persona.

If you don't have a record - although it's critical to err strongly towards disclosure, it's also important not to disclose that which need not be disclosed as how you represent yourself is a subtle proxy for how you will represent others. In addition, I think the reality is that while the story of the recovered addict winning the gold is a universally lovable story, admission decisions are largely made based on numbers and predictable outcomes. I'm more open minded than most, and can see how winding up at the same place as someone who was never an addict suggests that you likely have great tenacity and the capacity to be a more empathetic and understanding lawyer than your similarly situated peers who never had to undertake such a struggle. There's also the argument that such a candidate presents risk, and may be more likely to flame out. At the end of the day, it boils down to the adcom's subjective analysis, which is impossible to predict and therefore isn't something you should rely on if you have the numbers to get in.



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